Highlight of the day
Table tennis – Women’s singles
Table Tennis starts slowly as the best ranked competitors filter into the draw gradually until the 4th round. We’re up to the semi-finals tonight and the finals at 9:30 AEST tomorrow morning and my god have you seen this sport at its best?
There’s the illusion of accessibility or ease here. After all, you yourself might “play” table tennis. But let’s be honest. You don’t. You get drunk with a few people like four or five times a year and have a hit around on a mate’s second hand table with dents and chips from when he tried to build that storage unit.
This thing right here is table tennis. None of that “holding it like a tennis racket” shit. The athletes here will use the pen grip, and apply more spin that a corporate bank’s PR advisor. You’ll sit there asking how the fuck they did the thing they just did, repeatedly, through the entire event.
The first semi will see Ding Ning (the world number 2 from China) face off against a North Korean outsider, the 50th ranked Kim Song I, who upset the world numbers 6 and 13 to get this far. The other semi final will be closer, and has Li Xiaoxia (China) battling Ai Fukuhara from Japan (5th v 7th). An all Chinese final is a distinct possibility here.
Favourite: Ding Ning
Probably should watch
Judo – Women’s 70kg, Men’s 90kg
We keep urging you to watch Judo but tonight is the night you really should try to. These two weight classes see both judoka on the Refugee Olympic Athletes team in action, so try and catch them. Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika were both separated from their families by war in the Congo and grew up as displaced children in Kinshasa.
After taking up judo, they were abused by coaches to the point of being caged and starved when they didn’t perform well. They sought asylum in Brazil in 2013, fleeing during the Judo World Championship. Neither figure in heavily as favourites but who knows what could happen.
Mabika hopes her family will see her competing and they will be reunited. Misengsa says he will win a medal and dedicate it to all refugees.
Mabika is on at about 11:30 AEST and Misenga’s first bout is at about 11.49pm.
Favourites: Kim Polling, Gevrise Emane, Yuri Alvear (womens 70kg)m Gwak Dong0-han, Mashu Baker, Varlam Liparteliani (Men’s 90kg)
Gymnastics – Men’s individual all-around
Covering the five apparatus of floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parrallel bars and horizontal bar, this should be more competitive than the dominance expected of Simone Biles in the women’s event. Kohei Uchimura, anchor of the gold medallist men’s all-round Japanese team, is likely to be competing with top-qualifier Oleg Verniaiev for the gold here.
Favourites: Kohei Uchimura, Oleg Verniaiev
Swimming – Men’s 100m freestyle, Women’s 200m butterfly
This is the 100m sprint of the pool and worth a look just for its profile. It’s got a pretty open field. Nathan Adrian was blistering in the relay for the US, but Cameron McEvoy wasn’t very far behind him. Australia pulled McEvoy from the 4x200m relay squad, a clear sign that McEvoy is going to leave nothing in the tank. Kyle Chalmers has risen out of nowhere in the last three years, and still qualifies as a junior. He set the second fastest time in qualifying behind Adrian. Santo Condorelli from Canada also swam under 48 seconds in his heat (which is extremely fast), ahead of McEvoy.
Butterfly is really, really hard to do as well. One half of HPN tried to do a pool length worth of butterfly recently, and nearly had a heart attack. And it was only a 20m pool. The 200m butterfly event looks pretty open too and probably rates higher with a lot of our audience purely on STRAYA points, with Madeline Groves a modest favourite among a pack containing Mireia Belmonte, Natsumi Hoshi and Yilin Zhou.
Favourites: Cameron McEvoy, Nathan Adrian, Kyle Chalmers, Santo Condorelli (men;’s 100m freestyle) Madeline Groves, Mireia Belmonte, Natsumi Hoshi and Yilin Zhou.
Diving – Men’s synchronized 3m springboard
More simultaneous diving, more Chinese gold, now featuring a pool coloured a terrifyingly lurid green.
Canoe slalom – Men’s kayak single
Same as yesterday, with solo competitors battling down a whitewater course trying to navigate around slalom poles including using eddies to get back upstream for some of them. Whereas yesterday was a canoe, featuring one-bladed oars, today is kayaks which feature seated athletes and double-bladed oars. In 2020 women will get to canoe (in place of the two-person men’s canoe event here) but for now only the kayak is open to men and women.
IMPORTANT: all kayaks are canoes but not all canoes are kayaks. Also rudders are strictly prohibited.
Favourites: Giovanni de Gennaro, Joseph Clarke
Watch if it’s on
Swimming – Men’s 200m breaststroke, Women’s 4x200m freestyle relay
In contrast to the 100m relay, the Americans are stacked with middle distance talent and extremely likely to win the 200m freestyle relay. China and Australia are looking the most likely to fill up the podium.
In the men’s breastroke (the bad stroke) a relatively open field is probably most likely to be led by Ippei Watanabe who qualified fastest with an Olympic record. his strongest threats are Andrew Willis and Josh Prenot.
Favourites: USA (4x200m relay), Ippei Watanabe, Andrew Willis, Josh Prenot
Cycling – Women’s time trial, Men’s time trial
Both men’s and women’s time trials will be completed on the same day, and undertake a very challenging loop, the same one contained in part of the road race. The distance for the women is just 30km to the men’s course of 54.6km, for reasons unclear to HPN. They’ve removed the cobbles from the road course but have left in the two challenging climbs. This will be a course for the climbing time trialist to really be competitive on, unlike many of the World Championship time trial courses. Several riders in both road races dropped out before the finish to preserve strength for this extremely difficult time trial course.
On the women’s side, reigning world champion Linda Villumsen comes in as the favourite, with both climbing chops and supreme abilities with the time trial bike. However, she will face a plethora of opponents, not least being the gold medalist from the previous two Olympics Kristin Armstrong, her US teammate Evelyn Stevens and former German world champion Lisa Bennauer. The gold medalist in the road race, Anna van der Breggen, also looms as a real threat, and finished second to Vilumsen in the most recent World Championships.
In the men’s race, the presumptive favourite, Tom Demoulin, comes in under a significant cloud after breaking his wrist in the dying stages of last month’s Tour de France. He suited up in the road race, but pulled off the road extremely early, and no-one knows how he will shape up tonight.
The other pre-race favourite, Chris Froome, had to work extremely hard in the road race, and is coming off a very arduous (and successful) TDF campaign. He was dropped in the men’s road race, but is in significantly better shape than his rival right now. Another threat, Australia’s Richie Porte, broke his collarbone in the road race and won’t suit up, however another Australian, Rohan Dennis, has had a extremely good year. HPN would be foolish to rule out the reigning world champ Vasil Kiryienka, or perennial favouites Fabian Cancellara (in one of his final races) and Tony Martin, even if the course doesn’t directly suit them.
Favourites: Tom Domoulin, Chris Froome, Rohan Dennis, Vasil Kiriyienka (men’s time trial), Linda Villumsen, Kristin Armstrong, Lisa Bennauer, Anna Van Der Breggen (women’s time trial)
Weightlifting – Women’s 69 kg, Men’s 77 kg
Insert jokes about doping and authoritarian Eurasian regimes here.
Favourites: Xiang Yanmei, Zhazira Zhapparkul (women’s 69kg) Lu Xiaojun, Nijat Rahimov, Andranik Karapetyan (men’s 77kg)
Rowing – Men’s quadruple sculls, Women’s quadruple sculls
Today is quad sculls day, meaning the four rowers in each boat have two oars each as opposed to one big one. Rowing is a morning event and a decent appetiser for a day of Olympic action, assuming the weather conditions allow it to happen. Australia are reasonably firm favourites in the men’s quad sculls (ahead of Germany and Estonia). Germany are equally firm favourites in the women’s ahead of Poland, Netherlands and Ukraine. In both cases, however, the natural harbour environment and possibility of crosswinds can cause the unexpected.
Favourites: Australia (men’s quad sculls), Germany (womens quad sculls)
Shooting – Men’s 50m pistol, Men’s double trap
Today in weird shooting sexism, two events that women can’t compete in!
Fencing – Women’s individual foil, Men’s individual sabre
We’ve mostly given fencing a wide berth but your mileage may vary and this is your last chance to see individual competition before the team events start. Unfortunately team events aren’t multi-person melees but simply add scores from nine bouts together.
Favourites: Arriana Errigo, Inna Deriglazova (women’s foil), Aldo Montano, Aron Szilagy (men’s sabre)