There has never been more hope for Nigerian athletics like there was in the 2013 season. Now as the year winds up, the country’s athletics officials are full of expectations as they equally take measures to get good results next season.
The highlights of the year include Blessing Okagbare breaking the 14-year old African women 100m record. Okagbare ran 10.86 seconds to rest Gloria Alozie’s 10.90. Okagbare was also tipped to shatter Chioma Ajunwa’s 7.12m long jump record, but she could only manage a 6.99m to win silver at the World Championships in Russia, Mosccow. She also won a bronze in the 200m.
The glory of it was that; it was the first time in over a decade Nigeria will be winning medals in the championships.
It was also the first time an African made its presence on the podium in both the women’s 100 and 200m, US-based Ivorian Murielle Ahoure claiming two silvers, with Okagbare taking a 200m bronze.
Nigerian juniors were not left out of the glory moments. They topped the medals table at the maiden African Youth Championships held in Warri, Delta State and the African Junior Championships in Mauritius.
At the world level, Usain Bolt is still the dominant currency in a sport mired by doping and also seeking for survival . The towering Jamaican again dominated the sprints and underlining his formidable track prowess by claiming double individual gold in the 100m and 200m at the Moscow World Athletics Championships, respectively his second and third titles in the events.
The six-time Olympic gold medalist’s world medal haul now stands at eight gold, bringing him level with American women’s 200m specialist Allyson Felix, and retired US track stars Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.
Bolt’s Moscow performances were the perfect tonic for track and field after pre-championships positive doping tests for, among many others, top sprinters like Tyson Gay of the United States and Jamaican duo of Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown.
International track and field was given a further boost in Moscow by the confirmation of Mo Farah as one of the best distance runners in the world.
Farah emulated Ethiopian long-distance king, Kenenisa Bekele by adding double world 5000 / 10000m gold to similar exploits at the 2012 London Olympics.
Like Bolt, the Somali-born Briton dominated both races, controlling the pace with aplomb and each time producing his now-trademark kick to burn off any opponents in the home strait.
But he will likely leave his fans disappointed next year as he has opted to compete in the lucrative London Marathon rather than the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Russian athletes topped the medals table for the first time since 2001 with seven gold, one more than the United States, boosted by a “super Saturday” where the team enjoyed stunning victories in the women’s high jump and 4×400-metres relay.
One stand-out performance at Moscow’s iconic Luzhniki Stadium featured Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva.
The 31-year-old, who will now take an 18-month break to start a family before contemplating a return at the 2016 Rio Olympics, brought the house down when she won her third world title, her first global championship victory since her triumph at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
The shadow of doping remains, however, with 2014 likely to see further moves from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to regulate testing, particularly from national bodies.
Wada audited the Jamaica Anti-doping Commission (JADCO) after seven high-profile Jamaican athletes tested positive in 2013, Wada president John Fahey accusing the body of “dropping the ball”.
Kenya also came under Wada’s spotlight amid accusations of years of inaction from the east African running powerhouse.
The most impressive world record of the year went to a Kenyan, Wilson Kipsang shaving 15 seconds off the marathon as he stormed home in Berlin in 2hr 3.23min.
It was another story at the Boston Marathon in April, two explosions killing at least three and wounding 260, with a police officer later killed by the bombing suspects.