Not since 2006 when Yohan Blake anchored Jamaica to the title in Beijing have the United States been beaten in this event but this decade-long hegemony could be put to the test in Tampere.
The South African senior team has promised so much in recent seasons but they are still to produce a showing on par with their potential in a major competition. High expectations on the U20 team would be by no means misplaced as their roster includes four athletes with 100m PBs at 10.22 or faster led by Thando Dlodlo, who has clocked 10.11 in the 100m and 20.41 in the 200m.
But the United States still bring real quality to their team including world U20 100m leader Anthony Schwartz, 17, who has clocked 10.09, and Eric Harrison, who has clocked 20.39 in the 200m.
And even though Christopher Taylor hasn’t been included in Jamaica’s relay pool, their team still includes a lot of raw speed. Sachin Dennis (10.20), Tyreke Wilson (10.21) and emerging hurdler De’jour Russell (10.31) are all expected to play a part in the relay set-up at the latter end of the championships.
Japanese teams have been ever-presents on the podium since Barcelona in 2012 and it is not an exaggeration to suggest they might have beaten the United States in Bydgoszcz two years ago (the United States won 38.93 to 39.01) if Abdul Hakim Sani Brown hadn’t been injured. Their fastest runner this season is Daisuke Miyamoto, a 10.26 performer.
Germany broke the European U20 record to take bronze in 2016 and they bring a strong team to Tampere, including Marvin Schulte and Milo Skupin-Alfa.
Steven Mills for the IAAF