Gold medal winner Shaunae MILLER of the Bahamas celebrates after winning the Girls 400 metres race - Day Three - WYC Lille 2011 (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News

A Dozen Head-to-Head Duels to Delight

With just 48 hours to go to the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, let's take a look at a selection of what could be the highlights of these championships...

Nijel Amos BOT v Timothy Kitum KEN - 800m

Both men have been selected for their respective Olympic teams. Amos, fifth at last year's World Youth Championships, has improved enormously this year and ran 1:43.11 in the German city of Mannheim last month to go second on the world junior all-time list while Kitum, third in Lille 12 months ago, clocked 1:43.94 at the Kenyan Olympic Trials.

Hamza Driouch QAT v Teshome Dirirsa ETH - 1500m

Driouch set an Asian junior record of 3:33.69 at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Doha while Dirirsa, the 2011 World Youth Championships gold medallist, has also had outings on the international circuit and reduced his best to 3:34.55 in Prague last month. Neither Qatar nor Ethiopia has ever won a World Junior Championships gold medal at this distance before.

Conseslus Kipruto KEN v Gilbert Kiplangat Kirui KEN - 3000m Steeplechase

Kenya's domination of this event should continue, having won every year since 1988, but who will it be? Kipruto and Kiplangat Kirui were one-two in the 2000m steeplechase last year and have improved to 8:08.92 and 8:11.27 respectively over the longer distance this year.

Ashraf Amgad Elseify QAT v Valeriy Pronkin RUS - Hammer

Elseify, still only 17, has been dominant in Asian athletics circles this year, winning the Gulf junior championships in an Asian junior record of 79.67m and improving it to 80.85m. The European challenge will be lead by Russia's Valeriy Pronkin, who leads the old continent's throwers with 79.39m but Cyprus' Alexandros Poursanidis, Hungary's 2011 World Youth Championships gold medallist Bence Pásztor and Turkey's Özcan Baltaci might also feature in what potentially could be a
fascinating contest.

Kershorn Walcott TRI v Braian Toledo ARG - Javelin

Toledo threw a South American junior record of 79.73m on home soil in Buenos Aires on May 3 and is unbeaten in all eight of his competitions this year, including a victory against senior opponents at the IberoAmerican Championships. However, Walcott is also unbeaten this year and leads the 2012 World junior rankings with the area record of 80.11m he threw in May.

Jake Stein AUS v Gunnar Nixon USA - Decathlon

Stein, the 2010 World Youth Championships Octathlon champion, has been in impressive form. In his two Decathlons so far this year, Stein improved the Oceania area junior record on both occasions; firstly to 7637 points and then to 7887 points although Nixon scored 7892 points with senior implements at the recent NCAA Championships. The Netherlands' Pieter Braun, who set a national record of 7953 points in May, could also be a factor but he has no major championship experience.

Ashley Spencer USA v Shaunae Miller BAH - 400m

Miller won at the 2010 World Junior Championships and last year won at the World Youth Championships, the only woman to win those global titles in that order, but Spencer won the highly competitive NCAA Championships in 50.95, the fastest time by a junior over one lap of the track since 2008.

Ekaterina Belskina RUS v Morgan Snow USA - 100m Hurdles

Belskina sped to a Russian junior record of 13.11 at the Russian junior championships in Cheboksary last month while Snow won the US junior title and has run 13.13 this year. The pair have never met before and so their first encounter is eagerly anticipated.

Alessia Trost ITA v Mariya Kuchina RUS - High Jump

Trost and Kuchina have been battling for supremacy ever since they finished first and second respectively at the 2009 World Youth Championships. Kuchina won at the 2010 Youth Olympic games and 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships, and also jumped a world indoor junior record of 1.97m last year, but Trost leads this year's rankings with 1.92m.

Jazmin Sawyer GBR v Jéssica dos Rios BRA - Long Jump

Sawyer, a silver medallist at the 2012 Youth Winter Olympics in the two-man bobsleigh, leads the 2012 World junior rankings with her 6.64m effort she achieved at the UK Olympic Trials in Birmingham last month but dos Rios is not far behind and recently jumped a South American junior record of 6.58. Don't count out Germany's Lena Malkus and Romania's Alina Rotaru - first and second respectively at last year's European Athletics Junior Championships – either; they have both jumped 6.57m this year.

Yang Gao CHN v Ka Bian CHN - Shot Put

China has left at home the 2012 top junior Tianqian Guo, who has thrown 17.10m, but instead will send the number two and three on this year's world junior rankings. Gao reached 17.07m earlier this year while Bian has thrown 16.97m and the pair could emulate their compatriots Meng Qianqian and Cui Shuang who took the gold and silver medals in 2010.

Alexandra Tavernier FRA v Shelby Ashe USA - Hammer

Neither France nor the USA has ever won a gold or silver medal in this event at the World Junior Championships so a little bit of history could be made in this expected Transatlantic duel. Tavernier has thrown 68.44m this year and Ashe has gone out to 68.12m. Not far behind the leading pair is France's Alexia Sedykh, the daughter of world record holders Yuriy Sedykh and Natalya Lisovskaya, with 67.57m.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF