Best and Worst 2021 Tokyo Olympics Track and Field Bets
Track and Field and has been a hallmark of the Olympics since 776 BC in Olympia, Greece, where athletes competed in a race known as the “stade” or “stadion” that was around 200 yards in distance. In modern times, Men’s and Women’s track and field has been in the Olympics since 1928 and has produced some of the best moments in sporting history.
Recent dynamos in the track and field world have included Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Allyson Felix, along with many others. The level of competition has risen quickly as world records have fallen consistently in recent years, and there could be a few more in jeopardy heading into Tokyo.
While there are situations to monitor—namely injuries and shock results— throughout the preliminary and semifinal rounds, these are our best and worst bets to take just over a week before the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase sets off the track and field events.
Best Tokyo Olympics Track and Field Bets
Armand Duplantis (Sweden), Men’s Pole Vault
“Mando,” though he is just 21-years old, is the World Record-holder in Pole Vault with a mark of 6.15 meters, or 20 feet and 2.13 inches, and has dominated the sport since before he was even an adult.
Duplantis has won the Gold at the World Youth Championships, World Junior Championship, European Championships, and is now in search of an Olympic Gold to add to his collection. His closest competition will come from American Sam Kendricks, who is third all-time with a vault of 6.06m; however, Kendricks has not been in the greatest form lately, only managing a mark of 5.92m in 2021. Duplantis should be able to win the Gold as comfortably as one can at the Olympics.
Noah Lyles (USA), Men’s 200m
Lyles is the reigning 200m World Champion and is the fourth-fastest man over the distance at 19.50 at 23-years old. Competing alongside his brother, Josephus Lyles, for most of his junior and professional career, Noah uses unmatched closing speed over the final 100m to reel in anyone ahead of him and gap the rest of the field.
A lingering injury forced the young American to get a late start to his season, and he looked off the pace in his early races as a result— however, he began to look like his usual self with a 19.74 clocking at the US Olympic Trials, which he won, and is the clear favorite heading into Tokyo.
Gudaf Tsegay (Ethiopia), Women’s 5000m
Tsegay has competed in eight races in the 2021 season— she has won eight times in races spanning the 800m, 1500m, 3000m, 5,000m, and 10,000m, setting a world record in the process. She has incredible closing speed from her 1500m background and is a blur on the last lap.
Tsegay’s world-leading mark of 14:13.32 is fifth all-time and only a second ahead of her closest competitor, Ejgayehu Taye, though her consistent ability to win races and familiarity with her opponents will help see her over the line.
Karsten Warholm (Norway), Men’s 400m Hurdles
It is not often that you say that a man who recently broke a 29-year-old World Record is anything other than a shoo-in for the Gold Medal; however, that is the case here.
Warholm very well could take first place at the Olympics, just as he did at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, but he will be under serious competition from another youngster, American Rai Benjamin. Warholm’s record-setting mark of 46.70 is barely ahead of Benjamin’s 46.83 that he ran less than a month ago; one of these two is going to win the race, so hedging is a great idea, but they are about as even as it can get.
Expect Warholm to get out extremely fast and attempt to hold on, while Benjamin attempts to even-split his race.
Athing Mu (USA), Women’s 800m
This is not meant to be a sign of disrespect to one of the best young stars in the sport; it is just a practical evaluation of her situation. Mu’s superlatives include World under-20 record holder, a Pan-American under-20 Gold Medal, multiple-time NCAA Champion, and world-leading marks in the 800m and 4x400m, all at the ripe age of 19 years.
Mu’s ceiling seems to grow taller every time that she takes the track, but unfortunately for her, she has been hampered by a long college season that has derailed many previous Olympians. It is impossible to maintain peak performance for months on end, which is what Mu is being tasked with; she did run her lifetime-best of 1:56.07 the last time she took the track in late June, but having to navigate multiple qualifying rounds of the 800m while being expected to win is a lot to bear.
Five other women have also run under 1:57:00 thus far, and she will be facing a loaded field.
Randolph Ross (USA), Men’s 400m
Ross, a sophomore in college, was the cornerstone of NCA&T’s odds-defying run to third-place at the NCAA track and field championships just a few months after they became the first Historically Black College or University to win the indoor championship. The 20-year-old long-sprinter ran 43.85 to become NCAA champion and is still the only man in the world to run under 44 seconds this year.
The biggest problem for Ross is that he is inexperienced and put in the unfavorable position of being the world-leader during a time that many competitors have not produced their best work yet; going against a field that includes Michael Norma (who beat Ross at the American Championships), Isaac Makwala, Steven Gardiner, and reigning Olympic Champion and World Record-holder, Wayde Van Niekirk, Ross does not have a great chance at winning Gold despite being the “best in the world.”
He, like Mu, will also have to deal with maintaining an extended period of peak performance, made even harder by having raced a staggering 40 times already this year.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.