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Emerging stars Noah Lyles, Salwa Eid Naser and Selemon Barega (Getty Images) © Copyright
Series

Nine things for 2019: emerging stars

Throughout the first nine days of 2019, we will be taking a look at nine things we're really looking forward to as we enter another IAAF World Athletics Championships year.

Yesterday we focused on established stars who will be returning from injury. Today we look at…

Rising stars set to make an impact in 2019

 

Sydney McLaughlin

Off the back of winning the IAAF Female Rising Star award in December, the versatile US sprinter and hurdler was featured in our ‘Gen 10’ series at the end of 2018 when we profiled 10 up-and-coming athletes.

After years of breaking various age-group records, McLaughlin enjoyed one of her best ever seasons in 2018 as she broke her own world U20 400m hurdles record with 53.60 and then reduced it to 52.75 (pending ratification). Her latter run was a world-leading time and moved her into the top 10 on the world all-time list, despite being just 18 years old at the time.

A student at the University of Kentucky, McLaughlin enjoyed full and successful collegiate seasons indoors and outdoors in 2018 before turning professional. Now coached by 2004 Olympic 100m hurdles champion Joanna Hayes, 2019 will be McLaughlin’s first year on the elite international circuit.

Sydney McLaughlin in the 400m hurdles at the NCAA Championships (Kirby Lee)Sydney McLaughlin in the 400m hurdles at the NCAA Championships (Kirby Lee) © Copyright

 

 

Noah Lyles

The US sprinter has already established himself as one of the best in the world, having won the IAAF Diamond League 200m title for two years running. But he continues to go from strength to strength and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Undefeated at 200m in 2018, Lyles ran faster than 19.70 on four occasions, topped by his world-leading 19.65. He also clocked a PB of 9.88 to win the US 100m title.

 

Michael Norman

The NCAA champion will try to ensure that Lyles doesn’t have it all his own way in the longer sprints in 2019. Norman had a sensational collegiate campaign last year, which included a (yet-to-be-ratified) world indoor 400m record of 44.52 and a world-leading 43.61 outdoors.

Like McLaughlin, Norman turned professional after the NCAA Championships. He went on to win the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris, clocking a PB of 19.84.

Michael Norman (right) and Rai Benjamin (left) in the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris (Kirby Lee)Michael Norman (right) and Rai Benjamin (left) in the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris (Kirby Lee) © Copyright

 

 

Rai Benjamin

The 400m hurdler was a teammate of Norman’s at the University of Southern California and had an equally impressive season in 2018. Following an indoor 200m PB of 20.34 and an outdoor 400m PB of 44.74 earlier in the year, he went on to win the NCAA 400m hurdles title in 47.02, the second-fastest performance in history at that time.

He too turned professional at the end of his collegiate campaign and produced some notable marks on the IAAF Diamond League circuit before turning his attention to preparing for 2019. It will surely be just a matter of time before a highly anticipated showdown with Abderrahman Samba.

 

Selemon Barega

The Ethiopian teenager produced one of the biggest surprises of the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels as he won the 5000m in a world-leading 12:43.02, smashing the world U20 record in the process.

A world U20 champion in 2016 and world U18 champion in 2017, Barega will still be an U20 athlete in 2019 but he has already shown he has the ability to take on – and beat – the best in the world.

 

Alina Shukh

Another one of our Gen 10 athletes, the Ukrainian combined eventer upstaged the javelin specialists at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 by taking gold in that event. She had been tipped to win the heptathlon two days later but ultimately had to withdraw with injury.

Shukh might not be ready to displace Nafissatou Thiam at the top of the heptathlon pecking order just yet, but they have similar strengths and weaknesses so it will be fascinating to see their clashes throughout 2019 and beyond.

Alina Shukh in the javelin at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (Roger Sedres)Alina Shukh in the javelin at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (Roger Sedres) © Copyright

 

 

Niklas Kaul

In a year full of decathlon drama with the European title being won by Arthur Abele on home soil and the world record being broken a few weeks later by Kevin Mayer, Niklas Kaul’s step up to the senior ranks almost went unnoticed.

Aged just 20, Kaul set a PB of 8205 at the Hypo Meeting in Götzis and improved on that with 8220 to finish a highly respectable fourth at the European Championships in Berlin.

Mayer might be head and shoulders above his rivals, but he isn’t immune from making mistakes. And if they happen, athletes like Kaul could be poised to strike.

 

Salwa Eid Naser

It feels as though the Bahraini sprinter has already been around for a while, given everything she has achieved, but it is easy to forget she is still only 20 years old.

She went from being world U18 champion in 2015 to an Olympic semi-finalist one year later and then a senior world silver medallist in 2017. In 2018, her first year in the senior ranks, she reduced her 400m PB to an Asian record of 49.08 and won the IAAF Diamond League title.

Aside from McLaughlin, Barega, Shukh and Naser, other athletes who featured in our Gen 10 series and are worth keeping an eye on include Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis, Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams, Cuban long jumper Juan Miguel Echevarria, Kenyan distance runner Rhonex Kipruto, Norwegian middle-distance runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Kenyan steeplechaser Celliphine Chespol.