Day 3 Friends and Family Preview: Usain Bolt Goes For The Three-Peat, While Three Great Champions Will Battle It Out For The 400m Title

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by LetsRun.com
August 13, 2016

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

We believe track and field is much more enjoyable if you understand what is going on so print out this preview (or share the link) and give it your non-track-and-field-obsessed fans so they can enjoy Sunday’s action.

Sunday is full of two of the most eagerly anticipated finals of the 2016 Olympic Games track and field action, the men’s 400 final and men’s 100 final. More on those special races later, but we’ll start with women who will take center stage bright and early when the women’s marathon is run at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Women’s Marathon: Can An American Sneak a Medal From The Kenyans And Ethiopians?

To be honest, if you are going to up be early for the women’s marathon, we suggest you read our full women’s marathon preview here: LRC Women’s Marathon Preview: Americans Cragg, Linden & Flanagan Are In The Shape Of Their Lives – Can One Of Them Medal? Jemima Sumgong & Helah Kiprop Go For Kenya’s First-Ever Gold. Since the race will take nearly two and a half hours to complete, reading our 3,000+ word preview is more than worth it. But here is the CliffsNotes version.

The 3 US Olympians - Flanagan, Cragg with Linden - before the 2015 Boston Marathon

The 3 US Olympians – Flanagan, Cragg with Linden – before the 2015 Boston Marathon

The pundits fully expect the race to be dominated by Ethiopians and Kenyans (although a Kenyan has never won the women’s marathon at the Olympics) which makes sense as each of the World Marathon Majors – the biggest city major marathons (Chicago, Berlin, London, Boston, New York and Tokyo, although Tokyo only joined in 2013) has been won by a Kenya or Ethiopian woman for six years in a row.  That being said, the US has three women who could medal on a great day. Shalane Flanagan, the fastest of the American marathoners, set an American road 10k road record during her buildup for this race – and she was just third at the US Trials. Desi Linden, the runner-up at the Olympic Trials who was 2nd at the Boston Marathon in 2011, says she’s in the shape of her life. And then there is the actual winner of the US Trials – Amy Cragg, who we think is the least likely of the three to medal.

Generally, if you win April’s London Marathon, you are the best marathoner in the world as it amasses the best professional fields each year. The winner this year was Jemima Sumgong of Kenya who is the betting favorite. However, the woman we picked to win is Tokyo winner Helah Kiprop of Kenya as she’s been improving with each race (last 3 marathons: 2nd 2015 Tokyo (2:24:03), 2nd 2015 Worlds (2:27:36), 1st 2016 Tokyo (2:21:27)). Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba, who was our #1 ranked marathoner for 2015 but was only 6th at London, won the Worlds last year.

Oh yeah, one more thing. One of the world’s best marathoners in our mind – Mary Keitany of Kenya who has won in New York the last two years — wasn’t selected to the team by Kenya after she was only 9th in London. She’d be our pick to win if she were racing.

Full Marathon Preview Here: LRC Women’s Marathon Preview: Americans Cragg, Linden & Flanagan Are In The Shape Of Their Lives – Can One Of Them Medal? Jemima Sumgong & Helah Kiprop Go For Kenya’s First-Ever Gold.

Evening Session

In the evening session, there are a number of semifinals that will be run. You’ll get to see the women’s 400 semis featuring US media star Allyson Felix (Full LRC preview). No US woman has ever won 5 track and field gold medals and Felix, who has won 4, is almost bound to do it as even if she doesn’t win in the 400 (where she was world champ last year and is ranked #2 this year), as she will likely do it in the 4 x 100 or 4 x 400. The women’s 1500 (metric version of the mile) semis will also be run where you’ll get to see world record holder Genzebe Dibaba and American medal hopefuls Jenny Simpson (the 2011 world champ) and Shannon Rowbury (American record holder). Even though both Americans can run the equivalent of a sub-4:20 mile, they face a tall task in medalling in an event that an American woman has never medalled in at the Olympics.

Before the marquee event of the entire Olympics takes place – the men’s 100-meter final – there will be another great final in the men’s 400.

9:00 pm ET – Men’s 400 Final: Which Of The Big 3 Will Win Again?

The men’s 400-meter final in Beijing last year was one of the greatest in the history of the one-lap event. Led by South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk‘s 43.48 (#4 all-time), three men broke 44 seconds in the same race for the first time in history while Dominica’s Luguelin Santos became the fastest fourth-place finisher in history, clocking 44.11. Ever since that night in the Bird’s Nest — which ended with van Niekerk being stretchered off the track and taken to a hospital for exhaustion — the track world has been waiting for a rematch, and that’s exactly what they’ll get in Rio.

This is truly a clash of the titans. You’ve got the reigning world champ van Niekerk against the past two Olympic champions, LaShawn Merritt of the United States and Kirani James of Grenada. Between them, the three men have claimed every global 400 title since 2008, and all three men have been in fine form this year. They’re 1-2-3 on the 2016 world list, and both van Niekerk (44.11 sb) and James (44.08 sb) are undefeated. We don’t think Michael Johnson‘s 43.18 world record from 1999 will not go down but it’s not out of the question as van Niekerk was just .30 away last year.

You can read our full 400 preview here but our pick is van Niekerk – the only man in history who has broken 10 seconds in the 100, 20 seconds in the 200 and 44 seconds in the 400 (MB: South Africa’s Wade Van Niekerk just made history – 1st man to go sub 10 100m, sub 20 200m and sub 44 400m!).

9:25 pm ET – Men’s 100 Final: Can Usain Bolt Win #3?

For all practical purposes, we know why everyone will be glued to their TV on Sunday night. Usain Bolt will be going for an unprecedented third straight 100 title.

Who is the fastest man in the world?

It doesn’t get any bigger or simpler than that, and that is why the men’s 100m final is the premier event at the Olympic Games.

Usain Bolt has already established himself as the greatest sprinter of all time. Not only is he the double Olympic champion at 100, 200 and the 4×100, and the world record holder at 100 and 200, but since he won his first Olympics in 2008, he has won every race at the World Championships or Olympics he has run at except for the 100m at the 2011 World Championships where he allegedly false started (some of the LetsRun.com staff thinks he was enticed to a false start). He is 17 for 17 in global championship races he has finished since 2008. That is simply astounding in races decided by fractions of a second.

There is one thing Usain Bolt or no other person has done, and that’s win the same running event at three Olympics (Al Oerter won four straight shot put golds, Carl Lewis four straight long jumps, Robert Korzeniowski three straight 50km walks). Can Bolt make history again?

Most people think he can but we want to point out that a) Bolt only won by .01 last year over American Justin Gatlin and Bolt has been running slower this year than last year and b) Bolt didn’t look great in the first round on Saturday morning, where he ran just 10.07 as compared to Gatlin’s 10.01.

That being said, the first round race was Bolt’s first 100 since July 1 as Bolt missed some time with a minor injury. The key is Bolt says he feels better than he did last year and Gatlin hasn’t been as running as fast this year as he did last year. Plus, when you factor in wind (Bolt’s 1st round was run into the wind, Gatlin’s had a tailwind), then Bolt’s time was actually faster by .01. Given that and the fact that Bolt has historically always risen to the occasion, he is our pick to win.

Assuming Gatlin gets second, the question is who gets the bronze as that man may very well be the World’s Fastest Man in 2020 if Bolt retires (Gatlin will be 38 in 2020). The top 2 NCAA sprinters from 2015, Andre De Grasse of Canada (USC) and Trayvon Bromell of the USA (Baylor), tied for the bronze last year and both should be in the mix.

Here’s a weird thing to consider. If Gatlin upsets Bolt, he’ll have the same number of Olympic 100 titles as Bolt as Gatlin won in 2004. The full LRC 100m preview is here.

One Other Final: Women’s Triple Jump

The women’s triple jump final is also Sunday night. We doubt NBC will show it but it’s interesting to us as Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguenn, who has only lost once since the 2012 Olympics, will be looking to win Colombia’s first Olympic gold in track and field. Full LRC Triple Jump Preview.

Day 3 Schedule – Sunday – August 14
MORNING SESSION
LOCAL TIMEUS ET TimeSEXEVENTROUNDNote
9:308:30WMarathonFinal
AFTERNOON SESSION
LOCAL TIMEUS ET TimeSEXEVENTROUNDNote 
20:3019:30MHigh JumpQualification
20:3519:35W400 MetresSemi-Final LRC Preview 
20:5519:55WTriple JumpFinalLRC Preview 
21:0020:00M100 MetresSemi-FinalLRC Preview 
21:3020:30W1500 MetresSemi-FinalLRC Preview 
22:0021:00M400 MetresFinalLRC Preview 
22:2521:25M100 MetresFinalLRC Preview 

 


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