In the second of our four-part preview of the track and field competition at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, our correspondent Ian Deeth predicts how these events will play out.
In the second part of my Rio 2016 previews and predictions for the Rio Olympic athletics programme, I turn my attention to the men’s field and attempt to list those who will claim podium finishes.
In many events, there are clear favourites, like America’s reigning Olympic and world champion Ashton Eaton in the decathlon; despite having to negotiate ten very different events, Eaton has been the class act in this event winning every global title since the last Olympics.
In other events, like the men’s javelin, surprise winners could emerge; in the 2012 Games, who would have predicted that Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott would even make the final, let alone clinch gold?
Men’s Long Jump
There has not been one stand out performer in the long jump this year and there will be a number of athletes who will fancy their chances of clinching gold. Greg Rutherford is the reigning Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion and always seems to perform on the big stage.
The USA trio of Michael Hartfield, who replaced world indoor champion Marquis Dendy after injury, world leader Jeff Henderson and Jarrison Lawson have all produced big distances this year. Another medal hopeful will be South Africa’s Rushwal Samaai, who has twice jumped over 8:30m this season. Australian Fabrice Lapierre and China’s Xinglong Gao, who currently lead the IAAF Diamond League standings, could also challenge. One of the most open events of the Games.
Gold: Henderson (USA)
Silver: Xinglong Gao (CHN)
Bronze: Rutherford (GBR)
Men’s Triple Jump
Christian Taylor produced the second longest jump in history to win last years’ IAAF World Championships and he currently tops the world rankings with a hop, step and jump of 17.78m. He was, however, handed a rare defeat at the US trials in Eugene by Will Claye and both the Americans will look for a repeat of their gold-silver finish from London 2012.
Taylor’s main rival last year was Pablo Picado from Cuba, who held seven of the top 12 jumps in the world in 2015, two of which were over the 18m mark. But Picado’s dip in form means his fellow compatriot, Chris Benard, is more likely to challenge. China’s Bin Dong and Germany’s European Champion, Mez Hess, will be hoping to stop an American clean sweep of the medals.
Gold: Taylor (USA)
Silver: Claye (USA)
Bronze: Bin (CHN)
Men’s High Jump
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, who leads the world rankings with 2.40m, will line up as one of the favourites but he will be pushed by a number of athletes including current IAAF world champion, Derek Drouin from Canada and joint silver medalists from those championships, Bodan Bondarenko (Ukraine) and Zhang Guowei (China).
American Erik Kynard will also be in the mix but one man who won’t be competing is Italian European champion Gianmarco Tamberi, who has the second highest leap in the world this year with 2.39m but ruptured his ligament during Monaco’s Diamond League meet.
Gold: Barshim (QTR)
Silver: Drouin (CDN)
Bronze: Guowei (CHN)
Men’s Pole Vault
Since capturing gold at London 2012, Renaud Lavillenie has been the class act in the pole vault, leading the world rankings for the past four years. However, the world record holder has still never won the IAAF World Outdoor Championships and finished a surprise joint third last year in Beijing, with Canada’s Shawnacy Barber claiming the title.
After winning the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, the Frenchman has been in superlative form outdoors with three Diamond league victories to his credit. He will need to be at his best to claim gold as Berber, along with America’s Sam Kendricks and home favourite Brazilian Thiago Braz Da Silva, have all surpassed 5.90m this season.
Gold: Lavillenie (FRA)
Silver: Da Silva (BRA)
Bronze: Barber (CAN)
Men’s Shot Putt
American’s Joe Kovacs and Ryan Crouser hold the top six throws in the world between them and look set to go head to head to battle it out for gold. Crouser got the win at the US trials but Kovacs is the reigning world champion and has the world’s leading throw of 22:13m along with three Diamond League victories to his name.
Germany’s David Storl always seems to peak at the right time and the recently crowned triple European and double world champion will want to go one better than the silver he won in London four years ago. Nigeria’s Stephen Mozia and USA’s Derrell Hill are other possible medalists.
Gold: Kovacs (USA)
Silver: Storl (GER)
Bronze: Crouser (USA)
Men’s Discus Throw
The discus is the first men’s track and field final in the Olympic Stadium. Reigning world and European champion Piotr Malachowski from Poland will hope to add the Olympic gold to his medal collection and will be the man to beat in London. He has posted the top two throws in the world this year.
His main threat will come from the Harting brothers, Christoph and Robert, the latter of whom produced one of the most memorable moments of London 2012 when he decided to sprint over several hurdles to celebrate his gold winning performance. The only other man to go over the 68m mark this year is Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres. Belgium’s Philip Milanov and Estonia’s Gerd Kanter, who won Olympic gold in 2008, will also hope to challenge.
Gold: Malachowski (POL)
Silver: R. Harting (GER)
Bronze: C. Harting (GER)
There is no such thing as a certainty in sport but Poland’s Pawel Fajdek is the heavy favourite for gold in Rio. The double-world and double-European champion has produced the top 10 throws of 2016, all in excess of 80 metres. The only other man to throw over the 80m mark is Belarusian Ivan Tsikhan, but the 40 year old veteran has a history of doping and if he medals, there will always be an air of suspicion as to whether his performance has been achieved legitimately.
Another Belarusian, Pavel Bareisha, and world silver medalist Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikistan will be vying for medal contention. Could Brazil’s Wagner Domingos step onto the Olympic podium in his home country?
Gold: Fajdek (POL)
Silver: Nazarov (TAJ)
Bronze: Domingos (BRA)
Along with the discus and hammer, the men’s javelin is likely to be dominated by Europeans. Thomas Rohler is the only man in the world this year to throw in excess of 90 metres but finished down in fifth position at this year’s European Championships. His German teammates, Julian Weber and Johannes Vetter, have also performed well in 2016.
Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen is second on the world list this year and will fancy his chances but it was Latvia’s Zigismunds Sirmais and 2013 world champion Vitezslav Vesely (Czech Republic), coached by Olympic Legend Jan Zelezny, who claimed the top two places at June’s European championships. The javelin has a habit of throwing up surprise winners at world level with 2015 IAAF world champion Julius Yego (Kenya) and reigning Olympic champion, Keshorn Walcott (Trinidad and Tobago), announcing themselves to the world on the big stage when neither was considered a gold medal favourite.
Gold: Vesely (CZE)
Silver: Sirmais (LAT)
Bronze: Rohler (GER)
Ashton Eaton is set to be one of the stars of the Games after his sensational world record performance at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing, where he finished an incredible 350 points ahead of second placed Damian Warner from Canada. The American has won gold in his last six major championships and will hope to better his world record yet again.
Eaton will also have won eye on the heptathlon, as wife Brianne goes for gold for Canada.in the first two days of the athletics programme. Eaton fulfills his gold medal promise, the battle for silver and bronze should be between Warner, Germany’s Arthur Abele, US-based Grenadan Lindon Victor, France’s Kevin Mayer and American duo, Jeremy Taiwo and Zach Ziemek.
Gold: Eaton (USA)
Silver: Warner (CAN)
Bronze: Victor (GRN)
Article by Ian Deeth
You can catch Ian on Fox Sports Central, weekdays at 8pm, as he previews and reviews the key athletics action from Rio 2016.