This is a column on five observations on the young athletes speaking at the World Athletics Under 20. Justin Lagat makes some fine points on how these events will affect the young athletes from 100 countries who will compete in the Moi International Stadium.
1.It means so much for young runners to get their first opportunities to compete in a world major event. Kenya’s Sylvia Chelangat could hardly hide her great joy for the opportunity to run in a major competition for her first time. She is one of the Kenyan runners who are getting inspired by Ferdinand Omanyala to believe that Kenyans too can do well in the sprints. Her eagerness to become a great runner in the future became evident when she fought hard to make it to the finals in the 400m event this morning. Her other role model, Mary Moraa began as a 400m before she could make the national team to the Olympics in the 800m event.
However, for her, she says she is still trying to see where her strength really lies and she will see that during the championships.
2. Exposure and experience from competing with senior runners in other major competitions brings out the best in the junior runners and motivates them to do more. South Africa’s Lythe Pillay, who is taking part in the men’s 400m talked about how his experience from competing amongst the world’s best runners at the world relays and at the Tokyo Olympics has been “an eye-opener” for him.
Answering a question, he said that having participated in other world major events and against the senior runners, it will definitely remove some pressure coming in to compete at the junior championships.
3. Learning institutions can be a great breeding ground for producing the world’s greatest athletes. Ackera Nuget of Jamaica who will be running in the 100m hurdles talked about the support and motivation she gets from her peers in her college.
Talking about her college life at Baylor University, which is well known for producing some of the greatest athletes in the USA, Nuget said that with a good coaching and medical staff there, it makes her career demands feel easier.
4. Parents play a great role in introducing athletes to sports. Not to mention David Rudisha who took after his father who was running in the 400m, 16-year-old Angelina Topic of Serbia whose parents happened to have been a triple jumper and a high jumper talked about always accompanying them to the field for their training as a young child before she grew the passion for the high jump.
“I am glad to take up something that my parents started, but I am also hoping to make a name for myself and not continue to be in the shadow of my parents,” she said.
5. Junior athletes take up events that are a tradition in their nations. Sasha Zhoya of France will be running in the 110m hurdles.
“I want to become the next big French hurdler,” Zhoya said. “I feel like the Pole vault and the hurdles are French events.”