Few events in World U20 Championships history have been dominated by one nation as much as the men’s 4x400m.
The United States has won 14 of the 16 titles since the championships began back in 1986. And since their most recent victory in 2016, a US quartet reduced the world U20 record to 3:00.33 at the Pan-American U20 Championships in Trujillo last year.
But it appears as though their dominance could be under threat in Tampere as Jamaica heads to Finland with what looks to be the stronger team. Such is their talent pool, one Jamaican high school alone clocked a world U20-leading time of 3:03.79 at the Penn Relays earlier this year.
All four of the athletes from that Calabar High team – Malik James-King, Anthony Danvers, Shemar Chambers and Christopher Taylor – will be in Tampere, so too will Dashawn Morris and Chantz Sawyers, both of whom have clocked 400m PBs well inside 46 seconds this year.
The USA will still be formidable opponents, though, and their team comprises the top six finishers from the US Junior Championships. Two of those, Trey Frields and Umajesty Williams, clocked sub-46-second PBs in Bloomington.
South Africa will also start with medal ambitions. Their team includes world U18 400m hurdles champion Sokwakhana Zazini, who has clocked 45.86 on the flat this year, and 100m specialists Thando Dlodlo and Thembo Monareng.
Botswana pushed USA all the way at the 2016 World U20 Championships. Their team for Tampere doesn’t look to be quite as strong as it was two years ago, but they could still challenge for a podium place.
Australia, Italy, Germany, Great Britain & Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka all have teams that should at least make it to the final and could contest for a medal.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF