6th May 2020


The year is 2003 and the IAAF World Youth Championships are in their third edition in Sherbrooke, Canada and a trio of young men were to come away with medals over the course of the competition in July.

On the penultimate day of competition, the British team secured their first two medals of the championship, both bronzes, coming from pole vaulter Steven Lewis and 100m star Craig Pickering.

Lewis had qualified for the final after hitting 4.70m in his qualification, courtesy of two first-time clearances at 4.60m and the aforementioned height on the second day of competition, returning two days later to claim some silverware.

He entered the competition at 4.75m and after failing at the first attempt, made no mistake second time round, carrying his momentum into his next jump at 4.95m, clearing that at the first time of athletes, leaving four athletes to shoot out for the medals.

Once again, Lewis demonstrated he could respond to the pressure as he went clear at the first time to earn himself a personal best and put him within touching distance of a medal. Greek rival Konstantinos Filippidis could not match his efforts and despite passing to 5.10m, he failed to clear the bar, ensuring Lewis would be on the podium.

Pickering’s route to the final began on day three of the competition and began in perfect fashion as he blitzed the field in his heat, stopping the clock in a personal best time of 10.53s, but could not match that performance in the semi-finals as he finished third, progressing to the final as a fastest non-automatic qualifier in 10.66s.

In the final, the wind reaped havoc with the athletes, but Pickering held his own from lane one to make sure there would be two Brits with medals, stopping the clock in 10.85s, just ahead of Canada’s David Pedneault, who had edged him out in the semis. Saudi Arabia took a one-two with Yahya Al-Gahes and Yahya Hassan Habeeb clocking 10.69s and 10.73s respectively.

200m sensation Jamahl Alert-Khan had set the ball rolling earlier that morning, safely progressing into the semi-finals as he won his heat into a strong headwind in 21.29s, before taking victory in his semi-final the following day, again into a strong headwind, in 21.25s, lining him up alongside one Usain Bolt in the final.

Two lanes inside the great man in lane three, Alert-Khan fought back in the final stages to take his place on the podium for the British team in 21.35s, as Bolt broke the championship record with a 20.40s showing.

Following on from the championships, Alert-Khan was keen to show once again that he had the credentials to be a force on the domestic circuit and broke the British Under-17 200m record in Derby two months later.

Perfect conditions allowed the Shaftesbury Barnet man to storm home in 20.79s, a record that still stands to this day.