World Athletics U20 Nairobi 21 is being held from 17th to 22nd Aug 2021
World Athletics U20 Nairobi 21 by Go Places Digital News
After hosting a successful championship, Kenya proved its ability to host a major athletics competition. Kenya put in a bid to be a part of the World Athletics Series and was awarded the opportunity to host the World Athletics Under 20 Championships in Nairobi in 2020. However, due to the global effect of the Pandemic, the Championship was postponed taking place from the 17th to the 22nd of August 2021.
Kenya is a country that is globally known in the athletic scene in track and field events, especially long-distance running. With the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics Kenya ranked amongst the top African country winning 10 medals (4 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze Medals) and finished in 19th position overall
Congratulation to the Kenyan Team for winning the 5,000 & 3,000 meters race on Thursday 19th Aug 2021
5,000 metres Kenyan Winners:
- GOLD – Benson Kiplangat
- BRONZE – Levy Kibet
3,000 metres Kenyan Winners:
- GOLD – Teresiah Muthoni Gateri
- SILVER – Zenah Jemutai Yego
For more information on WORLD ATHLETICS U20 CHAMPIONSHIPS – Live, Previews, Timetable & Results CLICK HERE
Some pictorial highlights from the last two days’ competition
Photos courtesy of Erick Barasa
Here is a brief history of the World Athletics U20 Championships
There have been national junior championships for athletes dating back to the 1920s, with former Czechoslovakia having organised what is usually accepted to be the first in 1921, but having a global event that puts young talent on display is a comparatively recent innovation.
The early and mid-1980s witnessed a period of many changes in the sport, driven by the energy and vision of the then IAAF President Primo Nebiolo, and among the new ideas to emerge was the introduction of what was then called the IAAF World Junior Championships.
The concept of having a major international junior championship was far from new – the first South American Junior Championships having been held as far back as 1959 and a similar event in Europe saw the light of day in 1964 while transatlantic junior matches between the USA and USSR started in 1972 – but Nebiolo realised it was time to organise a festival for teenage talent on a truly worldwide basis.
At the 34th IAAF Congress, The first edition was then awarded to Athens later in 1984 and the Greek federation swiftly moved into action to organise the first championships less than two years later in 1986.
It was a huge success, much more than most people expected, and attracted 1188 athletes from 143 countries.
Medals in Athens were spread among 27 nations, two world U20 records were set, while African and Asian athletes were notably on the podium despite both their Area Associations not having a continental junior championship at the time.
It was clear that those first championships demonstrated there was a real desire by the majority of the IAAF Member Federations to test their leading young athletes against their contemporaries from the rest of the world.
The Athens competition consequently set the scene for what was soon confirmed as a biennial event and has been so ever since.
“Those who follow our sport closely, know that these championships were an important moment in our development,” reflected Nebiolo in 1998. “It gave us an opportunity to showcase tomorrow’s stars as they take the first steps to greatness. The championships give youngsters a chance to gain the valuable experience of top-class competition,” he added, reiterating two of his initial reasons for establishing what has now become the IAAF World U20 Championships.
Nebiolo was right in both respects.
Many athletes who were later to become household names got their first gold medal on a world stage at the IAAF World U20 Championships – the name change from ‘junior’ to U20 being approved by the IAAF in November 2015 to take account of the fact that junior age-groups historically and geographically have not always uniformly been the same – while others became directly acquainted with what it would take for them to also reach the top.
British hurdler Colin Jackson is just one name among many that stand out from the list of winners from that first championship in Athens. “When I consider my career, the world junior championships gold is one of my most memorable races. I’ll always remember it because it had all those ingredients that I would need later to be a champion: to come back successfully from adversity and live up to the responsibility of being a champion,” remembered Jackson fondly, writing in his 2004 autobiography and reflecting on events almost 20 years previously.
Every single championship since 1986 has seen more illustrious names make their mark on the sporting consciousness for the first time.
During the 1990s, names such as Trinidad and Tobago’s Ato Boldon, Kenya’s Moses Kiptanui and Daniel Komen, Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie and Derartu Tulu, USA’s Adam Nelson, Ecuador’s Jefferson Perez, Romania’s Gabriela Szabo and Cuba’s Osleidys Menéndez were all notable winners at the IAAF World U20 Championships. All were to go on and strike gold again at the IAAF World Championships later in their careers.
From the advent of the 21st century, a similar roll call can be made, with the IAAF World Junior Championships Santiago de Chile 2000 at the start of the millennium being a ground-breaking event as it was the first time that a stadium-based IAAF World Athletics Series competition was staged in South America.
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt gave notice of his phenomenal talent that was to captivate billions in the following years when he won the 200m title in 2002 on home soil at the prodigious age of 15, thrilling and stunning observers in Kingston.
Four years later, Kenya’s David Rudisha was one of the brightest stars of the 2006 championships in Beijing when winning over 800m.
Like Bolt, Rudisha was to become a world record breaker and to be honoured as an IAAF Athlete of the Year before the end of the decade.
Other champions that leap out from the list of men’s winners between 2000-10 include the USA’s LaShawn Merritt and Kerron Clement, South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga, France’s Teddy Tamgho, Grenada’s Kirani James, Germany’s David Storl and high jumpers Bogdan Bondarenko and Mutaz Essa Barshim, from Ukraine and Qatar respectively.
Female athletes who made the transition from being U20 champions in this period to being superstars include the Ethiopian distance runners Meseret Defar and Genzebe
Dibaba, jumps queens Blanka Vlasic and Yelena Isinbayeva, from Croatia and Russia, Australian discus thrower Dani Samuels and Swedish multi-events exponent Carolina Klüft.
More recent U20 world champions have also made their presence felt on the sport.
Gold medallists from Barcelona 2012 include Dominican Republic’s 400m runner Luguelin Santos, Kenyan distance runners Conseslus Kipruto and Faith Kipyegon, and Trinidad and Tobago javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott.
In 2014, when the championships were held in the US athletics mecca of Eugene, Ethiopian distance runner Yomif Kejelcha, Polish shot putter Konrad Bukowiecki, British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and US hurdler Shamier Little struck gold and are now familiar names on the international athletics circuit.
American Noah Lyles won the 100m in Bydgoszcz in 2016 and became the senior world champion over 200m in Doha just three years later, while his teammate Michael Norman also moved up a distance after winning the 200m in Poland, capturing the headlines in March 2018 when he flew to a world indoor 400m record of 44.52.
Among those who added their names to the honour roll in Tampere, Finland in 2018, was the prodigious Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis, who won commandingly against his age peers, went on to claim the senior European title in Berlin later that year, and became the world record holder less than two years later.
Nairobi will see another name change for this year’s event, following the rebranding of the IAAF in late 2019, to become World Athletics.
The question is, who among the estimated 1300 athletes travelling to Kenya this summer will make their mark at the World Athletics U20 Championships Nairobi 2021 and put their names into the annals of athletics history like Duplantis and many of the world U20 winners before him?