Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Mondo and Sydney – Already athletes of the year?

Published:Saturday | August 13, 2022 | 12:09 AM
Armand Duplantis of Sweden.
Armand Duplantis of Sweden.
Sydney McLaughlin of the United States.
Sydney McLaughlin of the United States.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Shericka Jackson
Shericka Jackson
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The 2022 track and field season isn’t over. The prestigious World Athletics Diamond League has three more stops and, next week, Munich’s Olympiastadion will host the European Championships. However, it’s increasingly likely that world record...

The 2022 track and field season isn’t over. The prestigious World Athletics Diamond League has three more stops and, next week, Munich’s Olympiastadion will host the European Championships. However, it’s increasingly likely that world record breakers Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis of Sweden and American Sydney McLaughlin will be the 2022 male and female athletes of the year, respectively.

Undefeated, Duplantis and McLaughlin dazzled fans in Eugene at the World Athletics Championships. Duplantis, who does the pole vault for Sweden at next week’s European Championships, soared over 6.21 metres with McLaughlin chopping the 400 metre hurdles standard to 50.68 seconds. No one seems close to Duplantis but there is another woman who set a world record en route to gold in Eugene – Nigerian Tobi Amusan. Trained by Jamaican Lacena Golding-Clarke, Amusan scythed through her Eugene semi-final in 12.12 seconds before blitzing the final in a wind-assisted time of 12.06 seconds.

However, the Nigerian has lost a few races and McLaughlin actually lowered her world record twice. She won the United States Trials in 51.41 seconds to shave 0.05 hundredths of a second off the mark she produced to win the Olympic gold medal last year in Tokyo.

McLaughlin, who zoomed over the 100-metre hurdles at the Penn Relays in April in 12.75 seconds, closed her four-race 400 hurdles season after winning the Istvan Gyulai Memorial in Hungary with a time of 51.68 seconds on August 8. Theoretically, an undefeated World champion could overhaul her ... if a world record was set. Kenyan running machine Faith Kipyegon came close in the 1500 metres in Monaco earlier this week. Her lung busting run – three minute 50.37 seconds – was very close to Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba’s world mark of 3.50.07.

Other candidates to try to catch McLaughlin are Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas, who like Duplantis set a world indoor record this year, and the Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson.

All three World champions are undefeated in their prime events. The lanky Rojas won the World Indoor gold with the longest triple ever, 15.74 metres which is seven centimetres beyond the outdoor world record of 15.67m she flew to win the Olympic title last year. Fraser-Pryce is clicking off sub-10.7 times for fun and is down to 10.62 seconds in the 100m. Jackson has run the second and fourth fastest times in 200m history at 21.55 and 21.45 seconds, respectively. If they remain undefeated in the 100m and 200m, respectively and break the records set in 1988 at 10.49 and 21.34 seconds, it could get crowded at the top.

Conversely, another world record by Amusan might tip the scales her way.

When the European Championships start on August 15, another candidate for female Athlete of the Year might appear. She’s Olympic and World long jump champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany. Her personal best of 7.30 metres makes her the 12th best jumper ever. A bound past the world record of 7.52m would put her in the conversation.

– Hubert Lawrence