Coming after the Olympic year, athletics in 2017 still had its high points. Beside the vastly popular IAAF Diamond League meets at various venues across the world, the year was also studded with the World Athletics Championships in London during August. While major athletic stars excelled in their fields in Diamond League and World Championships, some new faces emerged during the year. But in reminiscing about 2017, it is difficult to reconcile that two of the world’s biggest athletes have hung their boots. Except making sponsored road shows or other such events, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Great Britain’s Mo Farah would not be seen in competitive athletics in 2018. Feats of these two greats, however, will go down as golden entries into world athletics’ history.
Eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt illuminated track-and-field events like no other athlete in modern sports history. But there was irony in Bolt’s retirement. His final race of London’s world championships could not become a golden farewell. The Jamaican lost the 100m to USA’s Justin Gatlin and was pushed to the third spot. Regardless, Bolt will forever be remembered as the greatest sprinter of our time with world records of running down 100m in 9.58 and 200m in 19.19 seconds at Berlin’s 2009 World Championships.
The other great athlete, who announced his retirement in 2017, was Sir Mo Farah of Great Britain. Like Bolt, Mo Farah was also beaten in an event that he had not lost in six years. Before London’s World Championship Games, Mo Farah had outrun everybody in 5000m. During this period, Mo Farah won 10 straight global titles and four double 5000 & 10000m gold medals but on the fateful Saturday night on August 12, Ethiopian Muktar Edris got the better of the great Mo Farah. Some people thought Edris’ doing a Mobot after winning was an audacious act but the Ethiopian might have thought fit to pay his tributes to the celebrated British athlete. Mo Farah competed in two more events after the World Championships. At the Birmingham Diamond League on August 20, the Brit won the 3000m gold and ended his track-and-field career four days later with victory in 5000m at Zurich Diamond League.
The 100m men’s event saw a new Diamond League champion in 2017. 23-year old Chijindu Ujah of Great Britain, who missed Rio Olympics final by 0.01seconds, etched his name in the glamour event during 2017. He began by winning at Rome on June 8 and followed that up by also winning in London (July 9), Rabat (July 16) and Birmingham (August 20). Ujah also won the DL finals at Zurich on August 24 and announced his arrival at world athletic scene. After Bolt’s retirement, Ujah can lay strong claim with Canada’s Andre De Grasse as the Jamaican’s successor. Ujah was also in Britain’s gold-winning team of the 4x100m relay in 2017 World Championship at London.
Another man, who burst into the world athletic scene during 2017, was 19-year old American Noah Lyles. In the first 200m Diamond League event at Shanghai, Lyles made a startling debut by winning in 19.90 seconds. Lyles made his good performance count and emerged victorious in the DL finals at Brussels in 20.00 seconds.
Among women, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson won 100m DL finals and South Africa’s Caster Semenya confirmed her class in 800m. Another excellent performance in DL came from Bahrain’s Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who won both the 200 and 400m events. Many other women athletes performed on expected lines and became 2017 Diamond League champions. Kenyan Faith Kipyegon won in 1500m, Hellen Obiri also from Kenya, took top spot in 5000m, Bahraini Ruth Jebet won 3000m steeplechase, Australia’s Sally Pearson won in 100m hurdles, USA’s Dalilah Muhammad won 400m hurdles, Greek Ekaterini Stefanidi took the pole-vault honors, Serbian Ivana Spanovic won the long-jump, Czech Barbora Spotakova won in javelin and Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic won in discus.
The 27-year-old Perkovic won her 6th Diamond Trophy, a record tally in a women’s event. The Croat now has 38 career wins in IAAF Diamond League and 45 scoring performances, both records.
Among men, there were three Diamond League champions from USA. Sam Kendricks won in Pole vault, Christian Taylor in Triple Jump and Darrell Hill in Shot put. Other DL winners included; Botswana’s Isaac Makwala and Nijel in 400m and 800m respectively and Qatar‘s Mutaz Barshim in high jump. Of the 2017 Diamond League winners, there were 9 athletes, who had also won the 2016 Diamond League and hopefully, these men and women will continue with their stellar performance in 2018.