Allyson Felix, 400 Meter Mixed
The start of the World Athletics Championships in Eugene could not have been better chosen. On today’s opening day, the final in the mixed relay over 400 meters is on the program. And the great woman in athletics, Allyson Felix, will be there for the last time. The record of the 36-year-old is unbelievable. She has already won 13 world championship titles, more than any other athlete to date. She also won seven gold medals at the Olympic Games. Felix is not only the most successful, but she is also considered to be the most aesthetic athlete in history. “She just runs so beautifully,” says Berlin sprinter Lisa Marie Kwayie. Felix is only 1.68 meters tall, but her strides during her sprints are as expansive as those of her male colleagues.
The American is a devout Christian. Her talent is God-given, she says. For many years little was known about the exceptional sprinter who avoided the limelight. But four years ago she made it public that her sponsor Nike wanted to cut her salary because she had become a mother. A wave of indignation gripped the sporting goods giant, and Felix received a lot of encouragement. Nike steered one, changing its maternity leave policy. Felix, however, renounced the sponsorship, which further increased her sympathy ratings. Another medal should come on Friday.
Armand Duplantis, pole vaultFor many years it was thought that pole vaulting would forever be associated with Ukrainian athlete Sergei Bubka. Bubka was almost unbeatable in the eighties and nineties. With the salami tactic, he improved his world record by one centimeter in competition after competition and thus raked in a number of prizes. In the meantime, however, Bubka has been replaced. The new skipper’s name is Armand Duplantis. His world record is 6.20 meters indoors and 6.16 meters outdoors.
Duplantis was born with the talent and the joy of the difficult discipline. He grew up in Lafayette, a city in the US state of Louisiana. Even as a small child he practiced with a broomstick in the living room. At the age of seven he jumped his first records. But not only talent and joy made him a great jumper.
As with many exceptional athletes, Duplantis benefited from the encouragement of his parents. His father Greg was a professional pole vaulter, his mother Helena a successful heptathlete for Sweden. Because of his mother’s origin, Duplantis starts for Sweden. The support even went so far that Greg and Helena Duplantis had a high jump facility built for their son near their parents’ house.
Under these conditions, a giant in the high jump quickly grew up. “This lightness is just impressive,” says national pole vault coach Christine Adams. Almost certainly “Mondo”, as he is called, will again jump over a height on July 24th that all other competitors only dream of.
Malaika Mihambo, long jump For many in sports, things like meditation or autogenic training are still nonsense. Malaika Mihambo is impressive proof of the effect such mental work can have in competition. The 28-year-old is not only calm in person, especially in tricky situations, but is also capable of exceptional performance. All too often their best jump is their last in the competition. “Through meditation I can distance myself from my feelings and thoughts. I can get into a kind of observer role in a competition and analyze myself and then change things,” she says. In addition to her mental strength, she impresses with her run-up. No other long jumper is anywhere near as fast as Mihambo, who occasionally competes in the 100 or 200 meters. So far this year, the Tokyo Olympic champion has held the record with a jump of 7.09 meters. If the long jump decision is due in Eugene, also on the last day of the World Cup, it may well be that the German saves the best for last – and then becomes world champion again.
Karsten Warholm, 400 meter hurdlesAs a child, Karsten Warholm wanted to be like so many footballers. The Norwegian was also quite good as an attacker, above all he was insanely fast. So fast that he sometimes found it difficult to control the ball and he did the obvious thing: he switched to athletics. The 26-year-old is now one of the most exciting athletes. In Tokyo, he improved his own world record over 400 meters hurdles by 76 hundredths to 45.94 seconds. That’s a time that biomechanics hardly thought possible until recently. Warholm says he doesn’t plan his runs and just runs. That sounds like a simple recipe for success. But in the background, the coaching luminary Leif Olav Alnes has been working with him for many years. Alnes is a bright mind, a biomechanist who has already developed sophisticated training concepts for many athletes. The Eugene race could come too early for Warholm, though. He’s been struggling with injuries lately. The Brazilian Alison dos Santos is the favorite to win next Wednesday.
Yulimar Rojas, triple jumpThere are athletes with long legs and athletes with very long legs. And there is Yulimar Rojas. The German triple jumper Kristin Gierisch told the “Welt” that she was jealous of Rojas’ long legs. “They are endless. They stop where my top begins. Genetically, she was kissed by God.” In the sand pit, this is reflected in the world record distances of 15.74 meters (indoors) and 15.67 meters (outdoors). The Venezuelan is trained by the former exceptional jumper Ivan Pedroso. In her home country, Rojas is a heroine – also because she was not afraid to make her membership in the LGBT community public. In Eugene, the woman with endless legs is the big favorite on Tuesday in the triple jump. She would also have liked to compete in the long jump. But because she recently competed in a long jump competition with soles that were five millimeters too thick (20 millimeters are allowed in long jump, 25 millimeters in triple jump), she was denied the start in this discipline.
Erriyon Knighton, 200 meters There won’t be a faster sprinter than Usain Bolt anytime soon. Until recently, most observers of athletics were convinced of this. But now almost nobody thinks that way anymore. There’s Erriyon Knighton, an 18-year-old American who recently smashed the teenage days of the great Usain Bolt. With 19.49 seconds, he set a U20 world record over 200 meters this spring. In general, only three seniors were faster than the young Knighton. “Is the world record in jeopardy?” Knighton asked on Instagram. The answer is clear: definitely. Maybe not this year, but maybe next year or the one after that. In the 200-meter final next Friday, he is likely to fight for victory with his compatriot Noah Lyles. Most recently, in July, Knighton was still at a disadvantage and then had to listen to pithy challenges from Lyles. In any case, Knighton is planning revenge.