Olympic Track and Field 2012 Predictions: Gold Medal Odds & Projections
One of the Olympics' signature sports takes place August 3-12 in London. Track and field, an original Summer Games spectacle that dates back to the Olympics of Ancient Greece, never fails to disappoint in delivering dramatic results.
The 2008 Beijing Games and World Championships that have occurred since give us an indication of who appears primed and ready for a gold medal push. However, nothing is guaranteed and a fraction of a second can cause competitors to plummet from a spot on the winner's podium and into the ranks of also-rans.
With so much at stake, the outcome of each event is tough to predict, but we do our best here. Highlighting ten monumental events in both men's and women's competition, we size up the top contenders and take our picks of who comes out of the fray wearing a medal.
When: Aug. 4-5
World Record: 9.59 seconds, Usain Bolt (Jamaica), 2009
Outlook: No event on the men's side carries more storylines than this sprint. Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake battle for Olympic supremacy and national pride. Americans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay are both on individual journeys of redemption and should challenge for a spot on the podium.
Gold: Yohan Blake (JAM)
Silver: Usain Bolt (JAM)
Bronze: Justin Gatlin (USA)
Blake Odds for Gold: 5:1
When: Aug. 3-4
World Record: 10.49 seconds, Florence Griffith Joyner (U.S.), 1988
Outlook: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the reigning gold medalist and the 2009 World Champion, so she enters the event as a prohibitive favorite. At 32 years old, Carmelita Jeter just seems to be peaking at the right time. The 2011 World Outdoor 100-meter dash champion was outstanding in U.S. Olympic team trials.
Gold: Carmelita Jeter (USA)
Silver: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM)
Bronze: Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM)
Jeter Odds for Gold: 6:1
When: Aug. 7-9
World Record: 19.19 seconds, Usain Bolt (Jamaica), 2009
Outlook: The global racing world was turned on its head during the Jamaican Olympic team trials, where Blake blew by Bolt in both the 100- and 200-meter sprint. We have them splitting the events in London, while American sprinter Wallace Spearmon secures bronze.
Gold: Usain Bolt (JAM)
Silver: Yohan Blake (JAM)
Bronze: Wallace Spearmon (USA)
Bolt Odds for Gold: 3:1
When: Aug. 6-8
World Record: 21.34 seconds, Florence Griffith-Joyner (U.S.), 1988
Outlook: Fraser-Pryce sprinted past Campbell-Brown in the Jamaican Olympic team trials, while setting a new national record and becoming the fourth-fastest women's time in history (10.70). She'll top Campbell-Brown once again in London, while holding off American star Allyson Felix.
Gold: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM)
Silver: Allyson Felix (USA)
Bronze: Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM)
Fraser-Pryce Odds for Gold: 6:1
When: Aug. 4-6
World Record: 43.18 seconds, Michael Johnson (U.S.), 1999
Outlook: Kirani James is arguably the NCAA's top sprinter at the University of Alabama. The 19-year-old is a two-time NCAA champion in the event and can upset the slightly favored LaShawn Merritt, who is currently dealing with a mild hamstring injury.
Gold: Kirani James (Grenada)
Silver: Tony McQuay (USA)
Bronze: LaShawn Merritt (USA)
James Odds for Gold: 11:1
When: Aug. 3-5
World Record: 47.60 seconds, Marita Koch (East Germany), 1985
Outlook: Sanya Richards-Ross, the 2012 400-meter World Indoor champion and wife of NFL defensive back Aaron Ross, hopes to top the bronze medal she earned in the event at the 2008 Beijing Games. She cruises to victory over Amantle Montsho, who should win Bostwana's first Olympic medal.
Gold: Sanya Richards-Ross (USA)
Silver: Amantle Montsho (Bostwana)
Bronze: Antonina Krivoshapka (RUS)
Richards-Ross Odds for Gold: 3:1
Men's 110-Meter Hurdles
When: Aug. 7-8
World Record: 12.87 seconds, Dayron Robles (Cuba), 2008
Outlook: American medal contender Jason Richardson believes its going to take a world-record performance to win Olympic gold in this event. China's Liu Xiang, a former world-record holder himself, is the man to do it. Aries Merritt edged Liu in the 60m hurdles event at the 2012 World Indoor Championship but finishes a step behind in London.
Gold: Liu Xiang (China)
Silver: Aries Merritt (USA)
Bronze: Jason Richardson (USA)
Xiang Odds for Gold: 7:1
Women's 100-Meter Hurdles
When: Aug. 6-7
World Record: 12.21 seconds, Yordanka Donkova (Bulgaria), 1988
Outlook: American Lolo Jones has received plenty of publicity since a stunning stumble on the second-to-last hurdle cost her likely Olympic gold in this event at the 2008 Beijing Games. Improving on her 2008 fifth-place finish won't be easy, as a stacked group of competitors includes fellow U.S. standouts Kellie Wells and Dawn Harper. Defending world champion and 2008 silver medalist Sally Pearson can overcome the American trio.
Gold: Sally Pearson (Australia)
Silver: Kellie Wells (USA)
Bronze: Lolo Jones (USA)
Pearson Odds for Gold: 6:1
Men's 400-Meter Hurdles
When: Aug. 3-6
World Record: 46.78 seconds, Kevin Young (U.S.), 1992
Outlook: Great Britain team captain Dai Greene represents the Olympic host's greatest shot at Summer Games glory in track competition. Although he has lost all three head-to-head races against Puerto Rico's Javier Culson this year, you can't underestimate the adrenaline rush he'll experience during a medal matchup in London. American Michael Tinsley, who topped all competitors in the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, could be in line to win his first medal.
Gold: Dai Greene (Great Britain)
Silver: Javier Culson (Puerto Rico)
Bronze: Michael Tinsley (USA)
Greene Odds for Gold: 14:1
Women's 400-Meter Hurdles
When: Aug. 5-8
World Record: 52.34 seconds, Yuliya Pechonkina (Russia), 2003
Outlook: Russian Irina Davydova won the 2012 European Championships with a time of 53.77 in late June. She is the favorite to come out on top in this heat, where she competes with national teammate Natalya Antyukh. Lashinda Demus is the American 400m hurdles record holder and should be in the mix.
Gold: Irina Davydova (Russia)
Silver: Lashinda Demus (USA)
Bronze: Natalya Antyukh (Russia)
Davydova Odds for Gold: 5:1
Men's Triple Jump
When: Aug. 7-9
World Record: 18.29 meters, Jonathan Edwards (United Kingdom), 1995
Outlook: American Christian Taylor is the reigning World Outdoor gold medalist, while teammate Will Claye is the World Indoor champion. A 10-time NCAA All-American at the University of Florida, Taylor was the youngest finalist in the 2011 World Outdoor Championships' final. Expect him to rise to the occasion again in London.
Gold: Christian Taylor (USA)
Silver: Will Claye (USA)
Bronze: Phillips Idowu (Great Britain)
Taylor Odds for Gold: 4:1
Women's Long Jump
When: Aug. 7-9
World Record: 7.52 meters, Galina Chistyakova (Soviet Union), 1988
Outlook: If you're looking for a sure bet for U.S. gold, Brittney Reese is a heavy favorite in the long jump. Reese set a new American record at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, where she earned the world long jump title. Reese, a four-time defending world champion in the long jump, owns consecutive titles both indoors (2010, 2012) and outdoors (2009, 2011). There's no reason to think her reign won't continue at the 2012 Olympics.
Gold: Brittney Reese (USA)
Silver: Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova (Belarus)
Bronze: Olga Rypakova (Kazakhstan)
Reese Odds for Gold: 2:1
When: Aug. 8-9
World Record: 9,039 points, Ashton Eaton (U.S.), 2012
Outlook: 24-year-old Ashton Eaton emerged as the new world record holder in the event during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Some would say this makes him the world's most superior athlete. Fellow American Trey Hardee should also contend near the top of the decathlon leader board.
Gold: Ashton Eaton (USA)
Silver: Trey Hardee (USA)
Bronze: Pascal Behrenbruch (Germany)
Eaton Odds for Gold: 3:1
Women's High Jump
When: Aug. 9-11
World Record: 2.09 meters, Stefka Kostadinova (U.S.), 1987
Outlook: The Russian tandem of Svetlana Shkolina and Anna Chicherova could be considered the front-runners in this group. Chaunte Lowe, the American event record holder both indoor and outdoor, enters her third Olympics and hopes to build off a sixth-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Gold: Svetlana Shkolina (Russia)
Silver: Chaunte Lowe (USA)
Bronze: Anna Chicherova (Russia)
Shkolina Odds for Gold: 8:1
Men's Shot Put
When: Aug. 3
World Record: 23.12 meters, Randy Barnes (U.S.), 1992
Outlook: American Reese Hoffa is a two-time World Champion. Major competition comes from 2011 Pan American champ Dylan Armstrong. German David Storl, who is the youngest of the top contenders at 22 years old, was the 2011 World Champion.
Gold: David Storl (Germany)
Silver: Dylan Armstrong (Canada)
Bronze: Reese Hoffa (USA)
Storl Odds for Gold: 10:1
Women's 4x100-Meter Relay
When: Aug. 9-10
World Record: 41.37 seconds, East Germany, 1985
Outlook: The U.S. is searching for redemption in this event after a disastrous baton drop at the 2008 Beijing Games. In the past 80 years, the American women's 4x100 relay squad has earned as many Olympic gold medals as all other countries have accumulated together. However, any dominant aura around the team dissipated in Beijing and the U.S. will have a tough time stacking up with a Jamaican team led by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Jamaica Odds for Gold: 4:1
Men's 4x100-Meter Relay
When: Aug. 10-11
World Record: 37.04 seconds, Jamaica, 2011
Outlook: It's practically impossible to pick any team to win the men's 4x100m beside Jamaica, which is going for a gold medal repeat. The nation has developed into a sprinting factory and the men's team features Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, who should emerge as the top two finalists in the 100m dash. The Jamaicans set a world record in the event at the 2011 World Championships and it wouldn't necessarily be a surprise if they topped that mark in the final track and field event of the 2012 Olympics.
Silver: Trinidad and Tobago
Jamaica Odds for Gold: 2:1
Women's 4x400-Meter Relay
When: Aug. 10-11
World Record: 3:15.17, Soviet Union, 1988
Outlook: Historically, this is an event owned by the U.S. at the Olympics. Americans haven't fallen in women's 4x400m since the 1992 Barcelona Games. Led by Allyson Felix, who could be targeting her fourth medal of the 2012 Olympics, this team appears ready to continue that streak. The Russian relay squad is considered a legitimate threat to U.S. domination, but beware the upstart Jamaicans.
U.S. Odds for Gold: 3:2
Men's 4x400 Relay
When: Aug. 10-11
World Record: 2:54.29, U.S., 1993
Outlook: Team anchor LaShawn Merritt made sure the U.S. secured gold at the 2011 World Championships and this American squad brings plenty of talent to the table. The U.S. hopes to defend its Olympic gold in the 4x400m, but will face competition from (guess who) the Jamaicans and an upstart Great Britain squad that finished fourth in the event at the 2008 Games.
Silver: Great Britain
U.S. Odds for Gold: 4:1
Women's Pole Vault
When: Aug. 4-6
World Record: 5.06 meters, Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia), 2009
Outlook: Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva is a living legend in women's pole vaulting. The two-time Olympic champion and gold medal holder may be taking part in her final Summer Games at age 30. Anna Rogowska, the 2004 Athens bronze medalist, is overlooked but she could challenge for gold. Rogowska was the 2009 World Champion.
Gold: Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia)
Silver: Fabiana Murer (Brazil)
Bronze: Anna Rogowska (Poland)
Isinbayeva Odds for Gold: 2:1