Whilst many have been captivated by some of the sterling medal winning performances in a variety of sports from rowing to shooting, the real excitement of the Olympic games is just beginning with the start of the athletics events. Kicking off GB’s bid for glory is golden girl Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon and she is rated an odds-on favourite by Ladbrokes at 8-11. It won’t be easy though with Russia’s Tatyana Chernova as short as 7-4 to deny Ennis the Olympic gold that she craves.
Having lost both of her world titles, Ennis showed that she is ready to climb back to the top of the tree with a new personal best and national heptathlon record of 6,906 points in Gotzis in May. That performance bettered the previous record of Denise Lewis in 2000 by 75 points and sent a clear message to her rivals. Ennis was denied an appearance in the 2008 Olympics by a severe foot injury so she is desperate to win in front of her home crowd. Chernova is not the only threat with Nataliya Dobrysnka (6-1 with Ladbrokes) having set a world record to defeat her in Istanbul in March.
If everything goes to plan, Ennis will take Gold just 25 minutes before Mo Farah competes in the final of the 10,000m. Ladbrokes offer 11-8 against Farah taking Gold for GB in this event with Kenenisa Bekele rated his biggest threat at 7-2. Farah is attempting to double up in the 5000 and Ladbrokes give him a good chance of doing so, offering only 2-1 for the shorter event. His main rivals there seem to be Debren Gebremeskel (9-4) and Isiah Koech (8-1).
The British Olympic Association report Phillips Idowu to be on course to be fit to compete at the Olympics after speculation that he may miss the games. He made the headlines last week when he failed to travel for a pre-Games training camp in Portugal. The BOA requested the medical records of the silver medallist from Beijing and their intervention angered Idowu. After discussions between the two parties, it seems that he is making good progress but there must be a lingering doubt over his fitness. Ladbrokes offer 8-1 about his Gold medal chances.
Outside of the big two of Ennis and Farah, GB’s Gold medal prospects don’t look obvious. One athlete who does have an excellent chance is 400m hurdler Dai Greene who already has gold medals in Commonwealth, European and world championships. Ladbrokes make Javier Culson favourite at 11-8 with the Welshman at 5-2. He set a new personal best of 47.84 seconds in Paris last month so certainly seems to be peaking at the right time. Puerto Rican Culson has beaten him on three occasions this year but Greene has shown himself as the man for the big occasion.
Perri Shakes-Drayton emerged as a live contender for the women’s 400m hurdles when she ran the equal second fastest time in the world this year at Crystal Place. Her odds have been cut from 20-1 to just 9-2 by Ladbrokes in the wake of that performance but she still has a lot to prove.
Christine Ohuruogu (6-1) has a similar chance in the 400m after her impressive performance at Crystal Palace but will be up against hot favourite Sanya Richards-Ross (Evens). It looks like it is going to be tough for GB’s athletes but the support of the home crowd could still produce some surprises. Ladbrokes are betting on all the athletics events throughout the games.
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