Ethiopia’s Tadese Lemi heads the entries for two-lap contest courtesy of his 1:46.00 clocking in Djibouti earlier this year, where he finished a close runner-up to former world indoor 1500m champion Ayanleh Souleiman.
That makes the 19-year-old a favourite to strike gold in Tampere, and he warmed up for this with a 1:47.79 run in Andujar, Spain, last month.
However, he’ll face a strong challenge from across the Rift Valley in the form of Kenyan duo Solomon Lekuta and Ngeno Kipngetich, who have both clocked 1:46 this year. Lekuta was African U20 champion last year and he clocked a hand-timed 1:45.4 in Nairobi, while this year his fastest time came at the same venue when clocking 1:46.16 at the Commonwealth Games trials. Ngeno has a best of 1:46.49, which he ran to finish second behind Lekuta at their national U20 trials in Nairobi last month.
It will come as no surprise if a European gets among the medals in Tampere, and the two most likely to do so are Belgium’s Elliott Crestan and Spain’s Eduardo Romero. Crestan made a huge breakthrough at the IFAM meeting in Oordegem in late May, carving more than two seconds off his PB to set a Belgian U20 record of 1:47.18, which ranks him fourth of the entries in Tampere.
Romero, meanwhile, did likewise in Huelva the following week, hacking his PB from 1:49.72 to 1:47.56 in one fell swoop, which makes him the fifth fastest in Tampere. Ethiopia’s Adisu Girma is sure to be in the shake-up for medals too, along with Italy’s Simone Barontini, Britain’s Alex Botterill and Belgium’s Pieter Sisk, who have all broken 1:48 this season.
The US challenge will be led by Josh Hoey and Rey Rivera, who went one-two in that order at the recent US Junior Championships in Bloomington.