In most years, the track world would be centrally focused on a world championships or Olympics right now. However, with world championships held on odd years and Olympics in their own quadrennial cycle, there is a gap every four years from these popular events. This allows several smaller championships to shine through during this period and different story lines appear to fill the gap.
The World Junior Track and Field Championships took place this past weekend in Eugene, Oregon and many of the world’s best young track athletes made history. It was the first world championship held in the United States since the World Cross Country Championships occurred in Boston in 1992. With the full spectrum of events held over 6 days of competition, there are far too many stories to cover in just one article. But with many young stars turning out performances that rival their much older peers on the open circuit, the meet certainly deserves mention.
Mary Cain may have endured more pre-race attention than any other participant in the World Junior Championships as she approached the 3000m race last Thursday. The Alberto Salazar prodigy did not disappoint as she won the first ever medal for an American junior athlete in a distance above 800m. Having come into the race with plenty of international experience at the senior level, her step down to the junior level for a race in her current home state of Oregon came with extraordinary expectations. Yet, she delivered the win over a pair of talented Kenyan runners and continued to impress her spectators.
While Mary’s event showing may have garnered the most attention from the American crowd, there were many other great performances by future stars around the world. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the meet came from Frenchman, Wilhem Belocian, who became the first 110m hurdler to break 13 seconds as a teenager. His time of 12.99 demolished the previous world junior record and has him tied for third in the world for the year.
Belocian and Cain certainly rewrote the history books, but no athlete was busier over the weekend than Brit, Morgan Lake. The 17-year-old Heptathlete skipped the Common Wealth games to focus on competition her own age and broke the world youth record in the process. Her decision to learn a variety of events did not lessen her competitiveness at individual events either, as she broke the British junior record in the high jump during her heptathlon before coming back to win the high jump in the open competition. She was the only athlete of the weekend to win multiple medals and after running, jumping, and throwing 8 times on the Hayward field, the crowd will certainly remember Lake’s name for a while.
There were many more great performances by future track stars that won’t fit in the blog. For more – IAAF day recaps. (link goes to day 6, related links go to other days)