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Olympic Preview - Wednesday, August 8

Olympic Preview - Wednesday, August 8
Day 6 of track and field at the Games of the XXX Summer Olympiad kick off the decathlon and Ashton Eaton's bid for the Olympic gold medal and its "world's greatest athlete" title. Allyson Felix tries for the only title which has eluded her, the Olympic 200 meters, Aries Merrit and Lashinda Demus go after gold in the hurdles, and Brittney "The Beast" Reese hopes to leap to the top of the podium in the long jump.

Qualifying-round action will have Mo Farah, Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp in the heats of the 5000 meters, Morgan Uceny, Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury in the 1500 semifinals, and the women's 800 kicks off with the first round.

Scheduled TV coverage

All times Eastern; check your local listings at NBCOlympics.com
NBC    10:45-11:00am    Qualifying heats in several events, including the men's 5000m. That event should pit Londoner Mo Farah against Bernard Lagat, the U.S. record holder, who beat Lagat for the 2011 world crown.
NBC    1:15-2:00pm    Qualifying rounds in Track & Field, including the men's Pole Vault and 5000m, and the women's 800m.
NBC    4:30-5:00pm    LIVE coverage of the decathlon 400m
NBC    8:00pm-midnight    Gold is determined on the beach (women's final) and track (men's 110m hurdles). Plus, women's platform Diving.
NBC    12:05-1:05am    Qualifying rounds in the men's javelin and women's BMX Cycling.

Day 6 results
Day 6 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.

Decathlon 100 meters

5:10 AM ET

World record holder Ashton Eaton is the fastest decathlete of all time, so look for him to take the points lead right from the first event. The USA's Trey Hardee, expected to fight for silver, is awfully darned fast too and should be the second-fastest of the major contenders behind Eaton.

Men's 5000 Meters heats

5:45 AM ET

The first five from each of two heats plus five more on time will qualify to Saturday's finals.

Heat one has 10k champ Mo Farah who should get through easily. Other top runners in his heat include Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet and Kenyans Isiah Koech and Edwin Soi. American Lopez Lomong is somewhat new to this event but has the kind of finishing speed that you need in this kind of racing.

Heat two has Americans Galen Rupp, the 10k silver medalist, and Bernard Lagat, the 2007 World Champion. Also in this heat is Canada's Cam Levins, eleventh in the 10k, who has said all along that this event is where he's concentrating his effort. Other top runners include Dejen Gebremeskel (the guy who outkicked Farah at a Boston indoor meet last year after losing his shoe at the starting line) and Yenew Alamirew, both from Ethiopia, Kenyan Thomas Longosiwa, and Ugandan Moses Kipsiro.

Decathlon Long Jump

Eaton is also the greatest long jumper in decathlon history, so expect a big lead to get even bigger after this event. Of the major medal contenders, Hardee and Belgian Hans van Alphen are probably the next best.

Women's 800 Meters heats

6:35 AM ET

There are six heats, and the top three in each heat plus six more on time qualify to tomorrow's semifinals. The big news is that Ethiopian Fantu Magiso had to withdraw due to injury.
Heat one features Olympic Trials champion Alysia Montano and one of the least predictable runners, South Africa's Caster Semenya.
Heat two has Team USA's Alice Schmidt and one of the medal favorites, Russian Mariya Savinova.
Heat three includes Canada's Jessica Smith, along with veteran Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya and up-and-coming Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi.
Heat four has America's Geena Gall up against another medal favorite, Kenyan Pamela Jelimo. Much controversy surrounded the selection oif Lynsey Sharp to the British team, and she'll be running to prove her selectors right.
Heat five has Canada's Melissa Bishop up against Russian Elena Arzhakova and Ukrainian Nataliia Lupu.
Heat six will probably have the most famous last-place finisher in the meet, Sarah Attar, who will be the first-ever female representative of Saudi Arabia in international track and field. Most likely to win the heat is Russian Ekaterina Poistogova but most reporters won't pay attention to her.

Decathlon Shot Put

7:10 AM ET

As compared to the decathlon medal contenders, Eaton is close to the worst, but he's gotten enough better that it's not by much. He'll give back some of his lead to Hardee, who is probably the second best of the top decathlete. German Pascal Behrenbruch is the best of the top guys, with Hardee maybe half a meter or more behind him.

Decathlon High Jump

1:00 PM ET

Out of the medal contenders, Eaton is the best high jumper, with Cuban Leonel Suarez not far behind. Anything close to 2.10 meters is good for Eaton; Hardee will probably be happy with 2.00.

Men's 110m Hurdles semifinals

2:15 PM ET

This is a three-semi setup with the top two in each heat plus two more on time going to the finals later tonight.
Heat one should be led by Team USA's defending world champion, Jason Richardson. The second spot is likely to come down to Cuba's Orlando Ortega and France's Garfield Darien.
Heat two is headlined by America's Aries Merritt, who has assumed the role of clear favorite as China's Liu Xiang was unable to complete his heat due to injury. Former world champion Ryan Brathwaite of the Bahamas and Britain's Andy Turner should fight for the second qualifier.
Heat three is the deepest, with co-world record holde Dayron Robles of Cuba, young Russian Sergey Shubenkov, Team USA's Jeff Porter, and Jamaican Hansle Parchment. No word yet on whether Porter plans to launch himself headfirst across the finish line, as he did at the Trials.

Women's 1500 Meters semifinals

2:45 PM ET

There are two semifinals but the qualifying procedure had not been announced by last evening.

Heat one has Asli Çakir of Turkey, by far the fastest woman on the clock this year. America's Morgan Uceny, last year's Diamond League champion, is here as well as teammate Shannon Rowbury. Russian Ekaterina Kostetskaya and Canadian Hilary Stellingwerff are among the others.

Heat two includes America's defending World Champion, Jenny Simpson, who barely scraped into the semis. Her major competition will likely be Ethiopian Abebe Aregawi, Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal and Russian Tatyana Tomashova. Canada's Nicole Sifuentes runs as well.

Women's Long Jump final

Team USA's four-time World Champion, Brittney Reese, is nicknamed "The Beast" for her leaping ability. At times she has consistency problems, as shown in yesterday's qualifying round when she fouled twice and then juuust got into the final with a subpar jump. But when she hits a big one, she cannot be beaten. The two American finalist, Janay DeLoach, is a medal threat, as is Britain's Shara Proctor. Only four others have gone over 7 meters this year: Russians Anna Nazarova and Elena Sokolova and Belarus' Veronika Shutkova and Nastassia Mironchyk - Ivanova.

Women's 400m Hurdles final

3:45 PM ET

Defending World Champion Lashinda Demus is one of the favorites to win, but not a clear favorite. Russian Natalya Antyukh and Czech Zuzana Hejnová are the other favorites. Team USA qualified all three of its hurdlers to the final, and joining Demus will be T'erea Brown and Georganne Moline. Moline fell in the heats of the NCAA and did not qualify to the final but did make it to the Olympic final; research is ongoing, but this is believed to be the first time it has ever happened in the same year.

Women's 200 Meters final

4:00 PM ET

America's Allyson Felix has won just about everything there is to win except an individual Olympic gold medal. She looks more than up to the task, but archnemesis Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica suddenly found form in the 100 meters and could pose a challenge--again. "VCB" has the last two Olympic gold medals in this event, defeating Felix each time. Others who could contend for medals include Americans Sanya Richards-Ross and Carmelita Jeter and Jamaica's 100 meter champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Men's 110m Hurdles final

Finalists will be determined earlier in the evening. How good is Aries Merritt? He's the only man to run sub-13.00 twice in one day. His time in yesterday's heats (13.07) was faster than the best-ever time for silver (13.09). He's that good. But this is the hurdles, where you can almost come to expect the unexpected.

Decathlon 400 meters

4:30 PM ET -- supposedly being covered live on NBC

As you'd expect from the fastest guy in the history of the decathlon, Eaton is way better than anyone else in this event, probably a full two seconds better than the next best of the medal contenders, Hardee and Sintnicolaas.

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