Check out our list of teens really set to shine on the world stage in 2014, featuring Mary Cain, Eleanor Patterson and Conseslus Kipruto.
1. Mary Cain, 17, USA, middle-distance
Was there a more talked about young athlete in 2013? In just twelve months, Mary Cain smashed US high school records over 800m, 1500m and 5000m and became the youngest ever athlete to represent the US at an IAAF World Athletics Championships, where she made the 1500m final. Now managed by Ricky Simms, and training in Oregon alongside Mo Farah, expect Marycainia to continue in 2014.
2. Sofi Flinck, 18, Sweden, javelin
Sofi Flinck looks set to uphold a rich Scandinavian tradition in the javelin. In 2013, the Swedish athlete recorded the six longest throws by a junior, scooping European junior gold before setting a national record of 61.96m in qualifying at the Moscow 2013 World Championships. Flinck, who finished tenth in the final, is coached by Finland’s Petteri Piironen, who also guides the career of Kenya’s javelin sensation Julius Yego.
3. Robert Kiptoo Biwott, 17, Kenya, middle-distance
Robert Kiptoo Biwott’s victory over 1500m at the world youth champs was nothing short of emphatic. The rangy Kenyan stormed to gold by a margin of five seconds with a confident display of front running. Registering an impressive time of 3:36.77 in Donestk, he’s quickly demonstrating the hallmarks of a future middle-distance superstar.
4. Arman Hall, 19, USA, 400m
The former wide receiver is the latest talent off the US production line. He climbed to sixth on the all-time US junior list with a 44.82 clocking in the semi-finals at the national champs. After reaching the semis in Moscow, Hall’s decisive third leg performance helped Team USA secure 4x400m gold. All set for a monster 2014: American football’s loss is athletics’ gain.
5. Yanique Thompson, 17, Jamaica, 100m hurdles
Jamaica boasts a glittering history in the sprints but future honours may come courtesy of hurdler Yanique Thompson. Hailing from Spanish Town, where Yohan Blake attended school, Thompson made history at the 2013 World Youth Championships. She became the first Jamaican to post a world record over the barriers, in any age group, crossing the line in 12.94 to set a world youth record.
6. Jessica Judd, 19, Great Britain, middle-distance
The winner of the 800m at both the 2013 European Team Championship and Birmingham Diamond League, Jessica Judd is surely a future star. Injury prevented the biochemistry student from a better showing at the world champs, but we expect Jessica, a sub two-minute performer, to prosper at this year’s Commonwealth Games and European champs.
7. Conseslus Kipruto, 19, Kenya, 3000m steeplechase
Only the legendary Ezekiel Kemboi stood between Kipruto and World Championship gold at Moscow 2013. His winning time of 8:01.16 in the Shanghai Diamond League is the second fastest in history by a junior. Could 2014 be the year that Conseslus Kipruto dominates the steeplechase?
8. Eleanor Patterson, 17, Australia, high jump
Last month in Townsville, Queensland, Eleanor Patterson leapt 1.96m at the Australian All-Schools Championships, a performance that would have been good enough for seventh at Moscow 2013. She equalled the world youth best mark, and went to joint eighth on the all-time world junior list. Patterson has a big year ahead, with the world junior champs followed by the Commonwealth Games.
9. Javon Francis, 19, Jamaica, 400m
Last season, the athlete known as ‘Donkey Man’ blitzed to a personal best of 45.24 to finish second at the Jamaican Championships and reached the 400m semi-finals in Moscow. Yet it was his blistering 44.00 anchor leg to help haul Jamaica from fifth to the silver medal in the relay that really yanked our chain.
10. Nafissatou Thiam, 19, Belgium, heptathlon
The heptathlon’s already awash with young talent but get set for the arrival Nafissatou Thiam. Although her world junior indoor pentathlon record of 4558pts in Ghent last winter was never officially ratified, the occupational therapy student secured heptathlon gold at the European juniors and finished 14th in Moscow. Born to a Belgian mother and Senegalese father, the gifted high jumper has a PB of 1.92m.