PREVIEWS  DAY  4  (Finals)
400m Men
One clear favorite : KIRANI JAMES, World Champion in Daegu, not yet 20 years old, one of the best talents ever in the “killer” event.  Kirani is born on 1st Sep 1992.  He has a morphology not usual for the specialism, since is very tall (191 x 80 kg).  Personally, I see in him the “Bolt” of 400m.
Kirani has the ability to give his best in top championships.  Already able running 45”70 when was only sixteen, he won two titles in Bressanone during the World Youth Championships 2009, with two personal best : 45”24 in 400m and 21”05 in 200m.  The next year he improved till 45”01, and in 2011, still junior, became World Champion in Daegu winning the final with 44”36, after going to the Championships with a PB of 44”72.  This year, the impression is that we can see the same history : Olympic title with PB, very close 44” if not under this limit.
An athlete nobody knew before Olympics is LALONDE GORDON of Trinidad.  Born on 25th Nov 1988, owner of a good speed (10”45 in 100m and 20”58 in 200m), Gordon last year was a normal athlete with a PB of 45”51, and this year improved till 45”02.  In the heat was not very impressive, but in his semi, starting fast, destroyed his previous best running an amazing 44”58 that can give some chance for a medal.
However, the athlete giving me more feeling is another junior : LUGUELIN SANTOS of Dominican Republic.
Born on 12th Nov 1993, this year won World Junior Championships and lowered his PB to 44”45.  In his semi, won in 44”78, he didn’t seem tired.  His final furlong is very fast, since his main quality is a very high ability in maintaining high but even speed during all the race.
Another junior to see is the Australian STEVEN SOLOMON, able running under 45” in his semi and in continue iomprovement.
The particularity is that, for the first time in the athletic history, in the two extreme lanes (1st and 8th), we have two twins : JONATHAN and KEVIN BORLEE.  They are twin in every thing, and it’s impossible to decide who is the best : sometimes one runs faster, next time his brother is better.  This is exactly what happened in London, till now : JONATHAN, with a worse PB, improved in the heat with a wonderful 44”43, the best time till now, but probably spent too much, and in the semi KEVIN was better.  In any case, are both in the final.
My percentage  :  Kirani James 80%, Luguelin Santos 15%, Gordon and one of the twins 5% (but the veteran Chris Brown can have some chance, too).
Notable the fact there are no athletes of US in the final.  This can mean they can have problems in the relay too, at the end of Olympics.

3000m Steeple Women
I think only YULIYA ZARIPOVA can lose the Olympic title, since I don’t see any athlete able to attack her.
The normal behavior of Yuliya is to go to top Championships without specific competition before.  She did this before the World Championships 2009 and improved till 9’08”39 for second ; repeated the same strategy before European Championships 2010 and won in 9’17”57 ; and finally last year hided herself before World Championships in Daegu, for winning with big gap running her PB in 9’07”03.
This year, she ran one heat of 1500m during Russian Championships, with her PB of 4’01”70, better of every other Olympic finalist, and won in “solo” the only steeple of the season, in 9’09”99.
This makes me supposing her shape is at the top.  Being faster than the other in flat races, with a very much better technique on the barriers and the water jump, I don’t see any possibility to defeat her, apart some accident during the race.
In the heat, I was not impressed by MILCAH CHEMOS, in the last two years the winner of Diamond League.  Milcah is used to win the meetings, but in two editions of World Championships never was able to go over the bronze medal (2009 and 20011).  She is very aggressive and has a good speed, but never worked for improving her technique, and till now she uses to jump directly the water jump, without putting one foot on the bar, technique I personally consider a big mistake.
Better than Chemos I saw the two Ethiopians : SONIA ASSEFA, born on 14th Nov 1987 (171 x 58 kg), very expert (she ran 24 times under 9’30”, and this year improved her PB till 9’09”00), not very fast in the final sprint, and HIWOT AYALEW, the youngest (born on 9th Sep 1990) and probably most talented among the African specialists.  Hiwot moved to steeples this year only, after spending the previous season in 5000m (PB of 14’49”).  She is tall and light, and works on her technique since, from the beginning of the season, I saw her more precise in the passage of the barriers.  She can win a medal.
Not out of the podium is the Tunisian HABIBA GHRIBI, too.  After losing last winter  for tendon problems, she came back this year in a growing shape.  Born on 9th Apr 1984, Habiba, physically talented (173 x 52 kg), is a fighter able to give her best in top events.  He two best performances can demonstrate this fact : 9’11”97 winning the Silver medal in WCh 2011, and 9’12”52 (at that time unexpected) during World Championships 2009.
MERCY NJOROGE seems to have a better shape than Chemos, at the moment.  I don’t think any other finalist can look for something better than a position in top 8.  In this group, I put also the WR holder Gulnara Samitova-Galkina, coming back after the motherhood, but not still in a good shape.

If Yelena Isinbayeva is the same of the qualifications, the competition is over before starting.  She showed to be in top shape, able to jump higher than 4.90, and this is enough for winning, since the best competitors behind her seem to be the Cuban YARISLEY SILVA, 4.75 of PB and 4.72 of SB, the German SILKE SPIEGELBURG and JENNIFER SUHR from US.
Also if JENNIFER SUHR (born on 5th Feb 1982) has the higher number of great performances (3 times over 4.90, 15 times over 4.80 and 31 times over 4.70), and is the 2nd performer all-time, with the American Record of 4.92 in 2008, she did the most part of these performances in domestic competitions, and after 2008 (when she won the silver medal behind Isinbayeva in both World Indoor Championships and Olympic Games) never was able to show the same level of shape during top Championships.
Who seems to have the best shape at the moment is the German SILKE SPIEGELBURG.  Born on 17th Mar 1986, she competed already 15 times in the season, and has 21 competitions over 4.70 in career.
During the qualifications, there were two big surprises with the elimination of the World Champion FABIANA MURER and the Russian OLGA FEOFANOVA.  This is an event that can produce some surprise every time, like the Polish ROGOWSKA well knows (she won WCh 2009 because of 3 faults of Isinbayeva in her 3 first attempts).  But frankly I don’t think the medal can go out of this leading group.

We can see another duel between the two best in the World : VALERIE ADAMS from New Zealand, World Champion, and  NADZEYA OSTAPCHUK from Belarus.  It’s absolutely impossible that somebody else can create problems to the two best in the world, since they have an advantage of more than 1 meter on the other throwers.
VALERIE ADAMS, married VILI but now divorced, is born on 6th Oct 1984, and has an incredible body (196 x 120 kg).  She is the defending Olympic Champion, and won World Championships 3 times (2007 / 2009 / 2011), and World Indoor 2 times (2008 / 2012).  She has a PB of 21.24 in her winning throw in Daegu, so showed the ability to do her best during top events (this is a clear mark that there is no doping behind her performances, and if you meet her you can easily understand why….).  Valerie threw 4 times over 21m, and 54 times over 20m.
NADZEYA OSTAPCHUK, older (born on 12th Oct 1980) and of smaller size (180 x 90 kg), won every time Valerie lost : World Championships 2005, World Indoor 2010, and was always 2nd when Valerie won (in World Championships 2003/2007/2011 and in World Indoor 2001 / 2003 / 2008 / 2012).  She won the bronze medal in OG 2008 in one of her worst seasons because a minor injury that limited her training.
At the moment, Nadzeya seems in the best shape of her life.  She bettered the National Record with 21.58 recently, and this year overtake 21m 3 times (5 times in her career).  She threw over 20m in 54 competitions till now.
For the bronze medal, we will see a fight between the Russian YEVGENYA KOLODKO, the youngest thrower with good talent for the future (born on 2nd Jul 1990), easy qualified with her first attempt of 19.31 (her PB is 20.22), and the 3 Chineses : LI LING, very explosive (183 x 84 kg), 19.95 of PB and 19.23 in  qualification, GONG LIJAO, more strong (174 x 110 kg), 20.35 of PB and 19.11 in qualification, and LIU XIANGRONG, very similar Li Ling as mass (182 x 84 kg), 19.24 of PB and 18.96 in qualification.
Interesting is to see that all these athletes use the classic technique (O’Brien), and very few women use the rotation.

400m HS Men
It may be the most interesting final of the day.  There is a big surprise : the shape of FELIX SANCHEZ, one of the icons of the event, already 35y old, able to come back to the level of 10 years ago, after two surgeries that almost made him stopping running.  FELIX, born on 30th Aug 1977, athlete of normal constitution (178 x 73 kg), can be considered one of the best specialists all time.  He won OG in 2004 after winning 2 following editions of WCh (2001 / 2003), and in 2007 won the silver medal in WCh.  A very bad injury under one foot (plantar fasciitis) interrupted his career.  He had a difficult surgery, and came back at good but not top level.  Athlete with very good speed (10”45 in 100m in 2005, 20”87 in 200 an 44”90 in 400 in 2001), during the last winter worked for increasing his specific endurance, understanding never could run short distances fast like in the past.  In April 2012, he bettered his PB in 800m with 1’48”99, and was able to run fast again 400m flat (45”34), using more endurance and less speed.  Felix was always able to give his best during top Championships.  His PB is 47”25, winning WCh 2003.  In his career, he ran 19 times under 48” and 43 times under 48”50, with an average in his best 10 performances of 47”581.  However, to see him in the current shape was a big surprise, because his 47”76 was very easy, and seems possible for him to run under 47”50, if able to recovery in short time the fatigue of the semi.
In spite of Felix, my personal favorite remains JAVIER CULSON.  The men from Portorico is a real phenomen under the point of view of morphology : born on 25th Jul 1984, is tall 198 x 79 kg, and can run very easy with 13 steps till the end.  Silver medal in the last two editions of WCh (’09 and ’11), till now ran 6 times under 48” and 23 times under 48”50.  His PB (47”72) is 2 years old, but now he seems more consistant, and the impression I had is that can run very close 47”.
The third man with big experience and a great palmaree is ANGELO TAYLOR.  Born on 28th Dec 1978, with very good structure (188 x 77 kg), he won already 2 Gold medals in Olympics (2000 and 2008), and one gold in the relay 4x400, always in 2008.  As member of the US relay Team, he won 3 times WCh (2007 / 2009 / 2011), and in the individual event of 400m won bronze medal in WCh 2007.
Very fast (his PB in 200m in 20”23, and his PB in 400m is 44”05), is not perfect in his technique, because prefers to attack the race with great aggressiveness and sometimes his distribution of the energies is not the best.  However, he has an average for his best 10 performances of 47”771 with hurdles and 44”488 in 400 flat.  He ran in his career under 48” for 13 times, and under 48”50 for 34 times.
Also if I think the medal can go to this group, I don’t forget a new talent, already 4th in WCh 2009 : the young JEHUE GORDON of Trinidad, born on 15th Nov 1991, tall and light (190 x 75 kg), coming from 110 hs (he ran 13”41 with the junior hurdles), very impressive in his semi, for the first time under 48”.
And we can’t underrate the chances of DAVID GREENE, the European and World Champion.  Also if his global talent is not at the same level of the black specialists, he is a fighter, and Olympics are in London…