After a brilliant season of track and field, we’re itching to get back in the starting blocks in the new year. Here’s why we think 2014 is going to be awesome.
1. The comebacks
Some amazing athletes missed large chunks of the 2013 season through injury. We’re hoping that the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill, David Rudisha, Sanya Richards-Ross and Yohan Blake can return to full fitness and hit their world-class strides in the 2014 season.
2. World records
Wilson Kipsang’s blistering marathon time of 2:03:23 in Berlin meant that 2013 dodged the bullet of being the first in 106 years in which no world record was set in a recognised Olympic track and field event.
Surely, with no Olympics or world outdoor champs, 2014 will see a few more tumble? We’re looking at you, Bohdan Bondarenko (Ukraine’s world HJ champ / ‘human kangaroo’) and Brianna Rollins. (who came within 0.05 of Yordanka Donkova’s 25-year-old 100m hurdles WR in June). No pressure, then…
3. An Ashton Eaton special
After World and Olympic decathlon champion AND world record holder Ashton Eaton competes in the heptathlon at the Sopot 2014 World Indoor Championships in March, he will take a break from multi-events to specialise in the 400m hurdles.
We’re excited. Eaton, 25, ran a 400m flat best of 45.64 last April – quicker than the 400m personal bests of the past two world 400m hurdles champions Jehue Gordon and Dai Greene. And his 110m hurdles PB of 13.35 would have been good enough for seventh at the Moscow 2013 World Championships.
Like all great superheroes, the Man of Steel will test his powers to the limit by taking on the world’s best 400m hurdlers in the summer.
4. Europe expects
This grand old event has lost some of its lustre in recent years, having switched from a quadrennial to a biennial competition in 2012 – which also clashed with an Olympic year.
We reckon that the Zurich 2014 European Championships, staged by the people behind the awesome Weltklasse Diamond League meet, and with no Olympic or worlds distraction, will be a real return to form.
5. Marathon Mo
He’s already the world and Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion, and became the sixth fastest 1500m runner ever last year. For his next trick, Farah will run the London Marathon in April.
Not only is this a feat of outstanding athletic ability, but his 26.2-mile debut will bring the capital of England to a standstill of Mobots. We can’t wait.
6. The home crowds
London 2012 and Moscow 2013 both really benefited from plenty of host nation success. Now it’s the turn of the Poles (for the world indoors in Sopot), Scots (at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow), Swiss (at the euros in Zurich), Moroccans (at the continental cup in Marrakech) and Bahamians (for the world relay champs). Your country and your sport needs you!
7. Beach batons
It is SUCH a good idea – you wonder why it wasn’t done years ago. In May, the inaugural IAAF World Relay Championships will burst into life in The Bahamas: home to the reigning men’s 4x400m champions.
With men’s and women’s world medals up for grabs in the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m AND 4x1500m; strong attendance from elite athletes and great local support: this could be the start of something very special.
8. American Track League
SPIKES loves a little bit of innovation and the inaugural American Track League series – five one-day meets across southern and south-east US - certainly offers something a little different. With a live band in situ, and a quick-fire competition shoe horned into a high-speed two to two-and-a-half hour package the series would appear to offer a fresh and exciting way of presenting the sport.
9. Born in the USA
For the first time in TWENTY-SEVEN years, the world’s strongest athletics nation is staging its first global track and field championships (the inaugural world indoor champs were staged in Indianapolis in 1987).
The Eugene 2014 World Junior Championships descend on Oregon in July: a significant breakthrough for a country where athletics, or ‘track’, has a mystifyingly low profile. A successful world juniors at Track Town (followed by the senior world indoors in Portland in 2016) could pave the way for something much bigger in the US of A…
10. Usain Bolt
He has dominated world sprinting for six years, and he makes people smile. All we need from the five-time winner of the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year is to continue being the ultimate sporting superstar.
11. The world runs…
Thirty thousand people will take part in a mass-participation race as part of the Copenhagen 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in March. It’s a great way to bring the sport to life, and a wonderful opportunity for Joe Public to get a taste of elite athletics.