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Athletics - men's sprint previews (guest)

Apologies, I'd been holding these back for a few days. Turns out they are quite prophetic in the 400m...

This set of previews is from a former editorial colleague of mine, Ian Steven. You can follow him on Twitter via @deevo82. Go on, he needs the followers! Note, he works off a 1-10 unit staking plan.

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When it comes to the sprint events, much like the horses, it pays to watch them in the paddock before the race. It pays to watch the form of the athletes in the heats before considering placing too much hard earned cash on these highly tuned and highly strung athletes with the hope the bookies are dozing and the odds do not tumble. Watch out for athletes slowing down as they cross the line, relaxed attitudes to interviews and a lack of nervous energy on the blocks as indicators that all is well in their world. My points system runs from 0-10. I will update after the heats where I can so keep checking back.

Mens 100m

No prizes for guessing who the bookies favourite in this race but Usain Bolt is not the fastest man in the world this year and is not the current World Champion. Yohan Blake has flown under the radar of his illustrious countryman and has posted a 9.75 this year, 0.01 better than the defending Olympic champion. With only 8/11 on Bolt and 13/8 on Blake, it is tempting to wager on the smaller of the pair. Bolt has had hamstring issues which could impact on his form. A medal bet on Tyson Gay at 5/4 is also very tasty but he needs to be watched in the heats before you put your money down as the Yank has been plagued with injury problems. A false start by either Bolt or Blake and Gay is guaranteed a medal.

3 points on Blake to win @ 13/8
5 points on Gay to finish in top three @ 5/4

Mens 200m

The 200m mirrors its shorter sibling as Bolt is the superstar but Blake is the form athlete. The defending Olympic champion lost in the Jamaican trials in both the 100m and 200m to his training partner causing rumours that he was past it but the reality of a party attitude and troublesome hamstrings was the more likely cause of Bolt’s sluggishness and the 200m should be the event that he excels at purely because he does not reach top gear till about 80m into the race. Bolt is odds on at 8/13 and seems the safer punt despite not making you too rich. 15/8 is a decent price for Blake but I cannot see him winning, especially if he upsets Bolt in the 100m. Third place looks like a duel between Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre - place odds 3/1, Dutchman Churandy Martina 3/1 and Yank Wallace Spearmon 5/2. Lemaitre and Churandy have the better form over the Yank, posting 19.91 and 19.95 respectively in July and it comes down to keeping an eye on the heats to see who the more relaxed athlete is but I favour Lemaitre to take the bronze.

Bolt will win but odds not worth it.
2 points on Lemaitre to finish in top three @ 3/1

Mens 400m

LeShawn Merritt is the class of the field and odds of 5/4 should be jumped on now….except he tweaked his hamstring last week in Monaco and pulled out of the race. Controversial to say the least, the current Olympic champion served a 21 month ban for either being a drug cheat or for having a small penis as he took a male enhancement pill containing a banned substance. The bookies will be watching his heats closely as if he is fully fit, he will destroy the field. If not fully fit then Jon Borlee 16/1, Kevin Borlee 25/1 or Tony McQuay 14/1 will pick up where Merritt left off. If it looks like LeShawn has the slightest hint of breaking down, a quick flutter to earn a medal on the Borlees and McQuay could reap dividends before the bookies bring down their prices at 2/1, 10/3 and 3/1 respectively. Keep a close eye on Luqelin Santos and Kirani James who have posted fast times this year but are raw. If they are relaxed and slowing down on the home straight in the heats, they could throw a spanner in the works. Experience counts for a lot in the 400m as too often young athletes get overawed by the big occasion and shoot their bolt in the first 300 metres by going out too fast and that is where the young guys fall flat. James is second favourite at 11/4 and has recent form but it may be too early in his career.

Don’t put money down until you watch the heats with a close eye on Merritt’s hamstring.

Mens 4x100 relay

Jamaica are heavy favourites and rightly so with Bolt, Blake and Powell in the team but the British team in Athens are a clear example of baton speed is more important than leg speed and that is where the Caribbeans could fall down. USA are a well-oiled machine and move the baton better than anyone in athletics history and their pedigree will serve them well. At odds of 16/5 and with Gaitlin and Gay in the team, the defending Olympic champions may struggle to retain their title, especially since the Americans will still be smarting from being disqualified in the heats in Beijing.

France at 4/1 are a tempting side bet to finish in the top three.
5 points on USA @3/1.

Mens 4x400 relay

USA are 1/4, the class of the field and completely off limits to the punter. Belgium are a tempting 11/2 to finish in the top three and with both Borlees on form, they will be there and there abouts. The UK should also have a strong team with Martyn Rooney, Conrad Williams and Dai Greene stepping across from the hurdles and may just have the strength in depth to pip the Belgians. You will also have a capacity British crowd cheering on their team to glory, evoking memories of a shoeless Brian Whittle.

3 points on the UK @ 2/1 to finish in the medals.

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