Francescsa Schiavone is representing Italy in the Olympics as London 2012 finally starts to get in it’s stride. As proud Italians, we’re keen to see where else we can excel – it may well be that we are all celebrating with Francesca and her Olympic team-mates when the runners come around the final bend of the 800m…
Janeth Jepkosgei may no longer have it in her legs to sustain her bold front-running style that won her the 2007 world title, while young Kenyan pretender Winny Chebet has much work to do if she is to translate her Nairobi high altitude form to the chill of Europe at sea level.
Pamela Jelimo, the Olympic champion and world indoor champion, dominates the rankings with her 1min 56.76sec clocking in earlier this month, which she backs up with the 1:58.48 that she ran to win the Kenyan title from Chebet and Jepkosgei.
Jelimo is not unbeatable, though and 20-year-old Fantu Magiso ran an Ethiopian record 1:57.56 at the end of May to beat her African rival in Rome. Third in that race (in 1:58.56) was the Russian, Mariya Savinova, who 12 months ago landed a 15.0 shock win at the world championships in Daegu.
Yekaterina Postogova, the 21-year-old new Russian champion, clocked 1:58.15 to win the Russian Championships, but you cannot fail to think she will play second fiddle to Savinova.
The men’s Olympic 800 metres gold medal might as well be placed around the neck of David Rudisha now.
The Kenyan copper, who has Olympics games betting odds of 1.10, has dominated the distance for the past three years and such is Rudisha’s dominance, he is more than 1.5sec quicker this season than the next best racer, teenager Nijel Amos from Botswana.
Amos ran a national record 1:43.11 in June and accordingly picked up the world junior title in Barcelona recently.
The race for the minor medals looks to be wide open, however, with a dozen men having run faster than 1:44 this term, but no one looking outstanding, with Leonard Kosencha and Abubaker Kaki both medal contendors.
Buried among the also-rans at the Pre Classic in ninth, and not quite last place, but with what was at the time a season’s best, was Yuri Borzakovsky.
Russia’s 2004 Olympic champion is one of these great old warhorses who keeps delivering, time after time, though usually when you don’t expect it so a strong performance in London would not be surprising.