Usain Bolt and Mo Farah will be attempting to win two gold medals at the World Athletics Championship in the events that they won at last year’s Olympics. They run over distances at either end of the spectrum of events on the men’s programme and bookmakers believe they can both match their achievements of London 2012 in Moscow next week.
Last year Betfan introduced a service called Summer Sports. The analyst behind this venture is the same person who contributes to the Bet Enthusiast service. The Summer Sports service focused on the finals of the athletics events at last year’s Olympics, so called as there were strict regulations with regards using the word ‘Olympics’ in any betting related venture.
Followers of the Summer Sports service made a decent profit on the tips advised. The basis of the tips was the times recorded by each of the 8 top ranked athletes in each discipline but also with reference to times in the heats at the Games. The same principles will be applied to the world championships for which tips will be given for each final, for both men and women.
The IAAF World Championships are staged every two years, generally in the year before the Olympics and the year after. The meeting is the most prestigious in the sport besides the Olympics and usually attracts the strongest fields of the year and this renewal is no exception. The stars of the show will be Bolt and Farah but organisers will be hoping the reputation of the sport can receive a boost following recent doping scandals.
Athletics is a sport in which suspicious times have been produced by athletes who show a dramatic improvement in their performance. The former East German federations were accused of tainting the sport and apparently athletes from their neighbours in the West are now under suspicion after a report implicated even the football team that lost to England in the 1966 World Cup Final.
The most recent drugs scandal involves two sprinters from Jamaica, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay. Powell was a leading contender for the 100 metres at the Athens Games in 2004. Despite posting fast times in that year he wasn’t able to reproduce his best time at the Olympics. His provisional suspension is subject to the results of a second sample but the whole saga and issue continues to be a blight on the sport.
Sadly Justin Gatlin, the winner of that race in Athens, was banned from the sport for a drugs violation and some would say anyone found to be cheating should be banned for life. Ben Johnson is one of the most high profile athletes to fall foul of drugs regulations. Despite testing positive after winning the 100 metres in 1988 he was allowed back into the sport only to cheat again but was then banned for life.
The venue for this year’s championships has been questioned by some who advocate for a clean sport. Several Russian athletes were dropped from the country’s Olympics team after drugs tests. Moscow seems a debatable city to stage the event in view of sanctions against some athletes from Russia.
Even without the drugs issue Moscow may prove to be a wrong choice of venue as ticket sales are reported to be poor. Banks of empty seats broadcast around the world will do nothing to enhance the reputation of a sport in crisis. The 1980 Olympics were held in Moscow but the packed stadiums could not hide the fact that the Olympics were used for political purposes, especially by the United States who refused to take part. It was no surprise when Russia reciprocated by not competing in Los Angeles four yeas later.
The 2017 World Championships will take place at the Olympic Stadium in London, even though West Han United will have made it their home by then. The Anniversary Games were a sell out recently at the iconic stadium, both for able bodied and disabled athletes. It will be interesting to see if there is still the same response four years down the road.
Usain Bolt will be the biggest draw in Moscow next week. He has now completed the sprint double at the last two Olympics and is already looking towards Rio in 2016 where he will be striving to become the first athlete to win the same two events in three Olympics. He looked back to his best in the Anniversarry Games and is again the man to beat in Moscow.
Mo Farah won the 3000 metres at the Anniversary Games with something in hand. After a slow early pace he was never likely to break the world or British record so he will for now have to be content to be the fastest Britain over 5000 metres. Farah is another athlete looking forward to Rio where he has not ruled out defending his two Olympic titles and running in the Marathon.
In a strange arrangement Farah ran in this year’s London Marathon, but only the first 13 miles as part of a plan to move up to the discipline if he loses some pace over the shorter distances at which he excels. The usual suspects from Africa will be his main rivals in Moscow but he now has the confidence and experience to win two more titles at the highest level.
Unfortunately Jessica Ennis-Hill will not be competing in Moscow due to an achilles injury that has restricted her appearances this year to a minor meeting in Loughborough and the Anniversary Games. She competed in the 100 metres hurdles and long jump at that meeting but her injury flared up again soon after. She has decided not to compete in Moscow where she would not have been at her best and faces 15 weeks at least out of the sport.
Greg Rutherford will be looking to build on his Olympics effort in the long jump. His winning jump at the Olympics would have not been good enough to win the title at the previous nine Games. However, he was the best athlete in the event on the night and deserved to play his part in the greatest hour in the history of British track and field athletics.