Much like the 100m, the men's half lap is shaping into a battle between the rising US and South African sprints corps.
With world U20 leader Christopher Taylor opting for the 400m, US junior champion Eric Harrison is the fastest in the field courtesy of the 20.39 personal best that propelled him to the Big-10 Conference title on 13 May. He was nearly as fast when he returned to the same Bloomington track for the junior nationals, clocking 20.44.
Thando Dlodlo leads the South African charge as he arrives in Tampere with sprint double ambitions. He clocked a 20.41A personal best from the national championship in mid-March, but he's competed sparingly since, so it's unclear what form he'll be bringing to Finland. He'll be joined by 18-year-old Ruben Els, who also clocked his 20.70A lifetime best more than three months ago. But he too hasn't competed since April.
Meanwhile, Harrison will be teamed with Khance Meyers, a first year university student at tiny Hinds Community College in Mississippi, who equalled his 20.62 personal best at the national junior championships where he finished behind Harrison.
Australia brings Zane Branco, who clocked his lifetime best of 20.68 when taking the national junior title in March. Illustrating solid form more recently, he sliced a massive 0.23 from his 100m best with a 10.33 clocking in Jamsa, Finland, on 1 July.
Another nine entries have all dipped under 21 seconds this season, and all should be in the medal mix.
Great Britain comes armed with the nearly evenly matched Charlie Dobson and Jona Efoloko, who've improved to 20.73 and 20.79 respectively this season.
There’s Bahamian Joel Johnson, who finished second at the Carifta Games in April improving his best to 20.90. He's displayed 10.31 100m speed this season, too.
And don’t discount Jamaican Michael Bentley who arrives on the heels of his impressive 10.31/20.90 double victory at the national junior championships.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF