With a total count of 19 victories out of 26 in the Olympic 400m since 1896, it is safe to say that the USA has totally dominated this event. That trend is expected to continue when the Beijing gold medallist LaShawn Merritt turns up to defend his crown.
On times posted this year, the American is the one to beat, having posted 44.12 in the US trials, while among the six races won is also a 44.19, the season’s second fastest time. His only defeat came at the last pre-Olympic meet in Monaco when he was forced to pull up with a hamstring cramp, but that was just a precaution, and it should be all systems go for the big one.
One negative pointer, and one that I’m sure will not bother Merritt too much is the fact that in the history of the Olympic 400m, only world record holder Michael Johnson has managed to successfully defend his crown, following up from Atlanta 1996 to triumph at Sydney 2000.
Going back to Monaco, that Diamond League race was won by the Belgian Jonathan Borlée, who ran 44.74 to beat world champion teenager Kirani James narrowly. Borlée’s twin brother Kevin was third ahead of world junior champion, 18-year-old Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic.
Had he not pulled up, Merritt would no doubt have bested all of them though, and will be confident of laying that back-to-back hoodoo. His US team mates Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum have both gone below 45 seconds, but would have to find a lot more to figure, while Great Britain hope Martyn Rooney’s best time of 44.92 leaves him with a lot to find.
Demetrius Pinder is the Bahamian number one, and the Jamaican champion Dane Hyatt is also worthy of a place in the Final, but Merritt is a worthy favourite. As for the women’s 400m, this is an event that Great Britain has already won of course, thanks to Christine Ohuruogu in Beijing. Roll on four years, and the 28-year-old, who has not been in good form overall, signalled her intent by posting 50.42 at the London Grand Prix, her fastest time since 2009.
She will need to improve again though to do the double, as there will be a quality line-up in the Final on Sunday 5th August, including Sanya Richards-Ross, bronze medallist in Beijing. Since then the American has prepared well for London 2012, with just one defeat in five over 400m. She clocked 49.28 at the U.S. trials, and has rested since then with a view to taking in the 200m as well.
Richards-Ross has the experience, but we should not rule out a big run from the Russian girl Antonina Krivoshapka who clocked 49.16 at the Russian Championships. In what was a truly fast race, the second, Yulia Gushchina, posted 49.28, a time that puts her level with Richards-Ross. Krivoshapka is the big threat though.
Reigning world champion Amantle Monsho has been improving, her latest outing in Botswana resulting in a clock of 49.54, while the presence of the veteran DeeDee Trotter, whose 50.02 at the U.S. trials was her best for five years, ensures that Richards-Ross will not have a cakewalk, but nevertheless she is fancied to top the podium.
Olympic 400m Men’s And Women’s Final Odds
BetFred have the best odds for this race with LaShawn Merrit still favourite at 5/4 , Kirani James at 11/4 and Luguelin Santos at 8/1 makes this a fairly open contest as the betting is concerned with reasonably odds on the non favourite. Betting on the Women’s 400m should yield better results from the Men’s as the odds are far better, Sanya Richards-Ross remains favourite at 5/6 but with Antonina Krivoshapka and Antonina Krivoshapka at 5/1 and with good prospects to get gold this could be the event to bet on.
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