Olympic Preview - Saturday, August 11


Day 9 of track and field at the Games of the XXX Summer Olympiad will bring the in-stadium events to a close, and it could be the best day yet. The men's 5000 will be a battle royale between Mo Farah, Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat, America's Chaunté Lowe leaps for high jump gold, and Alysia Montano runs for the same in the 800 meters. The evening finishes off with relays, inlcuding the exciting and nerve-wracking men's 4x100--which could end up being the closest sprint race of the entire meet.

Scheduled TV coverage

All times Eastern; check your local listings at NBCOlympics.com

NBC Sports Network   4:00-8:00am   LIVE coverage of the men's 50km walk
NBC Sports Network   Noon-2:00pm   LIVE coverage of the women's 20km walk
NBC   8:00pm-midnight   Track & Field finals include men's 4x100 and women's 4x400 relays. Also, the men's platform Diving semifinal and final, and the women's Volleyball final.


Day 9 results
Day 9 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 events one at a time, in chronological order.

Men's 50km Race Walk

4:00 AM ET -- live coverage on NBC Sports Network

I watched a 50k walk once, with the emphasis on once. I have some appreciation for walking events but nearly four hours is a bit much for anything. I think this exemplifies the issues most people are having with NBC's Olympic coverage; this event is being covered live and in its entirety, and only because NBC programming directors think no one wants to watch it. In other words, they're saying that the customer is always wrong.

Anyway, figure the Russians to dominate this, with Frances' Yohan Diniz to be a possible spoiler. The USA has an entrant in John Nunn.

Women's 20km Race Walk

Noon ET -- live coverage on NBC Sports Network

Again, we can see this live on TV because few are excited about it. Again, look for Russians to dominate, with China's Hong Liu capable of breaking it up. The lone USA entrant is Maria Michta.

Women's High Jump final

2:00 PM ET

The USA brings reigning world indoor champion Chaunté Lowe along with Brigetta Barrett, one of the best collegiate jumpers of all time. Russia brings the only jumpers to beat Lowe outdoors this year, Anna Chicherova and Svetlana Shkolina, who pushed her down to third at the Prefontaine Classic. Those are your top contenders for the medals, with Spaniard Ruth Beitia and Belgium's defending Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut as possible interlopers.

Men's Javelin Throw final

2:20 PM ET

Czech Vítezslav Veselý came into the Olympics as the world leader by over a meter and a half, and then improved on that world lead in the qualifying round. Among his chief rivals is Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen, the two-time defending Olympic champion, who is feeling good again after a period of injury. Finland brings three finalists, but a medal shutout is a distinct possibility, one that would bring as much wailing and gnashing of teeth in that country as the USA failing to win gold in men's basketball would here.

Two finalists come from nations without strong javelin throwing traditions, Trinidad's Keshorn Walcott and Kenyan Julius Yego. Yego was at first self-taught via YouTube, but has benefitted from training stints in Sweden and Finland. He represents Kenya's first-ever World or Olympic finalist in a throwing event. Who would have thought that this was the Olympics where the USA beat Kenya's milers, and Kenya beat the USA's javelin throwers?

Men's 5000 Meters final

2:30 PM ET

After taking first and second in last Friday's 10,000 meters, Britain's Mo Farah and the USA's Galen Rupp come into this race as two of the leading competitors, but there are others. Rupp's U.S. teammate, Bernard Lagat, is the reigning world indoor champion at 3,000 meters and last year's world outdoor silver medalist at this distance, and does his best work in championship races like this. The other American, Lopez Lomong, is new to the 5,000 but possesses very good closing speed as well.

Looming large from Ethiopia is Dejen Gebremeskel, the bronze medalist behind Farah and Lagat at last year's Worlds. He notably outkicked Farah indoors in Boston last year after losing his shoe at the start. Four others have run under 12:50 this year, Ethiopians Yenew Alamirew and Hagos Gebrhiwet and Kenyans Thomas Longosiwa and Isiah Koech.

Canada's Cam Levins just came off a dominating outdoor collegiate season and finished a creditable 11th in the 10k, but might be overmatched here. If it's a kicker's race, watch out for Moroccan Abdalaati Iguider, who apparently never ran the 5000 before this year but sports a 3:31.47 PR at 1500 meters.

Women's 800 Meters final

3:00 PM ET

Four years ago, an 18-year-old Pamela Jelimo dominated the 800, Olympics and otherwise, running times we hadn't seen in a decade. In the next three years she became mortal, at times even ordinary, but she's now darn close to her 2008 form again and comes in as the favorite. After her, it's anyone's guess. The enigmatic Caster Semenya looked good in her semifinal. Russia's defending World champion Mariya Savinova will be a factor, and possibly teammates Ekaterina Poistogova and Elena Arzhakova as well. The USA's Alysia Montanocould get up for a medal, and Kenya's Janeth Jepkosgei has finished in the top two in virtually every championship meet she's contested. Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba, just 19 years old, has the slowest PR of any finalist but has come from almost literally nowhere--her third competitive race was this year's African Championships, which she won in sub-2:00 time.

Women's 4x400m Relay final

The United States brings a formidable foursome. The lineup will likely include three 400 meter finalists, champion Sanya Richards-Ross, bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter, and 7th-place Francena McCorory, and be joined by 200 meter champion Allyson Felix. The Russians are generally figured to take second, but Jamaica might be able to overtake them. If the British team has a chance at a medal, expect the place to get loud.

Men's 4x100m Relay final

4:00 PM ET

Few would have predicted it as such, but this might be very close. The U.S. ran a pair of subs in the semifinals and still broke the national record with 37.38, a time beaten only by Jamaica (at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 and 2011 Worlds). Stickwork was vastly improved from past years, and if any of the passing mojo displayed by the US women in yesterday's World Record rubs off onto the men's team then we're looking at something special. It appears likely that the final lineup for the USA will be some ordering of Tyson Gay, Ryan Bailey, Trell Kimmons and Justin Gatlin. Given the semifinal time and the addition of Gay and Bailey, on paper it's a sub-37.00 team. The world record is 37.04.

If the USA does break 37.00, it does not necessarily follow that the Jamaicans will lose. They will close with the two fastest 200m sprinters in the history of the world (possibly a better metric of relay speed than the 100m) and their first two legs aren't exactly chopped liver. In yesterday's heats they led off with Nesta Carter and Michael Frater, and 200m bronze medalist Warren Weir could be tapped for service as well. In any case, they ran 37.39 without Usain Bolt, and his presence alone could be enough to get under 37. Whew!

OK, what about third? The third-fastest team in the heats was Canada, believe it or not, followed closely by Japan and Trinidad. All ran between 38.05 and 38.10, which has been good enough for bronze or better in all recent championships save the 2007 Worlds. It could simply come down to whoever avoids disaster in baton passing.