The keirin is an unpredictable event, writes Jack Houghton, but Emma Hinze's dominance will make it less so, and expect Lyle's class to show in 200m
"When it matters, in the final, expect Noah Lyles to show his class..."
The Keirin is one of the more volatile events on the track cycling programme, but then volatility has been the order of things in the velodrome so far. Nonetheless, it's worth supporting the favourite for the women's keirin, Germany's Emma Hinze, at around 3.002/1. Having played nothing but a bit-part roll in Germany's sprint team in the 2019 World Championships, she burst on the scene a year later to take all three sprint titles at the 2020 renewal.
She may face a challenge from the likes of Lee Wai Sze (6.005/1) and Hyejin Lee (12.0011/1), but providing Hinze is not the victim of calamity or tactical miscalculation, she should have the beating of them.
Sydney McLaughlin (1.4840/85) is the rightful favourite for 400m hurdles honours, although those odds look short in what is a highly competitive event. McLaughlin has been touted as a future superstar for years, and although she didn't quite deliver on that whilst still a teenager at the 2019 World Championships, her win at the US trials this year - where she set a new world record - seemed to announce her full-blooded arrival.
This is a stacked field, though, with two other runners who are young, improving, and full of talent.
A teammate of McLaughlin, Dililah Muhammad (8.207/1) won that world title in 2019, setting what was then a new world record. She always starts fast, will put McLaughlin under pressure, and it's worth remembering that whilst she was beaten at the US trials into second, she was recovering from contracting Covid-19 earlier in the year.
Also impressive is Dutch 21-year-old Femke Bol (4.507/2). Her technique is more ragged than the other two, but that hasn't stopped her posting the second fastest time in the world this year. Of the trio, she may well have the most improvement to come.
Like the men's event, it's entirely likely the world record will fall in the final, although the market for that is fairly illiquid at the time of writing, so the better call is to take a speculative position on Muhammad at big odds.
Coming into this Olympics, Noah Lyles was the prohibitive odds-on favourite to take the 200m title; however, after a strange semi-final, which saw him slowing in the last metres to only qualify as a fastest loser, he is now second-favourite at around 3.8014/5.
Those odds have also lengthened as a result of the form of other sprinters: Andre De Graase (3.309/4) set a Canadian record in his semi-final, going fast, and Erriyon Knighton (4.407/2), who has so far not impressed against the clock, has nonetheless spent most of his time showboating, giving the impression that he could run a world record if bothered.
It's worth noting, though, that Knighton beat Lyles in both preliminary rounds at the US trials, but was roundly humbled in the final, and that Lyles has bettered De Grasse's semi-final time on seven occasions. When it matters, in the final, expect Lyles to show his class.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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