Highlight of the day
Athletics – Women’s 3000m steeplechase
The steeplechase consists of 28 barrier jumps and 7 water jumps and originated in Ireland. It is usually dominated by Kenyan runners and a Kenyan is likely to win this one too. However the question is whether she will be wearing the flag of Kenya or of Bahrain afterwards. Ruth Jebet is Kenyan who transferred her allegiance ro Bahrain is notionally favoured, with Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi the Kenyan flag bearer providing the competition.
An added bonus of this event is while watching you can mull and debate the merits of athletes from African countries transferring their allegiances to cashed up regimes in order to make money and guarantee Olympic qualification. It is a quandary.
Jebet and Jepkemoi’s bests this year were 0.04 seconds apart at the Prefontaine Classic this year, which was also within 2 seconds of the World Record (which was set in 2008).
Steeplechase isn’t about raw speed but the pace of the race, so WRs in Olympic races are fairly rare due to their more tactical nature and the absence of pacemakers. However, Jebet and Jepkemoi’s recent racing suggests the possibility that if they push each other instead of waiting for others, we may see the Olympic and World Record from Beijing under a bit of threat. Also in the field is the 2012 Olympic champion Habiba Ghribi (Tunisia) and the USA’s Emma Coburn. This should be a thriller.
Probably should watch
Athletics – Women’s hammer throw, Men’s pole vault, Men’s 800m, Women’s 400m
The men’s pole vault sees world record holder Renaud Lavillenie aiming to be the first man in 60 years to defend a pole vaulting title. He’s got plenty of strong competition inclduing Shawnacy Barber, Sam Kendricks and local hope and presumed crowd favourite Thiago Braz da Silva. The vault is a game of (very elevated) inches, all the favourites are capable of clearing and failing to clear very similar heights. Lavillenie himself totally failed his first height at the European Championships last month. It’s worth noting that no-one has cleared the magical 6 metre mark this year outdoors, however both Barber and Lavillenie hit the mark indoors.
Allyson Felix started her Olympic career as a 100m/200m runner, and as she’s progress has increased her event length. Felix is a former 200m champion now focusing on just the 400m after missing selection for the 200m by 0.01 of a second. Shaunae Miller, nine years younger than Felix, hasn’t lost this year and is the main challenger to Felix. This shapes as a classic “record vs form” contest.
The 800m has a lot to live up to; the corresponding race in London was dubbed as “The Greatest 800m Race Ever”. Prior to this Olympics, 4 of the 5 fastest 800m runners this year had been Kenyan, and two of those missed national qualifications. In the final, reigning Olympic champion David Rudisha is a very strong favourite, and 19-year-old fellow Kenyan Alfred Kipketer has a chance to stamp himself as the heir to the crown. Ferguson Rotich also beat Rudisha at national trials. Pierre-Ambroise Bosse and Taoufik Makhlouif ran the joint-fastest qualification time and stand as the best non-Kenyan chances.
In the women’s hammer the Polish world record holder Anita Wlodarczy will be hoping to do one better than in London. Betty Heidler and Wenxiu Zhang provide the nearest competition but on exposed form it will take sub-par throwing from Wlodarczy to miss the gold.
Cycling – Men’s omnium
In 2012 a number of track cycling events were consolidated, and the omnium was created. It is perhaps the singular best test of the “best track cyclist in the world”. Cyclists have to have the endurance for longer pulls, but still be deadly over shorter distances.The combo event has descending points (40, 38, 36 etc) for in reverse order for each place. A high number is good for your score.
- Scratch race
- 4km IP for men (3k for women)
- Elimination race
- Time Trial (1k for men, 500m for women)
- Flying lap
- Points race
TDF hero Mark Cavendish is looking for his first Olympic medal, but has the 2014 World champ Thomas Boudat and 2015 champ Elia Viviani ahead of him in the standing after day 1.
The points race is an absolute corker, and is must-see TV. It will in all likelihood decide the gold here.
Watch if it’s on
Swimming – Women’s 10km open water marathon
Now for some outdoors, long-distance splashing. Also, this was touch and go to even run a couple of days ago due to the starting platform washing away. Aurélie Muller is the one to beat as the defending world champion, but Sharon von Rouwendaal and defending gold medalist Eva Risztov will be in the mix, amongst others.
Wrestling – Men’s Greco-Roman 85 kg, Men’s Greco-Roman 130 kg
Day two of the wrestling still has the Greco-Roman, a style of wrestling that bans deliberate use of the legs. Mijain Lopez from Cuba is going for a three-peat in the 130kg class (a rare feat in any event), but world number 1 Riza Kayaalp stands imposingly in his way.
In the 85kg class, Zhan Beleniuk will battle Viktor Lorincz, Davit Chakvetadze and Rustam Assakalov for the gold. Note the distinct Eastern European flavour here.
Gymnastics – Men’s rings, Men’s vault, Women’s beam
More event finals, more chances for Simone Biles to win gold. She should win the beam, barring disaster. Brazillian Arthur Zanetti is the defending champion on the rings, and the crowd will go absolutely apeshit if he gets up. Defending world champion Eleftherios Petrounias and top qualifier Liu Yang stands in his way.
The men’s vault sees North Korea’s Ri Se-Gwang try to win gold with the vault named after him. Kenzo Shirai, aka the “Twist Prince” and veteran Marian Dragulescu should be ones to look for.
Boxing – Men’s heavy 91 kg
The heavyweight final sees Evgeny Tishchenko from Russia battle against Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan to see who will earn a place in the next Rocky rip-off presumably, and to be roadkill to which ever one of the Klitschko brothers will still be fighting in two years time.
Weightlifting – Men’s 105 kg
Big men. Biggest weights.
Equestrian – Individual dressage
Say no to horse dancing.
Sailing – Women’s laser radial (dinghy), Men’s laser (dinghy)
Fucking dinghys. In a fucking Olympics.