01242020

Today in Rio: Bolt, Murray, Whitlock & Rose go for gold

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Day 9: Sunday, 14 August

Usain Bolt<!–

Usain Bolt could be heading for a third 100m gold medal in a row.

Gold medals – 22 in total

Athletics (men’s 100m & 400m, women’s marathon & triple jump), boxing (men’s light flyweight), cycling (track: men’s sprint), diving (women’s 3m), fencing (men’s epee team), golf (men), gymnastics (men’s floor & pommel horse, women’s vault & bars), sailing (men’s & women’s windsurfing), shooting (men’s 50m rifle 3-position), tennis (men’s singles, women’s doubles & mixed doubles), weightlifting (women’s 75+kg), wrestling (Greco-Roman: men’s 59kg & 75kg).

Highlights – main events to follow

11:00: Golf – Great Britain’s Justin Rose will tee off at 14:39 as leader in the final round with a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson.

17:05: Sailing – Nick Dempsey guaranteed to win a silver when the men’s RS:X medal race gets under way. 18:05: Women’s race features Bryony Shaw.

19:00: Tennis – Andy Murray seeks to retain his London 2012 title in the gold-medal match against Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.

19:34: Gymnastics – Max Whitlock favourite in the pommel horse as Britain seek to claim a first-ever gymnastics Olympic gold medal, but faces competition from team-mate Louis Smith, a silver medallist at London 2012.

21:04: Cycling – Britain guaranteed a gold as defending champion Jason Kenny faces team-mate Callum Skinner for the men’s sprint title.

01:00 (Monday): 100m – Semi-finals. Usain Bolt – after 100m, 200m and relay golds in 2008 and 2012 – continues his bid for an unprecedented sprint ‘treble treble’. He runs in the second semi at 01:07.

02:00 (Monday): 400m – Men’s final. Two-time Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt among the contenders.

02:25 (Monday): 100m final – Jamaican Bolt likely to take on American Justin Gatlin, who has twice served doping bans.

Highlights

Usain Bolt is in line to compete for his third Olympic 100m title in a row (semi-finals from 01:00 Monday, final at 02:25). The Jamaican suffered a hamstring injury at the end of June but proved his fitness by powering to 200m victory at the London Anniversary Games in July. American Justin Gatlin is quickest so far this year in the 100m (in 9.80 seconds) and the 34-year-old American is one of the favourites for gold.

At the Velodrome, the men’s sprint final (from 21:04) features Britain’s Jason Kenny – winner of the London 2012 title – against team-mate Callum Skinner. Kenny, 28, has been relatively quiet since London but roared back into contention with this year’s world sprint title.

The pommel horse had not held much interest for British fans until success in 2012. That was when Louis Smith took silver and was part of the team that claimed bronze in London. Smith won world silver last year in Glasgow with team-mate Max Whitlock taking gold, and both feature in Rio alongside a stacked field. The final starts at 19:29. Earlier, from 18:00, Whitlock, who has already claimed bronze in the all-around, will also contend for gold in the men’s floor event having won world silver last year. Japan’s Kenzo Shirai is the man to beat.

From 16:00, Olympic tennis concludes with a string of medals. GB’s Andy Murray will be defending his London 2012 title at 19:00, while there will be a new gold medal pair in the women’s doubles, with holders Serena and Venus Williams already out.

Brit watch

Team GB’s Justin Rose is the leader by one shot from Open champion Henrik Stenson going into the final round of the men’s golf competition at 11:00, while Danny Willett is nine off the lead.

Britain’s two entrants in the women’s marathon (from 13:30) are Sonia Samuels and Alyson Dixon. Neither are considered likely medal contenders.

The first medals in sailing are handed out from 17:05, when the men’s windsurfing medal race begins. The women’s event follows an hour later. GB’s Nick Dempsey is guaranteed a silver and Bryony Shaw is also in contention for a medal.

When Katie Clark and Olivia Federici compete in synchronised swimming’s duet from 15:00, years of hard work with no funding will pay off. Both swimmers retired after the 2013 World Championships and the sport’s funding for GB athletes was cut a year later, but the two returned and successfully qualified for a place at the Games earlier this year.

Diving’s women’s 3m springboard final at 20:00 includes Grace Reid and Rebecca Gallantree. Scotland’s Reid, 20, took European bronze just ahead of Gallantree in May.

World watch

Beijing gold medallist and two-time Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt starts the men’s 400m final for the US at 02:00 on Monday. Merritt is a controversial figure following a reduced, backdated doping ban served between the Beijing and London Games but was the world’s fastest man over 400m heading into Rio. Grenada’s Kirani James, who won in London with Merritt missing through injury, is back for Rio while South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk will try to turn his 2015 world title into Olympic gold.

One of gymnastics’ most exciting contests is the women’s vault, from 18:44. Romania’s Sandra Izbasa beat American McKayla Maroney to gold in 2012 – Maroney’s “not impressed” face on the podium became a worldwide online meme, to the point where US President Barack Obama reproduced her expression in a photo with Maroney at the White House.

Did you know?

Wrestling is split into two disciplines at the Games: freestyle and Greco-Roman. Greco-Roman, which begins from 14:00, is unusual on the Olympic programme in that only men may take part.

Day 10: Monday, 15 August

Mark Cavendish<!–

Mark Cavendish pulled out of the 2016 Tour de France early to focus on the Olympics after failing to win gold medals at either Beijing 2008 or London 2012

Gold medals – 17 in total

17: Athletics (women’s 400m, steeplechase & hammer, men’s 800m & pole vault), boxing (men’s heavyweight), cycling (track: men’s omnium), equestrian (individual dressage), gymnastics (men’s vault & rings, women’s beam), sailing (men’s laser, women’s laser radial), swimming (open water: women’s 10km), weightlifting (men’s 105kg), wrestling (Greco-Roman: men’s 85kg & 130kg)

Highlights

World titles? He has them. One of the largest collections of Tour de France stage wins in cycling history? His. But after an attempt at the Beijing Olympics went awry, Mark Cavendish still has no Olympic medal to his name. The Manxman, 31, is expected to ride in the Rio omnium – a collection of six cycling events designed to establish an all-round champion. The omnium concludes with the points race at 21:23.

Sailing’s laser and laser radial classes reach their medal races (from 17:05) featuring GB’s Nick Thompson and Alison Young respectively. Thompson is a double world champion making his Olympic debut with London 2012 laser entrant Paul Goodison not returning, while Young, fifth at London 2012, returns for Rio.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro are Olympic, world and European individual dressage champions and can expect to enter the Rio final (from 14:00) as the favourite. This is also set to be Valegro’s last outing before retirement. The horse, 14, is part-owned by Dujardin’s Olympic team-mate Carl Hester.

Brit watch

Christine Ohuruogu has a habit of pulling out Olympic medal-winning performances when it matters: she registered a stunning victory at Beijing 2008 then picked up silver in London four years later. Now 32, she’s back in the GB team for Rio having won the 2013 world title – but America’s Allyson Felix could be a better bet for 400m gold (race from 02:45 Tuesday), particularly as this is her only individual event having failed to qualify for the 200m. Bahamas sprinter Shaunae Miller is second-fastest in the world behind Felix this year, while South Africa’s Caster Semenya has voiced an ambition to win this race as part of a Rio 400-800 double.

A frustrating fourth at London 2012, open-water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne returns for Rio. The 28-year-old missed her first chance to seal a place last year but came through a final qualifier in June to be named to the team. Payne hasn’t had a major world podium since taking a year out after her London disappointment, but knows from past experience what it takes: she won silver at Beijing 2008. Tune in to the 10km open-water swim from 13:00.

The omnium’s elimination race has fast become a crowd favourite since its introduction prior to the London Olympics. GB’s 2012 champion Laura Trott has more than once hung on to the bitter end with a series of late, late moves to defy elimination – and she’s expected to ride in the Rio elimination race from 22:17.

World watch

Gymnast Arthur Zanetti has the chance to become a home hero in the men’s rings competition from 18:00. Zanetti, 26, won Olympic gold at London 2012 and has been on three of the last four world podiums. The gruelling event sees athletes suspended in mid-air by the arms before hauling themselves through a series of complex positions. Watch out for the iron cross: forming the cross with your arms and legs perfectly perpendicular is one of the rings’ simplest but toughest moves.

The men’s Sweden-Brazil handball contest, at 20:40, is one of the more interesting of the group stages – pitting the losing 2012 finalists against the hosts. Brazil have never done better than 10th in men’s Olympic handball, while Sweden have been runners-up the last four times they took part.

Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk looks indomitable in the women’s hammer (from 14:40), particularly given the doping crises hanging over Russian rivals. Wlodarczyk, London’s silver medallist, holds the world title and world record of 81.08m. Poignantly, she throws using a glove that belonged to close friend and fellow hammer thrower Kamila Skolimowska, who died in 2009 after winning gold as a 17-year-old at Sydney 2000. Men’s pole vault (00:35 Tuesday) is a chance to see exciting French star Renaud Lavillenie in action, although the reigning world champion is Canada’s Shawn Barber.

Sailing’s laser radial class should feature Xu Lijia, who followed bronze at her home Beijing Games with gold for China four years later – despite having only half of her hearing and hardly any vision in one eye, not to mention a tumour removed from her knee. Lily, as she better known, has most recently been studying for a management degree in Southampton but dropped retirement plans to come back for Rio. “I’m going to grab another medal,” she promised in March.

Did you know?

If you’re wondering about the dimensions of gymnastics’ beam (women’s final from 19:42), it’s just over four feet off the ground, 16 feet long… and less than four inches wide. And then you’re expected to start doing backflips on it. Good luck!

Badminton’s women’s doubles reaches the quarter-final stage today (from 15:30). Infamously, four pairings were disqualified from London 2012 for trying to lose their last group games in the hope of ensuring a better quarter-final draw. The rules have been changed for Rio 2016 to make it less clear how the quarter-final draw will pan out, meaning – in theory – there’s less incentive to throw a group game.

Day 11: Tuesday, 16 August

Giles Scott<!–

Taking over from Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott carries Britain’s hopes for a sailing medal this year

Gold medals – 25 in total

Athletics (men’s triple jump, high jump & 110m hurdles, women’s discus & 1500m), boxing (men’s lightweight), canoe sprint (men’s C1 1000m & K1 1000m, women’s K1 200m & K2 500m), cycling (track: men’s keirin, women’s omnium & sprint), diving (men’s 3m), gymnastics (men’s parallel bars & high bar, women’s floor), sailing (Nacra 17, men’s Finn), swimming (open water: men’s 10km), synchro (duet), table tennis (women’s team), weightlifting (men’s 105+kg), wrestling (Greco-Roman: men’s 66kg, 98kg)

Highlights

It’s the final day of track cycling for another Olympics, but the last night of action promises plenty: gold medals are on the line in men’s keirin, the women’s omnium and women’s sprint (session starts at 14:00). Laura Trott is the big name to watch in the omnium, where she is usually challenged by US rider Sarah Hammer and Australia’s Annette Edmondson. Jason Kenny and Callum Skinner are in the men’s keirin while Becky James and Katy Marchant go in the women’s sprint.

Giles Scott has won 19 out of the 21 regattas he has sailed since losing his Finn class selection battle with Ben Ainslie for London 2012. From 17:05 we will find out whether he can convert that dominance into his first Olympic gold medal for Britain. New Zealand’s Josh Junior is the only Rio competitor to have beaten Scott since the last Olympics.

Artistic gymnastics concludes from 18:00 with the women’s floor, men’s parallel bars and men’s high bar. The floor event looks set to be another chance for America’s Simone Biles to assert her dominance after already winning two golds in Rio, while the men’s high bar is the traditional domain of flamboyant Dutchman Epke Zonderland – whose London 2012 routine was a highlight of the Games. Zonderland has won two out of three world titles since.

Brit watch

From 22:00, GB’s Jack Laugher should feature in the men’s 3m diving. Laugher, 21, won gold in the 3m syncro springboard alongside Chris Mears on day five.

In an open-water swim lasting nearly two hours, Scunthorpe’s Jack Burnell was just five seconds off a bronze medal at last year’s world championships. He swims the 10km race for GB from 13:00.

London 2012 bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz and European bronze medallist Chris Baker are GB’s entrants in the men’s high jump (final from 00:30 Wednesday). Andrew Pozzi is Britain’s fastest 110m hurdler this year, with the final (02:45 Wednesday) missing both Olympic champion Aries Merritt and world champion David Oliver. Laura Muir, fifth at last year’s world championships, is the fastest female 1500m runner outside Kenya and Ethiopia so far this year (02:30 Wednesday).

World watch

Christian Taylor is out on his own so far this year in triple jump, more than 10cm clear of compatriot Will Claye in 2016’s longest marks to date. They were the gold and silver medallists respectively in London and Taylor is the reigning world champion. French former world champion Teddy Tamgho, who withdrew from London 2012 after ankle surgery, misses Rio (final from 13:50) with a broken leg picked up at France’s Olympic trials.

Men’s hockey reaches the semi-final stage from 16:00. Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain got this far in 2012 – the British succumbing to a devastating 9-2 defeat on home soil at the hands of the Dutch. The Champions Trophy, held between the world’s top teams in June this year, saw a resurgent Indian team reach the final before Australia triumphed.

Women’s football is also down to the final four (from 17:00). The US will expect to make this stage of the competition at the very least, with Germany and France also tipped to perform. Japan, who were World Cup finalists last year, did not qualify for Rio despite hosting one of the qualifying tournaments.

Did you know?

The mixed-gender Nacra 17 catamaran crews are making their sailing debuts at Rio with the medal race from 18:05 today. Athletes claim this is the most spectacular sailing class to watch. Britain’s Nicola Groves and Ben Saxton won World Cup gold in Weymouth in one of their final outings before the Olympics.

Day 12: Wednesday, 17 August

Dina Asher-Smith<!–

Competing at her first Olympics, Dina Asher-Smith will be hoping for a medal in the women’s 200m

Gold medals – 16 in total

Athletics (men’s 3000m steeplechase, women’s 200m, 100m hurdles & long jump), badminton (mixed doubles), beach volleyball (women), boxing (men’s welterweight), equestrian (team showjumping), sailing (men’s & women’s 470), table tennis (men’s team), taekwondo (men’s -58kg, women’s -49kg), wrestling (freestyle: women’s -48kg, -58kg, -69kg).

Highlights

Ever since Brazil was awarded the 2016 Olympics, beach volleyball has been waiting for its chance to shine on Rio’s sand. Brazilians love the sport and are remarkably successful at it: since beach volleyball’s Olympic debut in 1996, Brazilians have appeared in seven of the 10 Olympic finals. However, you’ll need to wait until late in the night to see if the hosts reach this year’s women’s final on Copacabana Beach – it isn’t set to start until 04:00 on Thursday UK time. For the US, three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings is back for Rio and hotly tipped to contend for gold. No Britons qualified.

Earlier in the day and a sporting world away, the team showjumping final begins at 14:00 across the city at the Deodoro complex. Scott Brash, a star of Britain’s charge to team gold at London 2012, will miss Rio as his top two rides are both injured – but 2012 team-mate Nick Skelton, now 58, returns for his seventh Olympics (a British record). In contrast to their glorious home Olympics, Britain only just qualified for Rio 2016. Canada’s showjumping team does not include Ian Millar, who achieved legendary status by featuring in the past 10 Olympics. However, his daughter, Amy, is in the team for her Olympic debut.

Women’s long jump could be a sensational contest (from 01:15 Thursday). Brittney Reese sealed her Rio place by leaping to 7.31m at US Olympic trials – the farthest any woman has jumped since 2004. Reese won gold in London with just 7.12m by comparison, while she’ll face competition in Rio from team-mate Tianna Bartoletta (whose two world titles were won a decade apart, in 2005 and 2015). Step forward, too, Shara Proctor. The Briton, ninth at London 2012, was last year’s world silver medallist while Jazmin Sawyers and Lorraine Ugen complete a strong GB line-up.

Brit watch

Badminton’s mixed doubles reaches its climax in a session starting at 12:30. Britain’s representatives in the mixed doubles are Chris and Gabby Adcock, playing together at the Games for the first time since they married in 2013. The couple are ranked seventh in the world and became the first Britons to win a World Superseries Finals title in 2015.

The women’s 200m final (02:30 Thursday) could feature GB’s Dina Asher-Smith and Jodie Williams. Asher-Smith is the new European champion and was a trackside kit-carrier during Britain’s famous Super Saturday at London 2012, watching Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah win gold. The Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers is a major contender for 200m gold, as are Tori Bowie for the US and Veronica Campbell-Brown for Jamaica.

From 16:00 you can see the semi-finals in women’s hockey. Britain’s women had their hopes crushed by Argentina in a 2-1 defeat at this stage four years ago, but came back to take bronze two days later. The Netherlands will also expect to be involved in the final four.

Boxing’s women’s middleweight quarter-finals take place from 18:30. Savannah Marshall was the world champion entering London 2012 but was knocked out of the contest at this point four years ago. She is back for Rio having taken world bronze in May. Claressa Shields, who won the first-ever women’s middleweight gold for Team USA in London, returns in fine form having won two world titles in the interim.

Sailing’s 470 class reaches its medal races (men and women) from 17:00. Luke Patience has a new partner in the GB 470, Chris Grube, after former partner Elliot Willis had to pull out for bowel cancer treatment in December. Patience and Grube were fifth at this year’s world championships. In the women’s boat, Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills are a holdover from London 2012, where they won silver.

World watch

London 2012 women’s 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson won’t be in Rio – the Australian superstar, who would have captained the team, has pulled out with a hamstring injury. In her absence the three Rio entrants with the year’s fastest times are all American, led by 2013 world champion Brianna Rollins. Surprise 2015 world champion Danielle Williams didn’t make it through Jamaican national trials, while Germany’s Cindy Roleder should be a medal contender. Tiffany Porter and Cindy Ofili race for GB. Catch the final from 02:55 on Thursday, UK time.

Female golfers make their Olympic debut in the women’s first round of play from 11:30. Just one eligible woman, South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace, is known to have withdrawn. New Zealand 19-year-old Lydia Ko is the top-ranked qualifier and a winner of two majors in the past year, while Canadian 18-year-old PGA Championship winner Brooke Henderson is also tipped for the podium. Charley Hull, 20, and 46-year-old Catriona Matthew tee off for GB.

Did you know?

Table tennis in Rio concludes with the men’s team medal matches from 15:00. This event will include America’s first Olympian born in the 21st Century: Kanak Jha, 16, was the first US athlete born in 2000 to qualify for the Games. Jha moved to Sweden to train with better players in the run-up to Rio but, even so, few people would expect the US to make today’s final – to see him in action, you may prefer to keep an eye on the first-round matches (from 12 August). China have won both Olympic titles since the team event was introduced at Beijing 2008.

Day 13: Thursday, 18 August

Jade Jones<!–

Jade Jones won Britain’s first Olympic taekwondo gold medal at London 2012

Gold medals – 23 in total

Athletics (men’s 200m, 400m hurdles, shot put & decathlon, women’s 400m hurdles & javelin), badminton (women’s doubles), beach volleyball (men), boxing (men’s light heavyweight), canoe sprint (men’s C1 200m, K2 200m & K2 1000m, women’s K1 500m), diving (women’s 10m), hockey (men), sailing (men’s 49er, women’s 49erFX), taekwondo (men’s -68kg, women’s -57kg), triathlon (men), wrestling (freestyle: women’s -53kg, -63kg, -75kg).

Highlights

Rio’s triathlon course involves an ocean swim off Copacabana Beach followed by a hill to be tackled eight times on the bike and a hot, flat run to finish. Britain’s Brownlee brothers, London Olympic champion Alistair and bronze medallist Jonny, have had their chances boosted by the withdrawal of their main threat: Spain’s Javier Gomez is out with a broken arm. But while Gomez is missing, compatriot Mario Mola is one of several rivals who could still beat either Brownlee to gold. The race begins at 15:00.

Usain Bolt should be back for the men’s 200m final (02:30 Friday). This is the second of three events Bolt needs to win to complete his planned “treble treble” of Olympic titles, though his 2008 relay gold medal is in some jeopardy following a positive retest of Jamaican team-mate Nesta Carter’s sample from those Games. Bolt, however, will keep his mind occupied with another task he has set himself: running sub-19 seconds in this race.

Britain’s first-ever Olympic taekwondo champion returns for more in Rio on Thursday. Flint’s Jade Jones was the Youth Olympic champion and still a teenager when she roared to gold in the women’s -57kg category at London 2012. Four years later, Jones has added two European titles and is the world number one for her weight. The evening session begins at 00:00 on Friday UK time.

Brit watch

The women’s 49erFX is a new sailing class for the Rio Games and features Sophie Ainsworth partnered with Charlotte Dobson for GB. On the men’s side, Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign were among the last sailors named to Team GB after an intense 49er selection race – helped by winning world bronze earlier this year. Medal races begin at 17:00.

Britain has two bites at women’s 10m platform diving success (final from 20:00) courtesy of Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch. Barrow, 27, won European gold in this event two years ago; Couch, the same age, took European silver this year. Last year, North Korea’s Kim Kuk-hyang made history as her country’s first diving world champion – at the age of 16.

Britain’s canoe sprint team does not feature London Olympic champion Ed McKeever, who has struggled since 2012 to replicate the form that handed him a stunning K1 200m victory on the penultimate day of the Games. This time around, Team GB’s best shot in the sport could be Liam Heath. He has a shot in the K2 200m (session starts at 13:00) paired with Jon Schofield – an event in which they won bronze four years ago – and also has a K1 200m World Cup win to his name this season. Rachel Cawthorn paddles for GB in the women’s K1 500m.

World watch

America’s Ashton Eaton will try to mimic Daley Thompson as the men’s decathlon concludes with the 1500m finale (from 01:45 Friday). Thompson won back-to-back decathlon titles at the boycott-hit 1980 and 1984 Olympics – Eaton, the London 2012 champion, holds the world record and world title heading to Rio. While his score at US Olympic trials was some way off his record, it remained higher than the career best of any rival.

If Brazil’s women fail to clinch the women’s beach volleyball title, the men’s event presents a second strong chance for the hosts to win gold. Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt are the men’s world champions heading into the contest. The final takes place from 04:00 on Friday UK time.

Hockey’s men’s gold medal game starts at 21:00. At London 2012, Jan-Philipp Rabente scored both goals to seal Germany’s Olympic title in a 2-1 victory over the Dutch. Rabente, 25, had until that point reportedly scored fewer international goals than anyone in the German squad bar their goalkeeper.

BMX, the summer Olympics’ answer to snowboard cross, reaches the men’s quarter-final stage from 17:30. Riders drop from a start gate and navigate a complex, snaking pattern of bumps and berms before hurtling across the line… or into the dirt. Britain’s Liam Phillips, who won the 2013 world title, is the current world number three and a medal contender. However, watch out for Dutchman Niek Kimmann, who burst onto the scene with a world title as a 19-year-old last year.

Did you know?

Two Japanese freestyle wrestlers are heading to Rio in the hope of maintaining an impressive record: winning every Olympic title since their sport was added to the Games. Kaori Icho and Saori Yoshida won the 63kg and 55kg titles respectively when women’s freestyle made its debut at Athens 2004; they did the same in Beijing, and the same again in London. Icho, unbelievably, had a 13-year winning streak going until February this year. Yoshida is expected to drop to freestyle’s new 53kg category for Rio. Both should be in action today from 14:00.

Day 14: Friday, 19 August

Liam Phillips, Tre Whyte and Kyle Evans<!–

Liam Phillips (right), Tre Whyte (middle), and Kyle Evans (left) will represent Great Britain for BMX

Gold medals – 22 in total

Athletics (men’s 50km walk, hammer & 4x100m relay, women’s 20km walk, 5000m, pole vault & 4x100m relay), badminton (men’s doubles, women’s singles), boxing (women’s lightweight), cycling (BMX: men & women), equestrian (individual showjumping), football (women), hockey (women), modern pentathlon (women), synchro (team), taekwondo (men’s -80kg, women’s -67kg), water polo (women), wrestling (freestyle: men’s -57kg, -74kg).

Highlights

By the time we reach the men’s 4x100m relay final (02:35 Saturday), one of three things will have happened. Either Usain Bolt is preparing for the last missing piece of his treble treble, or Bolt is seeking redemption having finally been knocked off his perch by a rival in the individual events, or for some devastating reason Bolt and Jamaica have failed to reach the final. Whatever happens, it is expected to be his last Olympic outing and guaranteed to be worth watching. Not so long ago, at Athens 2004, Britain’s men won this event – but in recent years GB quartets have had trouble getting the baton safely home.

In London, it took both Latvia’s Maris Strombergs and Colombia’s Mariana Pajon just under 38 seconds to win men’s and women’s BMX gold. Crash, though, and the race will feel like it takes a lifetime. Shanaze Reade was Britain’s face of BMX in Beijing and London but she’s out of the line-up for Rio; instead, GB’s attention will be on Liam Phillips and Kyle Evans in the men’s event (from 17:30).

Britain’s top showjumper won’t be in Rio. So how will GB fare in the individual final (from 14:00) without Scott Brash and his injured rides? France’s Simon Delestre holds the world number one ranking while America’s Mclain Ward is on form.

Friday appears to have been appointed women’s finals day in Rio: the women’s gold medals will be decided in water polo (19:30), hockey (21:00), football (21:30) and modern pentathlon (22:00) – the latter being a combination of fencing, swimming, showjumping, running and shooting. Britain has a fine women’s pentathlon record with silver medals at the past two Olympics, a bronze in Athens and both gold and bronze at Sydney 2000. Team USA are defending football and water polo gold.

Brit watch

Lutalo Muhammad must be getting tired of selection battles. After he won an acrimonious affair against Aaron Cook in the run-up to London 2012, Cook chose to leave GB and fight first for the Isle of Man then, most recently, Moldova. Cook has qualified for Rio and could yet meet Muhammad as a Moldovan at the Games. Meanwhile, Muhammad spent the past year successfully proving to selectors that he deserved to be sent to Rio at the expense of team-mate Damon Sansum. The men’s -80kg contest begins at 13:00.

Dominic King is back for his second 50km walk (starts 12:00) as a GB athlete. King, 33, was the 51st and last athlete to post a time at London 2012 – 40 minutes behind the leaders – although three athletes who finished ahead of him have since been disqualified. European bronze medallist Stephanie Twell may feature in the women’s 5000m final (01:40 Saturday).

World watch

Even if the men’s 4x100m relay disappoints, the women’s relay (slightly earlier, at 02:15 Saturday) is set up to be a blockbuster. In 2012, the US broke the world record to beat Jamaica to gold. Three years later, the Jamaicans set a national record to hit back and beat the Americans to the world title. By this point in the Olympics, both relay teams could read like a who’s-who of Rio sprint medallists.

Fabiana Murer is being billed as Brazil’s best hope of an Olympic title for the host nation in track and field. Murer, 35, was five centimetres off last year’s pole vault world title (won by Cuba’s Yarisley Silva) but set a new career best in July as she prepared for her home Games. Holly Bradshaw is Britain’s entrant. The women’s final begins at 00:30 on Saturday UK time.

The men’s -74kg wrestling is the domain of Jordan Burroughs, one of the biggest characters on the US team. Burroughs – Twitter handle @alliseeisgold – is the world and Olympic champion and has only been defeated once at the Olympics or world championships. His event starts at 1400.

Today could be the day Katie Taylor picks up a second Olympic title for Ireland in women’s lightweight boxing (18:00). Taylor is ranked first in the world by a distance but could only manage bronze at this year’s world championships, where gold was won by French fighter Estelle Mossely.

Did you know?

Race walking has suffered considerable damage at the hands of doping in recent years, embodied particularly in the plight of Jared Tallent. The Australian finished second at Beijing 2008 behind a gold medallist who has since tested positive for performance-enhancing substances, then came second at London 2012 behind another athlete who was subsequently shown to have doped. That athlete, Russia’s Sergey Kirdyapkin, only formally had his gold medal stripped in March – leaving Tallent to pick up gold at a special ceremony in June, almost four years after the race. Tallent will captain Australia’s athletics team in Rio.

Day 15: Saturday, 20 August

Nicola Adams<!–

Box clever – Nicola Adams looks to defend her Olympic title

Gold medals – 31 in total

Athletics (men’s 1500m, 5000m, javelin, 4x400m relay, women’s 800m, high jump, 4x400m relay), badminton (men’s singles), basketball (women), boxing (men’s bantamweight & middleweight, women’s flyweight), canoe sprint (men’s C2 1000m, K1 200m & K4 1000m, women’s K4 500m), cycling (mountain bike: women), diving (men’s 10m), football (men), golf (women), gymnastics (rhythmic: individual all-around), handball (women), modern pentathlon (men), taekwondo (men’s +80kg, women’s +67kg), triathlon (women), volleyball (women), water polo (men), wrestling (freestyle: men’s -86kg & -125kg).

Highlights

There’s little doubt about the highlight for the hosts: the men’s football final takes place at 21:30 and Brazilians will expect their team to be in it. Rules on age mean this won’t be the Brazil team many people know, as all but three of the squad must be under the age of 23 – but big names like Neymar still feature. Brazil were silver medallists behind Mexico at London 2012 and have never won this event at the Olympics; Argentina, winners in 2004 and 2008 before failing to qualify in 2012, are back for Rio.

The penultimate day of the Olympics brings Tom Daley’s chance to shine (from 20:30). Daley, 22, is Britain’s lone entrant in the men’s 10m platform dive – an event in which he won bronze at London 2012 and again at last year’s world championships. He finished this year’s diving world series second in the world behind China’s Chen Aisen, with American David Boudia a close third. Daley has already picked up a bronze in the 10m syncro alongside Dan Goodfellow.

Mo Farah is one of three British entrants in the men’s 5000m (01:30 Sunday) alongside Tom Farrell and Andrew Butchart. Back in 2008, Farah failed to qualify for this final and didn’t show much sign of the double distance triumph he duly produced in London four years later. But can he hold on to those titles in Rio? The omens from the past two World Championships, where Farah won both the 5000m and 10,000m, suggest he can. Also in the race is 41-year-old Bernard Lagat, who won the US Olympic trial for this event.

Nicola Adams became the world’s first female Olympic boxing champion with flyweight victory at London 2012, but the 33-year-old was missing a world title until May this year – when she beat Thailand’s Peamwilai Laopeam, adding world gold to her collection. However, no British boxer since 1924 has successfully defended an Olympic title. The women’s flyweight final starts at 18:00.

Such is the strength of British women’s triathlon that the world number three, Jodie Stimpson, won’t be on the Rio start line. Non Stanford, Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins – each winners on the world series circuit – wrapped up Team GB’s three quota places for the Rio Games. Star names so far this season include New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, but American 30-year-old Gwen Jorgensen may be the favourite: she went unbeaten in a dozen races during the build-up to Rio.

On a packed day with more than 30 Olympic titles on offer, athletics inside Rio’s Olympic Stadium concludes with the men’s and women’s 4x400m relays from 02:00 Sunday UK time.

Brit watch

GB’s Jamie Cooke is ranked first in the world in men’s modern pentathlon, which runs from 16:00, having taken World Cup final gold in the run-up to Rio. A men’s medal in pentathlon would be a departure as the British are usually stronger in the women’s event – no GB male has won a pentathlon medal since 1988, in the since-discontinued team event.

Events on canoe sprint’s final day of action include the women’s K4 500m. Team GB have a four-woman team entered but the event has traditionally been the domain of eastern European nations, in particular Hungary. The men’s K1 200m (13:07) might be a chance for GB’s Liam Heath to win a medal.

Women’s golf concludes from 11:00. Charley Hull, ranked 27th in the world, is considered Britain’s best bet for a medal. The 20-year-old finished tied for second at April’s ANA Inspiration, one of the five majors, a stroke behind New Zealand’s Lydia Ko.

Bianca Walkden and Mahama Cho should both be in action on taekwondo’s final day (from 13:00). Walkden is the world champion at +73kg – only the second world gold medallist in British history, after Sarah Stevenson – but that category doesn’t exist at the Olympics, so +67kg is her chosen weight.

World watch

Norway’s women have won the last two Olympic handball titles, are the reigning world champions and have even proved their mettle on Brazilian soil having won a world title in Sao Paulo five years ago. The Dutch handball team, surprise silver medallists in last year’s world championships, will be in Rio after missing qualification for London 2012 by a single point. The women’s final begins at 19:30.

The men’s javelin final (from 00:55 Sunday) appears unpredictable. Keshorn Walcott was a shock champion for Trinidad and Tobago in 2012, when he won the world junior and Olympic titles in the same year, but has not reached a world final since. Kenyan Commonwealth champion Julius Yego continued his rise with a world title last year, having finished fourth in 2013. Norwegian Andreas Thorkildsen, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medallist, retired earlier this year.

Many observers think no rival will come close to South Africa’s Caster Semenya in the women’s 800m final (01:15 Sunday). The 25-year-old, who missed last year’s world final but ran a world-leading 800m time in July, remains best known for a bitterly contested gender testing dispute seven years ago after she won world gold.

Did you know?

For the past 20 years, gold in rhythmic gymnastics’ individual all-around contest (from 19:20) has been the province of Russian competitors. One of a small handful of gender-specific events at the Games – there being no men’s equivalent – this sport sees athletes performing four routines (featuring a ball, hoop, ribbon and clubs) to find an overall winner.

Day 16: Sunday, 21 August

Fireworks at the Maracena<!–

Brazil says goodbye to the Olympics and hands the flame onto Tokyo for 2020

Gold medals – 12 in total

12: Athletics (men’s marathon), basketball (men), boxing (men’s flyweight, light welterweight & super heavyweight, women’s middleweight), cycling (mountain bike: men), gymnastics (rhythmic: group), handball (men), volleyball (men), wrestling (freestyle: men’s -65kg & -97kg).

Highlights

Rio’s final morning is dominated by one of the Games’ most gruelling events: the men’s marathon (from 13:30). Team GB are represented by brothers Derek and Callum Hawkins alongside Tsegai Tewelde, a 26-year-old born in Eritrea before seeking asylum in Edinburgh nine years ago. Tewelde says the scar on his forehead comes from a land mine explosion which killed a friend and left him injured as an eight-year-old.

Team USA will expect to win gold in men’s basketball (19:45) despite a lengthy list of absentees for the Rio tournament. Some American reports claim this is the weakest Olympic team since Athens 2004, where the US struggled to an uncharacteristic bronze medal – but, on the other hand, the national team has not been defeated since 2006.

Brit watch

There aren’t many chances for British medals on the last day of the Games, but boxing (from 18:00) could deliver. Savannah Marshall could have a shot at women’s middleweight gold, while the men’s super-heavyweight class is home to 2015 world bronze medallist Joe Joyce. Don’t adjust your set for the flyweight class: yes, that’s Muhammad Ali fighting for Britain. The Bury ABC-coached 20-year-old is a European silver medallist.

Grant Ferguson is Britain’s entrant in men’s mountain biking from 16:30. Ferguson was a late call-up to Team GB, which initially didn’t have a quota place for the event until other nations handed back unused places. The 22-year-old is ranked 49th in the world. Watch out for road cycling world champion Peter Sagan riding in the mountain bike event for Slovakia.

World watch

At first glance, the rhythmic gymnastics group final (from 15:00) looks like another cakewalk to gold for Russia, winners of every group gold since Sydney 2000. However, upsets are not impossible: Bulgaria shocked the Russians by winning world gold in 2014, for example, while Italy won the world title in 2011.

Men’s handball and volleyball reach their finales at 17:15 and 18:00 respectively. Brazil’s men have not missed out on a volleyball medal since Sydney 2000, while the French handball team have won the past two Olympic titles alongside last year’s world championship gold.

Did you know?

The closing ceremony, which begins at 23:15, marks the end of the Rio Olympics and hands over to Tokyo for the 2020 Games. Tokyo’s organisers will be given eight minutes of the ceremony to give us a taste of their plans, as is traditional – remember David Beckham inside a double-decker bus at Beijing 2008? However, as usual, most of the details of the ceremony are closely-guarded secrets.

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