Named “Female Rising Star of the Year” at last weekend’s World Athletics Gala in Monaco, Ukrainian high jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh hopes to be one of the star performers at the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi next July.
However, Ethiopia’s 5,000 metres sensation Selemon Barega – picked as the 2019 “Male Rising Star of the Year” - won’t be in action as at Kasarani as he will have just turned 20.
Athletes eligible to compete in the World Under-20 championships are required to be aged 19 or younger on December 31 in the competition year.
Mahuchikh was born on September 19, 2001, meaning that she will be eligible.
The World Under-20 Championships will run from July 7 to 12 with the Olympics in Tokyo starting in July 24.
“I will have to work out my schedule as the Nairobi championships are pretty close to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but I’d love to be in Nairobi,” she said in Monaco.
“It was an incredible atmosphere in the stadium (Kasarani). I‘ve never seen anything like this before.
“I couldn’t believe what’s going on when I came into the stadium. The girls’ high jump took place at the final weekend when the stadium was packed.
“I want to take part in Nairobi 2020. But my plan for 2020 is not totally ready. I want to qualify for Tokyo, but maybe Nairobi then is too close to the Games. But for sure, the World Under-20 Championships will be an amazing event.”
Both Barega and Mahuchikh were star attractions at the 2017 World Under-20 Championships with the Ukrainian winning the high jump gold with a leap of one metre, 92 centimetres.
Barega caused a sensation, winning the 3,000m at the Nairobi championships in seven minutes, 47.16 seconds. Barega also struck gold in the 5,000m at the 2016 World Under-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The Ethiopian, silver medallist at the recent World Championships in Doha over 5,000m, was born on January 20, 2000, meaning that he’ll turn 20 in two months’ time and thus outside the age bracket for Nairobi.
After the Nairobi success, Mahuchikh – who is also the European junior champion - went on to senior level, winning silver at the Doha World Championships in a world junior record of 2:04m.
She has already been described as the next global megastar from eastern Europe, in the mould of Russia’s tennis star Maria Sharapova and pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva.
“She is very pretty, photogenic and good with the media, and the fact that she speaks several languages well, including English, places her in a very good position to be a mega star,” Vienna-based journalist Olaf Brockmann, appointed as Press Delegate for World Athletics at next July’s Nairobi championships, said.
Brockmann was also in charge of the 2017 competition in Nairobi.