#Rio2016 Swimming Picks — Men’s 400m Free
Saturday August 6, 2016
What happened in 2012: We saw a top heavy field compete for gold in the 400 Free in 2012. The defending gold medalist from Beijing, South Korea’s Park Tae-Hwan, was the world #1 and came in as a -400 favorite to win gold. The field was so fast that World Record holder, Paul Biedermann from Germany competed and missed the final finishing in 13th place. In the final on Day 1, Sun Yang of China swam an outstanding race (albeit suspect) smoking the field and breaking Ian Thorpe’s Olympic Record in the process. Sun became the first Chinese man to win Olympic gold in swimming and he left his indelible mark on the 2012 games with his celebratory primal scream at the finish.
Outlook for 2016: Sun Yang has owned this race in the years between Olympics; Yang consistently posted the fastest times worldwide and won International competitions with ease. This success has been accompanied by significant suspicion however, whispers of his PED use turned into screams when news of a doping violation surfaced in 2014. In fairness, doping is likely a much bigger problem in swimming that the general public is willing to recognize, but Sun Yang is public enemy number one heading into Rio and will be under extra scrutiny from the media and officials all week long. The key question in capping this race is whether this added scrutiny will break Sun mentally, or force him to abandon whatever extra curricular program has helped him succeed on an internally level to this point in his career. Given these questions, there is zero incentive to back Sun as a -115 favorite in this event which leads to further consideration of backing the up-and-coming Aussie Mack Horton at +160. The 20 year old Horton is part of generation next for Team Australia and this is his best chance at scoring gold in Rio. Great Britain’s James Guy is also worth a look at +650, but chances are he is zeroing in on the 200 Free given the weak field in that prestige event. Horton at +160 for a full unit on the Day 1 card. 🐳