Some of the best moments from a brilliant 2018 season in the sport
THE PAST 12 MONTHS HAVE PRODUCED A NUMBER OF MEMORABLE ATHLETIC FEATS. HERE, WE PICK OUT SOME OF THE VERY BEST OF WHAT 2018 HAS HAD TO OFFER
Christian Coleman breaks 60m world record – February 19
With the likes of Noah Lyles, Ronnie Baker and Michael Rodgers all excelling this year, American sprinting is once more taking on the look of a formidable force. Spearheading their charge in 2018 was Christian Coleman – and he started early.
In January at a meeting in Clemson, he had appeared to break Maurice Greene’s world indoor 60m record of 6.39, but a lack of electronic starting blocks meant the run of 6.37 in South Carolina could not be ratified.
Coleman didn’t take long, however, to officially top the alltime lists.
The following month, at the US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he won his heat in 6.46 and his semi-final in 6.42 despite easing down.
In the final, Coleman started with a reaction time of 0.149 and then threw his arms open wide in celebration as he crossed the finish line in 6.34.
“For it to be the world record was pretty special,” he said. “I just love this sport. It’s so competitive, and either you’ve got it or you don’t on this day.
“I just love racing in the big races, when everybody’s watching. I just flourish in those moments. It’s not really in my personality, but when the lights are on, it just comes out.”
Coleman went on to take world indoor gold in Birmingham in March and, though he had injury struggles during the outdoor season, still finished the year as the fastest man over 100m with a world-leading 9.79 in Brussels.
Red-hot Pozzi beats the Birmingham cold – March 4
The so-called Beast from the East may have meant the weather outside was frightful, but inside the Arena Birmingham the athletics action was delightful as the IAAF World Indoor Championships unfolded.
As someone who grew up in the area, achieving success would be of huge significance to sprint hurdler and European indoor champion Andrew Pozzi, so the Briton threw everything he had at the task in hand.
That was just as well, given that his winning margin was a mere 0.01 of a second.
Despite hitting one of the hurdles, he recovered superbly and beat US champion Jarret Eaton on the line thanks to a perfectly executed dip.
Pozzi, who captained the British side, was made to wait for his big moment as the photo finish was reviewed. However, when the gold medal was confirmed as his, he said: “I can’t describe how much I wanted it.
“To be a world champion in Birmingham makes the achievement tenfold. I’ve grown up here over the last decade. The first competition I ever watched was the trials here 15 years ago.”
Personal best for KJT – August 10
Andrew Pozzi was not the only British winner in Birmingham. His girlfriend, Katarina JohnsonThompson, also won her first senior global gold after clinching the pentathlon title.
She would also finish top of the Commonwealth podium in the heptathlon on the Gold Coast, despite nursing her way through it with a calf injury.
However, her own highlight of 2018 came in a performance
where she finished as runner-up. In the European Championships in Berlin, the 25-year-old produced two tremendous days of competition and a big personal best score of 6759 after a memorable tussle with eventual champion Nafissatou Thiam.
It felt like a big turning point for the Liverpudlian who now lives and trains in France. “I believe in myself and this is going to be good for me moving forwards,” said the 2009 world youth champion. “I was happy with my first two medals, but this has a big significance factor for me.”
Dina’s 200m triumph – August 11
She broke her own British record by running 10.85 to win 100m European gold and came from behind to take her team to the top of the 4x100m relay podium in Berlin, but it was Dina Asher-Smith’s 200m performance at the Olympic Stadium which stood out from her hat-trick of victories.
The look of incredulous delight after crossing the line and seeing 21.89 on the clock, having hit the straight a metre and a half clear and dominating a field which included double world champion Dafne Schippers, will live long in the memory.
Asher-Smith’s time took 0.18 off her own British record and moved her into the European all-time top 10.
“I was thinking that out there I had a double world champion inside me (Schippers), so it was ‘maintain your form, relax’ and all the other tips my coach gives me, but ultimately you’ve got to run like a bat out of hell,” she said. “Honestly, I had the fear of god inside me.
“The race was over in a blur. I remember crossing the line and it was like a mixture of happiness and relief that I got it.
“10.8 and 21.8 is more than I could have asked for from this.”
Jakob’s stunning run – August 11
Asher-Smith was not the only athlete doing remarkable things on that famous Berlin track, however. 24 hours previously, the then 17-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen had astonished the watching world by becoming the youngest ever senior male European Champion by winning the 1500m.
His subsequent victory in the 5000m left more than a few jaws on the floor.
In what was the first major
senior championships of his career, he looked in total control and a subtle gear change in the latter stages simply saw him glide away from the competition to clock 13:17.06, a European under-20 record.
“This is huge!” said the man who also improved his own age group 1500m world record to 3:31.18 at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
Duplantis vaults into history – August 12
Ingebrigtsen had been the teenage sensation on everyone’s lips but another astonishing night in Berlin saw another prodigiously talented teenager win a European title.
The 18-year-old Swede Armand Duplantis literally leapt his way into the spotlight.
The pole vaulter produced a championship record height of 6.05m, which beat his personal best and world under-20 record by 12 centimetres, and sent him into wild celebrations.
When Duplantis cleared 5.95m, overhauling his previous best mark of 5.93m, at the first time of asking it was clear that something special was in the air.
He only needed one attempt to clear the magical sixmetre barrier – the previous championship record which had stood for 24 years – before then going five centimetres higher. The history-making vault was also a first-time clearance.
Muir brilliant in Brussels – August 31
Laura Muir had world indoor medals and a resounding 1500m European victory to celebrate in 2018, not to mention the completion of her veterinary degree, but the biggest win of her career to date came with a superb performance at the Diamond League Final in Brussels.
On what was a sensational night of athletics, she produced her best performance of the season to seal victory over a top-class field in 3:58.49.
Muir eased by Sifan Hassan to lead through the bell in 2:58. She was also ahead at 1200m in 3:13.23 – the third lap being covered in 66.72. Houlihan was now at the back of the leading group and looking the freshest.
Muir picked the pace up along the back straight, with Hassan and Shelby Houlihan still in contact as they hit the last 200m. The Scot kicked hard on the bend and did enough to hold off her American and Dutch pursuers. Her last 300m was 45.2 and her last lap 61 seconds.
“Even my arms were full of lactic acid but I felt very good at the same time,” said Muir. “I have learnt with my mistakes in positioning and did not want to go too fast in the first half.”
Kipchoge rules the world – September 16
Eliud Kipchoge focused much of his efforts last year on the
Breaking2 experiment in which he came so close going under the fabled two-hour barrier for the marathon.
When he returned to the roads in 2017, there was a win in Berlin that was followed up by another victory – at this year’s London Marathon.
Neither of those showings got within Dennis Kimetto’s world record mark of 2:02:57 but, when Kipchoge returned to the German capital three months ago, the marathon stars aligned.
That so-called impossible sub-two-hour dream became a little more believable when the 33-year-old Kenyan ripped the world record apart with a time of 2:01:39 on the same course where Kimetto clocked his mark.
Remarkably, the 34-year-old Kenyan achieved it despite losing his pacemaking help earlier than expected. His final pacer, Josphat Boit, led Kipchoge through halfway in 61:06 before dropping out at 25km.
“It was really hard,” said Kipchoge, “but I was truly prepared to come to Berlin. I trust my preparation and I knew what hard work I did in Kenya and that’s what helped me in the last few kilometres.”
Mayer makes up for Euro woe – September 16
September 16 was a standout day for athletics in 2018. Just hours after Eliud Kipchoge set his world marathon record, Kevin Mayer smashed the world decathlon mark in his home country of France.
Competing at the Decastar meeting in the Bordeaux suburb of Talence, the 26-year-old world champion scored 9126 to improve Ashton Eaton’s world record of 9045, set by the American when winning the world title in Beijing in 2015.
Mayer’s performance came after a disaster at the European Championships in Berlin in August. Despite being favourite to win gold, he failed to register a mark in the long jump – and pulled out to save his energy for another decathlon.
That decathlon turned out to be a month later in Talence and Mayer began his two days with a 100m PB of 10.55 (0.3). He then long jumped 7.80m, threw the shot 16.00m and high jumped 2.05m before closing his first day with a 400m in 48.42.
The Frenchman began day two by clocking 13.75 for 110m hurdles (-1.1m) before throwing the discus 50.54m, going clear in the pole vault with 5.45m and throwing a superb 71.90m in the javelin.
With just the 1500m to go, he only needed a sub-4:50 performance to break the mark but he clocked 4:36.11 to shatter Eaton’s record.
Mo lays down a marathon marker – October 7
Mo Farah always told us it would take time to transition from the track to the marathon and that we needed to be patient. Well beaten in his first two marathons in London, he finally showed brilliant ability over 26.2 miles in Chicago.
This was third time lucky for the 35-year-old after his 2:08:21 English record for eighth place in London in 2014 and 2:06:21 British record for third in London in April this year.
In Chicago, Farah clocked a European record of 2:05:11 to beat the 2:05:48 mark set by Sondre Nordstad Moen of Norway in Fukuoka in 2017.
Farah also became the first British man to win in Chicago since Paul Evans 22 years ago.
Christian Coleman: world record run
Commonwealth gold: Katarina JohnsonThompson
Dina Asher-Smith: 200m joy in Berlin
Andrew Pozzi: home win
Armand Duplantis: world under-20 record
Jakob Ingebrigtsen: double delight
Laura Muir: DiamondLeague victory in Brussels Eliud Kipchoge: created history in Berlin Kevin Mayer: bounced back
Mo Farah: maiden marathon success