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Olympic Preview - Monday, August 6

Olympic Preview - Monday, August 6
Day 4 of track and field at the Games of the XXX Summer Olympiad will answer questions. Can America's Emma Coburn and Bridget Franek make a difference in the women's steeplechase? Can Dai Greene add to Britain's amazing streak of success? Can Jenn Suhr or anyone else beat Elena Isinbayeva? Can an American win an Olympic women's shot put medal for the first time since 1960? What will the first rounds of the 800 and 1500 tell us about upcoming finals? And what new talent will take 400 meter gold?

TV Schedule

All times Eastern; check local listings at NBCOlympics.com
NBC    10:00-10:30am    Qualifying-round action in Track & Field, including the
women's 100m hurdles and 1500m, and the men's 800m.
NBC    1:15-1:45pm    Qualifying-round action in Track & Field, including the
women's 100m hurdles and 1500m, and the men's 800m.
NBC    4:00pm-???    LIVE coverage of the women's steeplechase final
(according to Runnerspace.com)
NBC    4:30-5:00pm    Qualifying-round action in Track & Field, including the
women's 100m hurdles and 1500m, and the men's 800m.
NBC    8:00pm-midnight    More apparatus finals in Gymnastics, plus the men's 400m
final in Track & Field coverage. Also, qualifying in men's
springboard Diving, a men's Beach Volleyball quarterfinal
and the men's sprint final in track Cycling.
NBC    12:35-1:35am    Finals in the women's steeplechase and shot put,
plus the women's omnium - a new program in cycling.

Day 4 results
Day 4 Event by Event Updates
Olympic Track & Field Schedule

(all events covered live at NBCOlympics.com)

For a deeper look at each event, check out my blog at tracksuperfan.com.

Let's take a look at the main events one at a time, in chronological order.

Men's 800 Meters heats

5:50 AM ET

Fifty-six entrants in seven heats will be trimmed to twenty-four semifinalists. The top three in each heat plus three more time qualifiers will get through to tomorrow's semis.

Heat one has Team USA's ageless wonder, Khadevis Robinson, and stunning 18-year-old World Junior champion Nigel Amos of Botswana, who has run 1:43.11 this year.

Heat two has The Man, world record holder David Rudisha of Kenya. The next fastest in the heat are Jeff Risely, who has been closing in on the 44-year-old Australian record, and Britain's Andrew Osagie.

Heat three includes Sudan's Abubaker Kaki, who is one of the medal favorites, along with Kenya's Timothy Kitum and Britain's Gareth Warburton.

Heat four includes Team USA's Nick Symmonds plus a potent competitor in Poland's Adam Kszczot. Russian legend Yuriy Borzakovskiy, the 2004 Olympic champion, is also in this heat.

Heat five has a pair of sub-1:44 runners in Spain's Kevin López and Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria. Makhloufi has qualified for tomorrow's 1500 final, though, so don't be surprised if he's a no-show.

Heat six includes Ethiopian Mohammed Aman, notable because he broke Rudisha's win streak last year. The next fastest in this year is Kenya's Anthony Chemut.

Heat seven has Team USA's fast-improving Duane Solomon, who has dropped his PR by almost two whole seconds this year. As the only sub-1:44 runner in his heat, he should be able to move on without too much trouble.

Women's 1500 Meters heats

6:50 AM ET

Forty-six entrants in three heats will get cut down to twenty-four semifinalists. The first six in each heat plus six more time qualifiers will go to Wednesday's semis.

Heat one has Team USA's Shannon Rowbury up against one of the gold medal favorites, Abeba Aregawi of Ethiopia. Others to watch for are Russian Tatyana Tomashova, Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal, and Kenya's Hellen Obiri. Several others ran at U.S. colleges: Hillary Stellingwerf (Canada/Wisconsin), Hannah England (Great Britain/Florida State), Marina Muncan (Serbia/Villanova), and Lucy Van Dalen (New Zealand/Stony Brook).

Heat two has Team USA's reigning World Champion, Jenny Simpson. She'll face sudden 3:56 runner Asli Çakir Alptekin of Turkey. Other notables are Russian Ekaterina Martynova, Moroccan Siham Hilali, and Britain's Lisa Dobriskey. Former Washington Husky Ingvill Måkestad Bovim (Norway) is in this heat as well.

Heat three has American Morgan Uceny, last year's Diamond League champion. Her toughest competition is likely to come from Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba and Russian Ekaterina Kostetskaya. Former NCAA runners appear in Nicole Sifuentes (Canada/Michigan) and Zoe Buckman (Australia/Oregon).

Women's Pole Vault

2:00 PM ET

Russian Elena Isinbayeva is doubtlessly the greatest women's pole vaulter of all time. If she's anywhere near her best form, she cannot be beaten by anyone. If she's not--and she no-heighted in her final pre-Olympic competition--then the door is open for the likes of American Jenn Suhr. Often injured, she's apparently healthy now and needed only a single attempt in the qualifying round to get to the final. German Silke Spiegelburg is another medal threat, and if home advantage means anything then look out for Britain's Holly Bleasdale.

Women's Shot Put

2:15 PM ET

This event has one of the great rivalries in track and field, between Kiwi Valerie Adams and Belarus' Nadzeya Ostapchuk. It's an intense rivalry and the two almost never lose to anyone but each other. Adams has had the upper hand recently, but Ostapchuk recently threw 21.58m, a distance Adams has never approached. This will be a war.

Everyone else is fighting for bronze, and Team USA has two legitimate contenders. Michelle Carter won bronze at this year's World Indoors and Jillian Camarena-Williams won bronze at last year's World Championships. Only once has an American won an Olympic medal in this event, a bronze by Earlene Brown in 1960. If either comes through, it will be an historic accomplishment. Their biggest competition will probably come from China's Gong Lijiao and Russian Evgeniia Kolodko.

Men's 400m Hurdles

3:45 PM ET

The favorite is Puerto Rican Javier Culson, but Team USA has three legitimate threats in 2009 World Champion Kerron Clement, 2000 and 2008 Olympic champion Angelo Taylor, and Michael Tinsley. Possibly the most surprising development in the semifinals was Dominican Felix Sánchez. He won the 2004 Olympics and the 2001 and 2003 Worlds, but hadn't broken 48.00 in eight years--until Saturday's semis. Britain's reigning World Champion Dai Greene barely scraped into the final.

Women's Steeplechase

4:05 PM ET -- LIVE coverage on NBC (according to Runnerspace.com)

Shocking as it may seem, a Kenyan has never won an Olympic or World Championships women's steeplechase. If that streak is to be broken, it will likely be by Milcah Chemos Cheywa, who is a perfect three-for-three this year on the Diamond League circuit. The dominant nation in this event has been Russia; 2011 World Champion Yuliya Zaripova and 2008 Olympic champion and World Record holder Gulnara Galkina are both in the final. There are three Ethiopian finalists, led by Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew, who could both battle for medals. The USA has two finalists in Emma Coburn and Bridget Franek, who are unlikely to contend for medals but rapidly improving.

Men's 400 Meters

4:30 PM ET

There are no American finalists. This has never happened in an Olympic or World Championships men's 400 (save 1980, an Olympics in which the United States did not participate). In the absence of LaShawn Merritt, who pulled up injured in the heats, the role of favorite falls to reigning World champion Kirani James of Grenada. Another contender is this year's World Junior champion, Dominican Luguelín Santos. Last year's Worlds bronze medalist, Belgian Kévin Borlée, is stuck all the way out in lane 9 and his twin brother Jonathan is in lane two--but they're on the track, and that gives them a chance. The Bahamas has two finalists in Chris Brown and former Texas A&M star Demetrius Pinder and they're both contenders as well. This race is wide-open.
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