London 2012 Olympic Preview
by Alfons Juck
LONDON (GBR): The athletics is here, the number one sport of the Games. As IAAF President Lamine Diack said: "For me the Games are beginning on Friday, August the 3rd." We have the same number of events (47) as in Beijing. Last Olympics brought 5 World records, 12 Olympic records, five succesfull title defenders, world leading marks in 8 men and 13 women events. USA got 7 golds, Jamaica and Russia 6 and in points USA 207 over Russia 200.
From 2008 individual winners not competing are six: Wilfred Bungei at 800 m ended his career, unfortunately we lost after tragic accident Sammy Wanjiru for marathon, Nelson Evora in triple jump is not here because of an injury and subsequent surgery, not qualified Bryan Clay /in decathlon and Francoise Mbango in the triple jump, Nancy Lagat in the 1500 m even did not try, she is returning after injury. Two other winners are competing in other events (10,000 m) but in 5000 m they both are reserves (Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba). All other Beijing 2008 winners are scheduled to try to defend their titles.
OTHER GOLD MEDALISTS
From Daegu 2011 winners only two are missing Ibrahim Jeylan at 10 000 m and Dwight Phillips from long jump. From 2012 World leaders only Paul Kipsiele Koech in steeple is not in London, also Russian 20 km walker Elmira Alembekova was not selected and Alex Schwazer will not compete in the 20 km (but will in the 50 km). Special story is Moroccan Meryem Selsouli who´s world lead in the women 1500 m will be most probably canceled. Interesting to see also a group of 14 Athens individual winners to compete. Justin Gatlin, Yuriy Borzakovskiy, Kenenisa Bekele, Ezekiel Kemboi, Liu Xiang, Felix Sanchez, Virgilijus Alekna, Koji Murofushi, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Meseret Defar, Yelena Isinbaeva and Tatyana Lebedeva (but she won long jump and is competing in the triple jump). Even more appreciated is the participation of four Sydney 2000 winners Angelo Taylor, Virgilijus Alekna, Szymon Ziolkowski in hammer and Yanina Karolchik-Provalinskaya in shot put. Interesting to note that Ziolkowski (10th) and Alekna (5th) were in the finals of 1996 Games in Atlanta
High jumper Dragutin Topic was not only 4th in Atlanta but also 8th in Barcelona 1992, he will compete in his 6th Olympic Games what is male athletics record equalled. Also Spanish walker Jesus Angel Garcia is heading for 6th Olympic appearance (best position 4th in Beijing) and so tying the maximum of Angolan marathon runner Joao Ntyamba. Untouchable is the best woman Merlene Ottey who was at 7 Olympic Games, this time she is missing as Slovenian relay did not qualify. From current female participants the best is Nicoleta Grasu, Romanian discus thrower going for 6th appearance (tying Manoliu, Sanderson and Mutola).
EVENT BY EVENT PREVIEW
100 m: Bolt wants be ready to defend, Blake is coming as the fastest in the world and
current World Champion, other 7 clocked sub 10 this year, Powell wants to be healthy
(goes for jubilee 80th sub 10), US Gay and Gatlin (8 years after his Athens win)
ready to attack.
200 m: This is Bolts beloved event, let´s see how Blake goes after all rounds,
Lemaitre against Spearmon and Martina for bronze. Newcomer Weir leads the next group.
400 m: Healthy Merritt would be the choice, but now world champ James against
Belgian brothers and world junior champ Santos. Pinder with McQuay could be the
800 m: Rudisha against the clock. That easy? Aman, Kaki (if ok), Kszczot will be
fighting for other medals. Will junior Amos be the surprise?
1500 m: Kenyan trio headed by Kiprop (only Coe and Lightbody won two golds in
this event so far) should cooperate and rule here. But if slow and tactical
could by anybody´s race (Willis, Laalou, Ozbilen, Gebremdhin, young Souleiman).
5000 m: Juniors can win medals here (Gebrhiwot, I. Koech), another top choice
is Gebremeskel. What will home hero Farah do with the youngsters?
10,000 m: Farah vs. Kenenisa one of the top duels. Or do you expect somebody
else there from Kenyans and Ethiopians? Kenya won last gold here in 1968.
Marathon: This will not be typical championships race in hot weather,
but possibility for a fast time. Kirui, Mutai, Kipsang vs. Abshero, Sefir,
Feleke. That easy.
Steeple: Kemboi has only two races this year, Kipruto is the defender,
but Mekhissi-Benabbad was in top training. In case Kenyans will not be
alone in the last lap, kinds of Jager could attack. Kenya won last 7
Olympics in this event.
110mH: Ready for world record? Depends on weather. Merritt is the choice
for many, but Liu wants to get what he was not able to get at home in 2008,
what is the health status of Robles?
400mH: Greene vs. Culson looks clear, but Taylor (already two golds) is the man
of top events.
HJ: This is open with Russian trio Ukhov, Silnov, Shustov, world champ Williams and
home hope Grabarz. Is Mutaz going to fulfill the promises?
PV: Lavillenie would be the name to mention, but his last meets were not that superb.
Otto and Mohr were at high level always, Walker means experience and Lewis home support.
Hooker and his questions.
LJ: Watt lost only once, Saladino improved in Monaco after injury difficulties, Brits
will be ready (Rutherford, Tomlinson) but also Bayer and Russian world junior record
holder Morgunov who could be the surprise of the day.
TJ: Taylor for gold, Claye with slight injury against Italians and Russian Adams
for other medals. Questions about Idowu.
SP: Europeans against Americans. Storl, Majewski, Mikhnevich against US trio and
Armstrong. Hoffa lost only once in his first meet of outdoors, afterwards won all.
So far no world champion won olympics, will that change?
DT: Harting unbeaten since 2010, is defender Kanter getting to top shape? Supervet
Alekna also ready (can he come close to Oerter with 4th medal?) more than in past
years, or surprise from Hadadi/Okoye group?
HT: Tikhon with one meet in 2009-2012 period good to win? Murofushi is also not having
many competitions in past years, so Pars looks like safe bet for win. Surprise could be
JT: Vesely to follow his coach, are Thorkildsen (going for 3rd gold as Zelezny) and
De Zordo top fit? Many other candidates for medals, very open.
Dec: Eaton will go for win, world record will be tough but UK All-Comers 8663 or
Olympic record 8893. Hardee with Behrenbruch for other medals or surprise from Benelux?
20 km w: Strong Chinese trio (first Asian medal in this event?) against Russians
headed by defender Borchin who will be ready in right time. But we can see a
surprise from second level for a medal.
50 km w: European top walkers concentrating here Schwazer and Diniz. Kirdyapkin,
Yerokhin and world champ Bakulin will be the Russian trio. But do not discount Toth,
Deakes and Tallent.
4x100 m: Jamaica vs. USA for gold (and sub 37), world record possible, Germany vs.
Trinidad for bronze, France waiting behind.
4x400 m: All depends on Merritt, without him USA will be possibly beatable.
Carribean teams (BAH, JAM, TRI, CUB) will be ready but also Belgium with the
100 m: Fraser-Pryce knows how to be in right time in right shape. Jeter and Felix on
the US side, but VCB also to mention with Okagbare ready for surprise. Where to
place Baptiste, could be higher than expected.
200 m: This looks good for Felix, but VCB could make history with third gold, 100 m
specialists Fraser-Pryce with Jeter will be more dangerous than in the past.
Surprise from Sanya?
400 m: Sanya wants to win, could Russians repeat their marks from nationals?
Montsho (first African to win 400 m?) and Jamaicans are also there. Ohuruogu
with crowd backing.
800 m: Jelimo vs. Savinova, that is the expected duel. Magiso could be the
1500 m: Arigawi and Genzebe should rule here (Ethiopia so far no medal in this event).
But this event brings usually unexpected winners (what about Cakir and Kostetskaya).
5000 m: Vivian looks good here, Defar wants to repeat 2004.
10,000 m: This time Vivian vs. Tirunesh. Kenya never won gold at Olympics
in women 5 or 10 km.
Marathon: World champ Edna Kiplagat is the championships runner,
Keitany has the fastest time, Gelana is the best from Ethiopians. But
Shobukhova will be ready or surprise from China? Kenya never won this gold.
Steeple: Chemos could this time beat the Russians - Zaripova and WR holder Galkina.
100mH: Pearson despite London loss looks clear, US duel for silver Wells vs. Harper.
Next group Foster-Hylton and Porter with tweet favorite Lolo.
400mH: We had this question in the 400 m already. Russian times when repeated in London
could bring gold for Antyukh. Oly winner is Walker, world winner Demus, Euro winner
Davydova and strong Czech duo Hejnova-Rosolova. And not to forget home PSD.
HJ: Chicherova is it on the paper, but Lowe is the best competitor. Hellebaut
also highly experienced, all three mothers. From younger generation Shkolina with
Barrett. Beitia jumped two meters in the closest time to the games.
PV: Yelena and the pressure, when she manages, she is unbeatable. But otherwise fully
healthy Suhr is the other choice. Murer is not having the shape of 2012, Bleasdale and
Spiegelburg to attack from the 2nd row.
LJ: Reese on the paper, Russian and Belarus group to confirm results outside their
countries, who else? Other US jumpers (DeLoach and Hayes) and Proctor with Okagbare.
TJ: Ibarguen could win historical gold for Colombia. Saladuha at same level.
Bronze for all-time hero Lebedeva?
SP: Adams vs. Ostapchuk. Despite being second in the lists, the New Zealand star
looks better in big championships. And bronze between strong group with results around 20 meters.
DT: Pishchalnikova on paper, but Perkovic is already confirmed Diamond race winner,
not to forget world champ Li with Muller and Barrios. Or a surprise like Brown-Trafton
HT: Menkova looks to be on the way to defend her title. Lysenko is also ready,
Heidler coming back to shape, Wlodarczyk the same. The safest new olympic record here.
JT: Another version of Spotakova vs. Abakumova. We need to count with Obergfoll
and list leader Viljoen or Euro champ Rebryk. Sayers is not fully fit.
Hep: The nation expects big things from Ennis, Dobrynska wants to defend and
Chernova is the world champ. Zelinka or Djimou ready for surprise?
20 km w: Kaniskina is the usual winner, but is she having the top shape?
Liu Hong leads strong Chinese duo, Spanish girls also ready.
4x100 m: USA vs. Jamaica, what about practising the exchanges, Germany
and Ukraine will be namely ready in the department of high quality exchanges
(and also Russia).
4x400 m: Looks for Russia vs. USA. But also Jamaican and home side will have
top selections. Last two games had the same order: USA - Russia - Jamaica.