Alfons Juck is on his way to Beijing. This was his last email to me before he left for the Olympics. Alfons did a survey of the participants from World Champs in Osaka and the Athens Games. It will provide interesting reading. My predictions for all Olympic track & field events will be posted next Monday, August 11, 2008. (I leave for Beijing this Friday,
August 8, 2008.)
EME NEWS (AUG 4, 2008) OLYMPIC SPECIAL
27 title defenders, 34 Osaka winners
Special pre-olympic survey based on known entries by Sunday Aug 3 shows that in total 27 individual title defenders from Athens (out of 42) will compete at Olympic Games in Beijing. They are 14 men and 13 women. There are also other 8 athletes entered who won golds at 2000 or 1996 Games (Gebrselassie, Taylor, Ziolkowski, Perez, Mutola, Korolchik, Zvereva, Skolimowska).
Logically the number of current individual world champions from Osaka 2007 competing is higher with winners of 35 events out of 43. Missing are only Gay at 200 m, Kibet in marathon, Deakes at 50 km walk on the men side and Campbell-Brown at 100 m, Dietzsch in discus, Perry at 100mH, Rawlinson at 400mH and Kluft in Heptathlon in the women section.
Concerning the world leaders four are missing at all (Kipchirchir Komen 1500 m, Kipsiele Koech 3000 m SC, Soboleva 800/1500, Pishchalnikova discus) and four are competing in other events. Moses Masai who leads the 5k runs the 10 k, Haile Gebrselassie is number one in marathon but goes for 10k, Allyson Felix is co-number one at 400 m but competes at 200 m and Zhang Yingying who leads the marathon list is running both track races (5, 10 k).
NOTE: In this pre-olympic survey listed is the situation with reigning olympic winner from Athens 2004 (OW), current world champion from Osaka 2007 (WC) and 2008 world leader (WL). Added are also other Olympic medalists of past when entered for Beijing. This is not in any case a survey of possible winners or favorites just a look from the view of title defenders, current world champions, current world leaders and medalists from the past.
OW: Justin Gatlin is banned and so not able to compete.
WC: Tyson Gay will compete but is fighting with a injury.
WL: Usain Bolt is also the world recor holder, his duel with Gay and Asafa Powell should be the highlight of the Games.
From other olympic medalists only Francis Obikwelu of Portugal (silver in 2004) is going to compete.
OW: Shawn Crawford qualified but did not run any 200 m since Eugene. At the 100 m races in Europe in July he did not achieve sub 10.30.
WC: Tyson Gay injured himself during the quarterfinals in Eugene and will not compete.
WL: Usain Bolt is clearly the fastest here and won his five races of the year with big margins.
OW, WC, WL: All titles in one person, that is Jeremy Wariner. Only his mentor Michael Johnson in olympic history achieved two subsequent golds in this event. LaShawn Merritt will stand there to challenge him. Their head-to-head this summer is 2:2.
OW: Yuriy Borzakovskiy is there and with excellent Monaco win he looks like even in better shape than 2004.
WC: Alfred Kirwa Yego qualified but except of Pre Classic did not win any race ahead of the Games.
WL: World junior champion and world junior record holder Abubaker Kaki of Sudan is unbeaten so far this year, will he keep this also in Beijing?
From former medalists Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa (silver in 2004) is competing.
OW: Hicham El Guerrouj ended his career oficially in 2006, but did not contest any serious race after his olympic triumph.
WC: Bernard Lagat competes after bronze and silver for Kenya now first time for USA at Olympics and wants to try to win after Osaka again.
WL: Daniel Kipchirchir Komen did not qualify at the Trials (7th) and will be missed at the games.
OW: Hicham El Guerrouj see the 1500 m.
WC: Bernard Lagat is going for the double and wants to repeat ELG feat.
WL: Kenyan Moses Masai runs the 10 000 m at the Games.
From former medalists to note the participation of Kenenisa Bekele (silver in Athens, in his case possible participation, depends how he will feel after 10k), Eliud Kipchoge (bronze in Athens) and Ali Saidi-Sief (silver in Sydney).
10 000 M
OW, WC, WL: As in WarinerÂ´s case all titles for one person, the best ever Kenenisa Bekele. Here it does not look like for a strong rival for him.
Even when the former double winner Haile Gebrselassie is competing and should be ready to fight for a medal. Sileshi Sihine who was silver holder in Athens is also there along with bronze holder Zersenay Tadese or Eritrea.
OW: Italian hero Stefano Baldini goes to fight in hot and humid conditions.
WC: Kenyan Luke Kibet did not qualify, is fourth as reserve in his team.
WL: World record holder Haile Gebrselassie is not competing as he feared bad air quality and will run the 10 000 m on the track.
From former medalists Korean Lee Bong-Ju (silver in Atlanta) is competing.
3000 M SC
OW: Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi is there again in right time and place. He was second in Rome and first in Athens, but mainly before that won the Kenyan trials.
WC: Another Kenyan Brimin Kipruto (silver in Athens) is also there and beat Kemboi in Rome, but lost to him at the trials.
WL: Paul Kipsiele Koech was fourth at the trials (0.09 behind Matelong) and is fourth in the team, but entered as reserve. That opens his possibilities if something happens.
110 M H
OW, WC: Home super-hero Liu Xiang will be under enormous pressure. Is having only two final races during his season in Osaka and pre-olympic meet (13.18 and 13.19), then injury problems in New York and dq in Eugene. His shape is kind of mystery, but one could think he will be in the best ever.
WL: Here is the man who can spoil the home party. Dayron Robles improved the world record to 12.87, lost only one race and achieved other three sub 13 times.
From former medalists twice silver holder Terrence Trammell is also there (2000 and 2004).
400 M H
OW: It is not confirmed yet, but all looks like Felix Sanchez will not be able to defend his title due to his injuries and subsequent not enough time for good training. He did not run any hurdles race this year.
WC, WL: Kerron Clement puts two elements into one and lost only once during the season at the Trials to Bershawn Jackson.
From former medalists 2000 winner Angelo Taylor runs the flat race, also competing is silver holder from 2004 Danny McFarlane of Jamaica.
OW: SwedenÂ´s Stefan Holm wants to end his career as first ever olympian with two high jump golds. He has 8 meets this summer, 7 wins and 7 over 230 or more.
WC: Bahamian Dwight Thomas is struggling with his shape, technique and spikes but should compete.
WL: Russian Andrey Silnov was additionally included into the team after his great 238 in London and in his only one head-to-head with Holm he was better in Eberstadt but both were beaten (4th and 5th).
From other medalists Czech Jaroslav Baba is competing.
OW: US Tim Mack did not qualify at the trials (6th) but had also different injury problems in the meantime.
WC, WL: US Brad Walker was only third at the trials and in last meet before the games lost in London.
From other medalists Italian Giuseppe Gibilisco is entered (but has only one competition 555 from Athens).
OW: US Dwight Phillips did not qualify, is as fourth a reserve.
WC, WL: Except of his ISTAF failure (also due to injury) Irving Saladino dominates the event and could win first ever Panamian Athletics Olympic gold.
OW: SwedenÂ´s Christian Olsson must pass this one due to his health situation.
WC: PortugalÂ´s Nelson Evora will be there and has only one loss during the summer from Monaco meeting.
WL: BritainÂ´s Phillips Idowu is unbeaten in this year and in great shape.
From other medalists both podium athletes from Athens will compete – Romanian Marian Oprea and Russian Danil Burkenya.
OW: Ukrainian Yuri Belonog will be there, but he does not look to be in shape to repeat his win from ancient Olympia (season best 20.41).
WC: Reese Hoffa won his last two meets (Trials, London) and looks to be ready for the best.
WL: Adam Nelson (also silver medalist 2000 and 2004) is having changing fortunes, from 22.12 at Pre to 20.89 at the Trials. From Stockholm win 20.75 to London loss 21.07.
From other olympic medalists Joachim Olsen (bronze in 2004) of Denmark is going to compete.
OW: Lithuanian giant Virgilijus Alekna is ready to achieve a third win in a row after Sydney and Athens.
WC, WL: Estonian Gerd Kanter is the man who can change AleknaÂ´s plans. Alekna leads their head-to-head of the season 3:1.
Other three former medalists are going to compete. Bronze holder from Sydney Frants Kruger (already representing Finland, not South Africa). And the rest of Athens podium Zoltan Kovago (Hungary) and Aleksander Tammert (Estonia).
OW: JapanÂ´s Koji Murofushi is slowly coming to shape and will defend his title.
WC, WL: The dominator of the event Ivan Tikhon of Belarus (silver in 2004) is missing in his great collection only the olympic gold. He leads the world lists by huge 2.55 m.
From other medalists 2000 winner Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland will be there, also Italian silver holder from Australia Nicola Vizzoni and bronze winner in 2004 Esref Apak of Turkey.
OW: Andreas Thorkildsen will try to defend his title and hopes for a big one in China.
WC: Tero PitkamÃ¤ki leads the seasonal head-to-head over Thorkildsen 2:1 and wants to give the javelin nation first olympic gold since 20 years (1988 Tapio Korjus).
WL: Australian Jarrod Bannister leads the lists with 89.02, but his second best is 84.76. But as there is no 90 thrower so far this year anything could happen.
From former medalists Russian Sergey Makarov (twice bronze 2000 and 2004) and Latvian Vadim Vasilevskis (silver in 2004) will be there.
OW, WC: Czech Roman Sebrle is struggling with hamstring injury but wants to defend his title.
WL: US 2004 silver winner Bryan Clay clearly leads the lists and his last trainings before departing to China showed excellent shape.
Also competing is the bronze winner from Athens Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan.
20 KM WALK
OW: Italian Ivano Brugnetti will try to defend the title.
WC: EcuadorÂ´s 1996 winner Jefferson Perez will be there too.
WL: Young Russian Sergey Morozov achieved a world record and will be a name to watch too.
From other medalists SpainÂ´s 2004 silver winner Francisco Fernandez will be there with Russian silver holder from 1996 Ilya Markov.
50 KM WALK
OW: PolandÂ´s great Robert Korzeniowski ended his career after the 2004 Games.
WC: Australian Nathan Deakes is not competing due to his injury.
WL: Russian Denis Nizhegorodov (silver in 2004) who also achieved the world record this year looks like the main favorite.
OW: Great Britain is going to compete, but will have it tough.
WC, WL: US Team is always strong to attack the highest position. But this time Jamaica is having with Bolt and Powell two fastest ever.
OW, WC, WL: USA all in one. They will be tough to beat unless something unexpected happens.
OW: Belarus Yulia Nesterenko comes back after years of injuries and health problems.
WC: Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown (also bronze winner in 2004) did not qualify here as fourth at the trials.
WL: US Torri Edwards is here one of the favorites, but her races in Stockholm, London and Monaco were not that impressive.
2004 silver winner Lauryn Williams competes also and 2000 silver/gold holder Ekaterini Thanou is a possible entry too.
OW, WL: VCB leads the lists and is the title defender and she will be double motivated after beeing out from the 100 m.
WC: US Allyson Felix (silver winner 2004) is another top name but was only fourth last week in London.
Bronze/silver holder from Sydney Sri LankaÂ´s Susanthika Jayasinghe is running also.
OW: Tonique Williams-Darling of Bahamas is not competing, she did not oficially retire, there are rumours she is pregnant, but nothing is confirmed. Only the fact, that she last time competed in September 2006.
WC: Briton Christine Ohuruogu is step by step improving this season and is currently at 50.80 level.
WL: Joint world leaders are Amantle Montsho of Botswana who is competing and Allyson Felix who gave the preference to 200 m.
OW: Dame Kelly Holmes retired in 2005.
WC: Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei is competing here, but not showing on the circuit the shape of 07.
WL: Russian Yelena Sobolova was provisionally banned by IAAF and will not compete in Beijing and the next on the table is world junior record and AF Golden League jackpot contender Pamela Jelimo of Kenya.
Also competing are legendary Maria Mutola (gold in 2000 and bronze in 1996) and Morrocan Hasna Benhassi who was second in 2004.
OW: The same as at 800 m, Holmes no more there.
WC: Bahraini Maryam Jamal is after the latest “Russian case” a strong favorite for gold. She won both her 1500 m races of the summer in Athens and Paris.
WL: Russians headed by Yelena Soboleva are missing. The next and only one with sub 4 is Jamal.
OW, WC: Meseret Defar is there and unbeaten on the track in her last races in Eugene and Stockholm. She lost to Melkamu at African Championships in spring and if Tirunesh Dibaba will double all could be more open.
WL: Tirunesh Dibaba (bronze in 2004) achieved famous world record in Oslo and the question remains whether she after 10k will have the power and strength to run the shorter distance.
Gete Wami who won bronze at the distance in 2000 runs the marathon.
10 000 M
OW: Chinese Xing Huina is not competing after not been able to come into the shape and qualify.
WC: Tirunesh Dibaba never lost a 10 000 m track race. That says everything.
WL: US Shalane Flanagan with her improvement to 30:34.49 could be a medal threat.
Gete Wami won here bornze in 1996 and silver in 2000, but runs the marathon. Another entry with Olympic medal is Ejegayehu Dibaba (silver in 2004).
OW: Japanese Mizuki Noguchi is aiming to defend the title, what so far never happened in this event at Olympics. But it will be only 7th women Olympic marathon.
WC: Kenyan Catherine Ndereba (silver in 2004) is another name to watch, she did not ran a marathon this year and prepared at shorter distances.
WL: Zhang Yingying leads the lists with her world junior best 2:22:38, but is running the track races 5 and 10 k. Next in the lists Berhane Adere (2:22:42) will compete.
Also competing is US Deena Kastor who won bronze in 2004.
3000 M SC
OW: First time held and brings the number of events to 47, men 24 and women 23.
WC: Russian Yekaterina Volkova will be there and fight for medals.
WL: World record holder Gulnara Samitova-Galkina holds the fastest times ever and is the top favorite.
100 M H
OW: US Joanna Hayes did not qualify as 7th at the trials.
WC: Michelle Perry is also not there as after injury she was able to reach only the semifinals at trials.
WL: Another US sprinter Lolo Jones leads the lists and is one of the top favorites. She was running 12 final races this summer, won 9 and lost only 3. But she won all races after US Trials.
400 M H
OW: Greek Fani Halkia (SB 57.24) will compete at the end of the day, but her shape is far from the one back in 2004.
WC: Australian Jana Rawlinson is not competing due to injury.
WL: Jamaican Melaine Walker (coached by Stephen Francis) is suddenly a hot gold medal favorite. She lost only in February in Australia her first race of the year, but won the next seven and is virtually unbeaten.
Romanian Ionela Tirlea who won silver in 2004 is competing too.
OW: Russian Yelena Slesarenko is competing but will have it tough against a certain lady from Croatia.
WC, WL: Blanka Vlasic is the queen of her event. She is having now 34 competitions winning streak since June 2007, the current longest in this sport.
Also competing is bronze winner from 2004 Viktoriya Styopina of Ukraine.
OW, WC, WL: All in one as Wariner and Bekele that is the best current woman in athletics Russian Yelena Isinbayeva. She found her world record shape and bettered twice her global mark to 503 and 504. Hard to believe she can be beaten.
Also competing are the two other medalists from Athens, Russian Svetlana Feofanova and PolandÂ´s Anna Rogowska.
OW, WC: Although more a triple specialist she is the last Olympic and world winner Russian Tatyana Lebedeva.
WL: PortugalÂ´s Naide Gomes could win fourth Olympic gold medal from athletics for her country, but first in technical events.
Bronze winner from 2004 (and possible bronze winner from 2000) Tatyana Kotova will compete also.
OW: CameroonÂ´s Francoise Mbango struggled since her Athens gold and came back with good marks only this year.
WC: Cuban Yargelis Savigne is another favorite.
WL: Greek Hrysopyi Devetzi who leads the list and won silver in 2004 adds the necessary spice to this event.
Tatyana Lebedeva is the medalist from past who is competing with bronze in 2004 and silver in 2000.
OW: Cuban Yumileidi Cumba is competing but only as number three of her country.
WC: Valerie Vili of New Zealand is also there.
WL: Belarus Nadezhda Ostapchuk is clearly the best on the paper.
Silver holder from 2004 German Nadine Kleinert is there and also 2000 winner Yanina Korolchik of Belarus (now Privalinskaya) together with Russian Irina Khudorozhkina who won bronze in 1996.
OW: Russian Natalya Sadova (also silver in 1996) achieved on time after doping ban the qualification and will try to defend her title.
WC: German Franka Dietzsch is not competing due to her health and injury problems.
WL: Russian Darya Pishalchnikova was provisionally suspended in the Russian DNA Case and will not compete. Next on the list is Nicoleta Grasu of Romania.
Belarus is sending veteran medalists Irina Yatchenko (bronzes in 2000 and 2004) and Ellina Zvereva (gold in 2000 and bronze in 1996)
OW: Russian Olga Kuzenkova returned last year after maternity break and was unable since then to achieve the level which would allow her to qualify.
WC: German Betty Heidler will be there, but with 74.11 season best is only 10th in the list of Olympic participants.
WL: Belarus Aksana Menkova is the number one on the paper.
CubanÂ´s Yipsi Moreno and Yunaika Crawford (silver and bronze in 2004) and PolandÂ´s Kamila Skolimowska (gold in 2000) are the other medalists competing.
OW: Cuban world record holder Osleidys Menendez (also bronze in 2000) comes slightly into the shape after injuries in recent two years and could attack the podium.
WC, WL: Czech Barbora Spotakova leads the lists and wants to be the Jan Zelezny in skirt.
From other medalists German Steffi Nerius (silver in 2004) is also competing.
OW, WC: SwedenÂ´s Carolina Kluft gave a bye to heptathlon and will compete at the Games in Long Jump and Triple Jump.
WL: US Hyleas Fountain could be a “dark horse” of the very open competition.
Other medalists competing are LithuaniaÂ´s Austra Skujyte (silver in 2004) and BritainÂ´s Kelly Sotherton (bronze in 2004).
20 KM WALK
OW: Surprise winner 2004 Athanasia Tsoumeleka after giving a birth to her child is back in solid shape, but difficult to think about gold.
WC, WL: Russian Olga Kaniskina is the world champion and world leader. A clear choice?
From former medalists competing are Kjersti PlÃ¤tzer of Norway (silver in 2000) and Maria Vasco of Spain (bronze in 2000) along with Australian Jane Saville (bronze in 2004).
OW: Jamaica has a strong squad with time average better than US and will be ready to defend the title.
WC, WL: USA is also having four sub 11 runners including Allyson Felix, will be tough to beat.
OW, WC, WL: USA all in one, has Sanya Richards and Allyson Felix, but the other two are not as strong as quartetts of Jamaica and Russia so a tough battle could be expected.
Used with permission, Alfons Juck, publisher of EME News.