Leonard Kirwa Kosencha celebrates setting a new World Youth 800m best (© Getty Images)
There are just two weeks to go before Donetsk, Ukraine stages the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships, from 10-14 July, but memories are still fresh of the outstanding last edition of these championships, held two years ago in the French city of Lille.
World youth best performances were established by Kenyan 800m runner Leonard Kosencha, New Zealand shot putter Jacko Gill and Australian combined events exponent Jake Stein.
Kosencha produced a jaw-dropping performance in Lille to win in a stunning 1:44.08, beating a field that included Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman and Kenya’s Timothy Kitum, two athletes who went on to achieve considerable success in 2012 with Aman winning the World indoor title and Kitum taking bronze at the London Olympic Games.
If Kosencha was globally a little-known name ahead of the championships, the same cannot be said of Gill who had won the World junior title in 2010 and was also the owner of the World Youth Best mark of 23.86m, which he produced in December 2010.
Despite a slightly injured finger, Gill was in outstanding form in Lille, sending his 5kg implement out to 24.35m in the second round and having two other attempts go over 24 metres.
Gill became one of only three athletes to be crowned as a youth champion after having already won at the IAAF World Junior Championships. Usain Bolt achieved that feat in 2003, and then in Lille, the Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller later became the first female to do so when she won the 400m in 51.84.
An inspired Stein improved the Octathlon World youth best mark with youth implements by nine points to 6491 after setting personal bests in seven of the eight events.
The key to Stein's success were his throws. His distance of 17.22m in the Shot, the third event, was more than a metre better than anyone else managed and moved him into the lead, a position he never relinquished.
On the second day, Stein improved his Javelin best by more than nine metres, throwing 59.65m to give him a virtually unassailable lead. He then gritted his teeth in the 1000m to run 2:52.93 to grab all the accolades and triumph by 364 points for the biggest winning margin in the history of the championships.
Both the boys’ and girls’ 1000m Medley Relays also saw World youth best performances established, although the 100m-200m-300m-400m format is not often run internationally.
The USA squad of Ronald Darby, Aldrich Bailey, Najee Glass and individual 400m winner Arman Hall combined forces to produce a time of 1:49.47. It reduced by nearly a second the mark set by another US quartet at the 2009 Championships.
Jamaica’s Christania Williams, Shericka Jackson, Chrisann Gordon and Olivia James ran 2:03.42 to improve on the mark of 2:03.83 set by the United States in 2001.
Three other boys’ championship records were set. Kenya’s Wiliam Sitonik won the 3000m in 7:40.10, Hungarian Hammer prodigy Bence Pasztor threw 82.60m and Russia’s Pavel Parshin carried on his country’s great walking tradition when winning the 10,000m Race Walk in 40:51.31.
Two girls also set individual championship records. Kenya’s Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon added the 1500m title to the gold medal she won in the junior race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships barely fourth months earlier, while Germany’s Christin Hussong added nearly three metres to the Javelin mark with an effort of 59.74m.
With 16 medals, six of them gold, the United States once again topped the medals table, as they have done on four of the six previous occasions.
However, once again the medals table amply demonstrated the global appeal and reach of the championships and the spread of athletics talent around the world.
No less than 18 countries won gold medals, while 35 different countries stood on the podium, with each of the IAAF Area Associations being represented.