Some stumbled, others flew…

The year offered a lot more but the following are among the ones that stood out. Stan Rayan takes stock.

With a yellow shoe on his right leg and a red one on his left, he was an odd sight in Moscow. But high jumper Bohdan Bondarenko is not your everyday jack.

While jumpers often coax the spectators to go for rhythmic clapping and thrive in the electric ambience, the Ukrainian frequently puts a finger to his lips to silence the crowd.

“For me, to jump is very emotional and the noise from the stands is too much. It makes me confused to the point I cannot think which side I need to jump from,” said the 24-year-old.

That strategy helped Bondarenko to the top of the world this year. He won the high jump title in 14th IAAF World Championships in Moscow with a meet record in August, and with his 2.41m effort — nobody has jumped that height in the last 19 years — the Ukrainian is now third in the world’s all-time list in the event.

Usain Bolt has been the face of world athletics the last few years and as expected, he was the world body, IAAF’s, Athlete of the Year once again. This time after his triple-gold treat in Moscow. But there were other interesting characters who too have made news this year. But they have been muffled by Bolt’s magnificence and showmanship.


Bondarenko, a traditional folk dancer at 10, who started high jumping only at 13, is just one of them. Frequently hit by injuries, the Ukrainian had just one jumping session this year but he was a confident man in Moscow. Starting at 2.29m, Bondarenko skipped 2.32 and 2.38 before winning the gold. Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s world record of 2.45m, set in July 1993, looks like it may not last long.


Doping scandals dogged athletics in a big way in 2013 and two of the world’s fastest men, American Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell, were the big names in the net this time. And Jamaica, the world’s top gold-medal factory in sprints, which produced Usain Bolt, is in the news for all the wrong reasons after six of its athletes tested positive this season.

There was further trouble as the entire board of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission resigned in November after its former head revealed that not enough drug tests were being carried out in the country and that the committee did not have enough staff to carry out rigorous anti-doping measures.

This has forced more and more people to ask ‘is he for real’ as they wonder at Bolt’s out-of-the-world feats.

The tall 100 and 200m world record holder, who beat a Buenos Aires bus in an 80m race in Argentina the other day, must have been very disturbed by the doping clouds but he did not allow that to distract him as he won both the events and the sprint relay in Moscow and turned out to be the sport’s deliverer once again.

With his all-time tally of eight golds and two silvers at the Worlds, the 6ft 5in, the 27-year-old is now the most successful athlete in the Championships’ history.


At 5ft 1in, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce may be a dwarf compared to her famed Jamaican team-mate but she proved to be as tall with her deeds in Moscow. The 26-year-old Olympic champion, also the Athlete of the Year in the women’s section, bagged golds in the same three events as Bolt in Moscow.


Britain’s Somalia-born distance runner Mo Farah completed a 5000-10000m double at the World Championship — a repeat of his London Olympics feat last year — but lost the IAAF top athlete award in a close race with Bolt. Many now consider him as Britain’s greatest athlete. The 30-year-old is planning to make his marathon debut, in London in April 2014, which should excite fans.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Valerie Adams became the most successful shot putter in history when she won her fourth World title in Moscow to continue her 39-event winning streak, spanning three years.


Just one world outdoor record fell this year, in the men’s marathon, but none came in the Moscow Worlds.

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who withdrew from the World Championship as he had another race commitment, set the world record in September, clocking 2:03.23s in the Berlin Marathon. The London Olympics bronze medallist bettered the previous mark of his compatriot Patrick Makau, set in the same event two years ago, by 15 seconds.

The year 2013 may be a lean one when it comes to world records but two records look like they could tumble soon. Apart from Bondarenko, who has Sotomayor’s high jump mark on his radar, there is the French triple jumper, Teddy Tamgho, who became just the third man in history to jump over the magical 18m mark in Moscow.


Yelena Isinbayeva has seen plenty of world records. In fact, the Russian pole vaulter has created 28 of them, 15 of them outdoors. But when she raced down with the pole in Moscow in August, the two-time Olympic and World champion had not won any major outdoor title since her 2008 Olympic triumph.

At 31, many thought she was a spent force. The Russian beauty had even declared that she would call it a day after Moscow. But in front of her ecstatic home crowd, Isinbayeva came up with a fairytale series that fetched her a third World title. She was quick to clarify that she could be back after a break.

The year offered a lot more but these are among the ones that stood out.