Get Instant News Updates
Enable
x
Notification Settings X
Time Settings
Done
Clear Notification X
Do you want to clear all the notifications from your inbox?
Settings X

Year Ender 2019: Athletics need a new Bolt, not the needle

Usain Bolt

Bengaluru, December 17: It has been almost two-and-a-half years since athletics lost its superhero Usain Bolt. And the sport continues to face an identity crisis on two counts.

1. Finding a replacement for the legendary Jamaican.

2. The ever-swelling doping scandals that saw Russia getting banned for four years from competing in the global sporting events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Though Christian Coleman won the 100M gold in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships Doha 2019, it is too early to anoint the American as Bolt's successor.

At 23, Coleman has plenty of time to make it big. But the same cannot be said of his compatriot and veteran Justlin Gatlin who finished second in the blue riband race in Doha.

The 37-year-old made a good comeback from doping ban and clinched the 100M title at the IAAF World Championships in London in 2017 despite being booed by a partisan crowd, which incidentally was Bolt's last 100M dash.

Gatlin himself has announced he would like to sign off with a gold at the 2020 Tokyo Games and with the sport desperately looking for an iconic figure, and his absence will further deplete the field.

High stakes

High stakes

It is high time the likes Yohan Blake, Bolt's compatriot, and Canada's Andre De Grasse (who came third in Doha) live up to the potential.

In the women's field Shelly-Ann Fraser Price gave a terrific performance in the Doha Worlds to prove despite motherhood she is very much in contention for Tokyo 2020.

Felix the star

Felix the star

For America's Allyson Felix, currently the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history, 2019 was a bag of mixed emotions.

From motherhood to campaigning for maternity rights to winning two more gold medals at the Doha Worlds, which took her overall World Championship tally to 13, Felix proved that there is no substitute for experience.

Felix's compatriot Dalilah Muhammad also hogged the limelight by clinching the IAAF Female Athlete of the Year. Olympic champion Dalilah won the 400M race in Doha Worlds having twice broken the world record in 2019.

Kipchoge's double delight

Kipchoge's double delight

The African runners continued their domination in the long-distance events and it was no surprise when Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge was named IAAF Male Athlete of the Year for a second year in a row.

It was double delight for marathon great Kipchoge who won the London Marathon with a course-record record before running a sub two-hour time (1:59:40.2) in Vienna in October.

Barshim soars

Barshim soars

Meanwhile, Qatar's rising star Mutaz Essa Barshim continued to make giant strides this time winning the high jump gold in the World Championships emphatically in front of his home crowd.

Barshim whose personal best of 2.43M in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Brussels is the second-best jump of all times in world history is eyeing Cuba's Javier Sotomayor's long-standing record of 2.45M set at the IAAF Salamanca Grand Prix meet in Spain in 1992 and his performance in Doha would have done a world of good for his confidence, especially since he was making his comeback from an injury.

Hopes on Hima

Hopes on Hima

For Indian athletes the learning curve continued in 2019. Too much should not be read into the impressive performance in the recent South Asian Games as at the international level they have always found to be wanting.

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra remains India's best bet at international events, but injuries have laid him low.

Sprinter Hima Das continued making giant strides at the international level, winning five gold medals this year at various countries, including the Czech Republic and Public, but considering the quality of events and level of opposition, there is no reason to go overboard.

Ban on Russia

Ban on Russia

The year ended on a sour note with the World Anti-Doping Agency banning Russia from all global sporting events for failing to comply with strict anti-doping laws.

The ban effectively rules out Russia's participation from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which would be a big blow to the sport as such as Russian athletes have always cornered glory at Olympics.

The country has been embroiled in doping scandals since 2015. Many of its athletes have been barred from last two Olympic Games and the country was even stripped of its national flag at 2018 Pyoengchang Winter Olympics, but the total ban robs the country of a rich legacy.

Onus on Coe

Onus on Coe

IAAF chief Lord Sebastian Coe, himself a two-time Olympic champion has been doing his best to clean up the sport as well as to make it more attractive by adding events like World Relays, Mid-Night Marathons, though both events were a big disappointment.

Coe continued his efforts to have women represented at the highest level of sports by having former sprinter Ximena Restrepo as the first female IAAF Vice-President , but the manner in which he handled the Caster Semenya row also left a bad taste as athletics continued to struggle for identity in 2019.

For Quick Alerts
Subscribe Now
For Quick Alerts
ALLOW NOTIFICATIONS
For Daily Alerts

Story first published: Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 14:24 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 17, 2019
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. This includes cookies from third party social media websites and ad networks. Such third party cookies may track your use on Mykhel sites for better rendering. Our partners use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on Mykhel website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time. Learn more