With the World Athletics Championships kicking off on Friday, Jack Houghton identifies five tips to bring Doha profit.
"Preference is for the largely forgotten Kirani James at around [15.00] who has spent more time on the physio table than he has on the track in recent years..."
Christian Coleman is poor value in Men's 100m
On one level, Coleman's rise to supremacy seems inevitable. He sprang to prominence in 2017, recording lightning fast times on the US College scene, before making his national team and taking silver at the World Championships in London later that year. Although 2018 was largely written-off through injury, 2019 has seen him continue his progress: racking up three wins out of four, and recording a world-leading 9.81 in the process.
It's worth remembering, though, that Yohan Blake and Justin Gatlin both have faster bests than Coleman, and whilst neither of them have been at their prime in recent seasons, the margin between their recent performances and those of Coleman is not large.
And Coleman has plenty to fear from a host of young sprinters who continue to improve. Although inconsistent, Divine Oduduru is talented and would be more highly touted if he came from the US or Jamaica. Likewise, the South African, Akani Simbine, Ivory Coast's Arthur Cisse, and Nigerian Raymond Ekevwo are all capable of improving enough to cause an upset. Canada are strongly represented, too, with Aaron Brown and Andre de Grasse.
Christian Coleman is undoubtedly the most likely winner, but at odds of around [1.59] I'd be a layer, not a backer.
Sifan Hassan an outrageous choice for Women's 10,000m
As unusual scenarios go, tipping the world-record holder for the mile on only her second attempt at a track 10,000m is approaching outlandish. But then Sifan Hassan's versatility invites such ridiculousness. She set that mile mark in July, only weeks after debuting over 10,000m with a win in California.
There are faster runners in the field - like Letesenbet Gidey, Netsanet Gudeta and Senbere Teferi - but the tactical flexibility Hassan's greater track speed gives her will make her hard to beat in a championship race where times are less likely to be chased.
Nijel Amos can finally pace it right in Men's 800m
At around [2.62], Nijel Amos makes for a nervous punt. No one doubts his talents. When just 18 years old, he ran 1.41.73 to finish second behind David Rudisha in that record-breaking 800m final at the 2012 Olympics. And this year, he has returned to the same kind of form: posting a best of 1.41.89 in Monaco this season.
The worry with Amos is his pacing. Chasing a world record in Zurich, he ran the early stages too fast, allowing Donovan Brazier a remarkable out-of-nowhere win.
Hopefully, though, the occasion will tame Amos' enthusiasm enough to see him run a more composed first lap. If he can, he'll be hard to beat.
Dina Asher-Smith prohibitively short in Women's 200m
There is no question that the Briton, Dina Asher-Smith, is one of the possible winners of the Women's 200m, but at odds of around [2.00], she is a sprinter to lay, not back. The rationale for an Asher-Smith win is no doubt based on her consistent form on the grand prix circuit this year, winning twice over the distance, and twice finishing behind world-leader Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who will not compete in Doha.
A factor to be aware of in all events at these championships, though - and especially in the women's 200m - is that early-season form will not necessarily translate well to a final that comes so late in the year. Usually, by October, most athletes are taking a break from training before beginning their winter preparations for the following season. To counter this scheduling, many of the best athletes in Doha will have retained heavy training loads during the summer - a time when they usually back off in order to peak for competition - so as to reserve their best for when it matters.
Asher-Smith's early-season, high-profile results may bode well, but I expect some of the runners who have been quieter this summer - like Dafne Schippers, Elaine Thompson, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Blessing Okagbare - to come back to near their best for these championships and show Asher-Smith for what she is: an excellent but not quite gold-medal class athlete.
Keep an eye out, too, for 22-year-old Angie Annelus. She was only third in the US Championships, but has run the fifth-fastest time in the world this year and could cause a shock at around [50.00].
Can Kirani James return to his best in the Men's 400m?
Michael Norman [1.73], Fred Kerley [5.00] and Steven Gardiner [6.50] are the obvious choices for the podium spots in the Men's 400m. All three have gone under 44 seconds and, given their relative youth, more improvement is expected. It's hard to confidently back any one of them, though, at those prices: neither is dominant over the others, and all of them are vulnerable to other up-and-coming runners - like Jamaican Akeem Bloomfield - who could cause a surprise in this stacked event.
Instead, then, the preference is for the largely forgotten Kirani James at around [15.00]. The previous World and Olympic champion has spent more time on the physio table than he has on the track in recent years and had not been seen this year.
Until, that is, he popped up in a minor meeting in Spain earlier this month to win in 44.47. It is likely he will have to go much quicker than that to take the tile in Doha, but he also boasts a sub-44 personal best and has shown himself able to cope with the rigours of championship competition. He's an intriguing entrant who can unsettle the youngsters here.
Lay Christian Coleman @ [1.59] in Men's 100m.
Back Sifan Hassan @ [2.20] in Women's 10,000m.
Back Nijel Amos @ [2.62] in Men's 800m.
Lay Dina Asher-Smith @ [2.00] in Women's 200m.
Back Kirani James @ [15.00] in Men's 400m.