The two fastest times of the year belong to race walkers from Ecuador. Glenda Morejon and Paula Torres took the top places in a road race in Sucua in April with 21:16 and 21:59, respectively. With their lack of international experience, however, it remains to be seen whether they can confirm their status as favourites of the event.
With a best of 22:05.38, Turkey’s European U18 champion Meryem Bekmez is not far behind them on the world U18 list. She finished second in the U20 10km race at the European Race Walking Cup this year and has a best at that distance of 44:58.
Zhang Xiaole of China is even faster over the longer distance with 44:55, suggesting her best of 22:42 over five kilometres could be due for a substantial improvement.
Another Chinese, Bai Xueying, with 23:09 is also a potential contender, as are the two neutral athletes, Elvira Khasanova (22:31) and Ekaterina Gorshenina (23:11).
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF