Rio Olympics Day 8




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20 AUG 2016  RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
 WOMEN'S 4X100M FINAL – RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES

      
USA had their problems in qualifying but once in the final they showed their sheer class by powering to an emphatic defence of their Olympic title from the tight inside lane, making a little bit of history as well by being the first Olympic champions in this event running in lane one.

A quartet of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie proved too strong for Jamaica, anchored by two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, to record a blistering 41.01, the second fastest time in history, 

Jamaica, the 2013 and 2015 world champions, had to settle for a second successive Olympic silver - albeit in an impressive 41.36, the fifth fastest time ever posted.

Bronze went to Great Britain, who trimmed 0.04 from their national record set in London last month to register 41.77 and bank their first Olympic medal in this event since the 1984 Olympics.

After their scrappy heat run on Thursday, which only saw them qualify after a protest and a solo re-run, this US made no mistakes as they defied the inconvenience of running in lane one to produce three rock solid exchanges.

Bartoletta, the Olympic and world long jump champion, gave USA a blistering start.On leg two, Jamaica fought back with the help of double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson, who was up against Felix.

However, it was the third leg which was to prove decisive as a magnificent bend by English Gardner gave USA a clear three-metre advantage from Jamaica, who had the vastly experienced Veronica Campbell-Brown with the baton.

The final leg matched Rio 2016 100m silver medallist Tori Bowie against Fraser-Pryce, the bronze medallist on this occasion, but the gap remained the same as USA – containing half the team with Bartoletta and Felix which won gold when setting a world record in this event at the London 2012 Olympics Games – striking gold again.

Jamaica followed with an impressive GB quartet of Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita completing the medal-winning teams.

Germany were rewarded with fourth in 42.10, 0.02 clear of Trinidad and Tobago, while sixth place was taken by Ukraine, the London bronze medallists, who crossed the line in 42.36.

In a significant footnote to the event, Felix became the first woman in history to win five Olympic athletics gold medals.

The American sprint legend moves one clear of fellow sprinters and compatriot Evelyn Ashford and Sanya Richards-Ross, Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands, Barbel Wockel of the former East Germany and Australian legend Betty Cuthbert.


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20 AUG 2016  RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
 WOMEN'S 5000M FINAL – RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
 
      
Many people had just assumed that Almaz Ayana would waltz her way to a second gold medal in similarly majestic fashion to the way she won the 10,000m in world record time a week ago, but Vivian Cheruiyot had other ideas.

Motivated by the fact that, despite her many career accomplishments, she was still missing an Olympic gold medal, the diminutive Kenyan produced one of the biggest shocks of an Olympic athletics programme which had already seen a plethora of upsets.

Overhauling Ayana with 600 metres to go, after the Ethiopian had attempted to run away with the race in what has become familiar fashion over the past two seasons, the five-time world champion on both the track and cross country showed a turn of speed that few suspected she still had at the age of 32, and Cheruiyot crossed the line in an Olympic record of 14:26.17.

It was her fastest time at the distance since her halcyon year of 2011 when she won the 5000m, 10,000m and world cross-country titles.

"I'm so happy for me, my husband, my son, my parents," said Cheruiyot. "This might be the last Olympics for me.

"Almaz is such a great athlete, we thought she would win again. She got ahead but then I thought, 'She's not moving'. I was working and I went past her.

"It was my fourth Olympic Games and I had not had gold. Almaz can go fast for 400m, then slow it down. Today I said, 'I am going to follow her. I am not going to lose her'."

However, for more than four kilometres it did look like Ayana was going to add to her Olympic 10,000m gold medal and world 5000m title.

Just like in her heat, Miyuki Uehara dashed straight to the front from the gun, and Ayana tucked straight in behind her with the Japanese runner acting as a convenient pacemaker for Ethiopia’s prohibitive pre-race favourite.

Going through the first kilometre in 2:59.86 ended any speculation that, like in the 10,000m a week ago, Ayana might make a solo bid for a world record.

AYANA PUSHES THE PACE

The pace was still slow enough to allow all of the other 17 starters to still be running in mainly single file as they approached the eight laps to go infield display, but then Ayana decided that the pace was too sedate and took off, uncorking a 65.18 lap which fractured the field.

The second kilometre was reached in 6:00.36 and, with six laps to go, Ayana had opened up a 30-metre gap on the four-strong chasing group – the Kenyan trio of Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri and Mercy Cherono as well as Turkey’s European champion Yasmine Can – which, in turn, had opened up a massive gap on the rest of the field.

The gap had developed to 40 metres with five laps to go, 3000m being reached in 8:47.80.

Can started to drop back with four laps to go, leaving just the three Kenyans to chase Ayana.

At the 4000m mark, reached in 11:39.75, Cherono started to struggle and drift back but her two compatriots continued to work together over the next lap and closed the gap gradually on their rival from the other end of the Rift Valley.

Ayana visibly started to tire from the start of the penultimate lap and Cheruiyot, clearly feeling fresh, started to move away from Obiri

Looking more weary than in any race since she was beaten over this distance at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris just over a year ago, Ayana was then passed by first Cheruiyot and then Obiri.

Cheruiyot quickly started to move away from the 2012 world indoor 3000m champion who has successfully moved up distance this year but Obiri didn’t throw in the towel until the final 50 metres, once she had ensured the silver medal was hers. Obiri crossed the line in a personal best of 14:29.77 while a disappointed Ayana crossed the line just under four seconds later, having enough of an advantage over Cherono to make sure she got the bronze despite suffering over the last lap.

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Usain Bolt completed his triple triple by anchoring the Jamaican men’s 4x100m to victory for the third time in as many Olympics.

The time, 37.27, may not have been quite as impressive as in the past; the first two relay wins were both world records. Bolt got the baton from Nickel Ashmeade nearly even with Japan and the USA, but within strides he was already clear of both teams. As usual, he crossed the line with daylight between himself and the competition.

It is Bolt’s ninth Olympic gold medal (and his last, he says).

In Bolt’s wake, Japan’s anchor Aska Cambridge pulled away from Trayvon Bromell to bring them across the line in 37.60, an Asian record. The old record already belonged to them from the second heat of the qualifying round; before that, the Chinese had lowered it in the first heat.

It was Japan’s second everOlympic medal in this event, adding to the bronze they won in 2008.

Bromell, coping with an achilles problem, leaned to stay ahead of the hard-charging Andre de Grasse anchoring the Canadian team. Bromell then tumbled, and though he bounced back up, he left the track in a wheelchair.

The Jamaicans, Japanese and US teams set out on victory laps, pausing to wait for the women’s 5000m medal ceremony, the US team without Bromell, but when the trio resumed walking they saw their team listed as a DQ in the results on the stadium scoreboard.

The rule cited was 170.7, which deals with the baton exchange; apparently when lead-off runner Mike Rodgers passed to second leg Tyson Gay, the baton touched Gay’s hand before it reached the exchange zone.

This disqualification elevated Canada to bronze position, the medal they had apparently won in 2012 before being disqualified for a lane violation. Their time of 37.64 was a national record, and the medal their first in this event for 20 years.

For the USA it was the latest entry in a roll of disappointment stretching back as long as Bolt has been winning. This would be their third consecutive Olympic DQ or DNF.

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 Men Hammer Final Rio 2016 Olympics

This will not go down as a classic contest and it was the first time since 1984 that the event has been won with less than 80 metres but the gold medal was up for grabs after the prohibitive pre-Rio favourite Pawl Fajdek crashed out in the qualifying round and Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov took his chance with aplomb.

His winning throw of 78.68m guaranteed that he will be given a heroes’ welcome when he returns home as Nazarov got his nation’s first medal of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in any sport and Tajikistan’s first gold medal, again across all sports not just athletics, since it became independent following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

"The reaction back home is going to be hard to imagine. I've got hundreds, maybe thousands of 'likes' on my Facebook account, so I think the country were behind me tonight," commented the stunned but delighted winner.

Throwing 12th and last in the initial rotation, Nazarov led after the first round with 76.16m, three centimetres further than Belarus’ 40-year-old Ivan Tsikhan.

Tsikhan took the lead with the first throw of the second round when he reached 77.43m and Nazarov could only respond with 77.27m.

However, Nazarov only needed one more throw to get back in front, his third round effort of 78.07m, and he stayed in the lead for the rest of the competition, improving to 78.68m in the fifth round.

Nazarov could never relax as Tsikhan and several other throwers were certainly capable of reaching the distances he was throwing, but none did.

Tsikhan closed the gap on Nazarov with his fifth round 77.79m throw in the fifth round, pressuring a response from the leader, but neither man could improve with their final throws.

"Everything was very good but I am so tired after the competition. The heat wasn't a problem, because in my country it is almost the same, it is normal," added Nazarov.

DEL REAL DENIED A MEDAL
If the gold and silver medals stayed in the same hands during the second half of the competition, the bronze was swapped in round six from Mexico’s Diego del Real to Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki.

Del Real, bidding to become the first Mexican man to win an athletics medal since 2000 and the first one ever who wasn’t a walker, had moved into the bronze medal position with his third round 76.05m, the second best throw of his career.

He couldn’t improve but stayed in third place all the way until the sixth round when Nowicki, the IAAF World Championship Beijing 2015 bronze medallist finally found his form and threw 77.73m to move up to third, hopping up and down for a few anxious moments as it looked possible he might even have overtaken Tsikhan.

The 22-year-old Del Real couldn’t improve with his last throw but certainly looks as though this will not be the only occasion when he’ll challenge for a medal at a global championship.

London 2012 Olympic Games champion Krisztian Pars from Hungary has not been in the type of form that suggested a defence of his title was a realistic possibility but in a competitive – if rather less than awe-inspiring – competition which saw barely four metres cover the top eight, he finished a creditable seventh.

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WOMEN'S JAVELIN FINAL – RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
 
      
Sara Kolak threw a PB of 66.18m to set a Croatian record and win Olympic gold in the women’s javelin on Thursday evening.

This was Kolak’s first time at a competition of this scale; she had won bronze at the recent European Championships and at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Eugene.

Kolak stood sixth after the third round. Her tremendous throw then came in the fourth and left her perched in first place for the rest of that round and the two remaining rounds after it.

Silver went to South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen, who threw 64.92m in the first round to take the early lead and only lost it to Kolak.

The battle for bronze was more heated. Belarus’s Tatsiana Khaladovich stood second after three rounds, and was bumped to third when Kolak took the lead.

In the fifth round, Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic, who had been third after the second round, improved to 64.80m, the mark which would wind up holding bronze.

Maria Andrejczyk of Poland, the best thrower of the qualifying with her national record of 67.11m there, couldn’t improve on her 64.78m in the fifth round and stayed fourth in the final, leaving Khaladovich fifth.

Kolak, just 21, has been improving steadily through 2016; this was her fifth national record of the year, improving on her 64.30m throw in the qualifying. Altogether she took 2.68m off her best (set while winning European bronze) here in Rio. She has improved more than eight metres this year. She has held the Croatian record since she was 18 and improved it eight times in total.

Kolak joins discus thrower Sandra Perkovic as the second Croatian gold medal winner in athletics at these games.

Viljoen, competing in her fourth consecutive Olympics, finally made it in to the medals. She was fourth in London and has won two World Championships bronze medals (in Daegu in 2011 and in Beijing in 2015), but this was her first Olympic medal. It was also the first medal in the women’s javelin won by an athlete from Africa.

“To come back and win silver means so much to me,” said Viljoen. “For my country it will mean a lot.”

Spotakova, the Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012, was one of four women who arrived in Rio hoping to be the first to win three consecutive golds in an individual event. Like the three before her, Spotakova settled for a lesser medal, but did become the first woman to win three medals in the javelin.

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WOMEN'S POLE VAULT FINAL – RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
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Former world youth champion Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece finally delivered on all the rich promise she showed during a prodigious U18 and U20 career to land the gold medal on countback in an absorbing competition inside a buzzing Olympic Stadium.

The 26-year-old, who this season has been the most consistent vaulter in the world and who last month landed the European title, unashamedly shed tears of joy to secure top spot on the podium on countback from USA’s Sandi Morris.

The pair both cleared 4.85m and matched each other vault-for-vault apart from the US vaulter needing two attempts at 4.70m to Stefanidi’s one, a failure that ultimately proved very costly.

In a slight surprise, 19-year-old Eliza McCartney took a bronze medal as she equalled her New Zealand record with a first time clearance of 4.80m to become the youngest person in Olympic history to mount the podium in the women’s pole vault.  

It was also the first outdoor competition in the history of the event in which four women have cleared 4.80m or higher.

McCartney may possibly represent the future of the event, and is a former world junior record holder, but today it was Stefanidi’s day and the US-based Greek was elated with her success after a long career in the sport.

“I’ve jumped since I was 10 years old, a total of 16 years,” she said. “I can’t believe what’s happened. It’s amazing, the crowd were amazing, my parents are here. They are both athletes so they understand even more.

“It’s one of the hardest events to compete in. I started so young. I’m glad to make my country proud.”

The majority of competitors entered the competition at 4.50m, although the US defending champion Jenn Suhr, who had been struck by an untimely virus in the days leading up to the event, and Stefanidi chose to delay their entrance into the competition until 4.60m,

Suhr, who also won Olympic silver in 2008, looked understandably laboured given her health issues and needed two attempts to clear 4.60m; a height which saw the departure of two women: Tina Sutej of Slovenia and Canada’s Kelsie Ahbe.

The 34-year-old Suhr, who was visibly struggling, found 4.70m beyond her and, unfortunately, made a premature exit in defence of her title.

Also eliminated at 4.70m were the German duo Martina Strutz and Liza Ryzih as well as, slightly surprisingly, Cuba’s reigning world champion and London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Yarisley Silva.

Six women cleared 4.70m with McCartney, Stefanidi, Great Britain’s Holly Bradshaw and Nicole Buchler of Switzerland doing so at the first time of asking.

Morris needed a second time clearance to earn the judges’ approval – a statistic which would come back to haunt her – while Oceania record holder Alana Boyd succeeded at the third time of asking.

The medallists really began to take shape at 4.80m with the largely unheralded 2014 world junior bronze medallist McCartney soared clear to match her national record with her first effort to grab control of the competition.

Stefanidi, Morris and Boyd all needed second-time clearances to negotiate this height while Bradshaw was eliminated and, after one failure, Buchler gambled and passed to the next height of 4.85m.

All five remaining vaulters registered a cross next to their name with their respective first attempts, however, the talented McCartney, who clearly appeared to be enjoying every moment of her maiden Olympic experience, came perilously close to a clearance and only dislodged the bar with her chest on the way back down to the pole vault bed.  

Stefanidi and then Morris – who in May broke a bone in her wrist – both hit back to slither over 4.85m with their second attempts, the latter punching the air in triumph.

McCartney could not match the more experienced pair, however she was rewarded with a brilliant bronze following her flawless competition up to this point after Buchler’s gamble at 4.85m proved unsuccessful and Boyd fell short of what was required to clear 4.85m.

The bar was then raised to 4.90m but with Stefanidi having her nose in front courtesy of a first time clearance at 4.70m, compared to Morris’ second time clearance, the Greek now held the upper hand.

And after neither woman could nail the height with their combined six attempts, it was Stefanidi’s gold, although Morris was very unfortunate not to clear with her third attempt after getting plenty of height above the bar and only 

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EXPECTED HIGHLIGHTS ON FINAL DAY – RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
 
      
The final day of athletics at the Olympic stadium in Rio will see seven gold medals awarded in two short hours of action. Here’s what to look out for on what could be a momentous day in Brazil.

FAVOURITE FARAH’S HISTORIC CHARGE
The men’s 5000m final, the last individual race of the Games, will see Mo Farah attempt to write his name into the history books (starts 21:30 local time).

The Briton wrapped up the 10,000m title on Saturday. If he can win his second gold of these Games he will become only the second man in history, after Lasse Viren, to retain both track distance titles.

The complexion of his challenge is altered by the fact that no Kenyans made it to the final. As such, it is the Ethiopian duo of two-time world medallist Hagos Gebrhiwet and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Dejen Gebremeskel that represents Farah’s most stern challenge.

They have the pace to compete – Gebremeskel’s PB is seven seconds better than Farah’s – but when you consider each of those listed accolades was won behind the Briton, it is hard to see either stopping him with such a lofty prize on offer.

Yet as 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana found out on Friday night, racing in both distance finals in a week can sap the legs. Farah’s task is monumental: that’s exactly why if he achieves it, it will be so historic.



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KIPROP OUT TO RECLAIM HIS TITLE

Asbel Kiprop is the favourite in a deep field for the night’s marquee final, the 1500m, which starts at 21:00.

In all but one race this season (a sixth place in Monaco) the Kenyan has looked a cut above, with wins over the mile in Oslo and Eugene, and in the 1500m in Doha and Birmingham, the latter with a world-leading 3:29.33. The 2008 Olympic champion, who has three world titles and is number three all-time, looked in cruise control as he won both his heat and semi to make the final.


Asbel Kiprop winning his 1500 semi-final in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games  (Getty Images)

Yet his rivals will take heart from his Monaco loss and the fact that he was dead last at the London 2012 Olympics, a result explained as injury. Taoufik Makhloufi took the gold four years ago. The Algerian showed his speed by winning 800m silver earlier this week and will be on Kiprop’s shoulder, if not in front of it.

Djibouti’s 2014 world indoor champion Ayanleh Souleiman, 2012 bronze medallist Abdalaati Iguider, 2008 silver medallist Nick Willis and USA’s world indoor champion Matt Centrowitz should also be in the finishing scramble.




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MORE THAN GOLD AVAILABLE TO SEMENYA

There is also an overwhelming favourite in the women’s 800m final, at 21:15. Caster Semenya is unbeaten this year and warmed up for Rio with the fastest time of the decade, 1:55.33 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

Burundi’s world indoor champion Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s 2014 world U20 champion Margaret Wambui have looked most able when pitted against Semenya this year, but they’ve not been able to live with the South African’s closing speed.

Great Britain’s Lynsey Sharp and Canada’s Melissa Bishop have both set lifetime bests under 1:58 this season, and could challenge for medals. So could world champion Marina Arzamasova, but the gold simply looks beyond anyone but Semenya.

The South African still hasn’t run a perfectly paced race – she sprinted through the line in Monaco. If she times it right in the final then she could finish with more than just the gold medal.



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EXPERIENCE WILL COUNT FOR LITTLE IN HIGH JUMP
The women’s high jump final, which starts at 20:30 local time, is not short of seasoned contenders.

Spaniard Ruth Beitia, 37, won her third European title last month and has this year won IAAF Diamond League meetings in Oslo, Stockholm and London.

Then there is mother-of-three Chaunte Lowe, 32, who won the US title in July with a world-leading 2.01m. For both athletes, Rio is their fourth Olympics. Croatian double world champion Blanka Vlasic, 32, would be at her fourth Games had she not missed London with injury.

More than just experience links those three outstanding competitors. Each qualified for the final without a single failure, yet none has won an Olympic title. As 18-year-old Vashti Cunningham of the USA proved when she beat Beitia to the world indoor title earlier this year, past form counts for nothing on the day.

Just seven centimetres separates the best and worst of the season’s bests of the 17-woman field. Any one of them could upset experience and stand atop of the Olympic podium for the first time.

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GLOBAL APPEAL IN JAVELIN
Until Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott won a surprise gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, the men’s Olympic javelin title has gone to Europe at every Games since 1952. Walcott, along with world champion Julius Yego, will ensure the old continent does not recover its crown easily in the final, which starts at 20:55.

The Trinidadian qualified for the final with his sole throw, a season’s best of 88.68m. Yego needed three efforts and was down on his best, yet the Kenyan’s 92.72m to win world gold proved his absolute, if raw, talent.

Those two and Germany’s Thomas Rohler are the only 90m+ throwers in the final. Yet since Rohler threw his world-leading personal best of 91.28m in June, he has struggled with a back injury. His teammates Johannes Vetter (85.96m) and Julian Weber (84.46m) were second and third in qualifying and could be Europe’s strongest hopes.

The Czech Republic’s 2013 world champion Vitezslav Vesely and Finland’s 2012 bronze medallist Antti Ruuskanen were down in qualifying, however their championship experience means they too could challenge for gold.

However, they will have their work cut out if they are to halt the shifting axis of this new age of javelin throwing.



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RELAYS TO CONCLUDE TRACK PROGRAMME
The men’s and women’s 4x400m relays will wrap up the Olympic action on the track.

The women’s event starts at 22:00, and will see the US and Jamaican teams resume their ongoing rivalry. The Jamaican quartet upset the form book to take gold at last year’s World Championships.

The US team they beat to the gold contained athletes with better season’s bests, just as they do here. Their quartet won their heat in 3:21.42; the second was won by Jamaica in 3:22.38. The stage is set.

In the men’s final, which starts at 22:35, the US quartet is also out for vengeance. A Bahamas’ team led by evergreen Chris Brown secured gold four years ago, breaking up USA’s traditional dominance in the event.

Bahamas are in the final, but the race might be another case of USA vs Jamaica. The Jamaican team beat them in heat two of qualifying in 2:58.29, the fastest time of any team.
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