For seven straight Olympics the American men have dominated the 400M race, winning gold from 1984 until 2008. However, in 2012 and 2016, it was Kirani James of Grenada and Wayne van Niekerk of South Africa who took home the gold medals, ending the American’s dominance in this event.
As the preliminary heats begin Saturday evening in Tokyo, once again the American men have gold medal aspirations and a legitimate shot to recapture their glory in this race.
We also dive deep into the 1500M men’s freestyle gold medal race and a very important group stage basketball game.
Michael Norman of Team USA is a sizeable favorite for this race, with posted odds of -175 before the preliminary heats begin Saturday night. Norman won the US Olympic Trials with a time just over 44 seconds, the second fastest 400M time recorded this year.
Norman will have lots of competition from fellow American runners and from athletes born outside of the U.S. The defending gold medallist from the last World Championships is Steven Gardiner from the Bahamas. Gardiner is ranked second by most oddsmakers for this event and is +350 to win the gold currently.
News & Notes
Team USA has several runners capable of winning this race. Besides Norman, Randolph Ross and Michael Cherry both have realistic gold medal ambitions. It was Cherry who crossed the line just behind Norman at the US Olympic Trials, running the fourth fastest time recorded this year.
Ross may have qualified as the third fastest American during the Olympic Trials, but only a couple of weeks before that event, he ran the fastest 400M time recorded this year while winning the NCAA Championships. Currently, Ross is listed at +1200 to win gold.
Also in this loaded field are Wayne van Niekerk of South Africa and Kirani James of Grenada. Van Niekerk is the defending gold medallist from the 2016 Games, but after tearing his ACL in 2017, his results haven’t been the same. James is the only Olympic medallist to ever come from Grenada and he won the 2012 Olympic gold medal, ending the American’s streak of seven straight.
Betting Pick: Randolph Ross +1200 to win Gold
When the finals for the 400M race roll around, the start-line should be loaded with talent. Norman being listed as the favorite is not a surprise, but the -175 odds aren’t attractive enough for a race with so many potential Sportsbooks. Instead, how about we take a +1200 underdog who actually has the fastest 400M time recorded this year. Let’s roll with Randolph Ross to win gold at +1200.
In early June of this year, there is a good chance that Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri would have been one of the favorites to win this race. However, by mid-June, it was announced that the Italian long-distance swim specialist was battling a mild-case of mononucleosis -- not good for an Olympic athlete.
The betting odds are now centred around Florian Wellbrock. The German is the defending World Champion and is the oddsmakers favorite to win this race at +175.
News & Notes
After the mild mono diagnosis, swim fans just didn’t know how Paltrinieri would perform in Tokyo. Step one was qualifying for the finals. The Italian has done that, posting the fourth-fastest qualifying time. It will be very interesting to see if he can pull off a gold-medal-winning performance in tonight’s race.
Germany’s Florian Wellbrock has the fastest time recorded in the world this year, over three seconds faster than what anyone else could achieve. The defending World Champion was one of three swimmers to post a qualifying time under 14:49 during the prelims and will be a definite threat to win gold.
Mykhailo Romanchuk from the Ukraine is the man who finished behind Wellbrock in the last World Championships, earning the silver medal. Romanchuk (14:45.99) was the only swimmer to go sub 14:46 during the preliminary heats.
Robert Finke of Team USA was considered to be in contention for a medal before this event started. After qualifying for the finals with the second-fastest time, Finke has seen his odds move to +250 to win gold and oddsmakers now have the American ranked only behind Wellbrock as the gold medal frontrunner.
Betting Pick: Gregorio Paltrinieri +550 to win gold
Before the prelims started, I’m not sure betting on the Italian Paltrinieri is something I would have been comfortable doing. Obviously any athlete in any sport would be concerned about having to battle mononucleosis so close to their event.
This is a deep field, with Wellbrock, Finke, Romanchuk and others all capable of winning this race. However, +550 odds for a long-distance legend like Paltrinieri are just too good to pass on.
The moneyline for this game on Friday night was Spain -150 to win and the spread was -2.5. As the overnight and early money came in on this important group stage matchup, the line has moved all the way to -205 and the point spread has jumped to Spain -4.5.
The total for this game is now 141 points. Both games Spain has played so far have finished over 141 total points. Neither of the Canadian games finished over the 141 total.
News & Notes
The No. 3-ranked team in the world before this tournament started, Spain, got off to a relatively slow start, slipping past the Korean’s by only four points in their Sportsbook game. However, their second time out, the Spaniards took care of business against Serbia, beating them 85-70.
As the No. 4-ranked team in the world coming into the Olympic games, Canada had high expectations internally and was focused on winning a medal. Then, in game one of the tournament, Canada lost to Serbia 72-68, and their chase for an Olympic medal became that much more difficult. The Canadians rebounded in their second game to beat up on Korea, winning 74-53.
During the last FIBA World Championships played in 2018, it was Spain who took care of business against Canada, beating them 68-53 in a quarterfinal matchup.
Betting Pick: Canada +4.5
Spain and Canada are the number three and four ranked teams in the world and pre-tournament Sportsbooks had them listed at the same odds to win gold in Tokyo. Both teams started this tournament slow by their standards, although Canada has the only loss to show for their sluggish beginning.
That said, 4.5 points seems like a lot of points in what could actually be a coin-flip game. I will take the Canadians plus the points for this crucial Group A round-robin game.