Bydgoszcz gold makes Can, Klosterhalfen and Levchenko compelling nominees

Konstanze Klosterhalfen at the Bydgoszcz 2017 European Athletics U23 Championships
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Konstanze Klosterhalfen at the Bydgoszcz 2017 European Athletics U23 Championships

It is far from certain that making the step up to the senior ranks will bring immediate success for those who have shown brilliance as teenagers but this is how the year has unfolded for the three female Rising Star candidates at this year's Golden Tracks awards on Saturday.

Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko and Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen made their mark at the new level in some style after success n the U20 ranks while the third nominee, Turkey’s Yasemin Can, was already a double European champion but delivered two of the most sensational runs of the summer.

High jumper Levchenko, still only 19, is celebrating winning three major medals this year including a world championships silver medal.

It all began with bronze at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March with an indoor personal best of 1.94m.

Her Belgrade performance set the tone for what was to follow in the summer for the Youth Olympic Games champion from three years earlier.

Having won bronze at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz 12 months earlier, Levchenko returned to the Polish city in July where she produced a lifetime best of 1.96m to take gold, a jump that took her soaring into the IAAF World Championships London 2017 a month late as a strong medal hope.

Buoyed by another personal best, when she cleared 1.97m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco, that hope was turned into silver in London as Levchenko made the podium with the best display of high jumping she has ever delivered.

She really did give defending world champion Mariya Lasitskene a run for her money as she broke the two-metre barrier for the first time.

A clear passage of six jumps took her to 2.01m, which she then went over at the third attempt.

Levchenko could not match Lasitskene, who won with 2.03m, but she did break Ukraine’s long-standing national under-23 record.

What a first year as a senior it has been for Klosterhalfen, 20, and such is her enthusiasm and desire for success that it was not even a win that gave her one of her greatest moments of 2017.

In fact, it was at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham in August where she finished second in the 3000m in a race where Kenya's 5000m gold medallist Hellen Obiri was fourth.

"I beat the world champion," beamed Klosterhalfen. “I am so happy. It has been such a memorable year for me.”

A brilliant run saw her cross the line in 8:29.81, improving the German national record for the distance which had stood for 17 years.

If anything, her bid to be the 2017 Rising Star started at the end of 2016 when Klosterhalfen showed her versatility by retaining her U20 title at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

From rough terrain to the indoor circuit, in Belgrade she was sensational as she won her first senior medal with silver in the 1500m.

Ahead was a road to super success as she broke the four-minute barrier three times over 1500m and ended the season in style in Berlin, on the same track where she is likely to be a home favourite at next summer's European Athletics Championships.

Klosterhalfen ran 3:58.92, the fastest time by a German since 1987, after a year where she was also a star at two of the big European outdoor events.

She won the 1500m at the European Athletics Team Championships in Lille and, in Bydgoszcz, she capped everything with gold at the European Athletics U23 Championships.

As the 2016 European 5000m and 10,000m champion, when she was only 19, Turkey's Yasemin Can was always going to be one of the great attractions in Bydgoszcz and so it proved as she won that double again.

Her success arrived with the same background that Levchenko and Klosterhalfen had in 2017, a podium place at the European Athletics Indoor Championships.

Like Klosterhalfen in the 1500m, Can also won silver behind Muir with a fine performance in the 3000m but it was her total command of the 5000m and 10,000m at the European Athletics U23 Championships which was something to behold

Can smashed both championship records, with victory in the longer event on the second day of the event in 31:39.80 and then two days later in the 5000m in 15:01.67.

Not only did she sweep away the rest by lapping most of the runners in the 10,000m, she won it by a massive margin of over 66 seconds, and then she took the 5000m by almost nine seconds.

It was absorbing to watch and fascinating to see just how fast she could go when she broke away from the rest of the field.

Along with Levchenko and Klosterhalfen, Can is part of a trio of nominees who struck gold in Bydgoszcz and clearly have sensational futures.