Tokyo 2020 From 2 Years Out — Our 10 Surest Gold Medal Things

by the T&FN editorial staff

Even though he’ll still be only 20 in Tokyo, Mondo Duplantis gets our nod as the fave of faves. (GIANCARLO COLOMBO/PHOTO RUN)

Assuming that the whole affair—because of this year’s brutal Japanese heat wave—isn’t picked up and moved until later in the year, the next Olympic track will begin 2 years from today, July 31, 2020.

Even though 2 years is an eternity in the world of track & field predictions, we have put our collective heads together—or is it on the chopping block?—and purely for your entertainment purposes, here are our best guesses at can’t-miss individual podium toppers, in preferential order:

1. Mondo Duplantis (Sweden)—Pole Vault

Why he’ll win gold. The Louisiana high school product hasn’t even had his first day as a collegian yet, and his amazing improvement curve certainly has to reach a plateau somewhere. We just don’t think that at age 18 he is anywhere near his peak. Yet he’s already regularly holding his own against the world’s best and has become a consistent 19-footer. He’s got great familial support and coaching and has been exposed to international competition for years. When the bar reaches higher heights and vaulting becomes a chess match he already plays the passing game like a grand master.
Why he won’t win. In 4 words: Renaud Lavillenie and Sam Kendricks. It’ll be tough enough to beat the WR holder or the top American on any given day; to beat them both on the same day will be a nasty chore for a mere 20-year-old.

2. Sandra Perković (Croatia)—Discus

Why she’ll win gold. She just doesn’t lose much. Since ’12, when she won the first of her 2 Olympic golds (so far) she has won 73 meets and lost only 6 (and in only 1 of those was she not 2nd). As of this writing, she’s undefeated this year at 9-0. She also has 11 career 70m (229-8) meets. All her contemporaries combined have 1. The best of them, a 234-3 (71.41) from ’17, is the world’s farthest since ’92. At 30, the 2-time gold medalist will still be in her prime in Tokyo.
Why she won’t win. If there’s a weakness, it’s perhaps—and perhaps we’re just reaching here—dancing on the edge of disaster in the foul department. In the Rio qualifying she fouled twice and only made it to the final with a comethrough third throw. And in the final? Would you believe two more fouls before pulling it out on her third throw. Fortunately, that stood up for the win, because she fouled her final 3 attempts as well.

3. Anita Włodarczyk (Poland)—Hammer

Why she’ll win gold. There’s dominance of all-time lists and then there’s Włodarczyk, who has produced the 15 longest meets in history as part of setting 4 World Records, topped by her 272-3 (82.98). She’s not only the only one in history over the 80-meter barrier, but also 81 and 82. With Nos. 2 and 3 on the all-time list now retired she has the top 27 meets among active throwers. Her margin over the farthest active thrower is 16-0 (4.86).
Why she won’t win. Throwers can continue to throw well for many years, but Włodarczyk will celebrate her 35th birthday in Tokyo and this year is feeling new pressure from the top active throwers, DeAnna Price and Gwen Berry, who have been trading the American Record this year.

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