By this Friday the Rio Olympics will be nearly half-way to their completion, which means the continuation of a large number of events, the conclusion of some of the games’ most famous events and hopefully some medals for Great Britain. Listed below are some highlights for the coming days.
N.B. All events listed are finals and all times listed are BST.
Although dressage always brings to my mind an Eddie Izzard routine, the artistic connection between rider and horse remains eminently watchable for many and the team dressage final is starts after lunch-time, a perfect companion to afternoon tea, perhaps. For those predisposed to enjoying a more watery sport altogether, the men and women’s coxless fours in the mid-afternoon are sure to be exceptional rowing races, with Great Britain in contention in both events. In the evening a highlight is the cycling, which culminates in the team sprint and the team pursuit.
Saturday’s highlights are mostly in the water, both pool and river. Early in the morning the men’s 100m butterfly provides the last chance to see the most decorated Olympian of all-time, Michael Phelps, compete in an individual swim race before his (likely) retirement. Just after that there is a fascinating prospect of the women’s 800m in which Katie Ledecky will be hoping to defend the gold medal she won in London as a 15 year-old! The morning’s swimming will finish with the ‘splash-and-dash’ – the 50m men’s freestyle. Later in the day is the men’s coxed eights race and, like Friday, team GB is hoping for a medal. Saturday finishes with the women’s tennis singles, and with Serena Williams out, the door has been opened for the likes of Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys.
A big day of athletics starts early, notably with Mo Farah racing in the 10,000m. Having claimed that he’s never felt better, Farah will be looking to take on whatever the Kenyans and Ethiopans throw at him in trying to win another gold. An hour or so after Mo starts his long-distance defence, a race of a rather shorter distance will kick off. The women’s 100m will, like their male counterpart, be a wonderful competition to watch, as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce takes on her fellow Jamaican Elaine Thompson and the American Tori Bowie for sprinting glory. A final highlight on the track will be the conclusion of the women’s heptathlon, the 800m. British hopes will be high as both Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson are in with a chance of a medal.
In the pool, meanwhile, will be (probably) the last opportunity to witness Michael Phelps at the Olympics, as he once again endeavours to help guide the United States of America to gold in the 4x100m medley relay.
After a well deserved rest it’s back to the sport, and to British medal hopes, as the men’s tennis singles and cycling sprint will probably both feature British interests, in the form of Andy Murray and Jason Kenny respectively.
It’s going to be a late night for British fans of athletics as the event of the Olympics is scheduled to be broadcast in the UK at 02:25. All will be watching as the world’s quickest men take on Usain Bolt in the 100m final, quite possibly for the last time, at least on an Olympic stage. With his birthday just around the corner, it is unlikely that the 29 year-old Jamaican will be a feature in Tokyo in 2020. For those who don’t fancy staying up, a highlight will be the women’s beam in which Simone Biles will shine again. Already described as “the best athlete in America today”, the 19 year-old will hope to replicate her stellar performance in the team all-round event on Tuesday on the beam.
Watch out for the men’s pole vault for two main reasons. Firstly, the dominant performances of Renaud Lavillenie over the past few years may see him break his own world record of 6.16m in 2014. Secondly the pole vault will see one of Brazil’s best chances for a medal, with the young Thiago Braz da Silva holding the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. If the cheers given to Brazillian athletes who are simply competing is anything to go by, then then the noise in the Olympic Stadium in Rio will be deafening when this man steps up to vault.
The electric atmosphere in Rio will likely carry on as to the 800m, as athletes roll up to the starting line just before 02:30. Here we hope to see scenes like London in 2012 when the Kenyan David Rudisha so magnificently took the race on alone to set a new world record.
Much later the women’s sprint will provide exhilarating action in the velodrome in an event China have recently started to impress in, adding to the competition between the likes of Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands.