The World Athletics Championships begins in London this weekend and there will be landmark occasions on show with Usain Bolt and Mo Farah ending their track careers.
Sprinting legend Bolt will be competing in his final major Championship whilst Britain’s greatest long distance runner Mo Farah will also be leaving the track world behind him after London ahead of concentrating on Marathon running.
Bolt is not running in the 200m anymore, so it is the Blue Riband 100m that all eyes will be on as the Jamaican looks to end one the greatest Athletics careers of all time, in style in London.
His task has been made somewhat easier by the fact his biggest rival for the title Andre De Grasse, has been forced out through injury, and he is now odds-on to take his 20th major gold medal. Bolt will also be looking to lead Jamaica to gold in the 4×100 relay also.
Farah is looking complete an amazing fifth double in the 5,000m and 10,000m, having won both titles at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, as well as at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships.
One of Britain’s biggest hopes is also in distance running with Laura Muir looking for glory in the 1500m and 5,000m and the hope is she can bring home two medals.
Elsewhere, TeamGB have numerous other chances to look out for.
The Heptahlon looks a great competition with Katarina Johnson-Thompson in contention but brilliant Belgian Nafissatou Thiam – the Olympic champion – looks very hard to overcome.
Hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon has been improving since her shock bronze in Rio last year and is again pushing for a place on the podium. Another women who could do something in the field events is pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw, who is being tipped as a potential gold medal threat.
Another outside chance is highly-rated sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, but the 21-year-old has been struggling with injury and making the final might be her best bet in the 200m.
The men also have some sprinting chances with Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake looking to make an impact in his first major competitin as he goes in the 200m.
Hurdler Andrew Pozzi has ran into third on the all time British list this season and he could very well push for medal contention if he gets it right,
Experienced high-jumper Robbie Grabarz is fancied to push in the high-jump whilst in the 20km walk Tom Bosworth is tipped to do well.
Elsewhere, South Africa could very well be the star team of London – with some huge fancies in their squad.
The big name is clearly Wayde van Niekerk – who shocked the world by breaking Michael Johnson’s long-standing world record in the 400m in Rio last year on his way to gold. And his next target is to try and get below the 43 second mark for one lap.
Van Niekerk is now going for the 200m and 400m double in London, and double Gold could see him propelled to the new face of world athletics.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) August 1, 2017
But South Africa have a number of big hopes. Long jumper Luvo Manyonga looks capable of getting close to Mike Powell’s world record and without home hope Greg Rurtherford, the London crowd will give Manyonga a huge backing.
The South Africans also have Caster Semenya is going for the 800m and 1,500m double – a feat not achieved since Kelly Holmes back in 2004.
Some other highlights include Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson – who looks almost unbeatable in the 100m, although Polish hammer throwers Pawel Fajdek and Anita Wlodarcyzk are the two biggest favourites in the whole Championships to take Gold.
We spoke with Unibet’s Alistair Gill to get their low-down on the big event and get some of their picks for the coming competition.
Usain Bolt is the 7/20 favourite to win the 100m a price that in previous Olympics and World Championships would be considered huge!
However, Bolt has struggled this season with his only sub-10 second run coming last week in the Diamond League in Monaco. It may be that he is timing things just right, he has a tendency to pull it out when it matters and by not taking part in the 200m means he can focus all his efforts on this one race (and the 4x100m relay later on).
However, 8 men have run faster than him so far this season and so there is better value out there. The one that jumps of the page is 21-year-old Christian Coleman who is sending shockwaves through the sprinting world and is Bolts most likely predecessor. He has had 7 races of sub 10 seconds in 2017 alone and holds the World Leading time of 9.82 – he could cause a big upset at odds of 8/1 to take Gold if he can learn quickly in his rookie World Championships and not tie up when the pressure is on.
With Bolt taking his final bow, athletics needs a new superstar and at Rio last year it looked like it was delivered in the form of South African Van Niekerk. With a lane 8 draw in the final of the 400m, victory looked unlikely… but not only did he win Gold, he also broke Michael Johnsons long standing World Record and he is odds of 7/5 to break it again in London. It’s no surprise then to find him big favourite at odds of 1/7 to win 400m Gold in London. However, there may be better value in him to also win the 200m Gold as he attempts the double for the first time. Van Niekerk has had an immense 2017, breaking his PB in the 100m (in a time better then Bolts seasons best), his PB in the 200m and even the World Record in the rarely run 300m. With this kind of form the bet on him winning Gold in both the 200m and 400m at odds of Evens looks the bet.
Of the British superstars on show it will most likely be Mo Farah who is the best chance of Team GB’s Gold Medals. His dominance in the 5000m and 10000m looks like it will only end through his retirement and at odds of 21/20 the double looks a good price for those wanting to get involved at lower odds. Elsewhere Katrina Johnson Thompson in the Heptathlon, Laura Muir in the 1500m and Eilidh Doyle in the womens 400m hurdles all have realistic medal chances. Team GBs final medals tally has suffered a blow with the withdrawal of Greg Rutherford although there are outside medal chances still for Nick Miller in the Hammer Throw and Robbie Grabarz in the high jump. Home advantage proved key at London 2012 and a bet on over 5.5 medals for Team GB at odds of 19/20 looks a good bet for the patriotic.
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