Welcome to my first ever blog post! I thought I’d start off with a topic which I think could hold a decent amount of interest, and if not which was a fun piece to write anyway. So I introduce to you my 10 breakthrough athletes of 2012 who I believe could take the world by storm during their careers. My initial focus is on track and field athletes as they are what I’m most familiar with, with Olympic and Paralympic athletes both covered. Bear in mind that this is completely my own opinion. With that, in no particular order, let me introduce the athletes!
For those of you who watched the T44 100 metre final at the Paralympics, you would have noticed that all the pre-race talk was of the ‘Battle of the titans’, the biggest head to head of the Paralympics, the legendary Oscar Pistorius against the 19 year old starlet and current world record holder Jonnie Peacock. Surely these would contest the gold medal? Wrong. There was one athlete who the media hadn’t picked up focus on, who had also breezed his way through the qualifying rounds, the 21 year old American Richard Browne. Whilst Peacock rushed to the gold medal, Browne ran strong and picked up the silver in a new personal best of 11.03 seconds. What’s most incredible about Browne’s story is that he lost his leg in 2009, meaning that compared to the other athletes in the field he was a relative novice. With massive gains of experience and large personal bests year on year, there is no reason why Peacock and Browne will not contest the gold medal in the same event at the 2013 Paralympic World Championships in July, just perhaps with a different outcome in the gold medal position. Browne trains with the aim of becoming the greatest, there is the distinct possibility that he could become exactly that.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson, or KJT for short, burst onto the senior world stage when she competed in the 2012 Olympics in the heptathlon. The event was memorably won by Jessica Ennis, but KJT put in a strong performance to finish 15th out of 39 competing athletes. A month earlier she won the long jump at the World Junior Championships and then fitted the Olympics into a year in which she was only 19. Add to this that she holds the British women’s under 20 record for the heptathlon, beating Ennis’ tally from at the same age, and Johnson-Thompson really does show all the makings of a world beater. The 2013 World Championships will really give her a chance to show what she’s made of, but 2012 may have seen the first world stage appearance of another British athletics superstar.
Before the Olympic 200 metre final, all the focus was on the battle between the Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake to see who would gain the title of the best in the business. No-one was really bothered about who came third, that was until Warren Wier popped up to take the bronze and create a historic Jamaican 1-2-3 which had never been seen before on the world stage. Look at Weir’s stats and times though and you’ll suddenly realise why he should be taken seriously. He trains at the same club at Bolt and Blake, the formidable Racers Track Club, under the guidance of coach Glen Mills. His 19.84 seconds ran in the 200 metre final at the age of 22 is far faster than Michael Johnson, the ex-200 metre great, was running at the same age and he ended up with a 19.32 second world record! The focus on Bolt and Blake means Weir can carry on his business quietly without interruption, and with everything seemingly on his side there is no reason why he cannot cause a stir in the 200 metre world rankings in the future, starting with the World Championships in August.
For anyone with an interest in T38 sprinting, my own event in fact, you may know that since 2008 it has been a completely one man show. The Australian Evan O’Hanlon has lit up the world with his performances in the 100 and 200 metre events but hasn’t had much real competition to take his titles. That is until now. Let me introduce Dyan Buis, a 22 year old South African who may just be about to show O’Hanlon his match and create a brilliant two horse race. Buis entered the 2012 Paralympics as an unknown quantity to most, but left it with stirling performances with silver medals behind O’Hanlon in the T38 100 and 200 metres and a bronze in the T38 long jump. Whilst doing this at the tender age of 21, he showed an aggression in his running which could in a few years prove to be what overtakes O’Hanlon and puts him on top of the world. The 2013 World Championships could be a major career moment for this young South African. Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll get to run against him too!
Out of these 10 athletes I’ve chosen, Nijel Amos is without doubt probably the most exciting prospect. In fact the young man from Botswana could be one of the most exciting prospects in athletics history. Having already become the World Junior Champion over 800 metres in July, Amos entered the 2012 Olympics on a high, but how he performed was to set many a mind whirring. As David Rudisha sped away to record an incredible world record and gold medal in the 800 metre final, Amos claimed the silver only 0.82 seconds behind to set a new World Junior record. The big deal? David Rudisha is 24 years old, Nijel amos is 18. Amos is running the 800 metres SIX seconds quicker than Rudisha was at the same age, an outrageously fast time for someone so young. This boy is the real deal and there is no doubt that he has the potential to become the greatest 800 metre runner in history. The 2013 World Championships could be massive for Amos, and he could cause Rudisha, and the rest of the world, a huge surprise. Unless….
Timothy Kitum also ran in the Olympic 800 metre final and took the bronze medal. He also took the silver medal behind Nijel Amos in the World Junior Championships. Kitum, a Kenyan, is a year younger than Amos, taking these medals at the tender age of 17. He only turned 18 in November, and his Olympic final time of 1 minute 42.53 seconds was only 0.6 seconds behind Amos in second place. So maybe Amos isn’t the heir to David Rudisha’s throne and Kitum is in fact the young pretender? What is for sure is that the 800 metres is going to become arguably the biggest event of the Olympics in the future with all these athletes in the balance. Kitum and Amos could create a rivalry which could be fought out for more than the next decade, which will only bring the best out of the both of them. Watch out world, the middle distance runners are coming!
Adam Gemili is one of the best prospects British sprinting has ever had, it’s not hard to see why with the incredible 2012 he had. Bursting into the spotlight with a 10.08 second 100 metres in Germany gave him the British A qualifying standard for the Olympics, he followed this up by finishing second in the qualifiers behind Dwain Chambers to earn himself a spot on the British Olympic team. He then proceeded to become the first ever British winner of the 100 metres at the Junior World Championships in with a new personal best of 10.05 seconds. With that time he also set himself as the fastest ever British 100 metre runner for the under 20 age group. He then ran into tthe semi finals of the 100 metres at the Olympics, running against Asafa Powell in his semi final race. His 10.05 ran at the age of 18 is faster than Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake at the same age, but in order to keep up the momentum and fulfill his potential then he needs to keep performing. A sub 10 second 100 metres isn’t out of the question in 2013, and it may well be needed with the World Championships coming up. If this prospect goes in the right direction, in Gemili we could have the best British sprinter we have ever seen.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Brigetta Barrett, she is an American high jumper who leapt onto the world stage with a silver medal in the women’s high jump at the 2012 Olympics with a new personal best of 2.03 metres at the age of 21. The field events had lately started to become a bit of a recluse, with major focus being put on the track events combining with a sort of shortfall in world class/record breaking performances in the jumps and throws. Barrett could start the change in this, especially in the women’s sector. With 2012 giving her a seven centimetre increase on her personal best, from 1.96 to 2.03 metres, there is no reason why the now 22 year old can’t become a world beater in 2013 and future years. With age on her side and a huge amount of experience to come, there is no reason to say that Barrett can’t challenge the women’s high jump world record of 2.09 metres in the future. A gold medal at the 2013 World Championships would be the perfect way to set off this potentially world beating career.
What would this list be without a British Paralympian? Ola Abidogun is a 19 year old with a lot of potential and character. Competing in the T46 classification due to an amputation of his lower right arm, he took the bronze medal in the T46 100 metre final at the 2012 Paralympics. In the final he ran 11.23 seconds, but with a personal best of 11.05 which would have tied him for the gold medal, there is a lot of expectation with the knowing that he could go much faster. The 2013 World Championships in July could be the best stage for him whilst still only being 19 years old, excel there and a glittering career could really start to take shape. The european record of 11.03 is already very much in his sights, but I’m sure he will run much quicker than that. The T46 100 metre world record is 10.72, there is no reason to say why Ola cannot break this in his career.
Last but not least I have chosen Olivia Breen, who competes in the women’s T38 category in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. She shot into focus with a 5th place finish in the 100 metre sprint and then helped the British women’s team to a bronze medal in the 4×100 metre relay. What’s so special about Breen then? She’s 16 years old! She competed in the 2012 Paralympics barely a month after her 16th birthday, hopefully it will prove to be the start of a long and successful career. Her personal best times rank her 2nd and 3rd in the world for the T38 100 and 200 metre sprints respectively, and she will only improve with age. Expect to see much more of Breen on the podium in the coming years with a gold medal around her neck, maybe even starting at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon in July. At which time she will still only be 16 years old.
Thanks very much for taking the time to read this, it is very much appreciated. I hope you have gained some valuable facts or information and haven’t just fallen asleep at the screen! Feel free to leave any feedback or suggestions here or via my twitter @N_Marshy93.