Ranking the American Medal Chances

There are 44 running and field events in the track and field program at the Olympics. If you are an American viewer, you want to know which events you should expect a medal in (any medal, not just gold), and which events the American team is playing the role of underdog.

With that in mind, Jason and I looked at the chances of an American medal in all 44 events (sorry race walking) and put them in order. The strength of the American team, competition, injuries and the tactics of the particular event all played a role in determining the likelihood of a top three finish.

Group 1: The 99% (and 98%) Percent

1. Women’s 200
American chance of a medal: 99%
American team: Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter, Sanya Richards-Ross

Allyson Felix wants gold in this event. You know this because every media outlet will be telling you repeatedly before, during and after her race how much she needs this gold. With gold being the goal, she seems assured of at least a top three finish. Factoring in how good Jeter and Richards-Ross have also been, there is no way the Americans come away from this event empty handed.

2. Women’s 4×400
American chance of a medal: 99%
American team:  Sanya Richards-Ross, Dee Dee Trotter, Francena McCorory, Lashinda Demus and others in pool of runners

With Richards-Ross and Felix on the team, it would be a huge upset if this squad did not win gold. A medal is a certainty, unless they manage to get disqualified, which would be impressive even by American relay standards.

3. Men’s 4×400
American chance of a medal: 99%
American team: LaShawn Merritt, Tony McQuay, Bryshon Nellum, Angelo Taylor and others in pool of runners.

Since the event’s creation in 1912, the United States has failed to medal only four times. This includes the gold from 2000 that was stripped due to a positive drug test and the 1980 boycott. The 2012 squad doesn’t look overwhelmingly strong, but it is the depth that always puts the Americans over the top. Can you name two or even one team that has a shot at beating them?

4. Men’s Decathlon 
American chance of a medal: 98%
American team: Ashton Eaton, Trey Hardee

Only two entrants in this event, yet the odds are still great that they walk away with at least one medal. This is what happens when you have the world record holder and the 2011 world champion on the team. I could see gold-silver, I could see gold-bronze. If they both have some bad luck, you could even say silver-bronze, or just one bronze. But, no medals? Won’t happen.

5. Men’s 110 hurdles
American chance of a medal: 98%
American team: Aries Merritt, Jason Richardson, Jeff Porter

Since 1896, the United States has medaled in this event in every single Olympics in which they have competed. Every. Single. One. Don’t think that changes this year with Merritt looking like the slight gold medal favorite and Richardson close behind.

6. Women’s 100 hurdles
American chance of a medal: 98%
American team: Dawn Harper, Kellie Wells, Lolo Jones

Good money says that all three of these women will make the final. From there, the odds are in their favor. Australia’s Sally Pearson looked like a sure thing for gold until Wells beat her a few weeks ago.

7. Men’s Triple Jump
American chance of a medal: 98%
American team: Christian Taylor, Will Claye

Similar to the decathlon with only two entrants, but two very strong entrants. Taylor and Claye went 1-3 last year in Daegu and have the top three marks in the world this year. Taylor is talking more about getting a world record in London than his competition. Good sign.

Group 2: Sure Things

8. Men’s Shot Put
American chance of a medal: 95%
American team: Reese Hoffa, Ryan Whiting, Christian Cantwell

Prior to the World Championships last year, there were discussions of a sweep in Daegu. The opposite happened and none of the Americans medaled. No way that happens two years in a row, right? All three could win gold on a given day.

9. Women’s Long Jump
American chance of a medal: 95%
American team: Brittney Reese, Chelsea Hayes, Janay Deloach

All three have at least one jump in the top ten this year. Reese is the favorite for the gold, but the margin of error in this event is so small it wouldn’t be surprising if she didn’t win. Hayes had a big jump at the trials and Deloach could definitely sneak onto the podium.

10. Women’s High Jump

American chance of a medal: 95%

American team: Chaunte Lowe, Brigetta Barrett, Amy Acuff

Now that Croatian Blanka Vlasic is out with an injury, this competition could come down to the three Russians versus Lowe and Barrett. Acuff is mildly experienced (this will be her fifth Olympics) and could pick up the scraps if the favorites start going down.

11. Women’s 400 hurdles

American chance of a medal: 90%
American team: Lashinda Demus, Georganne Moline, T’erea Brown

Lots of parity in this event. Demus should be fresh and peaked perfectly last year. I don’t think there is enough chaos that the other two could get involved, but Brown had a big win in New York and Moline was sensational at the trials.

12. Women’s 10o

American chance of a medal: 90%

American team: Carmelia Jeter, Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix

All three have run under 11 seconds this year and at least one should be “on” come August 4th. The three Jamaicans will be the main competition as well as Blessing Okagbare from Nigeria who now has two Diamond League wins in a row.

13. Women’s 400
American chance of a medal: 90%
American team: Sanya Richards-Ross, Francena McCorory, DeeDee Trotter

Richards-Ross is the favorite for gold. The other two would be surprised medalists. The 400 is very deep this year with Montsho, Williams-Mills, Krivoshapka, Gushchina and Ohuruogu all showing medalist type form in 2012.

14. Men’s 400
American chance of a medal: 90%
American team: LaShawn Merritt, Tony McQuay, Bryshon Nellum

Merritt suffered from what he described as a cramp in Monaco. Until then, he had looked like a definite medalist and likely winner. Is it bad that he hasn’t tweeted since then? The good news for the Americans is that Kirani James of Grenada hasn’t been as fast or as dangerous as he did in 2011 when he won the gold in Daegu.

15. Men’s 400 hurdles 
American chance of a medal: 90%
American team: Michael Tinsley, Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement

After a rare shut out at the world championships last year, the Americans still finds themselves in good position to get at least one medal. Dai Greene of Great Britain and Javier Culson of Puerto Rico have been the only mainstays in 2012. Keep your eye on Clement, who did basically no racing prior to the Olympic trials and still made the team.

Group 3: 85%-60% of the time, it works every time 

16. Women’s 4×100

American chance of a medal: 85%
American team: Carmelita Jeter, Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Jeneba Tarmoh in pool of runners

Barring the results of the individual events, the Americans will come in as the favorites to win. Can they get the stick around? If they do, they will medal. Very simple, but the run-through in Monaco was not good for the confidence.

17. Men’s 4×100
American chance of a medal: 80%
American team: Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Ryan Bailey, Trell Kimmons in pool of runners

Jamaica is big favorite. France and Trinidad and Tobago will push the US, but it can’t be said enough: Get the stick around. Also, don’t show up to the race with race bibs looking like a 3rd grader drew on them.

18. Men’s High Jump
American chance of a medal: 75%
American team: Jamie Nieto, Erik Kynard, Jesse Williams

World champion Jesse Williams almost didn’t make the team after having an off day in Eugene. Now that he is in, he is dangerous as ever and Kynard and Nieto could also have a good day and finish in the top 3.

19. Men’s 100
American chance of a medal: 65%
American team: Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Ryan Bailey

American chances would have gone up dramatically if Walter Dix were healthy. Bailey is solid though, and all three Americans can make the final. If Bolt really is hurt, then this event opens up tremendously.

20. Women’s Pole Vault
American chance of a medal: 60%
American team: Jenn Suhr, Becky Holliday, Lacy Janson

Suhr has the best mark of the year, but has competed sparingly. Holliday and Janson figure to be farther back.

Group 4: The Coin Flips (or runoffs)

21. Men’s Long Jump
American chance of a medal: 50%
American team: Marquise Goodwin, Will Claye, George Kitchens

No American is particularly strong in this event, but the long jump doesn’t have many clear-cut favorites. Attention Panamanian long jump fans: Irving Saladino may just be back!

22. Men’s 200
American chance of a medal: 50%
American team: Wallace Spearmon, Maurice Mitchell, Isiah Young

Only Spearmon will be in contention, but he looks to be in good shape to finish behind Bolt and Blake. That was more likely before Monaco where he lost to Nickel Ashmeade and Churandy Martina, but that race has been his only hiccup this season.

23. Men’s 800
American chance of a medal: 45%
American team: Nick Symmonds, Khadevis Robinson, Duane Solomon

Provided David Rudisha doesn’t want to keep all the medal for himself, there will be a silver and a bronze up for grabs. The race for 2nd and 3rd is open with no runner stepping up after Abubaker Kaki has spent most of the summer disintegrating. Symmonds has done well making finals, Robinson has a ton of experience and Solomon’s third place finish in Monaco was a breakthrough.

24. Women’s Marathon
American chance of a medal: 45%
American team: Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila, Kara Goucher

Davila is not at a 100% and may not even start the race. That is a huge blow for the Americans, whose depth in this event could feasible produced a medal. Still, after the three Kenyans, three Ethiopians and Liliya Shobukhova, there aren’t many that can beat Flanagan, or even Goucher.

25. Women’s 800
American chance of a medal: 40%
American team: Alysia Montano, Geena Gall, Alice Schmidt

Montano is the best chance by far. Her aggressive tactics mean there could be wild fluctuations in her place.

26. Women’s 1500
American chance of a medal: 40%
American team: Morgan Uceny, Shannon Rowbury, Jenny Simpson

Last year Simpson won gold and Uceny won the Diamond League. So why only 40%? Odds are always going to be a bit lower in the 1500 and also everyone decided to run the 1500 fast this year.

27. Women’s Discus
American chance of a medal: 40%
American team: Stephanie Brown-Trafton, Aretha Thurmond, Gia Lewis-Smallwood

Brown-Trafton won gold in 2008, but will have a tough time repeating against Nadine Muller, Sandra Perkovic and Darya Pishchalnikova. This concludes our knowledge of the discus……

28. Men’s Pole Vault
American chance of a medal: 40%
American team: Brad Walker, Jeremy Scott, Derek Miles

Walker has the fourth best mark of the year, Scott and Miles on paper look like they could make the finals.

Group 5: Do you believe in unlikelihood?

29. Men’s 5000
American chance of a medal: 33%
American team: Galen Rupp, Bernard Lagat, Lopez Lomong

By now, everyone knows the incredible fast times that were posted in Paris. That won’t matter in a more tactical race in London. The Americans have two sub-13 runners and one 13:11, while stopping a lap too soon and restarting, runner. All three should make the final and all three have versatility to succeed in any type of race. No medals since 1964 in the men’s 5000.

30. Men’s 1500
American chance of a medal: 25%
American team: Leo Manzano, Matt Centrowitz, Andrew Wheating

Asbel Kiprop’s sensational race in Monaco makes it appear that there are only two medals available. However, this is the 1500 so you never really know. It is entirely plausible for no Americans to make the final, but it is also conceivable that all three do it. Wheating has been dealing with plantar fasciitis recently and Manzaoo has been battling with his usual inconsistenitis

31. Women’s Shot Put
American chance of a medal: 25%
American team: Jill Camarena-Williams, Michelle Carter, Tia Brooks

It is widely assumed that Valerie Adams of New Zealand and Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus will get the gold and silver in some order. Camerena-Williams, and to a lesser extent Carter, will be battling the field for the bronze.

32. Men’s 3000 Steeplechase 
American chance of a medal: 20%
American team: Evan Jager, Donn Cabral, Kyle Alcorn

This number would have been closer to 0% until Jager ran an American record in Monaco. The Olympics will be only his 6th race at this event and he is behind one non-Kenyan on the top marks of the year list. Kenya has shown the capacity to sweep this event and his inexperience may become a factor, although it hasn’t slowed him down yet.

33. Men’s 10000
American chance of a medal: 15%
American team: Galen Rupp, Matt Tegenkamp, Dathan Ritzenhein

Rupp is the only medal threat of the three. Farah will occupy one of the spots, so then it is Rupp battling the field for the other two. This year he has shown he can kick with the best in the world, but the Kenyan and Ethiopian depth is what puts this at only 15%. As with the 5000, no medals since 1964.

34. Men’s Marathon
American chance of a medal: 10%
American team: Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, Abdi Abdirahman

Keflezighi and Hall are very consistent so they could benefit from a few off days by their competitors and sneak out a bronze. Unfortunately, their ceiling isn’t as high as the others either. However, Kenya and Ethiopia bungled the selection processes and are not sending their strongest teams. Can the Americans capitalize?

Group 6: So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

35. Women’s 3000 Steeplechase
American chance of a medal: 5%
American team: Emma Coburn, Bridget Franek, Shalaya Kipp

Emma Coburn is a cut above the other two, but doesn’t appear quite ready to bridge the gap toward the top group. Milcah Chemos has dominated the event this year but has serious BUP (blow up potential).

36. Women’s Heptathlon 
American chance of a medal: 4%
American team: Hyleas Fountain, Sharon Day, Chantae McMillian

Fountain has a silver from 2008 and the best American mark this year. Jessica Ennis and Tatyana Chernova and a group of Ukrainians look pretty solid for medals as far as heptathlons go.

37. Men’s Hammer Throw
American chance of a medal: 3%
American team: Kibwe Johnson, A.G. Kruger

Only two Americans met the A standard, which shrinks American hopes.

38. Women’s 10000
American chance of a medal: 1%
American team: Amy Hastings, Lisa Uhl, Janet Bawcom

Tirunesh Dibaba and Vivian Cheruiyot and the rest of the Ethiopians and Kenyans should lock up the medals.

39. Women’s Hammer Throw
American chance of a medal: 1%
American team: Amber Campbell, Amanda Bingson, Jessica Cosby

Cosby’s best mark puts her in the top 15 of the world, but still a long way back.

40. Women’s Javelin
American chance of a medal: 0%
American team: Brittany Borman, Kara Patterson, Rachel Yurkovich

Boorman’s dramatic trials victory was a great story, but she and the other three Americans are significantly behind the podium spots.

41. Women’s 5000
American chance of a medal: 0%
American team: Julie Culley, Molly Huddle, Kim Conley

If Huddle was in American record holder form, then there might be an argument. Since that isn’t the case, making the final is a more realistic goal for her, and the other two. Use this race as an opportunity to get to know the Kenyans and Ethiopians that you met in the 10000 a little better.

42. Men’s Discus
American chance of a medal: 0%
American team: Lance Brooks, Jarred Rome, Jason Young

Can the Americans wake up the echoes of Mac Wilkins? Probably not.

43. Men’s Javelin
American chance of a medal: 0%
American team: Craig Kinsley, Sean Furey, Cyrus Hostetler

No medals in this event since 1972 and this year doesn’t look much better. Top two at the trials didn’t make the team because they didn’t have the standard. Practice your Finnish.

44. WTJ
American chance of a medal: 0%
American team: Amanda Smock

If the Smock medals in the triple jump, it will be Billy Mills, Rulon Gardner and the “Miracle on Ice” combined.

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