We’re in for a treat…
Eighty Brits, including a record 15 Scots, will rock up in Rio aiming for a magnificent medal blitz in the Brazilian sunshine. Our superstar champions Mo Farah (5,000m and 10,000m), Jess Ennis-Hill (heptathlon), and Greg Rutherford (long jump) will shed blood, sweat and tears in an effort to retain the Olympic crowns they won in such dazzling style at a highly-charged and emotional London four years ago. Other 2012 medallists making the long trip to South America include 400m powerhouse Christine Ohuruogu, who also won Olympic gold at Beijing 2008, and soaring high jumper Robbie Grabarz, while the high octane mum-on-the run, Jo Pavey, now 42, is set to compete in her fifth Games in the 10,000m.
Another Mo-mentous occasion?
Mighty Mo looks to be in the form of his life and his Kenyan and Ethiopian rivals will be quivering in their spikes as they try to work out how they can possibly stop his charge towards another amazing golden double.
Farah had his British fans in raptures as he ripped apart a top quality 5,000m field in the London Anniversary Games on the eve of his departure for Rio. With a devastating 56 seconds final lap, Mo posted the fastest time of the year in the world so far, an astonishing 12mins 59.29secs, to send a strong message of intent to those who think they can dethrone him.
Farah was delighted with the result, saying: “It was my last chance to run quick before Rio. I mean, I love this track, it means a lot to me. Not many people get a chance to compete in their home town and have so many memories of the place. Rio is right around the corner but it means a lot to get the win before going. I am in good shape but I have to keep my feet on the ground. Anything can happen. It is all about staying patient now.”
But what of the Scots?
Andrew Butchart, from Dunblane, is Mo’s understudy in the 5,000m, but the young Scot more than matched his megastar team-mate over the final lap of the 5,000m at the London Anniversary Games.
While the crowd roared Mo on to victory, Central AC’s Butchart was charging through the field to take second position in 13mins 14.85secs – and in doing so he actually ran the final circuit slightly faster than Farah.
The 24 year-old, who set a Scottish record of 13mins 13.30secs earlier this summer, doesn’t expect to feature among the medals in Rio, but he is determined to reach the final, and who knows what might happen?
Dundee Hawkhill’s Laura Muir must believe she can medal after her stunning British 1500m record-breaking performance of 3mins 57.49secs at the London Anniversary Games. That slashed the previous standard set by Dame Kelly Holmes when winning the Olympic title at Athens in 2004.
Muir said: “Breaking the British record blows my mind a bit. I wanted to go out there and show the world what I can do. I think the performance shows what I’m capable of.”
Other Scottish medal contenders include Eilidh Doyle in the 400m hurdles and Lynsey Sharp in the 800m.
Scotland also provides all three athletes in the men’s marathon, brothers Callum and Derek Hawkins, being joined by Tsegai Tewelde. Callum in particular has been in amazing form and his personal best time of 2hrs 10mins 52secs at London in April makes him the third fastest Scot of all-time. It will be tough in the Rio heat, but 24 year-old Callum has shown before that he is remarkably composed and can handle almost any situation. He should do well.
All three women’s 5,000m places on Team GB are also taken by Scots – Steph Twell, Eilish McColgan and Laura Whittle – while two hammer throwers, Mark Dry and Chris Bennett will go with the aim of reaching the final. Beth Potter goes in the 10,000m, Lennie Waite in the 3,000m steeplechase and Chris O’Hare in the 1500m.
Thunder Bolt to strike yet again?
Who can stop Usain Bolt from striking gold again, again and yet again in Rio? The Jamaican is aiming for victory in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay for the third Olympics in a row. It’s understating the situation to simply say that’s an amazing record. Add to that his 11 world championship gold medals between 2007 and 2015 and that he holds the world record for 100m (9.58secs) and 200 (19.19secs), then you might just easily conclude he is the greatest athlete of all-time. So, can anyone beat him?
Well, the USA’s Justin Gatlin, who has twice served doping bans and probably shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Olympics, believes he can capture the 100m crown, while his compatriot LaShawn Merritt thinks he can depose the champion in the 200m. So, we’ll wait and see. My money is on Bolt, but it could be close.
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