Mykolas Alekna is carrying on the family business in fine fashion as the 19-year-old Lithuanian hurled the discus out to 67.68m at Stanford, USA on Saturday (30).
The opening throw by the first-year student at University of California, Berkeley was the furthest ever achieved by a teenager, adding five centimetres on to the world age-19 best previously held by Great Britain’s Lawrence Okoye since 2011.
In addition, Alekna had three more throws over 67 metres in a superb series that read: 67.68m, 65.99m, 67.52m, 61. 47m, 67.03m, 67.15m.
What also gained headlines with athletics aficionados on the other side of the Atlantic was that it was an American collegiate record, as well as being the second best throw in the world at this early stage in the season and moves Alekna – who won the world and European U20 in his specialist event last year - up to fifth on the European U23 lists. It is worth remembering he has another two years in this category as well.
Alekna, who turns 20 on 18 September, already holds several world age bests, including the world age-18 best he set last year when he threw the 2kg implement 63.52m.
However, this year Alekna has been in a class of his own and has reached 66 metres or more in three of his five outings.
The Alekna family dynasty continues. ????— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) May 1, 2022
World and European U20 champion Mykolas Alekna, 19, improves to 67.68m in the discus. ????
This was the longest ever throw by a teenager! ????pic.twitter.com/OkYQ9b8NNT
The teenager is already exceeding his father Virgilijus’ marks at the same age but has some impressive targets if he is to match the latter’s career achievements.
Among Virgilijus Alekna’s honours were Olympic titles in 2000 and 2004, two world titles and a gold medal at the 2006 European Athletics Championships. In 2005, he was voted the European Athlete of the Year.
In a recent interview with the US magazine Track and Field News, Mykolas Alekna tried to avoid the obvious comparisons with his famous father.
“I don’t know what’s my real potential, but I just want to compete in the Olympics first and see what I can do there. That’d be nice.
“I wouldn’t say I’m strong. I mean, especially professional discus throwers are way stronger than I am. I don’t focus on the weightroom that much because I think that discus technique is way more important than lifting. At least it works for me,” he added reflectively.
And here is Mykolas Alekna’s longest throw of the competition. ????— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) July 18, 2021
He follows in the footsteps of his father Virgilijus Alekna who won the European senior title in 2006! ????#Tallinn2021 pic.twitter.com/txhfzXP8H2
Alekna follows a well-trodden path with many throwers from the Baltic countries going to US universities, and although it was not one his father took he was one of the key instigators of the teenager making the move.
"I always wanted to go to the US to do sports and also get a good education, and my dad had been in the US a few times when he was throwing professionally.
He said it’s a very good place where you can go to school and also do sports at the same time so he really just suggested me to go to the US, and then I just found a very good coach and ended up at Cal because it’s a very good school academically and also we have a very good coach here," he said.