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Athletics - women's sprint previews (guest)

The action in the Olympic stadium kicks off tomorrow and there will be at least two sets of previews on the blog, from myself and one or more guests. 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.

Women’s Sprints

Women’s 100m

Allyson Felix is the big name in this field but 200m is her speciality. She had to choose between 100m and 400m at the US trials and plumped for the shorter distance but struggled for speed, narrowly securing the third qualifying spot after Jeneba Tarmoh pulled out. Felix can be easily discounted from this field but at least she is committed to “clean” athletics. The same cannot be said for the Jamaican who posted the fastest time of the year, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (SAFP for short). She is the defending Olympic champion from Beijing and has managed a 10.7 this year (Jamaican record at the trials) but she tested positive for a banned substance in October, 2010. There will always be questions about her but she is the bookies favourite. Carmelita Jeter might be the best bet for a top three finish. She is the longest in the tooth of the top athletes and is the defending World Champion. Her experience will count for a lot in what will be a tense final but she may not have the leg speed to outrun her younger rivals for gold. Her fastest time was in May this year and she may have peaked too early. Veronica Campbell-Brown will be in the mix for gold as well as the third fastest in the field. She finished behind SAFP in the Jamaican trials and won the Indoor 60m title this year. She will start strong but look likely to be caught in the final 30 metres. (Ironically, she had a bad start at the trials and had to overtake in the final 30m.) Kelly-Ann Baptiste is the wildcard in this event. She is fast but raw. Jeter was pushed hard by the Scarborough native (an omen for Yorkshire punters? ) at the Jamaican invitational this year. One bad start by one of the favourites and Baptiste could be looking at a medal.

Bet

SAFP 4 points @ 6/4 to win – looks like a thoroughbred

Jeter should get a medal but 4/9 not worth it in my book.

Women’s 200m

While she struggled at 100m, Allyson Felix looked a class apart at the US trials over double the distance. 21.69 and at least ten metres over closest rivals Richards-Ross and Jeter. I think you can discount the rival Americans and focus on SAFP as the closest challenger to Felix. The Jamaican actually looked like she was getting stronger at the end of the Jamaican trials, making Veronica Campbell-Brown (are there any women sprinters who don’t have double barrelled surnames – they sound like the UK equestrian team) look like she was running through treacle in second place. It will be these two athletes who will battle to the line.

Bet

Felix is odds on at 1/2 and should be able to go one place better than she did in Beijing. Not much value there.

5 pts SAFP to get a medal at 11/8.

Women’s 400m

Sanya Richards-Ross is the bookies' favourite for gold and at odds-on, she is not the most attractive of bets in this field. She is a class athlete when she is on form and her seventh place finish at the World Championships last year will only fuel her hunger for success. She has two gold medals for the 4x400 relay but it is the individual bronze from Beijing that haunts her. Antonina Krivoshapka is the biggest threat for the Jamaican born American and the Russian athlete from Rostov-on-Don has ran the fastest time of the year with an impressive 49.16 in July. She is on form but the one criticism of the Russian is that she goes out too fast and tires in on the home straight. Closing speed is where Richards-Ross excels, as she demonstrated in Oregon this year, hauling back Amantle Montsho in the home straight. Montsho should be the other main contender for a medal after winning gold at the World Championships last year. She has shown good form this year but has not set the blistering times of her rivals. One athlete to watch out for is Yuliya Gushchina. The Russian set a blistering time as she finished second to Krivoshapka in Cheboksary in July and would have won the race if she had an extra 20m of track. Gushchina was a former 100m and 200m specialist so she is relatively unknown at this distance which could play into her hands. Finally, I will totally discount Christine Ohuruogu. She has not set a fast time this year, coming in over a second slower than her rivals. She was disqualified from the World Championships last year and her gold medal in the Olympics was clocked at two seconds slower than other Olympic finals. The weight of expectation will be heavy on her shoulders, coupled with the lingering ill-feeling from her one-year suspension for missing three drugs tests, I have a feeling she may even miss the final despite having some bookies having her joint third favourite.

Bet

4 points on Richards-Ross @ evens if she is in a lane on the inside of Krivoshapka

2 points on Guschina to get a medal if she looks strong in her heat at 5/2.

Women’s 4x100m relay

This comes down to Jamaica vs USA and there is barely a millimetre between them in the eyes of the bookies. Ironically, the USA were disqualified in 2008 in the semi-final and Jamaica did not finish in the final meaning Russia won the gold by default. Both teams are strong and it takes a brave punter to separate them with both sides hovering around evens.

No bet

Women’s 4x400 relay

It is setting out to be USA vs Russia in this final with the Yanks as favourites but the Russians have always had a strong relay team. You would probably have to check form during the individual 400 before coming to any firm conclusion. Keep an eye on the UK to nick bronze. This is one event where the home crowd is worth a few seconds to the relay team.

No bet until after individual 400m

Women’s 400m hurdles

I did not touch on the hurdles with the men but feel compelled to because of the value in this event. Lashinda Demus is the favourite with the bookies despite the Russians Natalya Antyukh and Irina Davydova running faster times this year. It is beyond these athletes where I feel the best value is. Perri Shakes-Drayton ran a 53.77 two weeks ago in London and looks to be in blistering form. She will have a capacity crowd roaring her on and that could be enough to take her to gold in what well could be the UK’s only gold on the track. You can get 6/1 from Stan James on the East Londoner in her own “manor”.

Bet

2 points on Shakes-Drayton @ 6/1 down to 5/1.

My set of previews will be drip-fed on a daily basis, closer to each event.

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