Today’s final part of my Olympic preview will focus on the long distance races including the marathons and the race walks. I shall provide links to all the previous 5 parts of this series below and then I will get on with conclusion of my Olympic preview!
MEN’S 5000 METRES
Mo Farah will be going for his 5th consecutive global title and depending on what happens in the 10,000 metres another Olympic gold medal. Farah tends to race fairly sparingly and over several distances from the 1500 in Monaco to winning bronze at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Cardiff this year. His win in London, going sub 13 running solo for large parts of it was encouraging and it will be interesting to see what the tactics of his competitors will be as Mo can adjust to whatever way the race is run in.
His biggest threats seem to be the Ethiopians with Muktar Edris, Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet who are 2nd, 3rd and 4th in rankings out of those athletes going in Rio behind Mo Farah. Any one of those 3 could medal and challenge Farah with Edris being many people’s pick to do so. Such is the strength of Ethiopia in this event there is no room for Kejelcha.
Kenya initially only named 2 athletes in this event with Caleb Ndiku and Isaiah Kiplangat Koech. Ndiku seems to be the best chance (he was 2nd behind Farah at the World Championships last year) although he is not that high on the world list this year. According to the road-to-rio ranking page, the third Kenyan is Charles Muneria who I wouldn’t expect to be in the medals.
The outside bets include Uganda’s Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei and you can’t rule out Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider who goes earlier in the week in the 1500. For a real surprise maybe Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed who was 3rd in Eugene back in May when he ran just outside 13 minutes.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Mo Farah (GBR); SILVER: Muktar Edris (Ethiopia); BRONZE: Hagos Gebrhiwet (Eth)
WOMEN’S 5000 METRES
If Farah is a favourite in the men’s event then Almaz Ayana is an absolute overwhelming favourite! She is the 2nd quickest in history in the event and was just a second outside Tirunesh Dibaba’s World Record in Rome this year and now has 3 of the fastest 6 times in history. She is also 17 seconds quicker than anyone else in the world this year, so it will be no surprise to know she is my pick to win gold! Her teammate Senbere Teferi won silver in an Ethiopian 1-2-3 in Beijing last year and with Genzebe Dibaba just focusing on the 1500, the third Ethiopian will be Ababel Yeshaneh.
Kenya’s challenge to Ayana contains Vivian Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri and Mercy Cherono. Like Ayana Cheruiyot is going in both the 5000 and the 10000 and she is one of the quickest of all time in this event as well although she hasn’t been the fastest Kenyan this year. In fact that was Viola Jelagat Kibiwot who was not selected so it is left to Hellen Obiri as the 2nd quickest in the field with a best of 14.32 (nearly 20 seconds slower than Ayana!)
I am pretty confident will be between the Kenyans and the Ethiopians but Yasemin Can representing Turkey looks like the most likely of anyone to break up the Kenyan-Ethiopian battle.
Britain has 3 going in this event (or should I say Scotland is!) with Steph Twell, Elish McColgan and Laura Whittle all going and I think Steph Twell can get top 10 if she can keep her form this year going.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Almaz Ayana (Eth); SILVER: Hellen Obiri (Ken); BRONZE: Vivian Cheruiyot (Ken)
MEN’S 10000 METRES
Mo Farah is going for many records in Rio. He is looking to become the first Brit to retain an Olympic track and field title sine Sebastian Coe and Daley Thompson successfully did so in 1984 (although Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford have the chance to beat him to it). He won his usual 10k race in Eugene which was the world lead until Ethiopia’s Yigrem Demelash beat it in Hengelo.
The main rival would appear to be Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor who was 2nd behind Farah in Beijing but did beat him in the World Half-Marathon Championships. He hasn’t run a track 10000 metres since that race in Beijing but he has a very quick 5000 time to his name so I don’t think there should be much doubt over his form in the 25 lap race. Most people are looking to him to set a quick and sustained pace if that tactic is to try and run the finish out of Farah. They tried it in Beijing last year and it didn’t work so are they prepared to go out even harder? We will have to wait and see.
Paul Tanui and Charles Yosei join him in the Kenyan team with Abadi Hadis and Tamirat Tola (who was 3rd behind Farah in Eugene) joining Demelash in the Ethiopian team. Ibrahim Jeilan was named as the reserve for those who remember Farah’s last major championship defeat in this event.
America’s Galen Rupp is going for a rare 10000 and Marathon double and while I think a London repeat is unlikely he is nearly always there in the final stages and if he has enough he can contend in a sprint finish if that it comes down to. Zersenay Tadese and Ali Kaya are other names to potentially to look out for.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Mo Farah (GBR); SILVER: Geoffrey Kamworor (Ken); BRONZE: Yigrem Demelash (Eth)
WOMEN’S 10000 METRES
Not only is Almaz Ayana again the favourite to take the title, Ethiopia are ridiculously strong in this event. They have 9 of this year’s top 10 in their ranks meaning whatever 3 they picked would all be possible medallists. With Ayana they have Gelete Burka and Tirunesh Dibaba who of course is the Olympic Champion from London. Ayana’s win in Hengelo (which is where 9 of those top 10 times have come from this year) was again pretty dominant as she was 20 seconds ahead of her teammate Gelete Burka with Dibaba just a few hundredths behind. They certainly look formidable.
However it was a Kenyan that won the World Championships last year, the aforementioned Vivian Cheruiyot although her best time of 31.36 will need to be improved upon although I am confident she will. She is joined by Betsy Saina and Alice Aprot.
Again this seems another Kenyan vs Ethiopia battle with the best bet from Europe being European Champion Yasemin Can.
I expect the Japanese to set the early pace as they tend to do and it will be interesting to see how the 3 Brits do with what will be surely Jo Pavey’s final run in the Olympics as she gets ready for her 5th Olympics after qualifying at the very last minute. She is joined by Beth Potter and surprise package Jessica Andrews.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Almaz Ayana (Eth); SILVER: Tirunesh Dibaba (Eth); BRONZE: Gelete Burka (Eth)
MEN’S 20KM WALK
Japan dominates the rankings this year with all three of their entrants in the top 3 this year going under 1 hour 19 minutes. Eiki Takahashi, Isamu Fujisawa and Daisuke Matsunaga will compete for Japan although it should be said that the Japanese did not do very well in the World Championships with none of their three winning a medal.
The World Champion is Spain’s Miguel Ángel López but his best this year is outside 1 hour and 20 minutes but in a Championship environment it is likely to not be as quick as what the Japanese have run. His teammate Alvaro Martin is ranked in the top 10 going into Rio. Outside of the Spanish, Europe’s best hope appears to be Sweden’s who is 4th this year with a time just outside 1 hour and 19 minutes as did Germany’s Christopher Linke.
China have been traditionally strong in this event and Weng Zhan has the fastest time in the qualification period of 1 hour and 18 minutes flat and a repeat of that will almost certainly see him win gold. He is joined by Chen Ding and Cai Zelin. Mexico also have a strong contingent with their 3 ranked in the top 22 in the qualification period.
British record holder Tom Bosworth provides some home interest and while a medal seems unlikely, hopefully he can continue the interest in the event in this county particular after Callum Wilkinson’s victory in the World u20 Championships this year.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Weng Zhan (Chn); SILVER: Eiki Takahashi (Jap); BRONZE: Miguel Angel Lopez (Esp)
WOMEN’S 20KM WALK
China are even more dominant in the women’s event with 4 of this year’s top 8 and coming off a Chinese 1-2 in the World Championships. Hong Liu and Xiuzhi Lu are again selected and their third athlete Shijie Qieyang is ranked 3rd in the world this year so China will very likely feature very heavily here again.
Maria Guadalupe González of Mexico is 2nd in the world this year and looks to be one the Chinese’s main challengers along with the Italian duo Elisa Rigaudo and Eleonora Giorgi who are only separated by a couple of seconds in their best times this year. Italy also have Antonella Palmisano who is not too far behind.
There could be a big advantage for Brazilian Erica de Sena who should be more suited than anyone to the conditions that they will be competing in and I think that may be a factor in her breaking up the Chinese dominance.
The other European contender looks to Czech athlete Anežka Drahotová although the Portuguese could feature as well.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Hong Liu (Chn); SILVER: Xiuzhi Lu (Chn); BRONZE: Erica de Sena (Bra)
MEN’S 50KM WALK
Jarred Tallent was denied a true Olympic gold medal moment in London after Sergey Kirdyapkin’s was found to have doped years later. He is a contender again 4 years later although he probably won’t start as the favourite. He is however ranked 4th in the world this year (3rd if you exclude drug cheat Alex Schwazer who was caught again this year) and could certainly win another medal.
Slovakia’s Matej Tóth is by far Slovakia’s best medal chance and the favourite after beating Tallent at the World Championships last year and his best time recorded last year is over 3 minutes faster than anyone else has managed this year or last year.
France’s Yohann Diniz Leads the world rankings this year with a 3 hours 37 minutes and 48 seconds and on paper is Toth’s closest challenger as on one else has gone quicker than 3 hours and 40 minutes except for Toth and Diniz.
China are again very strong and have a good chance of at least one medal with Wang Zhendong, Han Yucheng and Yu Wei ranked 3rd, 5th, and 6th in the world this year. Japan again could feature with Hiroki Arai and Takayuki Tanii representing their best chance with South America’s best chance being Ecuador’s Andrés Chocho. Dominic King goes for Britain after qualifying for London 4 years ago.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Matej Toth (Svk); SILVER: Yohann Diniz (Fra); BRONZE: Jarred Tallent (Aus)
Again in a distance event we have to look at the Kenyans and the Ethiopians when previewing the Women’s marathon. Ethiopia seem to have the edge over their Kenyan counterparts with World Champion Mare Dibaba (yes another one) and world leader for 2016 Tirfi Tsegaye whose win in Dubai is one of only two sub 2 hour 20 minutes run in the last couple of years. They are joined by Tigist Tufa who was 2nd in the London Marathon this year.
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong was the winner in London and last year’s World silver medallist and looks to be Kenyan’s biggest threat with Tokyo winner Helah Kiprop and winner in Paris Visline Jepkesho providing strength in depth on the Kenyan side.
Outside of the Kenyans and the Ethiopians, there is Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa representing Bahrain. She won Bronze at the World Championship last year who seems most likely to again prevent the Kenyans and Ethiopians sweeping the medals and Japan have a strong tradition in female marathon running Kayoko Fukushi their fastest runner and she won in Osaka in January. Sonia Samuels and Alyson Dixon go for Britain.
PREDICTION: GOLD: Mare Dibaba (Eth); SILVER: Jemima Sumgong (Ken); BRONZE: Tirfi Tsegaye (Eth)
The last event for me to preview is also the last event on the athletics calendar and ends just before the closing ceremony. Championship marathons can be quite surprising sometimes bearing in mind the major city marathons can have fields that are just as strong if not stronger due to not having the 3 per country rule in place.
On paper this should be another Kenyan/Ethiopian battle with both countries dominating the world lists. Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge came very close to breaking the world record when winning in London and will likely start as the favourite with his teammate Stanley Biwott not to far behind and they are joined by Wesley Korir.
The Ethiopian challenge is led by Tesfaye Abera who won in Dubai in January along with Competitor Lemi Berhanu and Feyisa Lelisa.
Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda has the best non Kenyan/Ethiopian time and he is joined by World Silver medallist from Beijing Solomon Mutai. He was beaten in what was a surprising World Championship by Ghirmay Ghebreslassie who continued the success of his famous surname and is still only 19 years old when the marathon gets underway in Rio. That race in Beijing shows that anything can happen in Marathons (as we Brits found out with Paula in 2004) and there is no knowing who will deal with the conditions best or who will just be feeling good on the day until that day arrives. However I still see the Kenyans doing well as the times they have run would suggest they should at least be in contention.
Three brits have been selected with Derek and Callum Hawkins along with Tsegay Tewelde and while you wouldn’t expect a medal, you just never quite know in these championships marathons.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Eliud Kipchoge (Ken); SILVER: Stanley Biwott (Ken); BRONZE: Tesfaye Abera (Eth)
That completes my Olympic Preview series! It has taken quite a lot of time to put this all together and it proved a useful tool for me to get more familiar with some of the names in the events I don’t quite follow as closely so I hope it was good for all of you as well!
I would like to take a quick thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read all my posts (6 in a week!). The numbers of views have been fantastic and I hope you all enjoyed it and got you ready for the Olympics to start which is later today (except for the football which has already started)! Below is my final medal prediction table. I will look to see how close I was in terms of medals, medallists and where countries were on the table once the games are over. I will likely measure the number of medals as opposed to the position due to the fact that a couple of changes in gold medals can make quite a difference in terms of placement but it shall be interesting to see how close I am.
So once again thanks for reading and enjoy the Olympics!
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