Three reasons why 2014 was the season to be jolly! by Alex Mills, for RunBlogRun

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Greg Rutherford, photo by Dan Vernon Photography

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Dennis Kimetto, photo by PhotoRun.net

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Mutaz Barshim jumps over the clouds, photo by PhotoRun.net

Alex Mills wrote this piece last week on three of his favorite reasons why 2014 was a jolly good year for track & field. 

3 reasons why 2014 was the season to be jolly, by Alex Mills


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Jo Pavey, photo by PhotoRun.net

Brits come good

Whether it was the Commonwealth Games, European Championships or the world juniors that you were watching, one thing remained the same, Great Britain's athletes were finally performing to their potential. After years of the team relying on a few outstanding individuals to save their bacon and placing in the medals table, this year almost everyone did well. Aside from the super season of Greg Rutherford and the renaissance of super mum Jo Pavey, we saw great breakthroughs from a number of our younger athletes as they won their first international medals and climbed up the nation all-time lists. While a pinch of perspective has to be placed on their performances due to the level of competition faced in 2014, things do look a damn lot brighter than they did 12 months ago.


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Wilson Kipsang, photo by PhotoRun.net

2. Triple K's assertion on the world of marathon running


This year's marathon season will of course be remembered as the year that the Dennnis Kimmeto smashed the 2 hours 3 minute barrier to become the fastest runner in the event's history and the catalyst of yet another wave of sub-two hour fever. While Kimetto's performance was truly amazing, as mentioned in a previous blog, he was by no means the only star of marathon running this season. Although there was to be no face off in 2014, the form of the work-record holder, the former holder and world marathon majors champion, Wilson Kipsang and the imperious Eliud Kipchoge, ensured that Kenya remained on top of the distance running game. All that remains to happen is for a face-off in 2015 with all three hopefully bringing their A games! Aside from triple K ,a certain Ethiopian going by the name of Kenenisa was starting to make his own inroads over 26.4 miles and despite his poor performance in this October's Chicago Marathon, a debut victory in Paris shows that there is more to come.


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Bohdan Bondarenko, photo by PhotoRun.net

3. Barshim, Bondarenko and the Bar, with more than a few handy cameo's.


If there's one discipline that has exploded in the last 12 months it is the men's high jump; removing the fourth wall between track and field events, this vertical challenge has more than once rightly stolen the limelight and focus from it's track alternative. Whether it was New York, Rome or Brussels almost everyone who could have been there was and more often than not they didn't disappoint. 

Despite 5 athletes having jumped over 2.40m this year, the story of 2014 really only hinged on the form of two protagonists. Following the early season breakthroughs of Ivan Ukhov and Derek Drouin, Mutaz Essa Barshim emerged from the rubble of his world indoor title in March to climb to the top of the world lists. Flying over barriers never previously breached by any man from his continent, this outlandish, cool, Quatrain 'prince' endeared himself to the athletics world whilst growing his global presence and becoming the second highest jumper ever, behind only the great Javier Sotomayor. Although his presence may ultimately be defined by that 2.43m jump in Brussels and for bringing the world championships to the Middle East, social media fanatics will remember the brilliant #ThingsBarshimCouldJumpOver fondly.


As they say an athlete is only the sum of their rivals and so it of course needs to be noted just how well Bohdan Bondarenko performed this year. Not only did the world champion have a better head-to-head record with Barshim,with 4 wins to 3, but he also became the joint highest jumper in European history, when he and Barshim both cleared 2.42m in New York. Despite Barshim sitting marginally higher for 2014, the Ukrainian will be confident of matching his opponent when it really matters in the next two years. Thought should also be given to those up and coming athletes on the fringes of the top-lists, of which a huge 20 have jumped over 2.30m, with a little bit of work during the winter a place in the final of Beijing 2015 or Rio 2016 and maybe more, lie ahead.   

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