The Tokyo 2020 Olympics has a total of 48 gold medals up for grabs in the athletics events, which get underway on July 30. Who is expected to top the podium in the athletics events and which track and field stars are worth keeping an eye on? Read on for our Tokyo 2020 athletics preview.
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Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Athletics finals schedule
All dates listed as according to Japan Standard Time (UTC+9).
Friday, July 30: Men’s 10,000m.
Saturday, July 31: Men’s discus throw, Women’s 100m, Mixed 4x400m relay.
Sunday, August 1: Men’s 100m, Men’s high jump, Women’s triple jump, Women’s shot put.
Monday, August 2: Men’s 3000m steeplechase, Men’s long jump, Women’s 5000m, Women’s 100m hurdles, Women’s discus throw.
Tuesday, August 3: Men’s 400m hurdles, Men’s pole vault, Women’s 200m, Women’s 800m, Women’s long jump, Women’s hammer throw.
Wednesday, August 4: Men’s 200m, Men’s 800m, Men’s hammer throw, Women’s 400m hurdles, Women’s 3000m steeplechase.
Thursday, August 5: Men’s 400m, Men’s 110m hurdles, Men’s 20km walk, Men’s triple jump, Men’s shot put, Men’s decathlon, Women’s pole vault, Women’s heptathlon.
Friday, August 6: Men’s 5000m, Men’s 4x100m relay, Men’s 50km walk, Women’s 400m, Women’s 1500m, Women’s 4x100m relay, Women’s 20km walk, Women’s javelin throw.
Saturday, August 7: Men’s 1500m, Men’s 4x400m relay, Men’s javelin throw, Women’s 10,000m, Women’s 4x400m relay, Women’s marathon, Women’s high jump.
Sunday, August 8: Men’s marathon.
As per usual, athletics is set to be a centrepiece of this year’s Games and on this occasion is also featuring an event making its Olympics debut in the form of the Mixed 4x400m relay. The purpose-built, 68,000-capacity Japan National Stadium will stage all track and field events, while the marathon and race walk events will start and finish at Odori Park in Sapporo.
Tokyo 2020 Athletics: Will the US dominate again?
The US topped the athletics medal table at Rio 2016 with 13 golds and 32 medals overall, marking the ninth occasion on which they have won the most athletics medals at an Olympics. Their tally impressively included a clean sweep in the Women’s 100m hurdles, as Brianna Rollins-McNeal, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin took the three podium spots.
True to form, they can boast numerous athletes expected to do well in Tokyo. World champion Noah Lyles is the firm favourite to win gold in the men’s 200 metres at 1.625*, with compatriots Kenny Bednarek (6.100*) and Erriyon Knighton (6.260*) also priced for medal contention. Lyles was also part of the team that won the Men’s 4x100m relay at the 2019 World Championships and the US are expected to repeat the feat at Tokyo as the 1.427* favourites.
Meanwhile, Allyson Felix will be aiming to add to her six Olympic gold medals, an unmatched return for a female track and field athlete. While she is an outside bet for the Women’s 400 metres at 15.530*, the odds suggest she will likely earn a seventh via the Women’s 4x400m relay, for which the US are the overwhelming 1.062* favourites. Felix will also be part of the team for the 4x100m relay, for which the US are second-favourites at 4.060* behind Jamaica (1.387*).
Tokyo 2020 Athletics: Can Asher-Smith win gold?
Great Britain's Dina Asher-Smith is another athlete who will be presumably eyeing up multiple medals, after winning gold in the Women’s 200 metres plus two silvers in the 100 metres and 4x100m relay at the 2019 World Championships.
Suitably, the odds suggest that the 200 metres represents her best chance of individual gold, with her odds of 5.060* placing her as second-favourite behind the American Gabrielle Thomas (2.530*). For the 100 metres, she trails Jamaican duo Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (1.689*) and Elaine Thompson-Herah (3.100*) at 6.430*, with Team GB also available at 6.090* to pick up the Women’s 4x100m gold.
Tokyo 2020 Athletics: Track and field events
The betting market suggests that multiple track and field events are set to be closely contested, most notably the Men’s long jump. The odds are struggling to separate Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle (4.430*), Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou (4.440*), and the US’ JuVaughn Harrison (5.570*), although it was Gayle that won the event at the 2019 World Championships with a highly impressive 8.69 metres.
Similarly, there is no clear favourite for the Women’s discus event. Croatia’s Sandra Pervokic (3.640*) will be aiming to become its first three-time champion after winning gold at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, but she looks set to face fierce competition from American Valarie Allman (3.210*), Cuba’s Yaime Perez (3.640*), and the Netherlands’ Jorinde van Klinken (4.620*).
Tokyo 2020 Athletics: Marathon and race walk events
Away from the National Stadium, Japanese athletics fans will be hoping for home-soil gold in the marathon and race walk events which have been moved to Sapporo amidst heat concerns.
Mao Ichiyama, who won the Osaka Marathon earlier this year, is a potential value bet for the Women’s marathon at 11.670*, while Honami Maeda (who finished second at Osaka) and Ayuko Suzuki possess an outside chance of a medal at 22.220* and 32.740* respectively. Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei leads the market at 2.140*.
In the Men’s marathon, home fans will be cheering on Suguru Osako (14.180*) and Yuma Hattori (21.260*). Osaka broke the Japanese national record at the 2020 Tokyo Marathon with a time of 2:05:29, while Hattori was the first Japanese man to win the Fukuoka Marathon in 14 years when he did so in 2018.
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