ON Friday, the first day of athletics, we’ll see the women’s 100 metres get under way, the first round of long-jump favourite Mitchell Watt’s qualification and the women’s discus qualification, where Dani Samuels, the world champion from 2009, will compete.
The first of the medals will be handed out for the women’s 10,000m; Vivian Cheruiyot from Kenya will be looking to take out the double in the 5000m and 10,000m as she did last year at the world championships.
It’s also a big day in the pool. James Magnussen and Eamon Sullivan will go up against each other in the 50m freestyle, and Michael Phelps will go for his third consecutive gold in the 100m butterfly. Rebecca Adlington will be out to defend her 800m freestyle title. On the cycle track, Anna Meares and Victoria Pendleton will compete in what will be the Ashes on wheels. I’m sure Meares will win, though this will be one of the most strongly contested match-ups for sure.
SATURDAY Day 8
Today is very significant as it’s the first run of Usain Bolt. Also, the first of the women’s sprint medals will be decided in the 100m, while we’ll also see the finals of women’s discus and men’s long jump.
Another highlight is the women’s triathlon. Emma Moffatt won a bronze medal in Beijing and has been leading the world in the past couple of years. Local favourite Helen Jenkins is tipped to win bronze, but the Aussie girls will be on the hunt for medals for sure. They’ll just have to get used to the horrible water in the Serpentine Lake.
SUNDAY Day 9
As an athlete, today is the blue-ribbon day. Local girl and defending champion Christine Ohuruogu goes into the women’s 400m, but most attention will be on the men’s 100m. Could it be the end of the reign of Usain Bolt? I went to his training session last week and he didn’t look the silky-smooth Usain Bolt I’ve seen in the past. Yohan Blake’s trajectory is really on the rise.
The men’s 100m is the most competitive race of any Olympic Games of the modern era, with the top-four fastest men in history taking part. A world record? If the weather keeps up, maybe. I don’t know if anyone in the world can run as fast as Bolt has. He’s a unique being physically and mentally, but if anyone can it’s Blake. He ran 9.75 seconds this year, which is the fourth-fastest of all time. But watching that 2009 final when Bolt ran 9.58 seconds was one of those races you think might never be equalled again.
In the final of the men’s tennis singles we might see a match-up between Andy Murray and Roger Federer. Played at Wimbledon, it has a special significance.
MONDAY Day 10
LaShawn Merritt is the defending champion in the 400m. He’s in fantastic form, but my money is on Kirani James from Grenada, who’s hoping to win his country’s first Olympic medal. He’s 18 and has a natural running style. Hopefully he’ll claim some big scalps.
In the women’s pole vault, Alana Boyd, who broke the Australian record this year, has an outside chance. Michael Diamond is in action in the men’s trap, having won gold in 1996 and in Sydney and with six Games under his belt. He is now in his 40s but he might be able to get another gold. Sally Pearson is in the heats of the hurdles. She’s only lost one race since becoming world champion last year. I’m sure she can overcome that hiccup.
TUESDAY Day 11
We have an outside chance of getting a medal in the men’s triathlon. We’ll come up against the British triathlon twins, the Brownlee brothers. Alistair is favourite for gold and Jonathan is favourite for silver. Our Aussie boys will give it a crack but we’re outsiders.
The women’s sprint will be another cracker between Anna Meares and Victoria Pendleton. That’s the most significant race in terms of rivalry because Meares has been hard-pressed to knock off Pendleton in the sprint.
The 100m women’s hurdles final will be massive. We haven’t had a gold medal-winning female track athlete since Cathy Freeman, so it is very significant.
Lauren Mitchell in the gymnastics finals should win a medal.
WEDNESDAY Day 12
The women’s 200m final on the track will be a match-up between Jamaica and American Carmelita Jeter. But Allyson Felix is the favourite to win, and everyone will be hoping she does because she has been the bridesmaid for so long.
Current world champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are favourites to take the gold medal in the sailing 49er class.
One of my favourite events, which I reckon is going to be a cracker, is the BMX. Sam Willoughby, the world champion from Australia, is a true athlete. He trains as hard and competitively as any of the top sprinters. In the women’s event, British girl Shanaze Reade is in the mix for the gold medal. At the world titles, ”Speedy Reedy” was three or four bike lengths ahead and blew it. She comes in here with something to prove. It is one of those sports where you cannot pick the favourite.
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