Allyson Felix could finally win her first individual Olympic medal in the 200 metres that gets underway at the rocking Olympic Stadium tonight.
Felix has always been among the world’s top sprinters at 200 and 400 metres, yet come Games time she has sometimes fallen between two stools, leaving Athens and Beijing with only relay gold in her luggage. She has eight world titles to her name, but an Olympic gold in London would define the 26-year-old’s career.
Now, after Saturday night’s 100 metres final, we have some hard form to base our judgements on. Felix has never been a real 100-metre sprinter and the decision of her and her coach, Bobby Kersee, to enter the short sprint at the US Trials remains unexplained. If the idea was to get more absolute speed into her legs, then it has worked, and worked very well; Felix finished in fifth place on Saturday with a time of 10.89sec.
Her lifetime best suggests that Felix should smoke all opposition, including her Jamaican rival Veronica Campbell-Brown, the woman who took 200 gold in 2004 and 2008, as well as winning the world title last year. Campbell-Brown won the 100m bronze on Saturday and looked in great form herself, suggesting that she might just split Felix and her American team mate, Carmelita Jeter this time around.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s second Olympic 100m gold run in four years was a superb display of determination. She overturned the odds to overcome the bulked up power of her American rival. She is not best suited to the longer event, though, and may struggle to last the distance.
Fraser-Pryce and Campbell-Brown’s form, however, does augur well for Jamaica’s defence of the 4x100 title later in the week, for which they are tipped to beat the less well-organised American squad.
Women's 100m hurdles
Not everyone fancies doubling up at the Olympics: British heroine Jessica Ennis announced late on Saturday night that she would not be turning out for Monday’s 100 metres hurdles heats.
It was Ennis’s supercharged 12.45sec hurdles performance on Friday that set her on the way to her heptathlon gold. That time gave her the British record (the first of two she would set in two days) and would have been good enough to win Olympic sprint hurdles gold at three of the last four Games.
Had Ennis opted to try for a second gold, it may have thrown the betting markets for the hurdles into chaos. As it is, Australia’s world champion, Sally Pearson, remains a deserved favourite, despite her defeat at the London Grand Prix last month.
Best of the rest
A number of other nailed on favourites compete today: David Rudisha, in the men’s 800 metres; Valerie Adams in the women’s shot; and Robert Harting in the discus. One each-way tip in the latter event is the 20-year-old south Londoner Lawrence Okoye, who has all the potential to win Britain’s first ever discus medal.
One competitor who will be bidding to win a second track gold medal now is Mo Farah. Given the confidence that the new Olympic 10,000m champion acquired from Saturday night’s victory, you ought not bet against him.