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Yearender 2021: Elaine Thompson-Herah, Jamaica's queen of athletics track!

Elaine Thompson-Herah

Bengaluru, December 30: Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah hogged the limelight in international athletics in the calendar year 2021, which saw the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics being held finally after being pushed back by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Tokyo, Thompson-Herah produced one of the finest sprint seasons in history this year, retaining her Olympic 100M and 200M titles and adding a third gold medal in the 4x100M relay.

On top of her Olympic triple, she also clocked world-leading times of 10.54 and 21.53 over 100M and 200M respectively, moving to second on the world all-time lists and coming within touching distance of the long-standing world records as the 29-year-old was rightly adjudged Women's Athlete of The Year by World Athletics.

And with the Athletics World Championships coming up next year, the treble Tokyo Olympic Games gold medallist clearly has set her priorities clear.

"The World Championships in Oregon is most definitely my next big target. It's close to home, I hope friends and family can come out and watch. I hope I get some crowd as well. That couldn't happen in Tokyo, but hopefully in Eugene, I can get my friends and family to come and cheer me on."

Warholm dazzles

Warholm dazzles

The corresponding honour in the men's section went to Norway's Karsten Warholm, who uncorked one of the most remarkable performances in athletics history when he stormed to gold in the 400M hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics.

Having already broken the world record with 46.70 in Oslo in the lead-up to the Games, Warholm exceeded all expectations in the Japanese capital to claim gold in a stunning world record of 45.94. In a race of incredible depth, the top three athletes finished inside the pre-2021 world record.

Talking point of 2021

Talking point of 2021

The shared high jump victory in Tokyo Olympics between Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi became one of the biggest talking points of 2021, not only for everything it represented in their own individual careers, having both battled serious injuries since the last Games, but mainly for the act of respect and sportsmanship between two friends as the duo won the inspiration award.

"It is just crazy if I think about this story," said Tamberi. "Thank you very much for this trophy. "I now call Mutaz like five times a week because I need to speak with him. I feel that now we are not just friends, we are really like blood brothers." Barshim added: "I hope to inspire more people to love our sport and maybe share a gold one day!"

Honour for Anju

Honour for Anju

Year 2021 saw India making giant strides in world athletics with javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra clinching the first individual gold medal for the country.

The country had more to cheer when ace Indian long jumper Anju Bobby George was crowned Woman of the Year at the 2021 by the World Athletics. Anju's efforts in advancing the sport in India as well as inspiring more women to follow in her footsteps made her recipient of this year's award.

Challenges in 2022

Challenges in 2022

The spate of doping scandals and mental health of the athletes in the post COVID-19 scenario are some of the challenges which World Athletics, itself headed by an Olympian in Sebastian Coe, will have to address in 2022.

With Olympics being pushed by a year, the World Athletics Championships also followed the path and as the New Year dawns, all eyes will be on the showpiece event which will now be held from July 15 to 24 in Oregon, US. Bring it on!

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Story first published: Thursday, December 30, 2021, 10:37 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 30, 2021