A year in track and field: Britain back shining on the global stage?
Some would say 2022 was the year Great Britain and Northern Ireland announced themselves as a track and field team once again after a poor couple of years in athletics.
But other nations and athletes have performed well, too. So here are some of the big moments from the year in the world of track and field.
The world of track and field saw 12 world records broken in 2022 – five of them came on the women’s outdoor circuit. American Sydney McLaughlin broke her own record twice in the space of a month in 2022 – both at Eugene’s speedy track – meaning the 23-year-old holds the fastest four world record times in history for the 400m hurdles.
In a similar trend of dominance, fellow 23-year-old Armand Duplantis holds the top five most recent pole vault world records. Three of his five have come in this calendar year, the latest of which was in Oregon where he jumped 6.21 metres.
These two are the shining stars of sport at the moment and way ahead of their competitors as it stands.
Other records broken include:
- Women outdoor – 10km, 100m hurdles, triple jump, distance relay
- Men outdoor – Marathon and 50km
- Women indoor – Triple Jump
- Men indoor – 1,500m, 60m hurdles and pole vault
Track and Field World Championships
The star of the show for Great Britain at a World Championships that struggled to fill its arena was Jake Wightman. The 1,500m runner beat Olympic champion and favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen to become Britain’s first male winner over the distance since Steve Cram in 1983.
Dina Asher-Smith failed to defend her 200m title but picked up a bronze behind a world-leading run of 21.45 seconds from Shericka Jackson, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Keely Hodgkinson was just hundredths away from beating favourite Athing Mu to gold in the women’s 880m but Laura Muir managed to get a bronze in the 1,500m behind African duo Faith Kipyegon and Gudaf Tsegay – the women’s 4x400m team picked up a bronze, too.
That said, it’s fair to say it was a pretty disappointing World Championships for Great Britain.
Commonwealth Games – men
The home games saw Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium packed to the rafters for a week of athletics – and the home nations performed for the crowds.
On the men’s side of the schedule it was Zharnel Hughes who medaled in the sprints with a silver in the 200m. Fellow Englishman Matthew Hudson-Smith got a medal of the same colour in the 400m while Ben Pattison got bronze in the 800m.
Wightman could only muster a bronze in the 1,500m for Scotland while England’s Andrew Pozzi got third in the 110m hurdles – Guernsey’s Alastair Chalmers got a bronze in the 400m hurdles.
England picked up a silver and bronze in the pole vault through Adam Hague and Harry Coppell while Scott Lincoln finished third in the shot, Lawrence Okoye came second in the discus and Nick Miller won the hammer.
Commonwealth Games – women
In the women’s order of events, Daryll Neita won a bronze in the 100m while Victoria Ohuruogu and Jodie Williams came home in second and third in the 400m.
Hodgkinson beat Muir to second in the 800m but Muir won the 1,500m ahead of Northern Ireland’s Ciara Mageean.
One of the shining lights of the Games was Eilish McColgan. The Scot got second in the 5,000m but was simply astonishing in the 10,000m to beat Irene Chepet Cheptai and set a Games Record.
In the heptathlon, Katarina Johnson-Thompson won the gold ahead of Northern Ireland’s Kate O’Connor and England’s Jade O’Dowda.
Cindy Sember picked up a bronze in the 100m hurdles with Elizabeth Bird of England second in the steeplechase.
Molly Caudery grabbed a silver in the pole vault while fellow Englishwoman Naomi Metzger got a bronze in the triple jump – Jade Lally got a silver in the discus.
In the relays, England’s men came out on top in the 4x100m while the women came second – Scotland came third in the women’s 4x400m.
It’s fair to say the level of competition is not as high in the Commonwealth Games but the exposure for athletes at that level cannot be a bad thing for their futures.
Munich’s European Championships saw a number of Brits perform a very high level.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland took home 20 medals, six of which were Gold.
Hudson-Smith’s gold in the 400m topped off a brilliant comeback to the sport after a period where the athlete admitted he contemplated suicide, while Jeremiah Azu picked up a promising bronze behind Hughes and Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs in the 100m.
Britain medalled in three of the four relays – the men took gold in both – while Hodgkinson and Muir both took home golds.
It’s been a very competitive year for the Brits and three huge competitions in the space of a couple of months has seen a number of the athletes tested to the limit.
Clean it up
But speaking of limits, the one disappointment of this calendar year has been the number of doping violations in the sport.
The Athletics Integrity Unit – in their global list of ineligible persons – state that 34 athletes have infringed the doping protocols in 2022 alone, some for administration and complicity and others for use and evasion.
The sport needs to clean up its act if it has plans to go truly global and encroach on the dominance of other sports.
A new year’s resolution for the track and field, perhaps.