Olympics: Who Will Win Gold in Track and Field's Opening 2 Days
With track and field competition beginning this weekend, the main buzz will undoubtedly be behind the men's 100-meter final on Sunday, where superstar Usain Bolt will look to defend his 2008 Olympic title against upstart teammate Yohan Blake. But before then, eight gold medals will have already been won.
Headlining the first two days of track and field competition will be Galen Rupp in the 10,000 meters (looking to end USA's seemingly endless drought in the event), Carmelita Jeter and her expected dominance in the 100-meter and a handful of other Americans looking to play spoiler.
Ahead are the previews for the eight track and field medal events taking place this Friday and Saturday.
Men's Shot Put
Friday's first track and field medal event should prove to be a battleground for American throwers.
Decorated veterans Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell should provide plenty of firepower. Hoffa, who won the Olympic Trials, is a two-time world champion while Cantwell is the defending Olympic silver medalist. However, it's starting to look like first-time Olympian Ryan Whiting is the gold medal favorite.
Whiting, a five-time NCAA Champion while at Arizona State, is the defending Indoor World Champion after this past year's impressive showing at Istanbul. He finished second in the trials to Hoffa, but is likely to turn it on even more when he hits the big stage.
It will be tough for any Americans to break through the pack in the first medal event on the track in this year's Olympics.
The women's 10,000-meter this summer will be another distance event that will be decided by the athletes of Kenya and Ethiopia. Though the two countries have long since dominated the event, this year's version of the duel should nonetheless prove to be an exciting battle of heavyweights.
The two favorites are undoubtedly Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba (the defending Olympic Champion in the 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter) and Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot (the defending World Champion in the same events). When it's all said and done, it looks like this is the year for Kenya to take back the title, but nobody will be surprised when this race comes down to the last 100 meters.
Saturday's male version of the event should have a longer list of athletes with the hopes of gold carrying them through the race—a list that includes American Galen Rupp.
Rupp will certainly have an impressive field against him, which includes the world record holder in Kenenisa Bekele as well as British superstar and defending world silver medalist Mo Farah. Some good news for Rupp lies in the fact that the man that beat Farah at last year's World Championships, Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan, is not running in the event.
If Rupp can get by Farah and Bekele—and a 48-year American curse in the event—he should have no trouble taking home a gold.
This one could turn out to be a victory for the Brits—if the Russia doesn't get in the way.
The biggest rivalry in the women's heptathlon right now is between the defending world champion Tatyana Chernova and the athlete that finished second to her in Britain's Jessica Ennis (who won gold herself at the World's in 2009). Both are enjoying extremely strong seasons, including a dramatic showdown in Austria just a few months ago where Ennis overcame Chernova in the final event.
When the two meet each other in competition this weekend (which begins on Friday and concludes Saturday morning), a clear cut winner probably won't emerge again until the final hour.
Men's Long Jump
An assortment of injuries has left the long jump field more open than expected with 21-year-old Will Claye being USA's favorite to bring home a title.
Claye is the defending indoor champion in the triple jump, but is also ready to take his fourth-place performance at the same meet and turn it into something stronger.
Some of the more likely favorites will be in the form of Australia's Mitchell Watt and Britain's jumping pair of Chris Tomlinson and Greg Rutherford, but probably more than any other event in the opening weekend, this one is pretty wide open.
Women's Discus Throw
Sandra Perkovic of Croatia has been enjoying a very successful last couple years, making her the favorite in this year's Olympics. Defending Olympic Champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton may have something to say about that, however.
Brown-Trafton, the American that shocked the world four years ago by winning USA's first gold in the event since the 1930s, is back and slimmer than ever, making her even stronger in the event. But this event will be far from a two-horse race with Russia's Dariya Pischalnikova in the picture. Pischalnikova finished just 11th at last year's World Championships, but is the only female in the world this year to throw a disc over 70 meters.
Men's 20-Kilometer Racewalk
Don't expect anyone west of the Atlantic to come out on top in this one.
Valeriy Borchin is the defending Olympic champion after his dominant victory in Beijing. Four years and two more World Championship golds later, Borchin is still at the top of his game and ready to bring another gold home to Russia. Teammate Vladimir Kanaykin and China's Wang Zhen should round out the Top Three in an all-Eastern World showdown.
The main European to watch in this event will be Alex Schwazer of Italy, who currently holds the fastest time in the event so far this year.
Remember four years ago when three Jamaicans stood atop the podium after the women's 100-meter? Expect it to be a little more diversified this year.
Enter American Carmelita Jeter, owner of the second fastest 100-meter in women's history and the 2011 World Championships gold medal. If Jeter does not come out on top this year, it will be a huge upset. But that's not to say there's a lack in competition.
Beijing's champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, has remained at the top of the game in the past four years, including a very strong performance at this year's trials. With teammate Veronica Campbell-Brown taking on the likes of Jeter and teammate Allyson Felix, this could be a race for the ages.