Precocious trio in the running for Rising Star accolade

Jakob Ingebrigtsen after winning the Grosseto 2017 European Athletics U20 Championships 3000m steeplechase
European Athletics

Jakob Ingebrigtsen after winning the Grosseto 2017 European Athletics U20 Championships 3000m steeplechase

One of the pictures of the summer, one of the jumps of the summer and one of the stories of the summer.

When the outdoor season came onto the horizon in spring, no one could have expected the tales that would emerge from the three men who have been nominated for the honour of European Athletics’ male Rising Star of 2017 at the Golden Tracks awards in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Saturday.

However, Karsten Warholm, Miltiadis Tentoglou and Jakob Ingebrigtsen showed just how bright the future is for themselves and European Athletics.

And not just the future but the present too.

Now 21, the Norwegian confirmed everything that was predicted for him two years ago at the 2015 European Athletics U20 Championships in Eskilstuna. Over a few days in Sweden, he had won silver in both the 400m and the decathlon, frantically dashing between the two events.

Throw the clock forward to just a couple of months ago and the evening of Wednesday 9 August.

Taking his place in lane five of the 400m hurdles final at the IAAF World Championships London 2017, suddenly Warholm was the man the rest of the world had to beat, the man the rest had to worry about.

With a stunning run of 48.35, showing power on the back straight and immense strength in the home straight, the young star held on to win gold.

With it he produced an image that will last long in the memory, his hands gripping his lower lip as he realised the extent of his achievement as Turkey’s European champion Yasmani Copello and the USA’s 2016 Olympic champion Kerron Clement were relegated to second and third respectively.

“I truly don’t believe it,” said Warholm at the time. “I’ve worked so hard for this but I don’t know what I’ve done. This is an amazing feeling.”

  

It was an amazing summer which began with Warholm breaking the national record with 48.25 on his season's debut at the event before a superb double medal-winning display at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where he won 400m hurdles gold and 400m silver.

And there was still more to come with him lowering that national hurdles record even further to 48.22 at the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich, the fastest time by a European in 2017 in a year where he also smashed the Norwegian 400m mark, running 44.87 in Floro. 

A year ago, Greek long jumper Tentoglou signalled that he has what it takes to make it in the big time when he won silver at the IAAF World U20 Championships.

Twelve months on, Tentoglou, 19, made sure he was standing on the top of the podium as he won gold at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto in July, a month he is unlikely to forget in a hurry.

It started with Tentoglou producing a sensational performance at the Greek Championships in Patras.

His fifth round leap took him to a stunning 8.30m, beating his old personal best by 11cm and leaving him just five centimetres short of the world U20 record.

It was a jump which at the time took him to the top of the European senior rankings and saw him end the season in 10th on

But the best was still to come and in Grosseto he won with a leap of 8.07m.

Tentoglou said: “I was expecting this gold medal because I was the favourite today but I would have preferred to jump more. But anyway, the important thing was to win.”

When the IAAF Diamond League circuit visited Eugene on the west coast of the USA in at the end of May, rarely has so much attention been centred on the athlete who finished 11th in a race.

But there again, history was being made.

The honours were bestowed on Norwegian teenager Ingebrigtsen as he produced a landmark moment in athletics by becoming the first 16-year-old to run under four minutes for the mile. 

Ingebrigtsen, who was not 17 until September, ran a sensational time of 3:58.07. “It is amazing to smash such a record in this way. I simply could not get a better start to the season than this.”

Not that his talent was a surprise. Last December, Ingebrigtsen won gold at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, the latest product from an amazing family where his brothers Henrik and Filip are stars of the track.

Henrik was the 2012 European 1500m champion and Filip is the reigning holder of that title from Amsterdam last year but it was Jacob who stole the honours this summer who progressed to land double European U20 gold in Grosseto.

Heavily bandaged around his arms and torso, he won the 5000m and the 3000m steeplechase having first suffering the frustration of falling in the 1500m.

Records seemed to flow wherever he ran, with him breaking the 41-year-old European U20 record mark on his 3000m steeplechase debut with 8:26.81 and he also ran a European U18 5000m best of 13:35.84.

The question now is: how many more records will this trio break in the years to come?