Saudi Arabia has never had a 100m medallist at the IAAF World U20 Championships, but in Abdullah Akbar Mohammed, they have an athlete who could end that drought and deliver their second gold medal in the history of the championships.
The 19-year-old smashed his personal best earlier this year when running an Asian U20 record of 10.04 in Norwalk, California, a performance that puts him head and shoulders above his rivals in Bydgoszcz. However, he has yet to reproduce anything approaching that since, his fastest time being the 10.45 he ran when finishing third at the Asian U20 Championships in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, last month.
Jamaica has three entrants for the event, but only two will compete. Their entries are led by Nigel Ellis, who is the second-fastest U20 athlete in the world this year with a clocking of 10.16 back in March.
However, Ellis false started at the Jamaican U20 championships last month, which allowed Raheem Chambers take the title in 10.70 ahead of their final entrant here, Jhevaughn Matherson. Both Chambers and Matherson have clocked 10.25 this year and have the ability to challenge for the title in Bydgoszcz.
Noah Lyles should launch a bold bid to keep the title in US hands. The 18-year-old ran a wind-aided 10.08 (2.2m/s) to win the US Junior Championships in Clovis, California, last month and continued his good form when running 10.16 in the heats of the US Olympic Trials in Eugene last week.
The European hopes are carried by Italy’s Filippo Tortu, who broke the national U20 record twice this year, most recently at the European Championships in Amsterdam, where he ran 10.19 to exit at the semi-final stage.
Others of note include South Africa’s Tlotliso Leotlela, who clocked a season’s best of 10.21 at altitude in Germiston earlier this year, and Australia’s Jack Hale, who set an Oceanian U20 record of 10.21 in Mannheim last month.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF