Men's and women's Rising Star finalists for 2021 announced

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  • Men's and women's Rising Star finalists for 2021 announced

With just under a fortnight to go until the Golden Tracks award ceremony takes place in Lausanne, Switzerland on 16 October we can reveal the three finalists for the men’s and women’s Rising Star awards.

The shortlist was determined by a four-part voting process which incorporates votes from fans across social media, Member Federations, media and an expert European Athletics panel. Each section constituted 25 percent of the vote.

The last winners of the Rising Star award in 2019 were Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Niklas Kaul from Germany. 

Rhasidat Adeleke (Ireland)

Now based in the United States at the University of Texas in Austin, Rhasidat Adeleke crowned her season by winning a 100/200m double at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Tallinn.

Adeleke became the first female sprinter to complete the sprint double at this championships in a decade. The Irishwoman won the 100m by a narrow margin in 11.34 before dominating the 200m, crossing the finish-line in 22.90 to win by a yawning gap of 0.65. Adeleke’s winning time only just missed the championship record of 22.85 set by the soon-to-be two-time Olympic 200m champion Barbel Eckert in 1973. 

Her sixth race of the championships was every bit as impressive. Adeleke demonstrated her versatility by blasting to a 52.54 split in the 4x400m final - the fastest leg of the final - to anchor the Irish team home to fifth.

Femke Bol (the Netherlands)

Femke Bol might not have come away with the biggest prize of all at the Olympic Games in Tokyo but the Dutchwoman still amassed one of the greatest ever seasons by a 400m hurdler.

Bol became the first athlete to record four sub-53 second performances in one season, culminating with a European record of 52.03 to win Olympic bronze in Tokyo behind the US duo of Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad. Bol also won the Diamond League final in Zurich in 52.80.

As well as winning 11 of her 12 races in the 400m hurdles, Bol also won nine of her 10 races at the 400m flat including gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun where she also anchored the Netherlands to gold in the 4x400m. 

Keely Hodgkinson (Great Britain)

Keely Hodgkinson’s goal at the start of the season was the European Athletics U20 Championships but the British protege shot to stardom with a stellar indoor season, breaking the world indoor U20 record and winning gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships aged 18. 

But her outdoor season was even better. Hodgkinson defeated training partners Jemma Reekie and Laura Muir for the 800m title at the British Championships and the teenager produced the race of her life in her nascent career by winning Olympic silver behind fellow 19-year-old Athing Mu in Tokyo.

Hodgkinson’s time of 1:55.88 not only eclipsed Kelly Holmes’ long-standing British record of 1:56.21 but also revised both the European U23 and U20 records in one go.

Kristjan Ceh (Slovenia)

In an event which is often the domain of throwers in their 30s, 22-year-old Kristjan Ceh continued his heady ascent through the ranks. 

The Slovenian extended his European U23 record to 69.52m before becoming the first U23 athlete in history to break the 70 metre-line with 70.35m in Kuortane, a mark only surpassed by Daniel Stahl in 2021.

Ceh also successfully defended his European U23 title with a championship record of 67.48m before finishing fifth at the Tokyo Olympics on his Olympic debut. He also finished second to Stahl again at the Diamond League final in Zurich. 

Alessandro Sibilio (Italy)

Alessandro Sibilio handsomely contributed to Italy’s best ever showing at the European Athletics Team Championships with victories in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m helping Italy to a second-place finish behind reigning champions Poland in Silesia. 

His performances at the Tokyo Olympics might not have received the plaudits it deserved but Sibilio excelled by reaching the final of what was surely the most competitive event of the track programme. Sibilio qualified for the final with a lifetime best of 47.93 to move to third on the European all-time U23 list behind Karsten Warholm (47.64) and Harald Schmid (47.85).

In a season when Sibilio also won the European U23 title, the Italian also had reason to celebrate away from the track as he completed his degree in engineering. 

Sasha Zhoya (France)

Sasha Zhoya rewrote the record books in the 110m hurdles in a golden five week period for the Australian-born Frenchman this summer.

Zhoya initially shaved 0.01 from the world U20 record in the semifinals of the European Athletics U20 Championships although his time of 12.98 was not ratified due to a slightly illegal following wind - not that Zhoya considered this to be an advantage. His winning time in the final wasn’t quite as fast although Zhoya took ownership of the championship record with 13.05.

But Zhoya was at his peak at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi. Taking advantage of the rarefied conditions in the Kenyan capital, Zhoya took an eye-watering 0.27 off the world U20 record with 12.93 in the semifinal before a 12.72 clocking in the final. 

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