I can't wait to see athletics start tomorrow and I don't know if I'm biased because I was once an athlete to the Olympic level.
As a former athlete, I know that most of the athletes are so tensed right now and some of the medal hopefuls are feeling the weight of nations expectation to do well.
Blessing Okagbare has been running well lately after winning her last two meets in London and Monaco, the expectation from her nation - Nigeria to win a gold medal might be disadvantage to her if she allows it to get to her. If Okagbare accelerates well from the blocks and executes her top end speed, she will definitely be among the top five in the final and with a bit more focus even among the medals . However, it is difficult to make that call now. She has to earn her place on the final and anything can happen. What I can say is that it will be a very difficult feild because she will be running against former world champions and Olympic champions. I still put my money on Shelly Ann Fraser, Carmelita Jeter, Veronica Campbell, Kelly - Ann Baptiste and Blessing Okagbare as favorites for medals.
For the 100 meters Men, I still believe that Usain Bolt is the man to beat because he can handle pressure and he has been there before. Yes he lost to his compatriot(Yohan Blakes), that was a wake up call for Bolt. It will be a different ball game at the Olympics. I pick Tyson Gay to be on the podium and he will be the man between the Jamaican trio of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and former world record holder(Asafa Powell). I predict a new world record if the the British weather cooperates.
Africa will find it difficult to make it to the final in the 100 meters. Reigning African champion(Simon Magakwe) of RSA has personal best(PB) of 10.06, Aziz Ouhadi of Morocco has SB of 10.10 and he is number two on African list and Obina Metu of Nigeria has PB of 10.11 and it will be hard for them to make it to the final. Other two athletes from Nigeria are Egwero Ogene with 10.06 PB and Peter Emelieze 10.17 PB.
For the 400 Women, both Regina George and Omolara Omotosho of Nigeria should be able to make it to the semi finals. It will be tough for them to make it to the final unless if Regina a student at the University of Arkansas runs faster than her PB of 51.11 and Omolara also goes under 51 if they want to make the final. Amantle Montsho from Botswana who is reigning world champion is a medal favorite. I pick USA Sanya Richards for the gold, Montsho for silver and for bronze I pick Antonina Krivoshapka from Russia who is the world leader with 49.16.
I don't feel comfortable to predict the 400 meters men because of the injury sustained by Lashawn Merritt of USA who is the defending Olympic champion. He has the fastest time this year with 44.12. He stopped in his last race in Monaco and this has really given concern to the Americans. I don't see any African making it to the final in this event. The fastest African this year is Oscar Pistorious with 45.20 and reigning African champion from Botswana(Isaac Makwala) only ran 45.25 this year. I tip healthy Lashawn to win, Kirami James of Grenada for silver and Kevin Borlee of Belgium for the bronze.
I wish you all the athletes good luck.
About Pat Itanyi
Former Olympic Athlete and expert coach, Pat Itanyi Williams was recently inducted into the West Virginia university hall of fame
Here’s how she was described on “one of the sports most decorated performers, earning Seven All-America honors and establishing six school records (four of which still stand) from 1995-97. The native of Ukehe, Nigeria, who won the 1995 long jump title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, came to WVU after one season at Alabama A&M, where she was an All-American in the 100-meter hurdles and heptathlon.
Itanyi’s initial season at WVU produced a national title, three All-America honors, three Atlantic 10 titles and an ECAC title. She was also the Atlantic 10s female Track Athlete of the Year. Her leap of 22’1” at the NCAA Outdoor Championships was the longest in WVU history (a record that still stands today) and 10th longest in NCAA history at the time.
She also participated in the 100-meter hurdles at the event. Her other All-America honors that year came during the indoor season as she finished third in the long jump and fifth in the 55-meter hurdles at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
As a junior, she picked up another All-America certificate with a fifth-place jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships while also qualifying in the 55-meter hurdles. Outdoors she qualified in the 100-meter hurdles and long jump. Also that year, she won BIG EAST and ECAC titles in the long jump.
In 1997, Itanyi closed with a flourish, posting three more All-America performances in the heptathlon and long jump to give her seven for her brilliant
Mountaineer career. Her 5,647 points in the grueling seven-event heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Championships broke her own school record of 5,577 points and earned her a fifth-place finish.
She also finished third in the long jump at the same meet. Earlier that year, she had an eighth-place finish in the long jump at the indoor championships. At the time, the seven All-America citations were the most by a Mountaineer female track and field athlete and matched the seven won by Olympic gold medalist and future NFL player James Jett (1989-92).
In addition to her success in Morgantown, Itanyi represented her country in international competition as an athlete and coach.
She qualified for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta but did not compete due to injury. After winning the heptathlon in the 1998 All-African games, setting a record that still stands today, and finishing second in the same event in 99, she qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and competed in the long jump to become WVU’s first female track and field Olympian.
A 1997 graduate of WVU with a degree in physical education, Itanyi returned to WVU in 2002 as a graduate assistant coach. She earned her masters degree in athletic coaching in 2003 and later served as a fulltime assistant until 2005. During that span, she coached eight BIG EAST qualifiers and two All-Americans.
After leaving WVU, she became a coach for the Nigerian national team and represented the nation in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Anthony Williams, the associate head track coach at Villanova, and their daughter, Tonya.”