Men's field event-by-event analysis
LONDON (Reuters) - Analysis of the field events in the men's athletics programme.
Russia's Ivan Ukhov appears to have hit form at the right time setting a personal best of 2.39 metres (7.84 feet) in July to top the rankings for this year. But compatriot Andrey Silnov will want to become the first man to successfully defend the title and world champion Jesse Williams of the United States has had a consistent outdoor season.
Greece's world indoor champion Dimitrios Hondrokoukis pulled out on the eve of the Olympics after testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid Stanozolol.
Briton Robert Grabarz improved his personal best by eight centimetres to 2.36 metres this year and has hopes of a medal for the host nation.
Australia's Olympic champion Steve Hooker comes into the Games suffering a crisis of confidence after struggling with something that has been likened to the 'yips' golfers experience.
France's Renaud Lavillenie, who cleared 5.97 metres to lift the European title, is among the favourites to succeed Hooker as champion.
However, the Australian, who only managed to qualify for London after his sponsors put on a special event, ended his preparation on a note of cautious optimism after clearing 5.72 metres in Poland the weekend before the Games started. "I think... it was the best jump I've done in two years," he said.
A series of impressive performances over the past two years have established Australian record holder Mitchell Watt as one of the favourites for gold. It will be a first Olympics for the law student who set his personal best of 8.54 metres last year.
Britain's Greg Rutherford tops the season's rankings with Russian teenager Sergey Morgunov, both having jumped 8.35 metres, just ahead of German Sebastian Bayer who won the European title earlier this month with 8.34 metres.
American world champion Dwight Phillips, who beat Watt to the title in Daegu is absent with an Achilles injury.
Mystery surrounds the form of home favourite and Beijing silver medallist Phillips Idowu, who may or may not be carrying an injury but has not competed since early June when he retired from a Diamond League meeting in Oregon after three jumps.
Idowu denied subsequent reports of a foot injury but withdrew from the London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace citing muscle tightness and was asked by the British Olympic Association for his medical records after pulling out of the team's final training camp with a hip problem.
Even with no guide to his form, the 33-year-old former world champion is an athlete for the big occasion and one of the hosts' top hopes for gold.
World champion Christian Taylor of the United States and compatriot Will Claye, the world indoor gold medallist, are likely to provide the main competition.
Americans Christian Cantwell and Reese Hoffa have the year's top five throws between them and are the only men to have reached 22 metres.
U.S. champion Hoffa is unbeaten outdoors in 2012 but the high-class field includes team mate Ryan Whiting, German world champion David Storl, Canada's Pan-American gold medallist Dylan Armstrong and Beijing winner Tomasz Majewski of Poland.
While multiple medal winners in wrestling, weightlifting and Taekwondo, Iran could earn their first track and field honours through Asian record holder Ehsan Hadadi.
The 27-year-old world championship bronze medallist failed to qualify for the final in Beijing after suffering a ruptured pectoral muscle shortly before the 2008 Games, but has twice finished above Olympic champion Gerd Kanter this year.
Germany's world champion Robert Harting and twice Olympic gold medallist Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania are the only men to have thrown over 70 metres in 2012.
However, the event has been hit by doping scandals with Hungarian Zoltan Kovago being banned for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the eve of the Olympic opening ceremony for failing to submit a sample.
Kovago's compatriot Robert Fazekas, who was stripped of the 2004 title for doping, was forced out of the Games after failing a drugs test.
Belarusian Ivan Tsikhan has finished second and third at the last two Olympics but comes to London with the best throw of the year of 82.81 metres.
There could be a changing of the guard in this event as Czech Vitezslav Vesely comes into the Games having thrown 88.11 Metres, over 1.5 metres further that anyone else this year and way ahead of 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen's season's best of 84.72 metres.
Vesely, 29, has finished in the top two in his seven competitions this year and beaten his Norwegian rival in all four of their meetings, including the European championships where the Czech took his first major title.
American Ashton Eaton arrives in London as hot favourite for gold having won the U.S. Olympic trials with a 9039 point world record tally, surpassing Czech Roman Sebrle's 9026 mark made in 2001.
German Pascal Behrenbruch, second in the 2012 world list, Belgium's Hans Van Alphen, Eelco Sintnicolaas of the Netherlands and 20-year-old Frenchman Kevin Mayer will all likely fight it out for silver and bronze.
America's two-times world champion Trey Hardee, who edged out 2008 Olympic champion Brian Clay to make the U.S. team, and Sebrle, 37, who took Olympic gold in 2004 and silver in 2000, are also likely to be in the mix.
(Writing By Alison Wildey; Editing by Ed Lane)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this