Mine De Klerk and Erriyon Knighton
As the countdown to the World Athletics Awards 2022 continues, we shine a spotlight on the five women and five men who have been nominated for this year’s Rising Star awards.
The winners will be selected by an international panel of experts and be announced on World Athletics’ social media platforms in early December.
Mine De Klerk
Just like she did in 2021, Mine De Klerk became a double world U20 medallist in 2022, retaining her shot put crown and securing bronze in the discus at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Cali.
The South African 19-year-old started her season strongly, surpassing 17 metres in the shot put with 17.04m in San Diego in March. Only she would go further in the U20 ranks throughout the rest of the season, which she ended with seven of the world’s top 10 U20 performances to her name.
Her world U20-leading 17.19m was set at April’s Hayward Premiere at Hayward Field, which would later welcome athletes for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. Now studying at the University of Oregon, it’s a venue De Klerk knows well.
In Cali, De Klerk improved with each of her first three throws, recording 17.17m in the third round to win by 33cm ahead of Turkey’s Pinar Akyol, who secured her second consecutive silver after also finishing runner-up in Nairobi.
“Once I threw the first shot, all the nerves just rolled off my shoulders and I enjoyed it,” said De Klerk. “It wasn't the best opener, but I was still happy with it and I just wanted to improve on every throw, and that's what I did.”
As well as her shot put success, De Klerk improved her discus best to an area U20 record of 54.22m and threw 53.54m – the second best performance of her career so far – to achieve another world U20 podium place after the silver she secured in Nairobi last year.
It was an impressive double that saw her compete on three consecutive days, qualifying for both finals on the first day of the championships – the shot put in the morning and the discus in the afternoon – before the shot put final on day two and the discus final on day three.
Erriyon Knighton was named winner of the men’s Rising Star honour in 2021 and his achievements this year have put him in the frame again. Impressively, he’ll still be eligible for the U20 age group throughout 2023.
After finishing fourth in the Olympic 200m final in Tokyo, Knighton went one better at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, getting bronze behind Noah Lyles and Kenny Bednarek in a US sweep of the medals. The performance saw 18-year-old Knighton become the youngest ever individual sprint medallist in the history of the World Athletics Championships.
“It feels good, to be so young and be on the podium. There's more to come,” he said. “Noah Lyles told me I will be one of the greatest in the sport. It feels good coming from him.”
Lyles was the only athlete to go faster than Knighton during the outdoor season. The 25-year-old ran a US record of 19.31 to win the world title and also clocked 19.46 in Monaco, just 0.03 quicker than the PB Knighton recorded in Baton Rouge in April – that 19.49 putting the teenager fifth on the world all-time list.
While that mark couldn’t be ratified as a world U20 record, Knighton also clocked 19.69 to finish second behind Lyles at the US Championships and that performance is awaiting ratification as it is faster than the world U20 record of 19.84 Knighton recorded on the same Hayward Field track a year earlier.
As well as his medal-winning and record-setting success in 2022, Knighton also won the 200m at the Brussels Diamond League meeting, was second in Monaco and fourth in the final in Zurich. In the 100m, he improved his PB to 10.04.