London 2012: Australia looking for gold in Athletics on Day 2
There are six gold medals to be decided on day 2 of the London 2012 Olympics athletics including one of our best shots for a gold medal with Mitchell Watt in the Men’s Long Jump and the first appearance for the Games of Usain Bolt.
The Gold Medal Events:
Men’s 20km Walk
The first medal up for grabs is in the Men’s 20km walk. Australia has a full contingent of three athletes, Chris Erikson, Adam Rutter and a great medal chance in Jared Tallent.
One of the lasting images of the 2008 Olympics was Jared Tallent vomiting on the track whilst he was still racing on the way to winning the bronze medal.
Valeriy Borchin has not has the best form this year but the reigning Olympic Champion somehow always manages to step up in the major championships.
My tips are Borchin for gold, Wang for silver and for Australia to get their first medal in atheletics with Tallent getting bronze. The race starts at 2:00am Sunday morning EST for those that want to get up to watch it.
The women’s discus final is today. Danni Samuels made it through to the final on her last throw with a season’s best by over a meter, but she will need other girls to fail to be in the race for a medal.
Darya Pishchalnikova, Sandra Perkovic and Nadine Müller have been the form athletes of this year and despite the Russian girl Pishchalnikova’s seasons best being the best throw in the world for about 20 years, I am tipping Perkovic for gold, Pishchalnikova for silver and Müller for bronze.
Men’s Long Jump
Mitchell Watt in the Men’s Long Jump is probably our second best shot at gold in athletics (4:55am Sunday morning EST).
The bookies have him in as favourite and with the winner of the last two World Championships Dwight Phillips out through injury and the gold medallist from 2008 Irving Saladino having his worst season for 9 years the field has certainly opened up for Watt.
His main competition looks like it will come from Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford and Germany’s Sebastian Bayer, but with a jump in the 8.20s quite often good enough to get bronze everyone who made the final including our other long jumper Henry Frayne could make the podium.
My tips are Watt for gold, Rutherford for silver and Bayer for bronze.
The Men’s 10,000m has been a race which has created legends. The names of Viren, Zatopek, Gebrselassie, Nurmi and Bekele are all double gold medallists in this event and are the most famous names in distance running.
This year 80,000 people will lift the roof off the stadium if home town hero Mo Farah can take home the gold. Coming off a second place in the 2011 World Championships he certainly has a strong chance.
The main interest for the rest of the world will be in whether Kenenisa Bekele is back to his best after a DNF in Daegu. The race should as usual be controlled by the Kenyans and Ethiopians with the odd Ugandan, Eritrean and Kenyan born now from Bahrain athlete making up the first group.
Australia is represented by Ben St Lawrence who is in career best form and should finish mid field. Can the home town hero defeat the living legend? My tip is yes with Farah for gold, Kenenisa Bekele for silver and Gebremariam for bronze.
Over the last 10 years the sprinting world has been dominated by two countries, USA and Jamaica.
But while in recent times Bolt, Powell and Blake have ensured that Jamaica have dominated the men’s events, the women’s events have been tightly contested.
2011 World Champion Carmelita Jeter is the stand out athlete for the USA but she will have her work cut out for her against the reigning Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica who is back in top form this year. In fact if you ignore FloJo and Marion Jones (for obvious reasons) they are the two fastest women of all time. Out of the eight women who will make the final I am predicting 3 from USA, 3 from Jamaica, Kelly-Ann Baptiste from Trinidad and one other person.
Australian Mellissa Breen ran a good race in the heats but did not make it through to the semi finals. My tips are Fraser-Pryce for Gold, Jeter for silver and Campbell-Brown for bronze.
Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis scorched the track with a the best time ever for the 100m Hurdles inside a Heptathlon, a time which ranked her 3rd in the world outright behind our very own Sally Pearson.
She also ran a personal best in the 200m to have a comfortable lead and is ahead of her day 1 total when she set her personal best for the heptathlon.
While Chernova is sitting well back in 9th place she is on track and will make up a lot of ground in the javelin. I’m going to stick with my predictions of yesterday.
Alana Boyd and Liz Parnov take to the field in the Women’s Pole Vault qualifying. Alana jumped an Australian Record of 4.76m this year and her most recent meets in Europe have shown she is in this type of form. She should qualify for the final with ease.
Parnov, the daughter of Steven Hooker’s coach, won a silver medal at the World Junior Championships this year but will have to jump a PB to make it through to the final here at the Olympics.
19 year old Steve Solomon, fresh from winning a bronze medal at the World Juniors, lines up today in the heats of the 400m. At the moment he is best known to the Australian public as the person who was selected in the individual race ahead of outspoken John Steffensen, but everyone including John says he is a star of the future.
A time in the high 45’s will likely be enough and so he should make it through the first round, hopefully inspired by the fact that a 19 year old won the open World Championships in Daegu last year.
Australian interest in the Women’s 3000m Steeple has probably never been higher with the controversy that surrounded Genevieve LaCaze’s non-selection and then subsequent selection in the Olympic team after Athletics Australia bowed to public pressure and extended the period in which athletes could post qualifying team.
Running for Florida University has limited her opportunities to run fast times so expect her to run a PB in the heats and if she does that, she should make it through to the final but she needs to ensure it is a fast race.
Both Brendan Cole and Tristan Thomas made it through to the semi finals of the Men’s 400m Hurdles. Both men ran season’s bests in the heats but with three semi finals it is the first two in each race and the next two fastest time through to the final. Both men have fortunately avoided the first semi final which is the strongest but this also means they will most likely need to finish in the top two of their race to advance.
Cole perhaps has the weaker heat but both men will likely have to run personal bests to make it through. Before this season started Cole publicly stated on his blog that he was going to retire at the end of the season and the realisation of his Olympic Dream has been a fantastic end to his career.
9:30pm Saturday night EST sees the first appearance on the track of the undoubted number one star of the Olympics Usain Bolt in the 100m heats.
Don’t expect him or Yohan Blake to show their form yet as they do just enough to qualify for the semi finals.
- 2012 London Olympics