Established stars like Karsten Warholm and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce headline the World Athletics Championships in Budapest which get under way on Saturday but the limelight also beckons for others a year out from the Paris Olympics.
AFP picks out a quintet who could ruffle the feathers of the present status quo:
Julien Alfred (LCA)
The 22-year-old hails from St Lucia, an unlikely setting for a potential sprint champion.
However, Alfred has the talent to become the first non-Jamaican or American woman to be crowned world 100 metres champion since Ukraine’s Zhanna Pintusevich-Block in 2001.
She won Commonwealth Games silver behind two-time Olympic 100m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah last year confirming the promise she showed when winning Youth Olympic Games silver in 2018.
The YOG medal reflected a strength of character — an aunt she was close to had died just prior to the Games — which should stand her in good stead.
“I’ve been through things that have broken me down and I’ve got over it,” she said at the time.
Medals in both sprints might not even be beyond her: she beat American 100m champion Sha’Carri Richardson in Hungary over the distance and finished second behind Shericka Jackson in the 200m at the Monaco Diamond League meet.
Jaydon Hibbert (JAM)
He was just three when compatriot Usain Bolt won his first Olympic 100m title and whilst the triple jump lacks the glamour of the sprints, the world under-20 champion has the potential to become as dominant in the event.
The worlds represent a huge step up for the 18-year-old but he has had a stellar 2023 so far, breaking Germany’s Volker Mai’s 38-year-old under-20 world outdoor record in March with a mark of 17.54 metres.
Hibbert, who only took up the triple jump in 2020, improved on that with a leap of 17.87m in May. “That’s a mark amongst the greats,” he said.
Hibbert then gave himself a test against the seniors and caught the eye with a fine second in the Monaco Diamond League meet.
Travis Geopfert, his present coach at the University of Arkansas, has no doubts about his ability to cope at the top level.
“He is very coachable, happy, excited to train and humble at the same time,” Geopfert told Sportsmax TV. “He is just a fantastic young man and truly a coach’s dream in every way.”
Shericka Jackson (JAM)
Jamaica’s men may have faded from the top table of 100/200 metres sprinting, but Jackson has only added to the armoury of their women sprinters.
This despite switching to them relatively late after a successful career in the 400m. She won bronze medals in the 2015/2019 world championships and the 2016 Olympics in the one-lap race.
The 29-year-old arrives in Budapest as the defending 200m champion, but targetting a sprint double to displace the seemingly ageless Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as Jamaica’s number one.
She comes into them on the back of impressive performances in her national championships and in Monaco.
Blessed with a stubborn streak, she has taken pleasure in constantly surprising people. “I am a fighter. I am very strong and very determined. If you say I can’t do something I will prove to you that I can,” she said in July.
Keely Hodgkinson (GBR)
The British 800 metres runner seems to have been around for years, but she is still only 21. An European outdoor title last year ended a run of three successive silvers in major outdoor championships.
She lost out to the slightly younger Athing Mu in both the Olympic and world finals in 2021 and 2022 respectively and was denied at last year’s Commonwealth Games by an astonishing late charge from Kenya’s Mary Moraa.
The prodigiously talented Mu has hinted at eventually taking on the 1500m and even the 400m but before then Hodgkinson would dearly love to emerge from her shadow and get the better of her in a final.
“It would mean a lot,” Hodgkinson told the BBC on the possibility of beating Athing. “I would probably cry, actually, after two years of dedication and so much hard work.”
Letsile Tebogo (BOT)
Probably not since Namibian great Frankie Fredericks in the 1990s has there been as much excitement over an African sprinter as 20-year-old Tebogo.
“It’s time for Africa to take charge of the sprints,” he told Runblogrun.com.
A two-time world under-20 100m champion — taking silver in the 200m on both occasions — he broke Fredericks’s 27-year-old African 200m record when he timed 19.50sec in finishing second to Noah Lyles in the London Diamond League meet in July.
The 200m is his preferred event in a sport he saw as a way of improving the life of his mother Seratiwa, who brought him and his brother up on her own.
“I saw (that) I am able to put food on the table for my family from that,” he said.