HPN #Rio2016 – Day 13 preview

Highlight of the day

Diving – Women’s 10m platform

The 10m platform is legitimately insane. If you miss you mark from 10 metres up…you’re going to have a bad time. Also FLIPS AND TRICKS AND STUFF. JUST ENDLESS FLIPS!!!

Current world champion Kim Kuk-hyang, the first North Korean champion in diving, was knocked out in the preliminary round after terrible dives in the second and fourth round.

Ren Qian, born in 2001(!), came second in the 2015 championships, and probably comes into the finals as the favourite, alongside fellow Chinese athlete Si Yajie. Pandelela Rinong, the reigning bronze medalist from London and veteran of the field at 23 years old, will also challenge for the medals.

Probably should watch

Field hockey – Men’s finals

The final sees the 6th ranked Belgium side face off against the 7th ranked Argentina squad. To put it lightly: this final is a surprise. Argentina finished third in their group and beat 11th ranked Spain and 3rd ranked Germany to get to the gold medal match, while Belgium saw off 5th ranked India and 2nd ranked Netherlands. Belgium only lost one match all tournament, and are probably the form side, whilst Argentina has a better hockey pedigree but have been patchy on their home continent.

Netherlands play Germany for the bronze.

Athletics – Men’s 400m hurdles, Men’s shot put, Women’s javelin, Men’s decathlon, Women’s 400m hurdles, Men’s 200m

The men’s 400m Hurdles is chaosball. The reigning world champion, Nicholas Bett from Kenya, was knocked out in the first round after stumbling over the penultimate hurdle. Johnny Dutch, the fastest man in the world this year (and aspiring filmmaker), retired after coming fifth in the US trials due to a clipped final hurdle.

Of those remaining, Kerron Clement has the quickest time this year and arguably the best resume. Annsert Whyte and Thomas Barr have also gone quick this year, the latter a rare hope for Ireland on the track.

Only two men have thrown over 22 metres in the shot put this year – defending World Champion Joe Kovacs and US teammate Ryan Crouser. Even if you relax the standard down to 21 and a half metres, only three other men (Hill, Mozia and Walsh) have thrown that far. Kovacs comes in as a short priced favourite to add to his already budding resume.

Barbora Špotáková is the two-time defending javelin Olympic champion and the world record holder. She threw second furthest in qualifying, 3 metres behind Maria Andrejczyk whose qualifying throw of 67.11m was the longest in the world so far in 2016. Špotáková has been capable of longer – 69m in 2012 and a world record of 72m in 2008 – and will probably need to produce something in that range in order to defend her title.

The question for Ashton Eaton in the decathlon is not whether he’ll pick up his second consecutive gold medal in the event, but more about whether he will break the 9,000 point barrier, or even his own world record of 9,039. Damian Warner seems likely to come in second here, due to his sprinting prowess.

In the women’s 400m hurdles, Delailah Muhammad is streets ahead everyone else on times this year, and she’s qualified fastest for the final by 0.6 seconds. On paper no-one will touch her.

In the men’s 200m, Usain Bolt thinks he can break the world record and the 19 second barrier when he wins. Known serial one-off drug cheat Justin Gatlin and known drug cheat Yohan Blake both missing the final is also a big story here.

Beach volleyball – Men’s finals

The Italian pairing of Lupo and Nicolai are the real surprise packets of these games, in nearly any sport. In the pool stage the Italians went 1-2 for third place, and had to rely on the lucky loser knockout (which they scraped 2 sets to 1) to even make the knockout portion of the event. Coming into the event the Italians were ranked 22nd in the world, and they’ve almost entirely avoided highly ranked teams in the knockout phase.

On the other side of the net are the defending world champions Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Alison Cerutti from hosts Brazil. Oscar Schmidt in particular is a dominant player, perhaps the best in the world right now. Brazil should chalk up another gold medal here.

Bronze is between Russia and the Netherlands.

Triathlon – Men’s

Unlike the perhaps more well known (and much, much longer) version, the Olympic Triathlon is contested over a 1.5 km swim, 43 km cycle, and a 10 km run.

For most of the 2010s the Brownlee Brothers, reigning gold medalist Alistair and third placed Jonathan, have sat atop the world of men’s triathlon from their West Yorkshire base. However, the past three years has seen the rise of Javier Gómez, the now three time world champion. Gómez probably comes in as a slight favourite ahead of the Brownlees, but Mario Mola and Vincent Luis could cause a surprise.

Wrestling – Women’s freestyle 53 kg

An update on yesterday is that Kaori Icho won her fourth successive gold medal, and today the other Unbeatable, Saori Yoshida, gets her shot at equaling that dominance.

Unseeded Helen Maroulis recently came down from the 55kg division during weight class realignment, and will come through the longer part of the bottom half of the draw. She is Yoshida’s biggest threat but Sofia Mattsson often medals behind Yoshida at world level events. One of those are likely to win through to the gold medal contest.

Watch if it’s on

Canoe sprint – Men’s kayak double 1000m, Men’s canoe single 200m, Men’s kayak double 200m, Women’s kayak single 500m

The double-NORSE FREAKING GODS canoe 200m is pretty open, and the thing will be over in about 40 seconds for the winner. Isquias Queiroz Dos Santos starts as favourite, but one slight slip-up could cost the race. Likewise, the  men’s accountancy K2 1000m seems split between fastest qualifiers Australia, Germany, and Serbia.

The two-salaryman 200m kayak has five of the six firms within 0.6 of a second of each other, including Hungary, Spain, Germany, Great Britain. Finally, the women’s one person sit-down over 500m should be fought out between Danuta Kozak and Lisa Carrington.

In conclusion: watch the FREAKING NORSE GOD PADDLING ACROSS TO SAVE CIVILIZATION EVENTS, and put the kayak-commuters on in the background

Wrestling – Women’s freestyle 63 kg, Women’s freestyle 75 kg

These two classes might be the first in the women’s wrestling calendar won by someone other than a Japanese wrestler (they swept the three golds yesterday and Yoshida is favourite in the 53kg as mentioned above).

In the 63kg we find the most open contest on the women’s wrestling schedule, the Mongolian Soronzonbold Battsetseg and Yulia Ostapchuk from Ukraine are the most recent world champions and most likely gold medalists, but Japan has a showing here too with Risako Kawai.

In the 75kg the American Adeline Gray is the two-time reigning world champion and a reasonably strong favourite. Other contenders include Vasilisa Marzaliuk and Qian Zhou. Local entrant Aline da Silva Ferreira is also a bit of a chance, having come in seeded fourth from her world championship performance rather than under host auto-qualifier rules.

Badminton – Women’s doubles, Men’s doubles

In women’s doubles badminton, top-seeded Japan side must go in strong favourites for gold against Denmark. The second-seeded China and fourth seeded South Korea compete for the minor medal.

On the men’s side, a string of upsets in the doubles pits unseeded Malaysia against fourth seed China for the gold and Great Britain against more China for the bronze.

Taekwondo – Women’s 57 kg, Men’s 68 kg

While it is better than it was in London, the Taekwondo is still more boring than a sport based around kicking other people in the head should be.

Jaouad Achab from Belgium is the defending world champ in the 68kg class, but Lee Dae-Hoon is the defending silver medalist and a former two time world champion.

In the 57kg, Jade Jones is the defending Olympic champion, however she was bundled out in the quarter-final stage of the 2015 World Championships. The winner of those championships, Japan’s Mayu Hamada, is only seeded 6th here, with the runner up (Eva Calvo) seeded second.

Don’t bother

Sailing – Women’s 470 (dinghy), Men’s 470 (dinghy), Men’s 49er (skiff), Women’s 49er FX (skiff)

The sailing keeps getting postponed due to a lack of wind, which is hilarious when you remember that the rowing was postponed last week because of too much wind. The lack of wind excuse is bullshit anyway – clearly they should just have to get down and paddle if the wind dies.

Anyway, it’ll either be too windy or not windy enough and this will get postponed again and oh god why are we still writing about sailing.

Boxing – Men’s light heavy 81 kg

It’s just too fixed to care. Here, read this article on professional boxing rigging. Amateur boxing might even be more rigged. Today the AIBA sent six Olympic judges home after a review of the competition to date. SIX! Normally this doesn’t come out til after the games (cf what happened in Seoul). Here’s what Irish fighter Michael Conlan thinks of it all:

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