Ethiopia’s first world-class female half-miler looked on track for medals at the Olympic Games after defeating a stellar field containing Mariya Savinova, Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei and Caster Semenya in the Rome Diamond League in May. She then improved her national record to 1:57.48 in New York on her 20th birthday but a leg injury abruptly ruled her out for the rest of the year.
At 20, Magiso isn’t the finished article yet. Her pacing can be erratic and her form isn’t textbook but she’s very strong and possesses enviable 400m pace. With a bit of refinement, she’s considered by many a contender for future global titles.
Savinova holds a dominant grip on major 800m titles for the time being but future global finals could pit Magiso against this teenager from Burundi who first came to attention at the African Championships. She won the title in just her third sanctioned race at the distance in 1:59.11, a day after running the entirety of her semi-final from lane two!
Niyonsaba displayed outrageous inexperience on her first venture in Diamond League competition in Monaco but she was still rewarded with a runner-up finish in 1:58.68. She continued to improve substantially by finishing seventh in the Olympic final before settling into life on the European circuit with back-to-back victories over Savinova in Brussels and Rieti.
The likes of Ezekiel Kemboi, Paul Kipsiele Koech and Brimin Kipruto have been mainstays at the highest echelons of steeplechasing over the past decade but the future looks in safe hands as they reach the latter stages of their careers. The new batch of world-class Kenyans is led by world junior champion Conseslus Kipruto (or Conselus, depending on which source you use) who is faster as a junior than the aforementioned triumvirate with 8:03.49 from the Monaco Diamond League.
Kipruto, who turned 18 last month, has another summer left in the junior ranks to challenge Saif Saaeed Shaheen’s world junior record of 7:58.86 and without the distraction of an age-group championships to think about, he will also have his sights set on his first senior appearance at the World Championships in Moscow.
The multiple NCAA champion opted to stay in the collegiate ranks after missing out on the team at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene and such are the strains of the collegiate season, we might have to wait until 2014 to see the Louisiana State student in peak form in major international competitions. Not yet a household name, Duncan has still finished the last two years ranked inside the world’s top-five on times for 200m so the 21-year-old is capable of making an impression at the World Championships assuming there’s something still in the tank after the exhaustion-inducing double-burden of the NCAA Championships and US Trials commitments.
Yordan L. O’Farrill
Even before pulling up injured in the Olympics, Dayron Robles admitted he’s been considering retirement which means Cuba’s hopes in the build-up to 2016 and beyond might rest with his training partner who won the world junior 110m hurdles title in the third fastest time ever of 13.18.
While Robles’ future on the track remains an uncertainty – and even more so after a recent dispute with his federation, O’Farrill cuts a strikingly similar figure to the former world record-holder. This year will be his first as a full-time senior athlete and it will indicate whether he can also match Robles’ on-track exploits.
The German set distances last year seldom achieved by junior athletes since the drug-fuelled era of Eastern Bloc dominance and her 63.38m discus PB was the longest throw by an under-20 athlete this millennium. Her transition into the senior ranks shouldn’t be too problematic either, as her world junior title was sandwiched between finals appearances in the European Championships and Olympic Games. Rather like her compatriot David Storl in the shot put, Rüh seems on a fast track to senior honours despite competing in a discipline with a bias towards older competitors.
A bit of an obvious choice but the Olympic silver medallist, who admittedly was hoping to be the first, could become the second non-American to break the 44-second barrier once he gains a bit more strength, which will come as he gets older. Remember, Santos only turned 19 last November.