Anytime you get an athlete competing at an U20 championship who is good enough to win gold at senior level, victory is typically a foregone conclusion, but despite the outstanding ability of Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera that’s not strictly the case here in Tampere.
In Val-de-Reuil earlier this year, Tefera clocked 3:36.05, the fastest indoor performance in history by an U20 athlete. But far from being a time trialler, the 18-year-old showed a vast range of gears at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham where he scorched through the final lap to take gold.
However, he’ll need to be on his A-game to get the same outcome here with the presence of Kenyan duo Justus Soget, a 3:32.97 performer, and George Manangoi, who has run 3:35.53. Soget ran his best to finish fourth at the Kenyan World Championships trials last year in Nairobi, while Manangoi, a younger brother to world 1500m champion Elijah, won the IAAF World U18 Championships last summer.
It will come as little surprise if the African challenge comes up short, however, given the presence of Norwegian wunderkind Jakob Ingebrigtsen. He was European U20 champion last year and has had a stellar season to date, clocking a 3:52.28 mile in Eugene and a 3:36.06 1500m in Oslo.
The above four look likely to duke it out for the medals, though Ethiopia’s Birhanu Sorsa and Britain’s Jake Heyward, who have both dipped below 3:40, may also get in the mix.
Others that warrant respect include USA’s Yared Nuguse, Netherlands’ Robin van Riel, Spain’s Mario Garcia and Algeria’s Oussama Cherrad, who have all run under 3:43 this season.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF