World Athletics day two: Bolt and Gatlin battle for 100m Gold
Assuming all goes well in their respective semi-finals, the fastest sprinter in the world this year, Justin Gatlin, and quickest of all-time, Usain Bolt, will go head-to-head on day two at the World Athletics Championships for 100m Gold.
Gatlin, a figure who courts controversy because of two previous doping bans, is odds-on at 4/6 with Coral to finally end the sprint dominance of Jamaican icon Bolt, a tasty 6/5 price to prove he’s still top dog.
If based on times alone, USA athlete Gatlin has posted the better ones this season but, if punters go on producing their absolute best, world record holder Bolt is brilliant value.
The sport needs charismatic showman Bolt to win its blue ribbon event at the championships, as Gatlin’s drugs cheat past and tarnished reputation will be revisited should he emerge victorious.
Other men’s medals will be decided in the field with the hammer and shot put finals taking place. In the first of those, Poland’s Pawel Fajdek is the overwhelming odds-on 1/12 favourite to defend his title after throwing almost a metre further than anyone else in qualifying.
Olympic champion Krisztian Pars disappointed in reaching the final, but is best of the rest at 10/1. British hammer thrower Nick Miller launched the second furthest effort of qualifying at 77m 42cm, but is a 16/1 shot to scoop top honours.
In the shot put, American thrower Joe Kovacs is fancied at 10/11 ahead of defending double World Athletics champion David Storl (evens). They are the only two to go out over 22m this season.
British duo Jessica Ennis-Hill (5/4) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (odds-on 4/6 favourite despite being behind her teammate) will continue to contest Gold on the decisive day two of the Heptathlon. Three of the seven events remain; long jump, javelin and 800m.
Speaking of 800m, the men will return to the track for their semis. African rivals Nijel Amos (2/1 favourite to win Gold) and world record holder David Rudisha (10/3) go in the same race to see who gets a favourable lane draw for the final.
Competition for honours over half that distance also gets underway. Grenada’s Kirani James will want to regain the world 400m title after crashing out two years ago in Moscow.
East Asian climates clearly suited him, if winning Gold in Daegu at the 2011 championships is any indicator, so James is even-money to be on top of the podium again in Beijng’s Bird Nest.
Challenging James will be Wayde van Niekerk (7/4) of South Africa, who settled for Commonwealth Silver behind him last summer, and defending world champ LaShawn Merritt (7/1).
A male 400m hurdles field come back to clear the obstacles again, having lost two former world champions in Jehue Gordon and Bershawn Jackson.
Kenya’s Nicholas Bett is now the new 3/1 favourite, just ahead of American duo Johnny Dutch (10/3) and Michael Tinsley (8/1).
The ladies also begin their bid to get over the hurdles round one lap of the track. Five heats will take place, but Czech Republic star Zuzana Hejnova is 5/6 favourite to retain her title ahead of Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica (2/1).
Hurdling hero Hejnova just has the edge over Caribbean cruiser Spencer because her form has improved as the season progresses. Both women have won three Diamond League races apiece, so this event will be fascinating.
Overwhelming odds-on 1/8 favourite Genzebe Dibaba has a 1500m semi-final stage to get through before contesting Gold. The Ethiopian is a cut above her rivals in this middle-distance affair. Can British pair Laura Muir and Laura Weightman make the final?
Just like male counterpart Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has been pretty dominant when it comes to women’s 100m, and the Jamaican begins her bid to retain the sprint double.
Don’t expect too much to be given away in the heats, but two-time world champion Faser-Pryce, is a firm odds-on 4/9 favourite for a sixth Gold at this level.
Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers (13/2) and Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria (8/1) are likely to be the main dangers. Ivory Coast athlete Murielle Ahoure and the American contingent will also be in the mix.