A typically hard-to-decipher 10,000m, writes Jack Houghton, where there is little recent form to go on
"We are faced with the dilemma of assessing scant recent form over the distance, with few of the field having posted competitive performances this season against the best in the world..."
The first gold medal on the track will go to the winner of the men's 10,000m and - as usual in this event - we are faced with the dilemma of assessing scant recent form over the distance, with few of the field having posted competitive performances this season against the best in the world.
One of those to have run 10,000m this season - and run it well - is Jacob Kiplimo (3.8014/5), the favourite to take gold, who posted a world-leading time of 26.33 in Ostrava in May. Kiplimo, who competed in the 5,000m as a 15-year-old in Rio, is considered by many to be a star of the future.
He should certainly have the better of the Ethiopian pair of Yomif Kejelcha (5.004/1) and Selemon Barega (5.609/2). Barega won silver at the World Championships over 5,000m in 2019 and would be dangerous if the pace here is slow, and Kejelcha is likely to be present in the closing stages, as he seems to have been at every major championships in the last decade.
The preference, though, is for Joshua Cheptegei (5.004/1). He won the World Championships in 2019, taking up the pace with three laps to go and looking comfortable throughout, and he was spectacular in 2020, breaking the world records in the 5,000m and 10,000m.
The doubt with Cheptegei is his recent form - which is nothing to write home about - but assuming he brings his best to these Olympics, and he doesn't allow this to develop into a slow, tactical race, he'll be hard to beat.
After the disappointment of taking silver behind Great Britain in Rio, German rowing prioritised the boat, being open about their ambitions to dominate the event through to taking gold at this Olympics. To a large extent, they have achieved that aim, winning everything up to and including 2020. This season, though, they have struggled, coming fourth in the European Championships, with rumours of discord and disharmony among the ranks.
They qualified well for the final from their heats, but the rowing is throwing up some unreliable results due to the weather and, at such short odds, the value call is to oppose Germany at 2.021/1 in a field that has depth.
The mixed-gender triathlon - four athletes, two males and two females, each competing a short-course triathlon before handing on to the next member of the team - looks set to be one of the most exciting events of this Olympics.
And given the success of Team GB in the individual events - with Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown both claiming silver - and the strength-in-depth possessed by the squad, it no surprise that they are the 2.021/1 favourites.
It's worth keeping in mind, though, that the short-course distance favours a different kind of athlete and it is France - who have won the last three World Championships at the event - who are the choice at around 4.003/1 to take gold.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Jack Houghton’s Tokyo 2020 P&L:
Staked (settled bets): 35.98