Olympics 2016: Athletics Preview

Updated Tuesday 23rd August 2016, 11:52 AM

From Jesse Owens’ incredible performance at the 1936 Berlin Games to the 1968 Black Power Salute and Usain Bolt’s breath-taking runs in both Beijing and London, athletics has continually produced some of the most iconic moments in Olympic and sporting history. The track and field schedule for Rio 2016 again promises to deliver more spectacular action, with a galaxy of  international superstars pushing for their own spot in Olympic folklore, world records coming under threat and a number of serious British contenders aiming for gold medals.

Event Date: August 12th to 20th

Men’s Athletics Preview

Usain Bolt has already cemented his status as one of athletics' all-time greats, but will again be the main attraction in Rio de Janeiro as he goes in search of yet another sprint treble. The Jamaican has won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay in each of the last two Olympics, setting world records in every discipline. He has had to contend with injuries over the past couple of years and has had to watch US rival Justin Gatlin dominate the regular Diamond League circuit, but on the big stage there is no doubt who the majority of fans will be backing, and their head-to-head showdown could be the highlight of the entire fortnight.

  • 100m Contenders: Usain Bolt 8/13, Justin Gatlin 2/1, Yohan Blake 16/1, Trayvon Bromell 16/1
  • 200m Contenders: Usain Bolt 4/9, Justin Gatlin 7/2, LaShawn Merritt 9/1, Yohan Blake 20/1
  • 4 x 100m Contenders: Jamaica 4/6, USA 2/1, Great Britain 25/1, Canada 40/1

Away from the sprint events, the main focus for a British audience will be on Mo Farah, who is looking to do the long-distance double and win both the 5,000m and 10,000m. He has been in blistering form all season and could very well emulate his feat from London 2012. Greg Rutherford also won gold on home soil four years ago and is the favourite for the long jump.

  • 5,000m Contenders: Mo Farah 1/3, Muktar Edris 23/1, Caleb Ndiku 14/1
  • 10,000m Contenders: Mo Farah 5/18, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor 6/1, Paul Tanui 20/1
  • Long Jump Contenders: Greg Rutherford 9/4, Jeff Henderson 7/2, Jarrion Lawson 5/1

Among the other eagerly-anticipated events, David Rudisha will be hoping to follow up his sublime London gold with another Olympic title in the fiercely competitive 800m, while Wayde van Niekerk, Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt could spur each other on to something special in the 400m.

  • 400m Contenders: Wayde van Niekerk 5/4, Kirani James 2/1, LaShawn Merritt 5/1
  • 800m Contenders: David Rudisha 11/10, Adam Kszczot 17/2, Alfred Kipketer 9/1

Sports.net's top tip: Wayde van Niekerk to win the 400m.

Women’s Athletics Preview

All British eyes will be on the heptathlon, where Jessica Ennis-Hill faces competition from compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson as she bids to defend her London 2012 title. Ennis-Hill came back from having a baby to win at the world championships last year, but Johnson-Thompson is very much the coming force and a British one-two is possible, although the likes of Brianne Theisen-Eaton will have something to say about that. Elsewhere, Great Britain’s best hopes of a medal may rest with Laura Muir in the 1500m and the 4 x 100m squad.

  • Heptathlon Contenders: Jessica Ennis-Hill 13/8, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 5/2, Brianne Theisen-Eaton 3/1
  • 1500m Contenders: Faith Kipyegon 1/25, Genzebe Dibaba 5/4, Laura Muir 14/1
  • 4 x 100m Contenders: Jamaica Evens, USA 6/4, Trinidad and Tobago 20/1, Great Britain 25/1

Former 400m Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu is another British contender for a medal but will line up against an extraordinary field that includes Allyson Felix, Shaunae Miller and Caster Semenya. Young British sensation Dina Asher-Smith also has a tough fight for a top-three finish in the 200m, where flying Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers is the favourite to edge out Elaine Thompson and Tori Bower. Schippers, Thompson and Bower will also be competing in the 100m against reigning champion Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce in an event which could match the men’s final for high drama.

  • 100m Contenders: Dafne Schippers 9/4, Elaine Thompson 5/2, Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce 5/1
  • 200m Contenders: Dafne Schippers 8/13, Elaine Thompson 7/2, Tori Bowie 11/2
  • 400m Contenders: Allyson Felix 6/5, Shaunae Miller 23/10, Caster Semenya 5/2

Caster Semenya is expected to be front-page and back-page news at the Olympics after returning to top form this season. The South African found herself at the centre of a gender row after becoming world champion in 2009 and had to take testosterone-suppressing medication to be able to compete. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided last year that rules on the upper limits of testosterone in female athletes should be suspended. Semenya is now the dominant 800m runner in the world once again and ready to set Rio alight, although her achievements may also reignite the gender debate in the press.

  • 800m Contenders: Caster Semenya 2/17, Francine Niyonsaba 12/1, Margaret Wambui 33/2

Sports.net's top tip: Dafne Schippers to win the 100m and 200m.


*Please note that odds may fluctuate.

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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 August 2016 11:52:33+00:00
Published By Sports.net

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