World Athletics day five: Kirani James races to regain 400m title
Kirani James can confirm he is back on top of men’s 400m sprinting by regaining the World Athletics Championships title around one lap of the track on day five of the 2015 edition, and Coral make the athlete from Grenada evens for a second global Gold medal.
In a high-class field, reigning Olympic and Commonwealth champ James can be jubilant again after flopping two years ago when he was defending this crown. Current holder LaShawn Merritt is a massive 14/1 outsider to retain, with South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk expected to be the closest challenger at 11/8.
Botswana’s Isaac Makwala ran an impressive semi-final from the unfavoured outside lane, but is 15/2 to deny classy Caribbean cruiser James, who clearly relishes running in East Asian climates given how impressive he was taking the world title in Daegu back in 2011.
Over the 400m hurdles for women, it’s hard to look past Zuzana Hejnova (odds-on at 1/3), as the Czech Republic star is the reigning champion and has won three key Diamond League races in the run up to her defence.
Commonwealth Games Gold medallist Kaliese Spencer (Jamaica) does not look in the same shape this season, despite early campaign victories on the circuit, and is 7/1 to follow up in the Bird’s Nest.
Hejnova’s main dangers come in the form of USA duo Cassandra Tate (11/2) and Shamier Little (33/1), who has gone two hundredths of a second faster than the Czech in 2015.
Africa’s elite ladies have some very different barriers to clear in the 3000m Steeplechase. Out to deny Kenya a clean sweep across both genders is Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi, so impressive in her heat and odds-on at 4/6 for Gold ahead of Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi (9/2) and Virginia Nyambura (11/2). Ethiopian pair Hiwot Ayalew (7/1) and Sofia Assefa (20/1) should also figure in the medal picture.
There are also two field finals on day five in Beijing; the women’s pole vault and men’s javelin. Cuban vaulter Yarisley Silva (also 4/6 to be world champion) must hold off Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou of Greece, who is a tasty 10/3 to snatch Gold. Jennifer Suhr (USA) at 5/1 and Fabiana Murer of Brazil at 11/2 will also be in contention.
Men’s javelin Gold, meanwhile, looks a three-way dance between Kenya’s Commonwealth champ and world leading thrower Julius Yego (3/1), Moscow Silver medallist Tero Pitkamaki of Finland (7/2) and Czech Republic world title holder Vítezslav Vesely (4/1).
Away from finals, there are heats of the men’s 110m hurdles and women’s 200m. Defending sprint hurdles champ David Oliver is odds-on at 4/5 to do just that and retain the title, though watch out for new Jamaican name Omar Mcleod at 5/2, who has cleared the barriers a fraction quicker this year.
Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers is odds-on at 1/2 to follow up her 100m Silver with 200m Gold and definitely the woman to beat. Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson will be her rival at 3/1, though the African contingent will come again after Murielle Ahoure and Blessing Okagbare both disappointed in the shorter sprint.
Mo Farah and Usain Bolt continue their bids to do respective long-distance and sprint doubles with the former facing a 5000m heat and the latter the 200m semis. Team GB’s Farah is strongly odds-on at 1/4 to complete his, while Jamaican sensation Bolt remains primed to deny Justin Gatlin.
In the morning session, there’s also field qualifiers in the women’s hammer and men’s triple jump, as well as the ladies going over 800m in middle-distance heats.
Coral’s top tip: Evens is an excellent price on James to reclaim the world 400m title.