Polish hammer thrower Dawid Pilat (© Getty Images)
Almost 1000 athletes representing 119 teams will be in action when the World Athletics U20 Championships Nairobi 21 takes place in Kenya from 17-22 August.
The opening ceremony will take place on 17 August ahead of the first day of competition on 18 August.
Here we take a look ahead to the men's jumps and throws.
Men’s high jump
Jonathan Kapitolnik made history last month in Tallinn when he became Israel's first ever European U20 champion and now he will be looking to achieve a similar feat on the global stage. Niki Palli’s high jump silver from 2006 is the nation’s best result at the World U20 Championships so far and Kapitolnik proved last month that he has the potential to emulate that. Keeping his cool after two failed attempts at 2.21m, the 18-year-old decided to skip straight to a PB height of 2.25m and soared clear to get the gold.
Second on that day with a 2.23m clearance was Poland’s Mateusz Kolodziejski and the pair will go head-to-head again in Nairobi as they top the entry list. Joining them on the medal hunt will be three 2.20m jumpers in Nigerian U20 record-holder Omamuyovwi Best Erhire, South African 17-year-old Brian Raats and authorised neutral athlete Matvey Tychinkin, plus Canada’s Aiden Grout who set a PB of 2.19m at the start of this month.
Men’s pole vault
Another athlete seeking more success after a win at the European U20 Championships is French vaulter Anthony Ammirati, who cleared 5.64m to triumph in Tallinn. That performance came after a national U20 record clearance of 5.72m in June and he tops the entry list by 12 centimetres. As in the high jump, the top two from the European U20s both compete, with Ammirati joined by Belarusian 17-year-old Matvei Volkov, who set a world U18 best of 5.60m in February.
The field features another record-holder in South Africa’s Kyle Rademeyer, who cleared 5.55m for an African U20 record last November and achieved the same feat indoors when soaring over 5.53m in February. Authorised neutral athlete Aleksandr Solovyov with an indoor best of 5.45m, and Oleksandr Onufriyev of Ukraine with a 5.44m PB, will also be looking to challenge for medals.
Men’s long jump
After European U18 bronze in 2018 and European U20 silver last month, Bryan Mucret will be looking for world gold to complete his medal set. The French 19-year-old jumped 7.93m in Tallinn for a mark which puts him top of the entry list as he looks to claim his nation’s first medal in this event. It’s close at the top, however, and Erwan Konate doubles those medal chances for France as his best, also set this year, is just 2cm off his teammate’s and he joined Mucret on the European U20 podium with that performance to claim bronze.
Brazil’s Gabriel Luiz Boza will also be looking to become his nation’s first long jump medallist following his PB of 7.90m set in May, while Jamaica’s Jordan Turner and Kavian Kerr have achieved 7.80m jumps this season.
Men’s triple jump
Sweden’s Gabriel Wallmark is another athlete heading to Nairobi as the newly crowned European U20 champion and he is one of two 16m-plus athletes on the entry list. The 19-year-old set a national U20 record of 16.39m to win in Tallinn, adding more than a metre to his pre-2021 best to beat Bulgaria’s Dimitar Tashev, who leapt a wind-assisted 16.18m (3.5m/s) and joins him in Nairobi, with a legal best of 15.78m.
Jamaican 16-year-old Jaydon Hibbert has also soared 16 metres this year, jumping 16.02m to win at the NACAC U18 Championships, where he also claimed long jump silver. Austria’s Endiorass Kingley and Simon Gore of France had respective bests of 15.84m and 15.80m set this year.
Men’s shot put
Never before had an athlete from Kosovo claimed European gold in any event across all the age groups but in Tallinn Muhamet Ramadani had the competition of his life to take the U20 title. Improving his pre-season outdoor best by more than a metre, any of his valid throws would have been enough to win, his best being his last round national U20 record throw of 19.92m. The 19-year-old, who also holds the senior national shot put and discus records, will be hoping to pick up from where he left off when he returns to the circle in Nairobi.
Cuba’s 2019 Pan American U20 bronze medallist Juan Carley Vazquez Gomez is the sole 20 metre-plus thrower among the entries thanks to his national U20 record-equalling 20.32m achieved last year. In 2021 his best is 19.78m which should see him challenge for the medals. Top of the entry list is Turkey’s Savas Parlak who threw 19.96m in June and will be looking to bounce back after his 10th-place finish at the European U20 Championships.
Going by his recent performances, Lithuania’s Mykolas Alekna looks set to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a global champion. The son of 2000 and 2004 Olympic gold medallist Virgilijus, Mykolas has thrown 69.77m this year, a mark which puts him second on the world U20 all-time list behind Ukraine’s Mykyta Nesterenko with 70.13m set in 2008, and he won the European U20 title by more than six metres with a best of 68.00m.
Looking to challenge him will be Jamaica’s Ralford Mullings, who threw 66.61m in June and will be hoping to join his compatriot Fedrick Dacres, the world senior silver medallist, in claiming world U20 gold. Iran’s two medals at the World U20 Championships have come in the men’s discus – via 2012 Olympic silver medallist Ehsan Hadadi and Mahmoud Samimi – and Sadegh Samimishalamzari, following his PB of 62.09m in June, will hope to become the third on that list. Uladzislau Puchko of Belarus is also back in action after claiming bronze in the European U20 final won by Mykolas Alekna.
Continuing the strength in Polish hammer throwing is Dawid Pilat, who saved his best until last to win the European U20 title in Tallinn, breaking the national U20 record in the process. With 79.59m he got the gold ahead of Germany’s world leader Merlin Hummel, who will not be competing in Nairobi. Third on that day was Jean Baptiste Bruxelle of France, who threw 77.90m in Tallinn but improved his PB to 80.94m last month and leads the entries. He also threw 80.63m in May. Orestis Ntousakis of Greece has a best of 78.07m, while Canadian U20 record-holder Ethan Katzberg (77.97m) and Cuba’s Ronald Mencia Zayas (77.20m) have both also surpassed 77 metres.
Five years on from his world U20 title win, Neeraj Chopra became the Olympic champion, claiming India’s first ever Olympic athletics gold medal in Tokyo. The field in Nairobi includes two of the nation’s rising athletics stars who will no doubt be among those left inspired by Chopra’s feat.
Kunwer Ajai Raj Singh Rana won the Indian U20 Championships with a PB throw of 74.75m at the start of this month, while Jay Kumar was second on that occasion and has a best of 72.29m. The world leader is Ukraine’s Artur Felfner, who launched the javelin 78.41m to win the European U20 title by more than five metres and leads the entries for Nairobi by more than three metres ahead of Poland’s Eryk Kołodziejczak with 74.77m from May. Finland’s Janne Laspa was sixth in Tallinn but set a PB of 73.97m last month, while Italy’s Giovanni Frattini (73.78m PB) and Nigeria’s Nnamdi Chinecherem (73.45m PB) are also among those who could challenge for medals.
Jess Whittington for World Athletics