Today marks one month to go until the European Athletics U20 Championships takes place in Grosseto, Italy, from 20-23 July.
Performances already this season from some of Europe’s top U20 athletes have suggested that this championship, in a beautiful Tuscan city which played host to the IAAF World U20 Championships in 2004, will be a very memorable one.
Just in the past few days, Greek long jumper Miltiádis Tentóglou has shown he could be one of the star performers over four days of action in the Stadio Olimpico Carlo Zecchini when the 2016 world U20 silver medallist produced the second best long jump ever by a European U20 athlete when he exploded out to 8.30m to win at his national championships.
Vladimir Ochkan’s 30-year-old championship best of 8.17m, from 1987, when the USSR was still intact, might be under threat in Grosseto.
Another long-standing mark form the Soviet era is Maksim Tarasov’s pole vault record of 5.60m from the 1989 champions but that could be consigned to history if Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis is in anything like the form that has helped him take the world U20 record up to a staggering 5.90m.
Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen has been capturing a myriad of headlines in the last week after his world-16 mile best and European U18 best in successive IAAF Diamond League meetings in Oslo and Stockholm and he suggested that adding to his continental gold medal collection, having already won the European junior cross country title last December, is a priority this summer.
Sprinter Fillippo Tortu will get some of the biggest cheers of the championships when he is introduced to the crowd in the wake of his recent Italian U20 100m record of 10.15 and he has also run 200m in 20.34 – to go fourth on the European U20 all-time list – and he tops the 2017 European U20 lists in both sprints.
On the women’s side, Czech high jumper Michaela Hrubá has already won world U18 and U20 titles and will be looking to add a European U20 crown to her collection.
Sweden seems to have had a plethora of good pole vaulters at this level. In addition to Duplantis, Lisa Gunnarson leads the European lists with her 4.55m from last weekend to elevate her to fourth on the European all-time standings.
However, the women’s pole vault could provide one of the highlights of the championships as Gunnarson’s rivals could include Finland’s Wilma Murto and Czech Republic’s Amálie Švábíková, who have bests of 4.52m and 4.50m respectively and also feature in the top 10 of the European all-time list.
As always, Great Britain will be sending a strong team and some vocal supporters to the championships and they have a clear gold medal favourite in the shape of 100m hurdler Alicia Barrett, who equalled the national record of 13.07 at the weekend to go to the top of the European U20 list for this year.