PREVIEWS DAY 3 (EVENING SESSION)100m Men (Semifinals)
This is the last round before the most exciting final in the athletic history.
In the first, there are JUSTIN GATLIN and ASAFA POWELL. They can go directly in the final, but can be interesting to see the action of KESTON BLEDMAN of Trinidad, 9”86 this year, never impressing too much in the heat, but in big improvement during the season.
ASAFA POWELL is the athlete with the higher number of races under 10”00. He ran the first time under that limit in 2004, so now we are in his 9th year of continuity at this level. His production of times under 10”00 is amazing : he ran 10 times under 9”80, 48 times under 9”90 and 87 times under 10”00 !
Not yet 30 (he’s born on 23 November 1982), very powerful (188 x 87 kg), Asafa never showed the ability to maintain relaxation running against Usain Bolt or Tyson Gay. This psychological problem affected his performances in the most important competition of his career, so never was able to win a gold in WCh or OG in the individual event.
JUSTIN GATLIN, instead, can be considered an athlete for High Competitions, since he was able to reach the peak of his possibilities during the most important Championships. Bo0rn, as Powell, in 1982 (10th February), 185 x 79 kg, he waon Gold in OG 2004 in 100m (and bronze in 200m), and next year became World Champion in both the events (100-200m) in Helsinki.
After this, he faced 4 years ban for doping, but had the will to come back in 2010, and now he is arguably in the best season of his career. Winning Olympic Trials, he improved his PB till 9”80. This year he ran 9 competitions of 100m winning 8 times, running 6 times under 10”00.
Gatlin ran under 10”00 for the first time in 2003 (9”97), and till now has 27 races under that limit.
The third person to watch is KERSTON BLEDMAN of Trinidad. Born on 8.03.1988, with normal morphology (183 x 75 kg), till 2010 was one of the many sprinters around 10”00. Only last year improved till 9”93, but never competed at high level. This year already had 12 competitions, running 4 times under 10”. The most part of these competitions were at home, but I was impressed when he ran in New York, 9th of June, during the Diamond League, in 9”93, for 2nd behind Yohan Blake (9”90).
In the second, we have USAIN BOLT and RYAN BAILEY as favorite. In my opinion, Usain is not far from his best shape, since in the heats he went very easy, without any attempt to push. On the opposite, RYAN BAILEY, physically similar to Powell (188 x 82 kg), still very young (13.04.89), doesn’t have experience, but showed in the heat that doesn’t fear the big event. Qualified as no. 3 in the Olympic Trials with 9”93, Ryan equaled his PB of two years ago in Rieti (9”88) in the heats.
However, in his second semi we can have two other options : DWAIN CHAMBERS and RICHARD THOMPSON.
Thompson (born on 7.06.85), having very good technique in the launched phase, had his best shape during Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing, when won the silver medal running 9”89. Everybody expected big improvement during the next years, but a terrible car accident stopped his career. This year, he came back with a new PB of 9”85 at home, but his consistency doesn’t seem the same of 2008.
DWAIN CHAMBERS, as Gatlin, had in his career to face 2 years ban (2004 and 2005) for doping. After this, he rebuilt his image speaking young people against doping. Already 34 years old (he’s born on 5.04.78), with very strong muscle mass (180 x 83 kg), can be considered one of the best specialists of 60m indoor all time, but never had top results in the Olympic distance of 100m, apart the silver medal won with his PB of 9”97 in the WCh ’99 in Seville. After than, Dwain ran only other 3 times under 10”00. However, his heat, won in 10”02, was very impressive and he can have some chance to reach the final.
In the last semi we can see the duel between TYSON GAY and YOHAN BLAKE. Also if it’s a semifinal only, the fact to run together can have big importance looking at the psychological effects waiting for the final.
In this heat, can be interesting look at the young sensation ADAM GEMILI, World Junior Champion in Barcelona, not yet 18 (he’s born 6 Oct 1993). Gemili won in Barcelona with his new PB of 10”05. He runs using high frequencies, and has a very clean technique. Personally I don’t think he can have chances for the final, but he can be a great investment for the future of Briton sprint.
400m Men (Semifinals)
In the first, my favorite is DEMETRIUS PINDER of Bahamas. Still young (born 13.02.89), with very easy way of running, he reduced the number of his competitions after winning the silver medal in World Indoor Championships. Pinder has a normal structure (178 x 70 kg), but is very fast (20”23 his PB in 200m). He seems to be able to maintain the best focus for top events. He ran the first time under 45” in 2010, and till now ran under that limit 5 times. In my opinion, he can better his PB in the semifinals.
The other athlete under 45” is the young PAVEL MASLAK from Czech Republic. Born 21.02.91, he bettered his PB in the heats, running for the first time under 45” with 44”91. He his a fighter, and can have chances for the final. In my opinion, for the second position he has to fight with the Australian junior STEVEN SOLOMON, born on 16-05.93, bronze medal in WJCh in Barcelona. His shape is in a growing phase, and he bettered his PB winning the last heat in 45”18.
In the second, no problems for the World Champion KIRANI JAMES of Grenada and for JONATHAN BORLEE of Belgium, that can be the two best athletes in the final too. But we have a very tough semifinal with the participation of CHRIS BROWN and TONY McQUAY.
CHRIS BROWN, from Bahamas, is a very expert specialist, already 34 (he’s born on 15.10.78). Having a way of running with very high stride frequency, he can be considered one of the best specialists in the short indoor tracks. In this particular situation, he won World Championships in 2010, and for 3 times won the bronze medal (2006 / 2008 / 2012). He has a great experience in the relay : with the team of Bahamas became World Champion in the 4x400 in 2001, won the silver medals in OG (2008), 2 silver in WCh (2005/2007), one bronze in OG (2000) and one bronze in WCh (2003).
His PB is 44”40 in 2008, but also this year he seems able to peak at the right time, since his SB is 44”95 winning in London on 14.07 during the Diamond League. His experience at top level is very great, and Chris has, till now, 25 competitions under 45”.
TONY McQUAY is a new specialist of US, till last year running at the level of University only. Born on 16.04.90, very light (178 x 64 kg), showed his talent winning the NCAA championships on 8th June with 44”58, and maintained his shape also in Olympic Trials, where was 2nd behind LaShawn Merritt with his PB of 44”49. Till now, he ran 7 times under 45”, including the eliminatory rounds. In the heat, he was too much relaxed during the first 300m, and had to sprint for the position at the end. I think he can run under 45” today, with a start more fast.
In this semi we can see OSCAR PISTORIUS, too. I don’t think he can have some chances for reaching the final, and this is a good thing, because in case of final automatically we can see a lot of speculations about the right to run, using a special protesi , with normal athletes. One thing is the human sympathy for a wonderful person, that can be a model for all people in the same conditions. Other thing is to change the rule of a sport introducing situations that are not fair and of difficult control.
In the 3rd semi, I see as clear favorite the World Junior Champion from Dominican Republic, LUGUELIN SANTOS. Born on 12.11.93, Santos has a PB of 44”45 in Hengelo, and in his heat he seemed able to run faster under a full control. Santos is not very fast in 200m, but has a very high specific endurance, and is able to maintain the same speed also in the final part of the race.
With him, I think KEVIN BORLEE can reach the final, and in this case can be the first time two twins are in the same final in OG.
The third option is for BRYSHON NELLUM of US, but he didn’t impress me too much in the heats.
1500m Men (Semifinals)
The first 5 go to the final, plus the 2 best times among the athletes not directly qualified.
In the first, ASBEL KIPROP is the clear favorite, and with him I see two other athletes directly in the final without problems : MEKONNEN GEBREMEDHIN of Ethiopia, and MAKHLOUFI of Algeria, very dangerous in case of tactic competitions. But in this semi there is also the World Junior Champion, HAMZA DRIOUCH of Qatar, that showed good personality winning World Junior Championships in Barcelona, and also in his heat. I think he can go in the final. Among the other, I like the Briton ROSS MURRAY, always good in tactical races. Some chance for LEONEL MANZANO and SHAWEEN, but only if the race is slow.
In the second, we have 3 kenyans (two official, and one in the Turkish team) that can go directly in the final. I speak about SILAS KIPLAGAT and NIXON CHEPSEBA, this year under 3’30”, and about TANUI OZBILEN.
They are really the strongest of the field, but their way of running tactical races is normally full of mistakes. The last example was the heat of Nixon Chepseba, that did all his best for being eliminated…
Under this point of view, I fear some mistake from my athlete Silas Kiplagat, normally talented for going where he has not to go during the race…
The best tactical runner in that semi is NICK WILLIS. The newzelander showed several times that is a master of tactic, so there is no doubt he goes in the final.
Other two runners are very good in case of slow race : the World Indoor Champion of Maroc, IGUIDER, and the American MATT CENTROWITZ, also if for him it’s very difficult to find again the same conditions that produced his bronze medal in the WCh 2011.
HAMMER THROW Men (Final)
Coming from the more strange qualification I ever saw, with 10 athletes qualified from the first group and only 2 from the second, we probably will see a competition of low profile, where my favorite is the Hungarian KRZISTEN PARS, the most regular thrower during the last period. Pars, born on 18.02.82, very fast in his rotations (he is 188 x 104 kg), is the current European Champion, and won the silver medal in WCh 2011 in Daegu. His PB of 82.45 belongs to the year 2006, but this year he threw very close his limit, having a SB of 82.28 winning in Ostrava on 24th May. This year, Pars competed 12 times, losing once only, on 5th June, with 80.22. He is very affordable (in his career, he threw 51 times over 80m), and already has the best qualifying performance in London.
Another big protagonist can be one of the icons of the event, the Japanese KOJI MUROFUSHI. Already 38 years old (he’s born on 8 Oct 1974), with a perfect technique based on the speed of rotations (he is only 187 x 97 kg), Murofushi is one of the more loved athletes in Japan. He won Olympic Gold medal in Athens (2004), won WCh in 2011, and in WCh he had also one silver in 2001 and one bronze in 2003.
His PB (84.86 in 2003) is far from his current possibilities, but he can be competitive in a field of low profile, like we have this year. He competed once only before London, as a test, in Osaka (8th June) with a poor performance (72.85), but already was able to avertake 78m in the Olympic qualification. He has an average of his best 10 competitions of 83.27, and in his career overtook 53 times 80m.
A third athlete normally good in big championships is PRIMUZ KOZMUS of Slovenia. Born on 30.09.79, very similar Pars as size (188 x 106 kg), won Gold in OG 2008 and in WCh 2009, together with the silver medal in 2007 and the bronze medal in 2011. He went London with a normal SB of 77.35, but already in qualification improved, throwing at 78.12. He overtook 80m for the first time in 2003, and has a PB of 82.58 in 2009. Also if not prolific as Pars and Murofushi, in his career he threw 18 times over 80m.
The last name, also if I don’t think can have too many chances, is the Polish SZYMON ZIOLKOWKI, one of the best interprets of the event. His technique is perfect, his progression in the speed during the rotations is the best in the World, when he is in full shape. Born on 1st July 76, more tall and heavy than the others (192 x 120 kg), won Gold in OG 2000 ahead the Italian VIZZONI, and became World Champion in 2001. After a bad injury that almost ended his career, he came back with the bronze in WCh 2005 and the silver in WCh 2009. His PB (83.38) is old (2001), and of course his performances are no more so amazing (his SB is 78.51), but the fact he was able to overtake in his career for 29 times the measure of 80m makes him always dangerous when we look for the possible medalists.
400m Women (Final)
The best time in the semis is from +ANTONINA KRIVOSHAPKA, from Russia, with 49”81. She, born 0n 21.07.97, has also the best seasonal time in the World with 49”16, winning Russian Championships in Cheboskary (5th July). However, my favorite is SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS with a little margin on the World Champion 2011, MONTSHO of Botswana.
SANYA (born on 26.02.85, 173x61 kg), has a PB of 48”70 in 2006, and in her career ran 4 times under 49” and 44 times under 50”. This year she improved her speed with a new PB in 200m (22”09) winning the Diamond League in New York. With a very big palmarèe (2 Olympic Golds in the realy 4x400 in 2004 and 2008, 4 Golds in relay in WCh 2003/2007/2009/2011, one individual Gold in WCh in 400m (2009), one World Indoor title in 2012, one silver medal in 400m in Wch 2005 and one bronze in 400m in OG 2008) she is the most decorated specialist in the current era. She was very easy in her semifinal, running 50”07 without pushing, as AMANTLE MONTSHO (50”07) another heat. MONTSHO has a PB of 49”54 winning the African Championships in Porto Novo this year, and in her career was able running 9 times under 50”.
However, she is an athlete in strong improvement, also if not very young (born on 4.07.83).
They seem to me better than the Russian, that was very impressive in the heat, not so impressive in the semifinal. It’s evident she doesn’t have a precise strategy in the races : simply, she always start very fast, and tries to survive till the end. In the heat, she was several meters in front of the second, and had the possibility to relax in the final 50m, but in her semi she had to fight, and was not able to relax, losing precious time at the end.
If I have to bet for the bronze medal, I chose the Olympic Champion 2008 and World Champion 2007, CHRISTINE OHURUOGU of UK, born on 17th May 1984, very powerful (175 x 70 kg), who is a strong fighter used to do her best in the reat Championships. She ran two times only under 50”, both the times for winning the most important competition of the year : 49”61 in Osaka (Wch ’07) and 49”62 in Beijing (OG ’08). Also this year, she improved from the heats to the semifinal, running the SB (50”22) in the occasion.
Every athlete in this competition can look for the bronze medal, except the Jamaican ROSEMARIE WHYTE, in my opinion. Also the 2 american of US, FRANCENA McCORORY (50.19 in her semi) and DEDEE TROTTER (49”87), together with the Jamaican NOVLENE WILLIAMS (49”91) can look at that target. They are so near as time that the reaction time at the gun can be determinant : for example, in the semis Novlene had a reaction of 0.247, 0.06 slower than Dedee Trotter, and at the end the difference was 0.04…..
TRIPLE JUMP Women (Final)
Another competition of low profile. I have 3 athletes in my preview :
CATERINE IBARGUEN (Colombia), born on 12.02.1984, coming from heptathlon (she has also a PB of 1.93 in high jump and 6.73 in long jump) is the emerging sensation. Last year she won the silver medal in WCh in Daegu, and this year the last meeting of Diamond League in Monaco, with 14.85. In her career, she jumped 6 times longer than 14.80 (3 times in 2011 and 3 times this year). Not completely constant technically, in my opinion is the athlete with the best potential at the moment.
OLGA SALADUHA (Ukraine), born on 4.06.83, tall and light (175 x 55 kg), can be considered the best specialist of the last 3 seasons, having won European Championships in 2010 and 2012, and World Championships in 2011. She has a PB of 15.06 in 2011, and in her career jumped longer than 14.80 for 8 times.
OLGA RIPAKOVA (Kazakistan), born on 30.11.84 and very similar to Saladuha as morphology (178 x 53 kg) is the best talent of the last 3 years, with a PB of 15.25 in 2010 and 3 performances longer than 15m (8 times longer than 14.80). She won World Indoor Championships in 2010 and the silver medal in Daegu. Like Ibarguen, she started with the heptathon (6122 points PB), and jumped 1.92 (HJ) and 6.85 (LJ) before dedicating full time to the current event.
At the end, we want to remember other two athletes, also if personally I don’t think can have chances of medal :
TATYANA LEBEDEVA (born on 21.07.76), one of the best all-time, with a incredible palmaree :
1 Gold Olympic medal in Long Jump (2004)
3 Gold medals in WCh (Triple in 2001 / 2003, Long in 2007)
3 Silver Olympic medals (Triple in 2000 / 2008, Long in 2008)
1 Bronze Olympic medal (Trip’le in 2004)
Fast and powerful (171 x 60 kg), Tatyana has a PB of 15.34 in 2004, and in her career was able to jump over 15m in 29 competitions, and longer than 14.80 for 64 times.
After a bad surgery for both the tendons, she came back last year, and this year won again the Russian Championships, with her SB of 14.68, on 4th July in Cheboksary.
YAMILE ALDAMA ( born on 14.08.1972) had a very complicated life. Born as Cuban, she married a Briton that finished in jail, and didn’t receive the UK nationality. So, looked for another Country (she couldn’t go back Cuba), and chose Sudan, but in the last two years finally can achieve the UK Citizenship.
Motivated because of the Olympics, at almost 40 years of age started hard training again, and was able to win her first World Indoor Title in 2012, after one silver in 2004 and one bronze in 2006. In WCh outdoor, she won the silver medal in the edition of 1999. Yamile started her activity as Triple jumper in 1996, with 14.47, and had her best in 2003 (15.29). She jumped 9 times longer than 15m, with an average of 15.123 for her best 10 performance.
3000m Steeple Men
Clear preview in this event : the winner will be a Kenyan, in my opinion more BRIMIN KIPRUTO, defending champion, than EZEKIEL KEMBOI. The shape of these two is ok. Ezekiel is a master in peaking at the right time, but this year had some personal problem disturbing him during the last month, and this fact can make the difference between the two kings of the event. Apart the World Championships 2003 and 2005, both won by Saaeed Shaheen (Stephen Cherono), who couldn’t win Olympics because didn’t have the release from the Kenyan Olympic Committee (KNOC), Ezekiel and Brimin won all the medals in Olympic and World Championships : Olympic Gold in 2004 (Ezekiel) and 2008 (Brimin), World Championships in 2007 (Brimin), 2009 and 2011 (Ezekiel). Both have a fantastic final acceleration, and it’s really difficult for everybody else to try to face their final sprint.
Normally, Kenyans occupied all the podium. But this year the situation can be a little bit different. I saw the American runners improving a lot, and in this event there is a new name, EVAN JAGER, that can try to break the tradition. JAGER is still very young (he’s born on 8th March 1989), and started running steeple this year only. Till now, she had only 6 races in this event, and among them the victory in OT in 8’17”, his best of 8’06”61 in Monaco, and a very easy heat in London (8’16”).
Personally, after looking at his run in the heats, I think Evan can have good chances for the bronze medal. Abel Mutai didn’t impressed me too much, and I don’t see the French MEKHISSI-BENABBAD in the same shape of last year.
I think that Evan must not accept a too slow race, because doesn’t show top ability in changing speed very quickly. His best tactic, in my opinion, is to use a progression during the last km, and in this way, forgetting Brimin Kipruto and Ezekiel kemboi, can look at a medal.
Also Don Cabral, if wants his best, has to run fast from the beginning, and this can become a good help for Jager.
Another athlete able to create some problem for the Kenyans is ROBA GARY, Ethiopian record holder, tall and light (181 x 60 kg), who showed good continuity having 10 performances better than 8’12” and 17 better than 8’15”. He is almost surely in top 6, and his positions depends on the tactic used in the race by Kenyans. At least, the Maroccan BRAHIM TALEB can have a good position if the race is fast, but is not dangerous in case of tactical race.