The IAAF World Youth Championships were introduced in 1999 to give youngsters aged from 15 to 17 the opportunity to compete internationally. For most of the young runners, jumpers and throwers who will perform on the track and in the fields, Sherbrooke will remain an unforgettable stepping stone in what we hope will be a successful career in the sport.
The IAAF World Youth Championships are by definition the competition of figures, ages and performances.
So let’s have a look at the figures of this year’s championships. The title of oldest competitor of the championships is shared by three athletes: Julia Mächtig of Germany, Saikou Yaya Barry of Guinea and Quinton Gamble of Canada.
The three athletes share the same birth date of 1 January 1986 and are therefore 17 years and 190 days as of 9 July 2003 (day of the opening ceremony).
Gamble also had the privilege to be among the first athletes to perform on the Sherbrooke University track as he was lining up in the fourth heat of 400m Hurdles, the first track event of the day.
Gamble finished fourth of his heat in a new personal best of 53.39 and advanced to the next round as the fastest loser.
A 1500m specialist, Barry is to make his debut in these championships tomorrow morning while Mächtig will start her two-day heptathlon effort on Saturday.
There is no sharing the title of youngest competitor of the championships this so called honour going to Pasalia Chepkorir Kipkoech of Kenya who at the tender age of 14 years and 199 days won silver in the 3000m final yesterday evening.
The youngest boy of these championships is Hungary’s Sandor Palhegyi whose birth certificate states he was born on 4 November 1988.
The 14-year-and-246-days old hammer thrower will not be content with just that symbolic title. Today, he automatically qualified for the finals with a 73.16m effort and now stands amongst the favourite for a medal.
Several athletes also celebrate their birthdays during the Championships. Vanessa Alesiani of Italy who jumped an automatic qualifier 12.85m in the Triple Jump this morning will celebrate her 17th birthday tomorrow.
Algeria’s Lynda Bouzenad will turn 17 on Saturday while the last day of the competition will see Rebecca Forlong (NZL), Yu-Hsin Liao (TPE) and Céline Pace (MLT) celebrate their 17th as well.
Yesterday’s opening ceremony also marked the birthdays of Jamaica’s Sonita Sutherland, Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Al-Sharfa and Ecuador’s Esteban Lucero who both turned 16.