Kipchoge looks vulnerable in the marathon, writes Jack Houghton, but Laura Kenny can deliver on her favouritism and add to GB medal haul
"As sacrilegious as it feels, the best option is likely to lay Kipchoge and have the field running for us..."
Eliud Kipchoge (1.8810/11) is the greatest marathon runner of all time. He's the reigning Olympics champion, was unbeaten over five years and 10 races, holds the world record of 2.01.39, achieved the unthinkable in running the distance in under two hours in a non-ratified event, and has maintained - for most of his career - an air of humble and professional invincibility. All of which makes it seem contrary to suggest laying him.
But then his aura of invincibility was tarnished when trailing in eighth in a rescheduled London Marathon in October 2020, and whilst he has won since then, taking a small marathon in the Netherlands in April in 2.04.30, four men have run quicker than that this year, and there's a sense that the 36-year-old Kipchoge might be vulnerable.
Going into the women's marathon, I was nervous of the form of Kenyan athletes, especially given the greater restrictions that the IAAF have placed upon them. The result there couldn't have done much more to repudiate those nerves, but in some sense that makes Kipchoge's task more difficult. His teammates Lawrence Cherono (6.005/1) and Amos Kipruto (20.0019/1) have both run in the low-2.03s and, if running to form, will require Kipchoge to be at his best to deny them.
Add to this the strength of the Ugandan and Ethiopian team, led by Lelisa Desisa (13.0012/1), who won the 2019 World Championship marathon in Doha in torrid conditions, and Kipchoge is increasingly looking like a weak odds-on shot.
And whilst it didn't materialise in the women's marathon, there is still the possibility that the East Africans won't have this their own way, with the heat and humidity bringing lesser-known athletes to the fore. As sacrilegious as it feels, though, the best option is likely to lay Kipchoge and have the field running for us.
The last medal on offer in the velodrome, Laura Kenny (3.002/1) is favourite to take the Women's Omnium, to add to her Madison title. In 2016, albeit when the event was in a different format, Kenny won the World Championship and Olympic titles, and given the form she has shown in Tokyo, she can add to those honours here. The changes to the Omnium format, if anything, will help Kenny: it is now shorter, and emphasises tactical nous, something Kenny possesses in excess.
Her biggest rival will likely be home athlete Yumi Kajihara (6.005/1) who won the world title in 2020. But that field was depleted by withdrawals, so thought should be given to previous double world-champion Kirsten Wild (6.005/1). As in the Madison, though, Kenny should have the beating of her.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Jack Houghton’s Tokyo 2020 P&L:
Staked (settled bets): 155.00