It's a day to oppose the favourites, writes Jack Houghton, where the velodrome and tartan track throw up some bets at juicy odds
"James has had a torrid time of inconsistent form since, involving injury and a rare autoimmune disorder that laid him low when he should have been in his prime..."
It's little surprise to see Benjamin Thomas (2.206/5) and Jan Willem Van Schip (4.30100/30) heading the market for the men's Omnium in the velodrome. Thomas is the reigning world champion at the event, and prior to 2020 posted a series of top-end performances suggesting he was in the ascendancy. Still only 25 years old, he has a solid chance of taking gold here.
Likewise, Van Schip. Similarly youthful, he has twice finished second in the event at the world championships and won the European title in 2019.
Juicier odds can be found in supporting Matthew Walls (7.807/1), though. The 23-year-old British rider competes on the road for Bora-Hansgrohe and had been steadily making a name for himself on the World Cup scene before taking bronze at the last world championships behind Thomas and Van Schip. Walls faltered in the elimination race then; an improvement here can see him take gold.
There is no such thing as a certainty in punting, and when it comes to the sprint hurdles, events can often seem a lottery. More hard-luck stories, dethroned champions, and felled favourites litter the history of the Men's 110m Hurdles at the Olympics than in any other discipline.
Anyone backing Grant Holloway at odds of 1.211/5, then, should be nervous. It's true to say that he has seemed unbeatable in the last few months, getting within a whisker of the world record at the US trials and qualifying for the final here with ease, with the expectation of adding Olympic gold to his world title from 2019.
But there will be a lot of pressure on the 23-year-old and, at the odds, with the history of calamity that weaves through the 110m hurdles, he's one to oppose.
The men's 400m is more open than the market suggests. The favourite, Steven Gardiner, is short at 1.834/5, in an event where a valid case can be made for five of the finalists.
Gardiner looked impressive enough in his semi-final, and his win at the 2019 World Championships was the sixth-fastest of all time at 43.48.
However, Michael Norman (13.0012/1), who Gardiner pipped to take the his semi-final, has run quickest of all the runners who line up in the final, and could cause a shock here.
As could Michael Cherry (27.0026/1) and Anthony Zambrano (11.0010/1). Cherry is a ragged performer, but has twice medalled at world indoors championships, and has the experience of the toughest stage as a regular member of the USA's 4x400m team. Zambrano, meanwhile, was second behind Gardiner at the last world championships, when just 21 years old.
The value choice, though, is Kirani James at 4.003/1. Winner of the 2011 World Championships and gold medallist at London 2012, James has had a torrid time of inconsistent form since, involving injury and a rare autoimmune disorder that laid him low when he should have been in his prime. The evidence from the rounds in Tokyo, though, suggest he is coming back to his best.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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