The retirement of multiple World Record (WR) holder in the sprints, Usain Bolt, at the end of the World Championships, signaled the end of an era. The Jamaican legend completely dominated the 100m/200m for almost a decade, before calling time on his illustrious career.
In as much as we all agree that there can never be another Usain Bolt, we have however put together a list of up and coming young sprinters to watch out for in the post-Bolt era. In the first part of this series, we will feature Nos. 8 to 5 on our list. Here we go!
- Clarence Munyai
He has only spent three years in the sport but South African teenage sprinting sensation Clarence Munyai has already achieved a lot since stealing the spotlight at the 2016 South African Senior Championships where he won the 200m, becoming the second youngest ever senior champion in the 200m. He also made his debut at the Olympics and then finished 4th at the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships.
Munyai then moved things a notch higher in 2017. At the Gauteng North League meet held in March in South Africa, the 19-year old smashed the South African and African Junior Record of 20.16s set by Riaan Drempers in 1995, replacing it with a Personal Best (PB) of 20.10s while finishing 2nd to Akani Simbine in the 200m. He had earlier clocked a PB of 10.20s in 2nd place to Simbine in the 100m.
The young sprinter was a part of the historic men’s 300m race at the Golden Spike Meeting in Ostrava in June where he put up a spectacular performance to race to a World Junior Record (WJR) in the 300m, running a time of 31.61s to finish 3rd behind compatriot Wayde Van Niekerk who set a WR of 30.81s, and Botswana’s Isaac Makwala (31.44s). This makes him the first ever U-20 athlete to break 32s in the event.
A few days later, he stormed to victory in the 200m at the African Junior Championships in Tlemcen, Algeria with a time of 20.22s.
He made his debut at the IAAF World Championships in London as the second youngest competitor in the men’s 200m lineup. Although it wasn’t a good outing for the young sprinter as he was disqualified in his heat, Munyai is certainly one youngster that will light up the track in coming years.
Do you know that Clarence Munyai has an identical twin brother and is a very big fan of Boxing?
- Trayvon Bromell
US Sprinter Trayvon Bromell may not have enjoyed a spectacular season; nevertheless, we still believe he is one of the young sprinters that will make a difference in the post-Bolt era, especially with the emergence of another young American rival Christian Coleman, expected to spice things up within the US and beyond.
Bromell demonstrated his potential to the world after upstaging his older rivals to claim a Bronze medal in the men’s 100m at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. He won the 60m at the 2016 World Indoors in Portland, and then placed 8th in the 100m final at the Rio Olympics.
Bromell was injured prior to the Olympics but competed at the US Trials to earn his spot. He had to undergo an Achilles surgery after the competition. The 22-year old raced only once this year (since the Rio Olympics), competing in the heats of the 100m at the US Track and Field Championships where he finished 3rd in his heat in a time of 10.22s and didn’t make the next round.
He said afterwards: “When I got to like, 50m, I started feeling some pain. I wanted to show people that I’ve got heart. Next year, you’re going to see a new Trayvon.” Next season, we definitely hope to see a brand new Trayvon Bromell rekindling his rivalry with Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, his compatriots Noah Lyles and Coleman, and other emerging sprinters.
Do you know that Bromell is the first ever Junior athlete to break the 10s barrier in the 100m and became the fastest teenager ever when he ran a 9.84s at the 2015 US Trials?
- Abdul Hakim Sani Brown
Abdul Hakim Sani Brown burst on the limelight after claiming the sprint double as a 16-year old at the 2015 IAAF World U-18 Championships, running Championship Records (CR) of 10.28s in the 100m, and erasing the former 200m CR set by Usain Bolt, replacing it with a time of 20.34s.
He went on to compete at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing where he got to the semis of the 200m. What an impressive result from a 16-year old debutante! At the end of that year, he was named the IAAF (Male) Rising Star, underlining his status as one to watch out for in the near future.
This year, Sani Brown upstaged his older rivals to storm to the sprint double at the Japanese National Championships, equaling the Japanese National Record (NR) of 10.05s in the 100m, which is also a Japanese U-20 Record and CR. It is also the fastest time in the world by a junior athlete this year. He made it a double by clocking a Personal Best (PB) of 20.32s, becoming the first Japanese sprinter to achieve such a feat in 14 years.
Having sealed his place at the 2017 World Championships in London, Sani Brown looked forward to racing with Bolt in the 100m. He said, “This will be Usain Bolt’s last appearance at the tournament so I will try my best to race against him in the final”.
Unfortunately, the wish of the 18-year old who was the youngest contender in the sprints in London, didn’t come to pass. Having equaled his PB to win his heat in 10.05s, finishing ahead of Yohan Blake, he placed 7th in the semis (10.28s) and didn’t make the final.
He had a better outing in the 200m where he was 2nd in his heat, following Blake in 20.52s, before placing 2nd behind Jereem Richards in 20.43s to book a place in the final where he finished in 7th position (20.63s). Sani Brown joined the University of Florida this autumn, and will be looking forward to doing the Gators proud in the coming season.
Do you know that Sani Brown was born to a Japanese mother and a Ghanaian father in Japan, and that his mother was also an athlete while in High School?
- Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake
British sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake is our fifth young male sprinter to watch out for in the coming years. The 2013 200m European Junior Champion is the second fastest Briton of all time (after John Regis) with his Personal Best (PB) of 19.95s set last year in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
He clocked a PB of 9.99s in the 100m earlier this year, making him only the second Briton after Adam Gemili to break the 10s barrier in the 100m and 20s barrier in the 200m.
The 23-year old who got to the semis of the Rio Olympics, completed his collegiate year at the Louisiana State University this year and had a busy season whilst competing in the collegiate circuit. He was 3rd behind Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards and Christian Coleman at the SEC Indoor Championships in February, clocking a time of 20.57s.
He then raced in the final of the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June, settling for 6th position in the 100m (10.26s), before storming to Silver in the 200m behind Coleman, clocking a time of 20.29s. A month later, he claimed the British 200m National title to make his first World Championships team.
The race was the fastest 200m final in the history of the British Athletics Championships as Mitchell-Blake broke Regis’ 30-year-old Championship Record of 20.25s, replacing it with a time of 20.18s to finish ahead of Danny Talbot (20.20s) and Leon Reid (20.38s).
Mitchell-Blake who enjoyed the backing of the home crowd at the World Championships, easily won his 200m heat in 20.08s, before finishing 3rd in the semis (20.19s) behind USA’s Isiah Young (20.12s) and Isaac Makwala (20.14s). He narrowly missed out on a medal in the final as he placed 4th in a time of 20.24s, with Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev striking GOLD in 20.09s.
However, he made up for the disappointment by anchoring Great Britain’s 4x100m relay team to GOLD, partnering with Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili and Talbot to clock a World Lead (WL) of 37.47s, shocking the US team in the process. It will be great to see what Mitchell-Blake has up his sleeves in the coming years.
Do you know that Mitchell-Blake’s parents hail from Jamaica, and relocated from Great Britain to their home country when he was 13? Mitchell-Blake’s race at the 2016 British Trials was his first in nine years on British soil.