Door opens for James in Olympic 400m as Merritt goes out

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The door has opened for Kirani James to add an Olympic title to his World Championship gold from Daegu last year by the age of 19 after favourite LaShawn Merritt failed to advance beyond the heats of the men’s 400m.

Merritt arrived in London with injury concerns, having pulled up midway through the 400m at a recent Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

After the race, he suggested that it was a minor hamstring complaint and that he stopped only as a precaution.

However, despite countless hours of treatment, the injury proved too much to overcome for the defending Olympic champion and he stopped after only 100m of his heat after feeling more pain.

Merritt was the fastest man in the world this year and unbeaten in all completed races, meaning that his withdrawal has thrown the event wide open.

James is the obvious athlete to profit at 5/4 to win 400m gold and he looked extremely comfortable in winning his London heat.

But his form has not been particularly impressive this year to date and given the speed of the London track, it is still likely to take a new personal best to win gold, even without the threat of Merritt.

Fellow teenager Luguelin Santos is a leading threat at 5/1 after a scintillating season, but it is the Borlee twins from Belgium who may prove the ones to watch.

Jonathan Borlee was especially strong in posting 44.43secs, which is the second fastest time of the year and assuming he has more in the tank, he could go close to breaking 44 seconds in the final.

Meanwhile, brother Kevin took third in the last World Championships and is another who is strong in the home straight.

Jonathan is 5/2 to win gold, with Kevin the better value at 9/1.

American interest looks thin without Merritt, as both Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum both advancing through the heats, but without setting the world alight.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.