The Games are almost here, and I’m still shaky on most of the events with literally days left in the count down. I’m going to be watching every little meet that comes along for clues, but then along comes a meet like Luzern today that makes me pause yet again. The only thing that I’m certain of today is that these Games are going to be rather unpredictable. That said, here are a few thoughts ahead of London as I talk to myself before I put my prediction list together.
The sprints are wide open – men and women – 100, 200, and 400. Yeah I said it. The closest thing to a dominant sprinter we’ve seen all year is La Shawn Merritt in the men’s 400, yet you still have to believe that Kirani James will not go quietly into the night; or that Tony McQuay is a race away from busting that big one.
Sanya and the Russians are running fast, but Ohuruogu lies in the cut like a jungle cat ready to take them down. We have no idea what condition Bolt is in, and his last two races were losses – not the best way to go into the Games. Blake beat him so many want to hand over the role of favorite, but I haven’t seen anything from him I haven’t seen in Gay or Gatlin, and people easily forget that Tyson runs 9.7′s just because when he’s right. Gatlin is running near perfect races. IF he’s near good health Bolt will always be a factor. And I’ve been warning the world about Ryan Bailey all year.
VCB loses in Luzern over 200 while an unknown compatriot drops a 19.86. Both should serve as reminders that this event produces surprises – Derald Harris 20.01 (lane 1), Marsh shut down 19.73 semi, Carter 19.63, Kenteris 2000. I will say that every sprinter out there is a bad start away from disaster and my biggest fear is that the false start rule is once again going to get top billing in a major meet.
Alberto Juantorena 1976 – the last half miler I felt just couldn’t lose – until now. David Rudisha is the biggest favorite for London – period. When the gun goes off they’re racing for the silver.
Threre’s a very strong youth continent in this race, and I really liked what I saw of Nigel Amos at World Juniors. He will medal. I don’t think Kaki will. That last race of Kaki’s was horrible, and he hasn’t been right since Rudisha went 1:41 on him in New York – broken athlete.
Jelimo is favored too, but not as heavily. It will take 1:55 to beat her though – low. Not sure who can do it. Semenya is broken, like Kaki, but different reasons. My gut says Magiso is going to improve big – not sure of it will be that big. Montano can medal, and Gall can make the final. But this event is for competitors – if you wait around for something to happen you won’t make it.
The men’s 1500 is wide open IF they go at a typical “majors” pace. Still advantage Kenyans with Kiprop leading the way . He runs as majestically in the 15 as Rudisha does in the 8 – they may be the best one, two punch on the track. And before I go further, forget the US, Jamaica, or Russia, the world’s most powerful track nation is Kenya. They have no field, but on the track no one is better or deeper – period. Just giving them their props.
The women’s 1500 is completely open. I now have no “favorite”. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Uceny can win. I also think Jamal can win. Or Dibaba. Or Rowbury. Or frankly whoever makes the final. This WILL BE one of the most exciting finals of the Games – one of the few things I’m sure of.
So will the 110 hurdles. What was once the Big Three (Liu, Robles, Oliver) has become the New Players Ball (Merritt, Richardson) and in spite of the transformation of players we’re still looking at a potential WR! Favorite? Hmmm. Liu healthy almost always wins. Merritt is on an epic roll. Richardson has something about him. And Robles is ever dangerous. I’m still on the fence. The women’s short hurdles. Real simple Pearson lost, but they gotta do it again. Too many women that are all right there, but gold still goes through Sally.
Long hurdles, where are the Americans? Culson is the man right now. Gold goes through him in London. Dai Greene had talked smack, but he is finishing ahead of Americans right now (clearing throat).
Distance races are also wide open. Kenyans. Ethiopians. Rupp. Farah. Those are the players on the men’s side of things. Toss em in a hat and pull out names. The final 800 of both the 5 & 10 are going to be brutal! Faster than the gold will go in the women’s open event – watch. The women’s races will come down to Kenyans v Ethiopians. Maybe Cheruiyot a slight fave, slight.
Most field events are wide open. Or at least no real strong favorites. Two or three major players in each event, but the Games provide breakthroughs with regularity. The men’s long jump might be the most wide open field event. A lot of 27 footers, no one dominant. Can Will Claye medal here and the triple? Because I expect to see him and Christian Taylor battle for TJ gold in London.
Pole vault. Can Isinbayeva dominate? I’m not sure. She’s been so quiet all year will there be too much rust? But do keep an eye on the men’s vault because I think they’re going to push it up high. Lavillenie and Mohr have been going at it and are used to vaulting near the ceiling now.
The shot putters should put on a good show. Cantwell looks healthy and Hoffa looks ready. Majewski, Storl, and Armstrong all compete well. And we’ll see how Whiting does with the lights on. The best battle on the field however, could be between Ostapchuk and Adams in the women’s put. Yeah, the shot put ring is going to be hot in London.
Speaking of hot, both multis should be. WR holder Ashton Eaton has been very very quiet since the Trials. Can he do it again – get over 9000? If he’s back in 8700/8800 territory maybe Trey has a shot at gold, or maybe Suarez – another young physically talented decathlete.
And the women, Jessica Ennis v Tatyana Chernova. Now that should be a battle. She who blinks first will lose. Ok, I’m all talked out, and still unclear. Guess I’ll just have to sit down and start the spreadsheet because time is running out.