With the European Athletics Youth Championships starting on Thursday 14 July, here are five girls to look at for in Tbilisi.
Startlists for #EYCH2016.
Sarah Lagger (Austria, heptathlon)
Injuries have slowed her progress but Ivona Dadic made her long-awaited breakthrough in Amsterdam last week by taking the bronze medal and her young team-mate Sarah Lagger is touted as another excellent Austrian multi-eventing prospect. Lagger became the youngest ever athlete to break the 6000-point mark for a youth heptathlon with 6014 points last summer and she has since improved her lifetime best to 6066 points at the Austrian Youth Championships.
Lagger cites Jessica Ennis-Hill as her idol but while the Brit excels in the speed and jumping events, the Austrian’s throwing events are her bankers. The 16-year-old has gone out to PBs of 14.62m and 48.58m with the junior shot put and javelin respectively this year.
Alina Shukh (Ukraine, heptathlon)
Lagger leads the world youth rankings but Alina Shukh produced a fantastic display across seven events at the Ukrainian Championships a fortnight ago to claim the senior title aged 17. Making her debut in a senior heptathlon, Shukh cleared 1.92m in the high jump and went out to 51.52m with the senior javelin to bring her total up to 6099 points. With Nataliya Dobrynska retired and Hanna Kasyanova approaching the end of her career, Ukraine has a fantastic new find in Shukh.
Not only could it be a contest for the gold medal, it could also be a contest for the world youth record between Lagger and Shukh which the latter narrowly holds at 6079.
Alexandra Emelianov (Moldova, discus and shot put)
Moldova might not be particularly renowned for their sporting prowess but they have a bonafide gold medal prospect in Tbilisi in Alexandra Emelianov, who won the world youth title in Cali last summer and the European Youth Olympic Festival in the very stadium which will play host to the championships.
Emelianov leads the European youth rankings by a clear margin with a lifetime best of 55.69m. Throwing is very much in Alexandra’s genes; her father is still an active shot putter and has qualified for his fourth Moldovan Olympic team aged 39.
After Tbilisi where Emelianov will also contest the shot put, it is off to Bydgoszcz for the World Junior Championships where she will be looking to claim just the third medal for Moldova in the championship’s history.
Nika Glojnaric (Slovenia, 100m hurdles)
It’s been two decades since Brigita Bukovec won a silver medal in the 100m hurdles at the 1996 Olympic Games but Slovenia has an emerging talent in Nika Glojnaric who was born four years after the crowning moment of Bukovec’s career. The 15-year-old leads the world youth rankings with 13.25 by just 0.01 ahead of Sweden’s Amanda Hansson, meaning we could see an exciting head-to-head for the title in Tbilisi.
Georgiana-Iuliana Anitei (Romania, long jump and triple jump)
While she might trail Cuba’s Davisleidis Velazco on the world youth rankings by a substantial margin, Bacau-born Georgiana-Iuliana Anitei is ranked a clear second with 13.38m and is firmly tipped to extend Romania’s fine horizontal jumps tradition in Tbilisi. The 17-year-old had a stellar season at the major championships last year, winning the world youth title in Cali and the European Youth Olympic Festival - where she was the flagbearer for Romania - in the space of a fortnight in July.