South African 400m hurdler Zeney van der Walt (Roger Sedres) © Copyright
Preview Nairobi, Kenya

Preview: girls' 400m hurdles – IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017

At the risk of being presumptuous, this should come down a battle between South Africa and Jamaica, two nations at the fore of world-class sprinting today.

Jamaica’s challenge is led by Sanique Walker, the fastest in the field with a PB of 57.27, set when finishing third at the famous national schools ‘champs’ in Kingston earlier this year. Her most recent outing came when taking a facile victory at the Jamaican U18 Championships in 59.24.

However, she will have to be on top form to repel the South African pair, Zeney van der Walt and Gontse Morake. Van der Walt clocked a PB of 57.94 when winning her national trials in Cape Town in April, where Morake was not far off with a best of 58.21 to finish second.  

The Asian challenge is led by China’s Jiadie Mo, who has a best of 59.15, while the strongest European appears to be Germany’s Gisele Wender, who has run 59.52. Morocco’s Sara El Hachimi is not to be discounted, boasting a best of 59.73, and it will also come as no surprise if Colombia’s Valeria Cabezas, a 59.79 performer this year, gets among the medals in what is a truly global contest.

Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF