News24 Nov 2020

New stars emerge at World Athletics Championships Doha 2019


Halimah Nakaayi, Noah Lyles and Yaroslava Mahuchikh at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)

Some of the biggest names in the sport have cemented their legendary status by adding to their career medal haul at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.

But along with the established stars, several new names have emerged over the first five days of competition at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Having dominated the event on the international circuit over the past two years, USA’s Noah Lyles became the youngest ever winner of the men’s 200m at the World Championships, earning his maiden senior global title on Tuesday with a 19.83 run.

“Don't say I'm the new Bolt,” said Lyles. “I'm me. If you like me, I'll happily entertain you. It's my time.”

Earlier that evening, Lyles’ teammate and fellow 22-year-old Donavan Brazier broke the championship and North American records to win the 800m in 1:42.34.

“I've said all season that my goal was to get the gold here and to break this record, and that's what I did,” said Brazier, who had a winning margin of 1.13. “It means the world to me. To be world champion at 22 years old, I can't believe it.”

The women’s 800m had a surprise winner in the form of Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi. The 24-year-old produced the performance of her life to pass the pre-race favourites on the home straight, winning in 1:58.04. Compatriot Winnie Nanyondo, the fourth-place finisher, joined Nakaayi on a lap of honour, stopping every now and again to perform a celebratory dance.

“They will be very happy back home in Uganda, especially in the central part,” said Nakaayi. “They are dancing now. It is a historic day.”

Nakaayi’s gold medal was as much of a surprise as Tajay Gayle’s victory in the men’s long jump. The Jamaican had only just scraped through the first round as the 12th and last qualifier, but he dominated the final to win with 8.69m.

In the women’s throws, USA’s DeAnna Price and Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Barber won maiden global titles, Price winning the hammer with 77.54m and Barber launching a last-round effort of 66.56m to take the javelin.

Other medallists have emerged as a future force, too. Ethiopia’s 5000m silver medallist Selemon Barega and Ukraine’s high jump runner-up Yaroslava Mahuchikh became the first athletes born this century to win senior global medals.

“There's a really big difference between junior and senior global competitions,” observed Mahuchikh, who set a world U20 record of 2.04m. “I have competed with these girls all season, but to jump with them at the World Championships is a very special feeling.”

It’s not just the athletes breaking new ground; certain nations – such as Burkina Faso and The Gambia – have made it on to the medals and placings table for the first time in World Championships history. Already, with fewer than half of the finals having been contested, 28 nations have made it on to the medals table and 52 teams have had athletes achieve a top-eight finish.

The likes of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Christian Taylor may have achieved all-time great status here in Doha, but with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games just 10 months way, there appears to be many up-and-coming athletes also on the brink of super stardom.