World Athletics day seven: USA go for Decathlon, sprint hurdles Gold
Gold medals for Allyson Felix (400m) and Christian Taylor (triple jump) have pushed the USA up the medal table at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing following a slow start by their high standards.
American athletes aplenty will be targeting podium places on day seven in the Bird’s Nest with Decathlon dominator Ashton Eaton an overwhelming 1/5 odds-on favourite with Coral to defend his multi-discipline crown.
Wife Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who represents Canada, came up short in her bid to get the better of Olympic Heptathlon champ Jessica Ennis-Hill, but Ashton holds all three global titles be they indoors or outside. US temmate Trey Hardee is 5/1 to upset Eaton, while Commonwealth and Pan American Games Decathlon Gold medallist Damian Warner is a 10/1 chance.
On day one of the Decathlon, half of 10 gruelling events take place. Starting with a brisk 100m sprint, the men then take to the field for long jump, shot put and high jump before finishing with a sapping 400m run.
The ladies, meanwhile, must clear the 100m hurdles twice on Friday in order to get medals. All four American entrants are fancied ahead of anyone else to get Gold. Sharika Nelvis, who just turned professional this season, is a narrow 7/4 favourite ahead of Beijing Olympics winner Dawn Harper-Nelson (9/4).
Defending sprint hurdles champion Brianna Rollins comes next at 7/2, and even the unexposed NCAA champion Kendra Harrison (17/2) is rated more likely to take the title than Team GB hope Tiffany Porter (9/1). An all-American clean sweep is thus more than possible here.
US pair David Oliver and Aries Merritt, who are reigning world and Olympic champions in the men’s 110m hurdles respectively, will be looking to ensure their country dominates the obstacles across the sexes.
Oliver is 5/4 favourite to keep hold of the global crown, but Merritt, who revealed he needs a kidney transplant after the championships, has been cut into 7/2 after an impressive semi-final.
Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov (also 7/2) and Jamaican hurdler Omar McLeod (6/1) complete the likely medal candidates.
Tianna Bartoletta could make it four Golds for the USA in one day, as she is the 11/8 favourite to be crowned queen of the sand pit again in the women’s long jump. Taking the world title a decade ago, she has raced on the track in sprints as well as this field event.
Ivana Spanovic (5/2), who set a new Serbian record in qualifying, and Commonwealth Bronze medallist Christabel Nettey (6/1) come ahead of the British contingent. National record holder Shara Proctor (10/1) will have to improve on her poor qualifying performance, with Lorraine Ugen (8/1) more fancied.
Heptathlon flop Katarina Johnson-Thompson must get legal jumps in this long jump competition to avoid a fruitless campaign, but is 12/1 to grab Gold.
Qualifying for the men’s high jump and women’s javelin gets underway too. Qatari athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim is 15/8 favourite to better his Silver from the last world championships in Moscow, with Ukrainian rival Bohdan Bondarenko 7/2 to retain the title and China’s home hope Guowei Zhang is the same price.
Barbora Spotakova is a firm odds-on 10/11 favourite to regain the world javelin title she last took for the Czech Republic in Osaka back in 2007. Asian soil suits her, as she followed up by grabbing Olympic Gold at the Beijing games a year later.
South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen (5/1) and Commonwealth champ Kimberley Mickle (9/1) represent Spotakova’s closest competition, but are unlikely to get near her if she reproduces top form.
Dafne Schippers goes Dutch in the women’s 200m final, and is odds-on 2/5 favourite to upgrade on her 100m Silver medal from earlier in the week. Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson is the only definite danger at 9/4 to the Netherlands sprinter, with British teenage talent Dina Asher-Smith (14/1) needing even more improvement to cause an upset.
And finally, Asbel Kiprop leads the Kenyan charge over the middle-distance of 1500m. He’s the top man and odds-on 8/11 for a third world title on the spin. Teammate Silas Kiplagat will push him hard at 4/1, alongside Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi, who is the same price.