The Women's 5,000m is likely the most competitive field at the Games, writes Jack Houghton, which is why opposing the favourite is the value call
"Gudaf Tsegay (3.4012/5) has run nine times in 2021, at distances ranging from 800m to 10,000m, winning every time she has stepped on to the track..."
The Women's Team Sprint kicks off the cycling track action, but British interest lies in the Men and Women's Team Pursuit.
The women's GB pursuit team (2.1011/10) should be favourites to take gold: they are defending champions and are the current world-record holders. Team USA (1.9520/21) will no doubt run them close. They beat GB at the World Championships in March, making three out of four of the most recent world titles.
There are doubts around the form of some of the USA riders, though. Chloe Dygert, especially, looked under par in the road time trial, whereas GB bring a consistent group of riders who will have peaked for these Games.
In the men's event, it's hard to know what to make of the favouritism of Denmark (1.501/2). At the World Championships their performance was jaw-dropping, seeing them take 3.3 seconds off the previous world record across three days of racing. The other teams will have been furiously analysing what brought them that advantage, but it will take a lot for them to have made the necessary changes in time for these Olympics. It's likely a race to watch, though, rather than getting heavily involved in punting on it.
In the semi-finals for the Women's 100m Hurdles, Jasemine Camacho-Quinn (1.271/4) looked the class act, running an Olympic best 12.26. She is the rightful favourite to go on to take gold in the final, but those odds are short. Her semi-final win saw her get the best start she's managed all season, and whilst a lesser start might still see her good enough to win, the final is likely to be more competitive.
A better-value bet is to support the mercurial talent of Britany Anderson (8.207/1), who has improved dramatically this season. Only 20 years old, she will need to improve again to win gold but - aside from Camacho-Quinn - she looked the most dominant of the semi-finalists, and could cause a surprise here.
The Women's 5,000m might well be the most stacked field in the Olympic Games: six of the fastest 12 women ever over the distance have made the final. Interestingly, perhaps, the slowest of those, the 12th-ranked Sifan Hassan (2.001/1), is the favourite to take the title here. One of the most versatile runners in history, Hassan did the unprecedented 1,500m-10,000m double at the World Championships in 2019, and is entered in three events at Tokyo 2020, hoping to insert a 5,000m gold into an unlikely treble.
Versatility abounds in this field, though. Hellen Obiri (8.808/1) has won titles indoors, outdoors and in cross-country, over a variety of distances. Her win in Oslo at the start of July showed that she brings peak form to the Olympics, and she will make it difficult for Hassan.
The preference, however, is for the most versatile of all. Gudaf Tsegay (3.4012/5) has run nine times in 2021, at distances ranging from 800m to 10,000m. She has won every time she has stepped on to the track, and recorded the world-leading time over 5,000m when winning the Ethiopian trials, which were held in Hengelo, in the Netherlands. She won her heat, albeit slower than Hassan, but is the better value to run away with gold in the final.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Jack Houghton’s Tokyo 2020 P&L:
Staked (settled bets): 66.00