Young stars to watch out for at London 2012
Who to watch out for at London 2012
Missy Franklin (USA) – swimming
Despite being just 17, Missy Franklin has already established herself as the “marquee female athlete” in the US Olympics swimming team, according to team coach Teri McKeever. Entering an incredible seven events at London 2012, comparisons have already begun between the 17-year-old and 16-time medal winner Michael Phelps and Franklin’s stated idol, Natalie Coughlin. With a wingspan of76-inches and size 13 feet, the young American is explosive over short distances and is clear favourite to win the 100m and 200m backstroke, but a seven medal haul may be a stretch too far. She could cause an upset in the 200m freestyle against ‘fan-favourite’, Federica Pellegrini. Franklin is 7/2 to win gold in this event; a win that would truly establish the next star in women’s swimming.
Precocious 19-year-old Kirani James could well win his countries first ever medal at the Olympics this summer, although which colour medal is still up for debate. He goes into London 2012 second favourite in the betting to win gold, best priced at 13/5 with Paddy Power, and if he does top the pile his achievement will be remarkable. The island of Grenada doesn’t share the same prestigious track record as some of its neighbours, making the rise of James even more impressive. Don’t miss the 400m final on Monday the 6th at 21:30.
Neymar and co (Brazil) – men’s football
After dazzling on his first display on English soil, a friendly versus Scotland in 2011, Neymar lived up to his showman tag as he helped dismantle Great Britain, whilst also doing his best to win a nothing penalty. The 20-year-old has a goal every other game for the full national side and is one of five players to have notched 100 professional career goals before leaving his teenage years (win a point for the other four). He is the star in the Brazilian side and should light up the London 2012 Olympics. A Neymar top scorer and Brazil gold medal double is dropping fast; it’s best priced at 10/1 with William Hill.
Julio Cesar La Cruz (Cuba) – Boxing
The Cubans have a superb boxing pedigree, which makes their failure to land any golds at Beijing a bit of a mystery. One man who looks set to make amends for that is Julio Cesar LA Cruz, a light-heavyweight who missed out at 2008 through injury. He is favourite to win the gold medal now aged 22, best price at 2/1. The defending 2011 amateur champion looks a sound bet to win the gold this summer and add to Cuba’s 32 gold medals in the boxing competitions.
Mohammed Aman (Ethiopia) – 800m
David Rudisha might be the massive favourite for the 800m gold, but if there is one man who can break his stranglehold on the discipline, it looks likely to be Aman. The 18-year-old African runner holds the world youth record for the 800m and was the athlete who broke world champion Rudisha’s incredible two year unbeaten spell in 2011. There is little value in backing Rudisha, so get behind the young Ethiopian who could cause a massive upset at 16/1 with Paddy Power
With doubts persisting about the fitness of Usain Bolt, his compatriot Blake, should be his nearest competitor for the 100m gold medal on August 5th. At the Jamaican trials last month Blake beat the world champion, who started slowly, with a time of 9.75 before also beating Bolt in the 200m, indicating that his blistering 19.26 last summer was no fluke. Bolt was far from perfect condition at the Jamaican trials and remains the man to beat. If you fancy a punt and want to back the next Jamaican sprint sensation, back Blake at 13/8 to win gold.