Research shows athletics champions are older

Mo Farah leads the 5,000m race in Moscow. [PHOTO: COURTESY]

Track and field world champions are getting older again, after a near decade-long spell at the start of the millennium when their average age was getting progressively younger.

Exclusive analysis by inside the games on the ages of winners of the 43 individual events at the 14th IAAF World Championships shows they were on average 26.35 years old.

This is around three months older than the 26.07-year average age of winners at the previous World Championships in Daegu in 2011 and almost a year more than the 25.42-year average of winners from Berlin in 2009.

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Although the Moscow average is a good six months below the 26.88-year figure at Edmonton 2001, athletics fans must hope that the rising trend is not an indication that young talent is being lured away from the sport by more attractive alternatives.

After the highpoint of the London 2012 Olympics, 2013 has hardly been a banner year for athletics, with Moscow 2013 preceded by positive drugs tests attributed to a number of high-profile athletes.

The sport, moreover, has now been joined by aquatics and gymnastics on the top rung of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ladder for the purposes of determining how much money particular sports receive from the Olympic Games.

For all the heart-warming, gold medal-winning feats of Britain’s Mo Farah and Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the sport’s immediate prospects look to hinge as much as at any point in the past five years on the exploits of one man: Usain Bolt.

The Jamaican sprinter cum showman, whose three gold medals at Moscow made him the most successful athlete in World Championship history.

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And not even Bolt managed to conjure a world record for his Muscovite audience. The Russian capital was not bereft of new, young world champions making a name for themselves.

Teenager Mohammed Aman won the men’s 800 metres for Ethiopia, while 21-year-olds Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago and Brianna Rollins of the United States raced to breakthrough victories in the men’s 400m hurdles and women’s 100m hurdles respectively.

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IAAF World Championships Moscow Edmonton 2001 London 2012 Olympics