Diamond League Athletics: Bolt, Blake and Rudisha headlining Zurich

Christine Ohuruogu: a different lane draw could have brought her Olympic gold.
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All eyes will be on Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and David Rudisha in Zurich, but even if they weren't competing it would be a fantastic meeting, writes Jack Houghton, with a number of competitive races offering good betting opportunities.

"Given that very little separated Sanya Richards Ross and Christine Ohuruogu in the Olympic final, and that the result may have been different if they had swapped lanes, it’s hard to see why there is such a price disparity here."


After a profitable Olympics, the money kept flowing in Lausanne and Birmingham, and with the split finals of the Diamond League to come, in Zurich this week and Brussels next, there is still time to add to what has been a very profitable season of athletics.

Topping the bill tonight are Olympic champions Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and David Rudisha. All three of them should win, at least one world record might fall, and if you want to roll your money from one to the next, you should be able to get a combined price on all three winning of around [1.25]. But then, with false-start disqualifications to contend with, and the memory of Rudisha inexplicably losing to Mohammed Aman at the tail-end of last season, I think I'll be looking elsewhere for the value at the meeting.


Men's 5000m:
With the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-placed from the Olympics reunited here, as well as a host of others capable of running sub-13, this is one of the most competitive events on the Zurich programme and a case could be made for a number of athletes winning.

The most likely winner is the Ethiopian Olympic silver medallist, Dejen Gebremeskel, who won two Diamond League meetings earlier in the year - in Paris and Oslo - in fast times, with many of these athletes behind him. However, Gebremeskel showed in the Olympics that he is not the most astute of runners in a tactical race and, with three men within a point of each other at the top of the Diamond League standings, this race could easily turn tactical. At around [2.16] then, Gebremeskel doesn't represent value.

The 18-year-old Hagos Gebrhiwet, who finished a close second to Gebremeskel in those races in Paris and Oslo, was disappointing at the Olympics, but he would have learnt a lot from that experience and, given his age, remains the athlete with the most potential in this field. For this reason I'll be having a speculative interest in him at [4.50], as well as backing Bernard Lagat at [6.00]. Although at the opposite end of the age spectrum to Gebrhiwet, Lagat is the best tactician in the field, and is the most likely to benefit from any errors of judgement on the part of the others.


Men's 400m Hurdles:
With six of the Olympic finalists lining up, including all three medallists, this is going to be another cracker. Felix Sanchez is the rightful favourite, at around [1.75], having shown a resurgence of form at the Olympics that most commentators, myself included, thought had deserted him eight years' ago. It's worth noting, though, that since that shock result, Sanchez has looked human again - losing to Michael Tinsley in Stockholm and winning a weak race in Linz in a slow time. If he can recapture his Olympic mojo, he should win this comfortably, but I'm not convinced he will, and would want much bigger odds to be available before backing him.

Of the others, a case could be made for Tinsley, Javier Culson and Jehue Gordon. Even Angelo Taylor, who has been consistently beaten by the best in the world this year, might be able to grab a surprise win here - after all, he did just that over a flat 400m in Birmingham the other day. On that basis then, with Sanchez looking vulnerable and a host of other runners looking in with a shout, the obvious call is a lay of the Olympic gold medallist.


Women's 100m:
After the huge disappointment of her false start in the heats in Birmingham, I'm loathe to put forward Blessing Okagbare again, but for the same reasons that she looked value then, I'm going to have a speculative interest at [16.0] here.


Women's 400m:
Given that very little separated Sanya Richards Ross and Christine Ohuruogu in the Olympic final, and that the result may have been different if they had swapped lanes, it's hard to see why there is such a price disparity here. Whilst it's true that major championships play to the strengths of Ohuruogu, and that Ross tends to have the advantage in these kinds of races, it's been interesting to see how Ohuruogu has been starting quicker of late, and if she can get herself closer to Ross in the home straight, she would be favourite to cause a minor upset. At [4.20] then, I'll be investing.


The Diamond League meeting from Zurich is live on BBC Two on Thursday from 1900hrs (BST).


Recommendations:
1 point back Hagos Gebrhiwet at [4.50] in Men's 5,000m.
1 point back Bernard Lagat at [6.00] in Men's 5,000m.
3 points lay Felix Sanchez at [1.75] in Men's 400m Hurdles.
½ point back Blessing Okagbare at [16.0] in Women's 100m.
1 point back Christine Ohuruogu at [4.20] in Women's 400m.

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