Among the biggest favourites on the Tampere Stadium track this week will be rising Ugandan star Jacob Kiplimo, whose career has advanced by the proverbial leaps and bounds since he raced to 10,000m bronze at the last edition of these championships two years ago.
In fact, Kiplimo, still just 17, will quite likely arrive in Tampere as the athlete with the most appearances on athletics’ biggest stages. The biggest of those came in 2016, just four weeks after his bronze medal-winning run in Bydgoszcz, when he was the youngest athlete to compete on the Olympic athletics programme in Rio, some three months shy of his 16th birthday. He has since competed at the 2017 World Championships in London, the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, and on home turf at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships where he achieved the greatest victory of his young career thus far by winning the U20 title.
His 27:26.68 performance from Bydgoszcz has remained his personal best, but he's become a much stronger and more polished racer since. In the 2017-18 cross country season he carved out a name for himself as one of the circuit's most consistent performers, winning in Soria and San Vittore Olona and finishing second in four other races. On the track this year, he was fourth in Commonwealth 10,000m in 27:30.25, and more recently, sixth over 5000m in the Stockholm leg of the IAAF Diamond League in early June.
Kenya's top entry is also making waves globally. Rhonex Kipruto, just 18, took the African junior cross country title in March and produced his biggest splash with an upset 10km victory on the roads through New York's Central Park in late April, clocking a sizzling 27:08, the fastest ever on US soil and the seventh fastest ever run on a record-eligible course. He's clearly quicker than his 27:49.6 track PB, set last month in Nairobi, would indicate.
He'll be joined by Solomon Kiplimo Boit, who trailed Kipruto at the Kenyan trials by some 28 seconds, and so far, untested internationally. Meanwhile, Kiplimo will be joined by Victor Kiplangat, a finalist in the 5000m two years ago in Bydgoszcz
Eritrea will come armed with Abraha Kokob and Robel Sibhatu, who have clocked 28:23.11 and 28:48.72 this season, respectively, lifetime bests for both. Ethiopian hopes will rest with Berihu Aregawi and Olika Adugna, whose 29:36.67 and 29:37.12 bests also came this year.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF