PREVIEWS DAY 5DISCUS THROW Men
ROBERT HARTING, World Champion in the last two edition (2009 / 2011) and European Champion this year, is the clear favorite. Athlete of perfect structure for the event (201 x 126 kg), still young (he’s born on 18th Oct 1984), during the last 3 years had a percentage of victories of 95%, throwing twice (all this year) over 70m, 20 times over 68m and 30 times over 67m. He was 4th in Beijing, and now doesn’t want to waste the opportunity to win his first Olympic Gold.
In the last 3 years, Polish PIOTR MALACHOWSKI was his main contender. Born on 7th Jun 1983, Malachowski (192 x 122 kg) won ECh in 2010 after winning the silver medal in Olympic 2008 and WCh 2009. His PB of 69.83 is two years old, but his seasonal best is not very far (68.94). Also if doesn’t have the same number of competitions over 67m of Harting, his palmaree is of high profile : twice longer than 69m, 10 times longer than 68m and 23 times longer than 67m. However, the current shape doesn’t seem the best, and Piots can face some problem for going on the podium.
Another thrower we have to follow is the Iranian ESHAN HADADI. I remember this thrower winning in 2004 World Junior Championships in Italy, and also winning Asian Games in Guangzhou 2010. He always demonstrated to be a real fighter, reaching his best at the last attempt. Hadadi can be very dangerous. Still young (he’s born on 21st Jan 1985), very explosive (his size is 193 x 125 kg), Hadadi has good credentials (already won the bronze medal in WCh 2011), with a PB of 69.32 in 2008, and a seasonal best of 68.20. In his career, he threw twice longer than 69m, 5 times over 68m and 11 times over 67m.
A great future talent is the athlete of UK, Nigerian born, LAWRENCE OKOYE. Very young (born on 6th Oct 1991), fast and compact, he’s not still owner of a perfect technique, and can throw very long but also can do big mistakes. During the qualifications, in his first throw, almost killed some photographer with a throw of 30 meters out of sector.... Okoye is the holder of the UK record with 68.24, and threw twice over 67m.
In an edition of OG full of top results from old champions (see Felix Sanchez, Amile Aldama, Koji Murofushi etc...), we cant forget the chances of one of the greatest discus throwers all-time : VIRGILIUS ALEKNA.
Already 40 (he’s born on 13th Feb 1972), this incredible man (200 x 130 kg) twice winner of Olympics in 2000 and 2004 and still bronze medal in 2008, twice World Champion in 2003 and 2005 after already winning the silver medal in 1997, was able to come back over 70m with a seasonal best of 70.28.
The average of his 10 best competitions speaks alone : 71.299. He overtook 71m 5 times, 20 times went over 70m, 55 times over 69 and 99 times over 68m. Virgilius finished with a performance longer than 70m in 8 different seasons : 2000 / 2001 / 2004 / 2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2012.
He is the body guard of the President of Lituania, and the President can feel comfortable, having on his side a man like Virgilius...
HIGH JUMP Men
This is a competition without a clear favorite, since at least 6 jumpers can win, in my opinion.
JESSE WILLIAMS from US is the World Champion of Daegu. Born on 27th Dec 1983, compact and explosive (183 x 67 kg), Jesse has a very aggressive approach, and for that reason sometimes is not able to control his technique. His PB is 2.37 from last year, and in his career he was able to jump higher than 2.35 in 4 occasions, and higher than 2.32 in 22 occasions, with an average of his 20 best competitions of 2.348.
Two Russians demonstrated to have the best potential, but the constance at top level of performances is not in their baggage. They are IVAN UKHOV and ANDREY SILNOV. Ukhov (born on 26th March 1986, 193 x 84 kg) is probably the most talented specialist of our era, as his PB can demonstate (2.40 indoor in 2009 and 2.39 outdoor this year). He is also a fighter, and is specialist in the indoor competitions. In winter, he won World Indoor Championships 2010 and the bronze medal in 2012, and became European Indoor Champion in 2009 and 2011. The average of his 10 best competitions is very high (2.381) : he jumped over 2.37 for 11 times, and over 2.35 for 21 times. Many can remember Ukhov going to jump completely drunk during a Diamond League. The athlete is very serious in training, but sometimes doesn’t have the right discipline in his private life.
ANDREY SILNOV is more old (9th Sep 1984) and tall (198 x 83 kg), and had his best season in 2008, when won Olympic Games and jumped his PB of 2.38. This year already jumped 2.37, ma never showed to have great continuity, and also during the qualification didn’t seem technically in good shape. In his palmaree we can find the victory in ECh 2006, and the silver medal of this year in World Indoor. He was able to jump for 34 times higher than 2.32, and 15 times higher than 2.35, with an average of his 10 best competitions of 2.365.
The Qatari ESSA MUTAZ BARSHIM, born od 24th Jun 1991, very light and elastic (192 x 70 kg), is one of the best talent of the last years. Winner of World Junior Championaships in 2010, last year he improved till 2.35, and this year, during the indoor season, again increased his PB reaching 2.37.
At the moment, coming from some minor injury, Barshim doesn’t seem in top shape, expecially under technical point of view. However, I’m not surprise if can do something important, looking at his very big talent.
Something good can come also from the American ERICK KYNARD, very young (born on 3rd Feb 1991, 196 x 80 kg) and not expert (only 6 competitions over 2.30 in his life), that showed big talent during the qualifications, but specially from the domestic idol ROBERT GRABARZ. Born on 3rd Oct 1987, with a good structure for the event (192 x 75 kg), Grabarz was, till last year, a normal athlete with 2.28 of PB, never looking for becoming a top champion. But, during winter, he decided to dedicate himself completely to athletics having the motivation of the Olympics in London, and the results gave him reason. Now he is the European Champion, has a PB of 2.36, an average for his 10 best competitions of 2.316, all in this season, and showed to be a fighter. Personally, I think he can win a medal, and I’ll no surprised if the medal is of the most important medal.
If OG were a meeting, with the possibility to have good pacers for launching the speed from the start, I couldn’t have any doubt speaking about Asbel Kiprop, Silas Kiplagat and Nixon Chepseba as favorite. But the reality is that in the Olympic final there are no rabbits, and nobody wants to go in front for pushing during the first two laps, thinking to do a work dangerous for their final result.
In this situation, I’m not sure the fastest can win, since the tactical ability becomes one quality very important. And, under this point of view, never Kenyan specialists showed to have great ability.
In the race, there are 3 masters of tactic : NICK WILLIS of New Zealand, ABDELADAATI IGUIDER of Maroc and TAOUFIK MAKHLOUFI of Algeria.
Makhloufi was in training in Iten for about two months this winter, and I know him very well. He suffered in high altitude, but always was very tough with himself in training, and did a lot of workouts for increasing his aerobic power. Like many athletes from Maghreb, Taoufik works a lot in the gym, and this fact can explain the muscle mass they have compared with Kenyans. He was together with the group of Kaki, Hamza Driouch and Balla with the coach Jama Aden, and their training continued together also later.
Makhloufi improved a lot in 800m, winning in Porto Novo the African Championships with 1’43”88 defeating kenyans Kitum and Kinyor, and this speed helped him in running fast 1500m too. However, his PB of 3’30”80 came in a very fast race, with good pace, and could give him a 5th place only, in the Diamond League of Monaco.
There were polemics about his participation in 800m and his disqualification. I thin this is a ridiculous situation : of course, an athlete having possibility to win a medal in one event of middle distance doesn’t go to waste his energies in the resting day, running the heats of another event where he doesn’t have any chance ! May be the way he chose for solving the mistake of his Federation was not the best, but in any case an athlete cant pay for the bad management of his Federation.
Makhloufi showed, during the two previous rounds, to be very smart tactically, and to understand exactly where to stay during the race, and when to move at the end.
Same thing for IGUIDER, that this winter won World Indoor Championships without being involved in any strange tactic, with big personality, and for NICK WILLIS, already 3rd at the finish line in Beijing (later officially 2nd for the disqualification of the doped Ramzi) and this year able to improve his PB.
On the other side, Kenyans didn’t show good tactic during the previous rounds. NIXON CHEPSEBA went in front in the heat slowing down continuously, and when was attacked was overtaken by 6 athletes together. An athlete so tall and with so long strides cant remain in the middle of the group without risk, and this is exactly what happened when he overtook the group with 250m to go : he was touched from behind, lost balance and concentration, and was not able to finish in top six. Only after a request of AK he was reinstated in the semifinal, where, remembering the heat, went in fron pacing at good speed (1’54”7 at 800m and 2’52”8 at 1200m).
ASBEL KIPROP, probably the best in the world, was very easy in the heat, but didn’t impress me too much in the semi. It seems he can have a minor injury : he doesn’t seem too worry of it, but the impression was not the same of the last competitions.
SILAS KIPLAGAT every time is able to go, during the race, in some wrong place. I explained him several times that a top runner, in case of tactical race, needs to stay between the first and the second lane, for having the possibility to increase the speed when he wants, not depending on the choices of other athletes. Instead, the main mistake of Silas is always to go inside when he see a passage, with the final result to be boxed. In this way, he cant use his progression, that is his best quality.
If they are able to speak together, deciding to have a fast pace (for example, 1’52” at 800 and 2’50” at 1200m), I think Kenyans can sweep the podium. But, if everybody looks for himself, thinking to have chances to win in any case, the big risk is that Kenya can win at least one medal, probably not the most important.