Eighteen-year-old Carolina Visca arrives in Tampere as the strongest gold medal threat for Italy, but she’ll have to rise from a crowded field that will include eight women who have thrown beyond 54 metres this year.
The silver medallist at last year’s European Junior Championships, Visca has sat at or near the top of the world U20 lists since she began her season in early February. She’s thrown beyond 55 metres three times in 2018, topped by her 56.79m national U20 record set in Florence on 27 April. She’s thrown nearly as far in her most recent outing, reaching 55.30m in Jena on 30 June.
But perhaps bringing the best momentum to Tampere is Li Hui-Jun of Chinese Taipei, the winner at last month’s Asian Junior Championships in Gifu with a 55.36m effort. Two weeks earlier the 19-year-old broke both the national U20 and senior records with a 56.50m throw at home in Taipei City.
Maura Fiamoncini of the US, another 19-year-old, sits fourth on the world U20 list courtesy of a 56.21m early season effort back in late March, but most recently reached 54.02m to finish second at the national junior championships on 15 June, so is also expected to be in the medal hunt.
The world U20 leader is Yuka Kuwazoe of Japan, a largely unknown quantity who reached 56.86m at a meeting in Hiratsuka on 15 June, an improvement of more than two metres from her pre-2018 best.
Four others have thrown beyond 54 metres, and should be considered medal threats, most notably Ukraine’s Alina Shukh, last year’s European U20 heptathlon champion. The 19-year-old has a 56.54m lifetime best from last year, and this year has reached 55.02m, and more recently, 54.80m at the national team championships on 25 June. If she decides to double, the schedule is agreeable: qualifying is on Tuesday (10) and the final on Wednesday (11) with the heptathlon getting underway on Thursday (12).
The others include China’s Dai Qianqian, the bronze medallist at the World U18 Championships last year, who has improved to 55.46m this season and took bronze at the Asian Junior Championships last month; Fiamoncini’s teammate Dana Baker, who improved to 55.11m on 1 July; and Sae Takemoto, Kuwazoe’s compatriot, the runner-up at the Asian Junior Championships with a 54.16m personal best.