Day 2 Friends and Family Preview: Mo Farah Goes for Greatness in the Longest Event on the Track, While Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Attempts it in the Shortest

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By LetsRun.com
August 11, 2016

*For a full schedule of events, go here. Full TV & streaming info, go here.

The highlights on Day 2 of the track action (Saturday) at the Olympics come at the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of distance run.

First at 9:27 p.m. Eastern, Britain’s Mo Farah, currently the world’s greatest long distance runner, takes step #1 towards attaining the double-double (winning the 10,000m and 5,000m at two successive Olympics) as he competes in the men’s 10,000m final. Farah is the favorite, but expect the Kenyans, led by world half-marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, to put up a stiff challenge. The Kenyan runners have realized it is futile to try to wait and sit and outkick Farah, so expect them to try a new tactic that worked at the World Half Marathon Championships: running hard for most of the race.

Then a little over an hour later is the women’s 100m final, which will determine who is the fastest women in the world. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica will try to become the first woman to win 3 straight 100m titles at the Olympics, but she is the underdog as the “Pocket Rocket,” as she is known, has been battling an injury.

The women’s heptathlon also concludes on Saturday and we will know who the greatest all-around female track and field athlete is. Other primetime highlights are one of the most entertaining semifinals in all of the sport, the men’s 800m. Earlier in the day is the men’s discus final.

Below we have a little more details on each of the races above, plus links to our more detailed previews.

Farah usually looks like this on the track

Farah usually looks like this on the track

Men’s 10,000m Final: Can Anyone Beat Mo Farah on the Track?
Britain’s Mo Farah was an also-ran on the world stage until he started training with American marathon legend Alberto Salazar in 2011. Since then he has been nearly unbeatable. Farah got the silver medal in the 10k at the World Championships in 2011 and since then every world and/or Olympic race he has run, he has won. Farah won the 5,000 in 2011, and then the 10,000/5,000 double in 2012, 2013, and 2015. No one has ever doubled with that type of consistencey before.

Farah looked like this after being beaten by Kamworor at the World half

Farah looked like this after being beaten by Kamworor at the World Half

The one thing Farah has not done in any of his global victories is run extremely fast. It is widely believed now that the only way to beat Farah is to run away from him. No one has done it on the track but Geoffrey Kamworor did it at the World Half Marathon Championships earlier this year on the roads. He likely will try the same strategy on Saturday. Will it work? That is to be determined.

Mo Farah’s training partner, Galen Rupp, is the greatest American track distance runner, and he won the silver behind Farah in 2012. Since then Rupp has not been on the medal stand, but this year he is trying to make history of his own by attempting to medal in the 10,000m and the marathon at these Rio Olympics. Rupp’s best chance to win is his new event, the marathon, which is next Sunday, the final day of the Olympics. But his best chance for a medal is the 10k, and you can expect his double attempt to get a lot of coverage on the NBC broadcast. Americans are not used to having a medal threat in a long-distance event on a track, and now they have a guy who is a threat at the 10,000 and the marathon.

*Full LetsRun.com 10,000m preview is here.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Wins 2015 Worlds

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Wins 2015 Worlds

Women’s 100m: What a Race This Should Be
This one should be a classic. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (SAFP) is going for the historic Olympic 100m triple but has been battling a toe injury. She faces five other women who could conceivably win this race. That can’t be said about any other sprint race at the Games, much less the most prominent one. The other five women have all run times that put them in the top 15 in the world all-time. SAFP’s countrywoman Elaine Thompson ran a blistering 10.70 at the Olympic Trials, which is as fast as SAFP’s personal best, but Thompson tweaked her hamstring in that race and has not raced since. All three Americans could win. English Gardner, who went to the University of Oregon, won the Olympic Trials, but was only .04 ahead of Tianna Bartoletta (who is a two-time long jump world champion) and Tori Bowie (who got a bronze medal last year). If Bartoletta could win, expect her to get a ton of attention in the long jump later in the meet, where she will be the underdog to countrywoman Brittney Reese.

And that leaves the betting favorite, Dafne Schippers. Until two years ago, Schippers was primarily a heptathlete (the competition to see who is the best female all-around athlete). Last year, Schippers shifted her focus to sprinting and the results were tremendous. She got the silver at the Worlds in the 100m, and ran the fourth-fastest time ever to win the 200m. The other thing about Schippers is she’s white and not Eastern European. Race is not really openly talked about much in sprinting, but most of the top female sprinters are black or of white Eastern European descent (and many people assume the Eastern Europeans use drugs).

One thing to watch in this race is the semifinals, which are run an hour and 30 minutes before the final. The best in the semifinals don’t always do well in the finals, but it is rare for someone to struggle in the semi and do well in the final.

*Full 100m preview here

The Eatons

The Eatons

Women’s Heptathlon: Are the Male and Female World’s Greatest Athletes Married to Each Other?
In the heptathlon, the women get points for each of the seven events. It’s hard for the average person to follow but by the time of the final event, NBC should hopefully tell you how many seconds Runner A needs to be within Runner B to get the gold medal. This event is expected to be a battle between Brit Jessica Ennis-Hill, the reigning Olympic champ, and Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada, who is the wife of the world’s greatest athlete, men’s decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton. If the best athletes in the world are married to each other, think what a cool story that would be.

*Full heptathlon preview

Men’s Discus: Robert Harting vs Piotr Małachowski 
The organizers are trying something new at this Olympics, putting a few finals in the morning sessions. In the past, the finals were at night, and the morning was reserved for preliminary races. Finals in the morning are is good for European TV but also hopefully gives fans more reason to buy a ticket to a morning session.

The men’s discus final is at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. In our lengthier preview we said we’re rooting for the reigning Olympic champ Robert Harting of Germany, who also won worlds in 2009, 2011, and 2013 (every year except last year when he was hurt). Why? Because Harting is known for his strong anti-doping stance and his crazy celebrations (see below).

Reigning world champ Piotr Małachowski of Poland is expected to challenge Harting and the oddsmakers have made them co-favorites. Should be a great one. In the discus final, the throwers get three throws and then the top 8 get another three throws. Farthest throw wins.

*Full discus throw

Men’s 800m Semis: Does a Major Favorite Go Home Early?
The men’s 800 semis are always great drama because there are 3 semifinals of 8 and only the top 2 runners from each heat advance to the 8 person final, with 2 other runners advancing on time. Because of the nature of only two people advancing in a race that is often tactical, this is an event where sometimes a favorite for a medal doesn’t advance.

We think it’s almost unfair to go from 24 to 8 in a single round but they do it every year. Of course, the only other option would be to add an extra round which isn’t a good solution.

We’ve pasted the heats in below and American champ Clayton Murphy is in the Heat of Death. One would think that world record holder, reigning Olympic and World Champ David Rudisha would advance. One would think that last year’s silver medallist Adam Kszczot , who won the European championships, would advance. 2013 bronze medallist Ayanleh Souleiman is also in the heat and he also looked great yesterday. 

The problem for Murphy is he’s a noted come from behind runner. Do you change your strategy and try to set the pace? Or do you hope that someone else makes it fast and you get in on time? Or do you just hope to somehow get top 2?

HEAT 1

ORDER / LANE BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY SB 2016 PB
1 2870 Andrés ARROYO PURPUR 1:45.78 1:45.78
2 2134 Kleberson DAVIDE BRABRA 1:45.79 1:44.21
3 2415 Pierre-Ambroise BOSSE FRAFRA 1:43.88 1:42.53
4 2009 Taoufik MAKHLOUFI ALGALG 1:43.92 1:43.53
5 2695 Ferguson Cheruiyot ROTICH KENKEN 1:44.05 1:42.84
6 2844 Marcin LEWANDOWSKI POLPOL 1:44.59 1:43.72
7 2470 Michael RIMMER GBRGBR 1:44.93 1:43.89
8 2749 Mostafa SMAILI MARMAR 1:45.05 1:45.05

HEAT 2

ORDER / LANE BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY SB 2016 PB
1 2311 Andreas BUBE DENDEN 1:46.21 1:44.89
2 2911 Rynardt VAN RENSBURG RSARSA 1:45.67 1:45.40
3 2681 Alfred KIPKETER KENKEN 1:43.73 1:43.73
4 3050 Boris BERIAN USAUSA 1:44.20 1:43.34
5 2204 Brandon MCBRIDE CANCAN 1:43.95 1:43.95
6 2388 Mohammed AMAN ETHETH 1:44.70 1:42.37
7 2005 Yassine HETHAT ALGALG 1:45.00 1:45.00
8 2107 Amel TUKA BIHBIH 1:45.23 1:42.51

HEAT 3

ORDER / LANE BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY SB 2016 PB
1 2583 Mark ENGLISH IRLIRL 1:45.36 1:44.84
2 2595 Giordano BENEDETTI ITAITA 1:46.47 1:44.67
3 2843 Adam KSZCZOT POLPOL 1:44.49 1:43.30
4 3091 Clayton MURPHY USAUSA 1:44.76 1:44.76
5 2696 David Lekuta RUDISHA KENKEN 1:43.35 1:40.91
6 2317 Ayanleh SOULEIMAN DJIDJI 1:44.06 1:42.97
7 2002 Amine BELFERAR ALGALG 1:45.01 1:45.01
8 2336 Hamada MOHAMED EGYEGY 1:45.25 1:44.98

*Full 800m preview here. *Recap of preliminary round


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