US 400m hurdler Brandee Johnson (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Bydgoszcz, Poland

Preview: women's 400m hurdles – IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016

World U20 record-holder Sydney McLaughlin towers over her contemporaries in this category, but the 16-year-old has decided to forego these championships to prepare for next month’s Olympic Games.

Her absence leaves the door open for her one of her US teammates to take the title. Anna Cockrell is the second fastest U20 in the world this year, having run 55.89 to finish second at the US Junior Championships in Clovis last month.

Like McLaughlin, Cockrell took aim at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene last week, but was eliminated at the semi-final stage after running 56.51.

Her compatriot Brandee Johnson, a bronze medallist at the IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015, is another with title credentials, having run 56.16 to finish third behind McLaughlin and Cockrell in Clovis last month.

Shannon Kalawan is the fastest non-American this year. The Jamaican lowered her PB to 56.29 to win the Carifta Games back in May and took a facile win at the Jamaican U20 championships in Kingston in 59.45 last month. Her teammate Nicolee Foster lowered her PB to 56.99 this year and is another likely to be in medal contention during Friday night’s final.

The strongest Asian challenger is Haruko Ishizuka, who set a Japanese U20 record of 56.75 in Kawasaki in May. The 18-year-old took the Asian U20 title in Ho Chi Minh last month in 57.91 and looks the most likely to challenge the Jamaican and American favourites.

Tereza Vokalova of the Czech Republic set a PB of 57.22 when winning her national championships in Tabor last month and it would be no surprise to see her among the medals here. The same can be said for Germany’s Eileen Demes, who clocked 57.87 to finish second at the German senior championships in Kassel last month.

Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF