A strong showing is expected from the Black, Green, and Gold’s male hurdlers and field event athletes in Scandinavia. The Sporting Dimension has your athlete-by-athlete breakdown.
National junior champ Damion Thomas, who sped to a world junior record-equalling mark of 12.99 seconds inside the National Stadium a couple weeks ago, looked all over a medalist until calamity struck in the semifinals two years ago. Barring another mishap, he should definitely be on the podium in Tampere. The biggest threat to him realizing his dream of ultimate redemption could well be posed by compatriot Orlando Bennett. The 18-year-old Bennett (13.00 SB/PB) gave Thomas just about all he could handle in their qualifying duel at trials. The next fastest in the field is Spaniard Luis Salort (13.31 SB/PB). America’s national junior champ Cory Poole (13.34 SB/PB) is another who could make some noise.
National junior champ Malik James-King (50.03 SB/PB) will lead Jamaica’s charge in the one-lap obstacle event, which was won for the second consecutive time by his countryman Jaheel Hyde in 2016. James-King’s laudable consistency in the sub-51 second time zone suggests that he’ll have no problem stringing together the two races of this quality that he’ll likely need to make the final. From there, a medal could definitely be on. The same can’t exactly be said for Leonardo Ledgister (50.31 SB/PB), who surprisingly lopped over two seconds from his previous PB to beat national junior leader Rovane Williams at trials and book his ticket to Tampere.
World junior leader Sokwahkana Zazini (49.32 SB/PB) is a bad man. It will be very difficult for anyone to pry the gold from his hands. Cory Poole (49.71 SB/PB), who’ll be pulling double duty, and Mexico’s Sergio Esquivel (49.90 SB/PB) are the others in the field who’ve sniffed the rarefied sub-50 second air this season.
What a difference a year makes! At around this time in 2017, Wayne Pinnock leapt to a new personal best of 7.27m to finish sixth at the World U18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. In the space of a year, the Kingston College man has extended his lifetime long by over 70 centimetres. He now heads to Tampere as a legitimate medal contender with undoubted designs on soaring beyond the mythical eight-metre mark. His schoolmate Shakwon Coke (7.68 SB/PB) has an outside shot of making the final.
Once again, the smothering shadow of the dynamic Cuban duo of world youth champ Maikel Vidal (8.12m SB/PB) and silver medalist Lester Lescay (8.07m SB/PB) looms large over the field. The other eight-metre jumper listed among the entrants is Japan’s Yuki Hashioka (8.09m SB/PB).
Owayne Owens is Jamaica’s lone representative in this discipline. The University of Virginia-bound student-athlete heads into competition with a modest personal best of 15.70m, which was recorded while winning the national junior title a couple weeks back. Something slightly beyond that distance could see him make the final like his soon-to-be schoolmate Jordan Scott did in 2016.
Of all the outstanding juniors set to compete in Tampere, there’s probably none closer to a senior global medal than Cuban world youth champion Jordan Díaz (17.41m SB/PB). The 17-year-old phenom owns the seven longest efforts on the year. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he erases Volker Mai’s 33-year-old U20 record of 17.50m. He could well bag countryman Lázaro Martínez’s championship record in qualifying.
National junior champ Kai Chang leads Jamaica’s charge in this event. His consistency above 58 metres this season leads me to believe that he’ll make the final. From there, an improvement on his current 61.79m personal best could see him putting some pressure on the medal favourites. Phillipe Barnett, who is the country’s other competitor in this discipline, stepped up to capitalize on national leader Roje Stona’s chronic inconsistency at trials. He definitely earned his ticket. However, he’ll likely have to raise his game even further to get into the final.
Reigning champ and world junior leader Mohammed Moaaz (66.47 SB/PB) returns to defend the crown he claimed in Bydgoszcz. The Qatari is closely followed on the yearly leaderboard by Slovenia’s Kristjan Ceh (66.06 SB/PB) and Cyprus’ Georgios Koniarakis (65.90 SB/PB).
* Image courtesy of the IAAF