World Athletics day nine: Men’s high jump highlight of last night
Nine days of elite track and field from the Bird’s Nest in Beijing comes to a close on Sunday, as the 2015 World Athletics Championships finishes off with seven sets of medals on offer.
The most absorbing competition will come from the masters of the Fosbury Flop, as there’s a three-way dance for men’s high jump Gold. Coral make Qatari athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim their 7/4 favourite to take Gold after an excellent season.
Pushing the world leader, whose best effort of 2015 so far has been a 2m 41cm clearance back in May, are host nation hope Guowei Zhang (5/2) and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko (10/3) – another that has threatened to break the world record in recent years.
Brilliant Barshim was beaten to top place on the podium by Bondarenko two years ago in Moscow, but can put that right by reproducing his best form. If there is one doubt hanging over the athlete from Qatar, it’s that he peaks too early during the season, so Bondarenko or China’s Guowei Zhang must exploit this by putting pressure on him.
Asbel Kiprop is as classy as middle-distance runners come, and the Kenyan seeks a third consecutive world Gold medal round 1500m. He’s a strong odds-on 4/6 favourite to get it as well.
Unlike compatriot David Rudisha, who saw injuries threaten his stranglehold on the 800m and was perhaps fortunate to regain the global crown when Botswanan rival Nijel Amos slumped in this year’s semis, cunning Kiprop has dominated races round three-and-three-quarter laps of the track.
Who can stop him? If anyone, Algerian athlete Taoufik Makhloufi is rated most likely at 4/1, but other Kenyans (Silas Kiplagat at 13/2 and Elijah Motonei Manangoi at 15/2) are queuing up to boost their medal tally too.
African names also inevitably dominate the women’s Marathon contenders. Mare Dibaba is 11/10 favourite to take one of the most gruelling Golds on offer at these championships for Ethiopia.
Don’t discount diminutive double world Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat (4/1) either, as she bids to do the same as Kiprop and make it three global titles in a row for Kenya, although there’s an age-gap of 10 years between her and Dibaba.
And while we’re on the subject of ladies with that famous sporting surname, Genzebe Dibaba is a massive odds-on 1/6 favourite to follow up her 1500m crown by adding top honours over 5000m. Sister and long-distance legend Tirunesh took the world 5k title a decade ago in Helsinki, so the family and Ethiopian camp will hope that’s a good omen.
Barbora Spotakova has performed superbly in major women’s javelin events on Asian soil, first winning World Championships Gold in Osaka back in 2007 and repeating that result at the Beijing Olympics 12 months later in the very same stadium where this year’s global title is at stake.
The Czech Republic missile launcher is a worthy firm favourite at 10/11 to throw further than anyone else in the field, and that is what Spotakova does at her best. Long-time rival Sunette Viljoen (9/2) looks the only one capable of getting near her, but has never followed up on Commonwealth and African Games honours on this elite stage.
As tradition dictates, the World Athletics Championships close with the 4x400m relay races, and the USA and Jamaica tend to dominate these team events. For the ladies, it’s the Americans who enjoy odds-on status at 1/3 ahead of the Caribbean country at 12/5.
When it comes to the men, Jamaica are as long as 8/1 behind Trinidad and Tobago (7/1), so the United States may be unopposed as 1/5 favourites. What price for Team GB to cause a relay upset? It’s 20/1 for the males and 28/1 for the women, provided the baton gets round.
Coral’s top tip: Despite Bondarenko’s tasty 10/3 price, back men’s high jump favourite Barshim to grab Gold this time at 7/4.