London 2012: Jared Tallent and the walkers are our last chance at an Athletics medal
Eight gold medals are on the table today with Austtalia having medal chances in the walks, Bolt aiming for his third gold and a World Record in the 4x100m, and Mo Farah trying to win the distance double.
Men’s 50km Walk
Australia has a strong team in the 50km walk with Luke Adams, Nathan Deakes and Jared Tallent.
Adams has finished fifth and sixth at the last two World Championships, Deakes won gold at the 2007 World Championships and is a former World Record holder in this event, and Tallent has the third best time for the year, won bronze in Daegu and silver at the last Olympics.
The men to beat however are the Russians. Kirdyapkin is number one this year and won the 2005 and 2009 World Championships, Erokhin is ranked number two in the world this year and Bakulin is the 2009 World Champion.
The walk always throws up a few surprises though and a few of the favourites always get disqualified.
The race starts at 6:00pm AEST and will go for three and a half hours. My tips are Bakulin for gold, Kirdyapkin for silver and Tallent for bronze.
Women’s 20km Walk
Russia and China dominate this event with their six athletes all ranked in the top seven this year. Australia has Regan Lamble, Beki Lee and Claire Tallent with Tallent our best chance at a medal. She has dropped nearly four minutes off her PB this year and will certainly be in with a chance of a medal.
The athlete to beat though is Olga Kaniskina, again from Russia. What is it about Russians and not quite running?
She has won the last three World Championships and is reigning Olympic Champion. Her main competition could be Liu Hong from China. She has the fastest time in the world this year and has improved from forth to bronze to silver in the last three major Championships. My tips are Kaniskina for gold, Hong for silver and Lashmanova for bronze.
Women’s High Jump
In the absence of Blanka Vlasic the form athlete of the year is also last year’s World Champion, Anna Chicherova from Russia. The only times she has been beaten this year is by Chaunte Lowe of USA who won the World Indoor Championships this year.
There are two other girls over 2.00m this year and in a throw back to the cold war it seems like it will be USA versus Russia in this event as between them they have the top four jumpers of 2012.
In the qualifying all the favourites had a reasonable clean sheet so there was not much to differentiate between them there. My tips are Chicherova for gold, Lowe for silver and Shkolina for bronze.
Men’s Javelin Throw
For years Thorkildsen of Norway and Pitkämäki of Finland have not only battled for who is the best javelin thrower in the world, but who is the best looking man in athletics.
Thorkildsen is going for three Olympic gold medals in a row and whilst his form this year has been down on his usual standard he threw close to his season’s best in qualifying to show he is still in with a shot of a medal.
I was going to write off 2007 World Champion Pitkämäki as he hasn’t been at the tops of his game for a few years but then he qualified third best for the final.
The man to beat in 2012 however is Czech Vítezslav Veselý. He has the two best throws of the year including his first round effort in qualifying. Australian Jarred Bannister did not throw to his best and did not make it through qualifying, nor did world number two Vasilevskis. My tips are Veselý for gold, Pyatnytsya for silver and Thorkildsen for bronze.
In perhaps the most open field in the distance events at these games, there are three Kenyans, three Ethiopians, Rupp and Lagat from the USA and Mo Farah from Great Britain all could battle it out for the medals.
Farah and Rupp are backing up from their gold and silver medal performances in the 10,000m and along with Lagat will probably be hoping for a sit and kick race again. The best chance the Africans have to beat those three might be to ensure it is a very fast race but without a Bekele to organise the troops I don’t see any of the Africans sacrificing their own medal chances for one of their team mates.
Look out for a winning time between 13:00 and 13:10 and a 55 second final lap. My tips are Farah for gold, Gebremeskel for silver and Lagat for third.
Forget the form coming in, the semi finals told us that controversial South African runner and 2007 World Champion Caster Semenya is the one to beat. Her main challenger looks to be the 2009 World Champion Mariya Savinova from Russia and reigning gold medallist Jelimo from Kenya.
I am writing off Jepkoskei and the two other Russians as not in as good a form as those three. Jelimo is likely to lead it out as she is the fastest in the world this year but expect the other two favourites to come home hard. Semenya has raced very sparingly this year and whilst she was always on everyone’s radar, her form in the semi final was scintillating.
My tips are Semenya for gold, Savinova for silver and Jelimo for bronze.
Women’s 4x400m Relay
This race is America’s to loose, but as we saw in the Men’s 4x400m, that can happen. But the USA women had three athletes make the 400m final compared to none for the men. They also had three into the 400m hurdles final. No disrespect to anyone else but their “B” team could probably win the gold. The heats just confirmed that USA is going to win and that Russia and Jamaica will battle it out for the minor medals.
My tips are USA for gold, Russia for silver and Jamaica for bronze.
Men’s 4x100m Relay
Before Powell got injured (at least I think he pulled a muscle in his leg and not in his heart), this was going to be the event in which it was most likely that a World Record would get broken.
As it is, the USA and Jamaica ran the 4th and 5th quickest times in history in the heats and both have quicker athletes that they can bring into the final. Jamaica, importantly, brings in Usain Bolt.
It is amazing to think that out of the eight runners in those two teams that the worst season best over the 100m is likely to be 9.95!
This is going to be close and a fantastic race. The Australian men equalled our national record in the heat and made it through to the final with a time only 0.12 seconds off third best.
Not bad for a team without an individual 100m runner! My tips are Jamaica for gold and USA for silver with both teams to go under the current World Record, and Canada for bronze.
- 2012 London Olympics