2016 Olympic Games Preview And Predictions: The Jumps

Alright today is quite a long one as I preview and predict the jumping events so we shall go straight into it! Below are the links to the first two parts if you haven’t read those yet:

Part 1: https://athleticsappetizer.com/2016/07/29/2016-olympic-games-preview-and-predictions-the-sprints/

Part 2: https://athleticsappetizer.com/2016/08/01/2016-olympic-games-preview-and-predictions-middle-distance/

 

MEN’S LONG JUMP

When Greg Rutherford won in London 4 years ago, the longest jump in the world going in was 8.35m.  This year the world lead is 8.58 from America’s Jarrion Lawson in that crazy and windy US Olympic trials and there are 5 who have gone further than 8.35 with 4 people within 5cm of that mark.  Admittedly 2 of the top 4 won’t be in Rio due to those aforementioned US trials.  Marquis Goodwin had the best jumps in the world going into those trials (8.45 and 8.42) but wasn’t able to reproduce that at the trials and Marquis Dendy (8.42) has withdrawn due to injury to be replaced by Mike Hartfield.  Jarrion Lawson was the big story making his first US team with that mammoth 8.58 to in booking his ticket to Rio (a windy effort from Henderson beat him).  Interestingly his next best jump this year (outside of that competition) is only 8.15 which was also at Eugene.  You don’t write someone who has jumped longer than anyone since Dwight Phillips and Irving Saladino in 2009 (also at Eugene, good place to jump clearly!) but the main question is can he do it when the pressure is on.  May well start as the favourite though.

The other American is Jeff Henderson whose best legal jump is 8.19 although he jumped a very windy 8.59 at the American trials.  Outside of that competition he hasn’t jumped as well as last year where he had 3 legal jumps over 8.40 (and 2 over 8.50) but Beijing showed he could jump far if he had it right on the board, so can he turn last year’s disappointment into better results in Rio?

Greg Rutherford has been very consistent once again, although not quite as good as last year (still a best of 8.31) and the whiplash he suffered in Birmingham wouldn’t have helped but he came back to retain his European crown beating Michel Torneus of Sweden, who is actually 3rd in the world this year with an 8.44.  That jump was at altitude with a 1.8m/s wind behind him and his best at the Europeans was a windy 8.21 so I’m not sure how much to read in that 8.44 but he has shown he does have a big jump in him.

The other person I’d like to mention is South Africa’s Rushwal Samaai who jumped 8.38 and 8.34 this year.  Samaai is an interesting one as he jumped big last year early in the year but then struggled afterwards.  Since the beginning of June, his best is 8.16 in Rome so is the pattern the same here? He is certainly in the ‘can jump a big one’ category which means you can’t rule him out.

You also have the Chinese jumpers although I don’t think they will feature quite as much as they did last year especially not having the home field advantage and I don’t see the Americans messing up the same way they did last year.

This is tough to pick then but I do see Greg Rutherford winning a medal due to his consistency and having won 5 of his last 6 major championships, he knows how to win.  The Americans will feature strongly as will Australian Fabrice Lapierre who is jumping really well again and could sneak into the medals again as he did last year when he won silver.  Certainly a more competitive event than 4 years ago (when 8.20 would have good enough to win!) and that makes it very interesting.  My opinion may well change daily but here’s my predictions as of right now!

PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Jeff Henderson (USA); SILVER: Greg Rutherford (GBR); Bronze: Fabrice Lapierre (Aus)

 

WOMEN’S LONG JUMP

Reigning Olympic Champion Brittney Reese has roared right back into form in 2016.  After not making the World final last year she came back to win the World Indoor title with a huge jump of 7.22 in a great contest with Ivana Spanovic.  She went one better at the US trials jumping a massive 7.31 to qualify for Rio and in the process it made her one of the longest jumpers of all time.  It is hard therefore to see beyond her in Rio.

Spanovic has arguably been the most consistent jumper in the world this year with numerous marks at 6.90 or above and comes of World bronze medal last year and winning the Europeans this year.  Her consistency makes her a very viable contender for the podium although she might need Reese to have an off night if she is to take gold.

Reigning World Champion Tianna Bartoletta goes in this event along with the 100 metres and the competitiveness she showed in winning with her final jump (7.14) makes her the most likely to beat Reese in my opinion.  Will doing the 100 harm her chances here though? Not likely as she had to do 100 metre heats as she was doing the long jump in the US trials although jumping 7.02 on her first jump certainly helped!

For me those three are the main contenders but just like the men, there are some who always have that ‘one big jump’ that could cause a surprise.  Germany’s Sosthene Moguenara is one who has a huge best of 7.16 which she did at the end of May.  She hasn’t come close to that distance since but her along with Alexandra Wester and Malaika Mihambo represent good strength for Germany in this event.  It is a similar story for Brooke Stratton of Australia who had some very impressive early year results jumping 6.79, 6.94 and 7.05 in February and March (outdoors) but they remain her best results this year so will be interesting to see how she does in Rio.

For the British contingent, Jasmin Sawyers has had arguably the best year jumping a new PB of 6.75 to qualify for Rio but also winning silver at the European Championships to continue her impressive championship record.  Lorraine Ugen has missed some of the outdoor season due to injury but her 5th place in Beijing last year and her bronze from the World Indoors shows she has the potential to jump well if fit.  Shara Proctor after her NR (7.07) and silver from Beijing last year hasn’t had the form you would expect from her but her 6.80 in London (behind another Brit in Katarina Johnson-Thompson) suggests she is getting close to her best form just in time.  One thing for sure this will be another very competitive event where making the final and winning medals will be very difficult.

PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Brittney Reese (USA); SILVER: Tianna Bartoletta (USA); Bronze: Ivana Spanovic (Srb)

 

MEN’S TRIPLE JUMP

Last year it was all about Christian Taylor and Pedro Pichardo battling out over 18 metres with predictions of the world record finally going (which Taylor wasn’t too far away from doing).  This year it’s been about Christian Taylor and…well no one really.  Pichardo seems to have disappeared and hasn’t jumped this year.  This has left Taylor to win nearly all his competitions fairly comfortably with only his countrymen Will Claye getting close to his marks and indeed beating Taylor at the US trials.  Taylor’s 17.88 in London however makes him the big favourite to win his 2nd Olympic Gold.

On the other hand there are lots of people who could get the bronze as there are lot of jumpers who are very close to each other this year in the rankings.  World Indoor Champion Bin Dong of China has a best of 17.24 and his experience from winning in Portland could give him an advantage.

European Champion Max Hess (17.20) has only just turned 20 but could be Europe’s big hope (apart from a hopefully healthy Teddy Tamgho) in this event for the coming years and will likely jump further in the future, Rio might be a little soon for him but with the event like it is this year, a medal is not beyond the realms of possibility.

The form of the third American Chris Benard (17.21) could mean a possible American 1-2-3 in this event and you can see by the season’s best of Dong, Hess and Benard how close the battle could be after Taylor and possibly Claye.  I don’t know too much about Indian Renjith Maheswary but his jump of 17.30 puts him 3rd in the world this year and a jump of that distance could be enough.

So that leaves Pichardo (outside the other Cubans).  As he hasn’t jumped it is impossible to guess what he can do.  Common sense would suggest that not jumping for so long will mean he won’t have the rhythm or the fitness to compete, certainly with Taylor and perhaps with anyone else.  It would be a gamble to bet on him for sure and for that reason I don’t think he will be among the medallists but you just never know.

PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Christian Taylor (USA); SILVER: Will Claye (USA); Bronze: Bin Dong (Chn)

 

WOMEN’S TRIPLE JUMP

The rise of Yulimar Rojas from Venezuela has meant that while Caterine Imbarguen will still likely start the Olympics as the favourite but there is a decent challenger that means it won’t be easy for the Colombian.

Between them they have the top 5 jumps this year with both going over 15 metres.  They met in Monaco where Imbarguen was victorious over Rojas (14.96 to 14.64) which is where they may well finish in Rio.

Imbarguen however was beaten during the year by Olga Rypakova in Birmingham where Imbarguen was a little down on her best while Rypakova equalled her season’s best in winning.  Rypakova is of course the Olympic Champion from London and has that extra motivation of trying to retain that crown and that victory in Birmingham over Imbarguen will give her added confidence and I think she will end up on the podium.  She is ranked 4th in the world this year.

The European threat is led by the European Champion Patricia Mamona from Portugal (14.58) and bronze medallist Paraskeví Papahrístou from Greece (14.73) and the Greek athlete in particular has a decent chance of getting on the podium.  Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko from Israel was a bit fortunate in winning the silver with 5 fouls and a windy 14.51 but her 14.78 in winning silver in the World Championships the year before means she can’t be discounted although she hasn’t had as good a year as last year.

Jamaica aren’t known for their triple jumpers but they have a couple of decent ones on the female side with Shanieka Thomas (14.57) and Kimberly Williams (14.56) and both have been competitive on the Diamond League circuit although not with the likes of Imbarguen.

Cuba has always been known for its jumpers and Liadagmis Povea (14.57) represents their best hope and America has found a triple jumper Keturah Orji (14.53) means there could be an American in this year’s final.

 

PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Caterine Imbarguen (Col); SILVER: Yulimar Rojas (Ven); Bronze: Olga Rypakova (Kaz)

 

MEN’S HIGH JUMP

The men’s high jump has been quite literally an up and down event the last few years.  It exploded a few years ago with Mutaz Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko threatening the long standing world record of 2.45.  Last year wasn’t quite as exciting with those two among others struggling to get to those kind of heights but there has been a little bit of a resurgence this year with the likes of Gianmarco Tamberi riding high after his World Indoor win back in March.

Barshim in particular seemed to have quite the dip in form (partly explained by some back issues he has had) but he is coming back into form and has the world lead of 2.40 which he jumped back in June, backed up by a 2.37 in Birmingham.  His chances may well depend on whether those back issues can be well managed as I think he has the best potential to break Sotomayor’s record.

Last year’s World Champion Derek Drouin had struggled for form for most of the year but just a couple a weeks ago he cleared 2.38 to go 3rd in the world this year and may well benefit from that timely boost.  I don’t think you will need to go that high to get a medal (in London, bronze was shared at 2.29) so that is encouraging for Drouin to at least get a medal.

Unfortunately we won’t be seeing the half-shaven Italian Tamberi due to suffering an injury whilst in the process of jumping 2.39 which is a big shame due to both his talents and his personality.  For personality though, you don’t have to look much further than China’s Guowei Zhang with a best of 2.33 this year and hasn’t jumped quite as well as he did last year but his consistency around the 2.30 mark puts him in good stead to contend for the medals.

Bahama’s Donald Thomas (2.37), America’s Erik Kynard (2.35) and Sryia’s Majd Eddin Ghazal who is less well-known but has jumped 2.36 and was 3rd in Monaca with 2.34 are all possible contenders.

Britain’s Robbie Grabarz after two silvers at the World Indoors and the Europeans is in the best form since 2012 and even though his outdoor best is only 2.31, if he can keep a clean card it will give him a decent chance and his performance at the world indoors suggest he can certainly jump higher.  Chris Baker has had a big year and deserves his place in Rio and his 2.36 jumped indoors should give him belief he can compete assuming of course he can make the final.

PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Mutaz Barshim (Qat); SILVER: Bohdan Bondarenko (Ukr); BRONZE: Erik Kynard (USA)

 

WOMEN’S HIGH JUMP

With the Russia ban still intact, this event has opened up with no Kuchina or Chicherova (whose re-tested 2008 sample initially came back positive).

Outside of the top 5 or so though, this event is very competitive with a lot of athletes within a few centimetres of each other.  Chaunte Lowe has the world lead after jumping 2.01 at the US trials and she backed that up with 1.95 and 1.96 which suggests her base level is high enough to be in the final stages of the competition as a minimum, starts as the favourite for my money.

This is Lowe’s 4th Olympics after two 6th places in Beijing and London but on the other hand American has Vasti Cunningham about to have her first.  Just 18 years old, she is this year’s World Indoor Champion and her 1.97 she jumped at the trials puts her =5th on this year’s outdoor rankings and even if Rio doesn’t go well for her (relatively speaking) she will very likely be a big contender in Tokyo.

On the other end of the scale 37 year old Ruth Beitia is in excellent form jumping 1.98 twice in July in winning the European Championships before winning at the Anniversary Games in London.  Her experience combined with her form makes her very dangerous and I think she has a very good chance of leaving Rio with the gold.

Germany’s Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch (2.00) and Poland’s Kamila Licwinko (1.99) are 2nd and 3rd in the world this year though Licwinko has backed her performance up better with a 1.95 but both have been in and about the top of the rankings the last couple of years.  Europe is strong in this event with the joint European silver medallists Mirela Demireva (1.97) of Bulgaria and Lithuania’s Airiné Palšyté (1.96) adding to the strength in depth along with Croatia’s Ana Simic (1.96).

There are others as well but too many to list them all here! An interesting range of athletes in terms of ages and experience and there are probably a dozen or so who have realistic aims of a medal.

PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Chaunte Lowe (USA); SILVER: Ruth Beitia (Esp); BRONZE: Vasti Cunningham (USA)

 

MEN’S POLE VAULT

So which Renaud Lavillenie will turn up in Rio? The one who can clear 5.90+ at the first attempt with ease or the one who finished the Europeans with a NM? The Olympic Champion from London is usually brilliant but can from time to time completely mess it up but due to his ability he is always the one to look out for.

Shawn Barber won in Beijing last year and has continued well this year although his form has been a bit patchy but has still jumped in excess of 5.80 3 times outdoor this year and if he is in his best form in Rio then will be very tough to beat.

Sam Kendricks is surely having his best ever year.  With jumps of 5.92 and 5.91 (the latter at the US trials) he goes to Rio with a lot of momentum and had a good battle with Lavillenie in London so he has to be one of the big contenders.

The host nation’s best chance of a medal in athletics may come in this event (both men and women) and Thiago Braz Da Silva comes into Rio ranked 4th in the world with a 5.90 jump and I am just tempted to suggest that home advantage may give him a boost and finish with a medal.  Anywhere else and I would say Lavillenie, Kendricks and Barber would be the 3 for sure but I think Brazil will win at least one medal in athletics.  However, I think it is more likely in the women’s event.

Jan Kudlica and Kévin Ménaldo are the only other 2 to have cleared 5.80 this year and then there are a ton of guys in the 5.70 range but I can’t see the medallists outside the first 4 mentioned here.

PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Renaud Lavillenie (Fra); SILVER: Sam Kendricks (USA); BRONZE: Shawn Barber (Can)

 

WOMEN’S POLE VAULT

No Isinbaeva (yay!) but still a high quality competition with American going strong here along with home favourite Fabiana Murer and a strong challenge from Greece and certainly not forgetting the Cuban World Champion Yarisley Silva.

America has World Indoor Champion and current Olympic Champion Jenn Suhr (4.82) and world leader Sandi Morris (4.93) and both have been very consistent this year with Morris reaching new heights.

Brazil’s best chance of an athletics medal lies with Murer in my opinion and she is ranked 2nd in the world this year with 4.87 and with home advantage I like her chances in terms of finishing on the podium and who knows perhaps more.

Ekateríni Stefanídi of Greece has been incredibly consistent so far this year with numerous jumps over 4.75 that consistency gives her a bit of an edge over those who have been a bit ‘hit and miss’ this year and she joined by bronze medallist from Beijing last year Nikoléta Kyriakopoúlou (4.75)

Silva’s best this year meanwhile is 4.84 with her next best at 4.72 when she came second in London which is still pretty decent but she may need to be closer to the 4.84 to win a medal such is the competitiveness of this event.

Australia’s Alana Boyd (4.81) and New Zealand’s young talent Eliza McCartney (4.80) look like they will also be competitive.  Also look out for Germany’s Lisa Ryzih who won Silver behind Stefanídi at the Europeans.

PREDICITONS: GOLD: Sandi Morris (USA); SILVER: Fabiana Murer (Bra); BRONZE: Ekateríni Stefanídi (Gre)

 

Ok that was a long one! Thank you for taking the time to read this preview series, the views have been fantastic so thank you very much! Join me tomorrow where I will be previewing the throwing events! Until then!

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