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Previews31 Jul 2021

Five things to follow on day three in Tokyo


Athletes race in the men's 100m heats at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)

The action is hotting up in Tokyo and another four gold medals will be claimed on day three of athletics at the Olympic Games on Sunday (1).

The day’s programme comes to a close with the men’s 100m final, while athletes will also compete for medals in the women’s shot put, women’s triple jump and men’s high jump.

Here are five things to follow on day three…

A new 100m champion

Men’s 100m final
9:50pm Tokyo time | 2:50pm CEST

For the first time since 2004, the 100m gold medal will be won by an athlete other than Usain Bolt, who swept three consecutive titles in Beijing, London and Rio, as well as three straight 200m crowns.

With Bolt now in retirement, US sprinter Trayvon Bromell had looked to be the man who could take up the mantle in Tokyo. The 26-year-old clocked a world-leading 9.77 in June in Florida, the seventh-fastest time in history. He then sealed his spot for Tokyo by winning the 100m at the US Olympic Trials in 9.80.

However, he placed fourth in his heat on Saturday (31) and so faced a nervous wait to see if his time of 10.05 would be enough to see him advance. It was and he will now face a stern test from several other top contenders in the next round, including his USA teammates Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley.

South Africa’s Akani Simbine has run 9.84 this year and hopes to become the first African to win the Olympic 100m title since Reggie Walker at the 1908 London Games, while Canada’s multiple world and Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse is also sure to be in the mix.

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Rojas aims to reign supreme

Women’s triple jump final
8.15pm Tokyo time | 1:15pm CEST

During the current – and extended – Olympic cycle, Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas is the only woman in the world to have jumped beyond 15 metres. In fact, she has done so 17 times, including at all six of her competitions this year. She also came close in qualification in Tokyo, as her leap of 14.77m was achieved despite leaping from almost 40cm behind the board and would have been well over 15 metres had she hit the board on take off.

She will be joined by athletes including Thea LaFond, who leapt a national record of 14.60m to qualify for the final and will aim to win Dominica’s first Olympic medal in any sport, and Jamaica’s world silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts.

Two-time world champion Caterine Ibarguen struggled to find her rhythm on the runway in qualification and was facing elimination but a third round jump of 14.37m secured her place in the final as the seventh-best qualifier to keep her Tokyo dream alive.

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Barshim the man to beat

Men’s high jump final
7.10pm Tokyo time | 12:10pm CEST

After all his achievements so far, gold is the only place left to go for Mutaz Barshim, who claimed Olympic bronze in 2012 (later upgraded to silver) and then silver in 2016 before winning his two world titles.

Widely considered the best high jumper of the past decade, if not of his generation, the 30-year-old has scaled 2.40m 11 times since 2013. But a number of other stars are ready to challenge him for the title in Tokyo. Authorised neutral athletes Ilya Ivanyuk and Mikhail Akimenko, plus Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi will be among them, while rising US star JuVaughn Harrison will also look to make an impact as he juggles this event with competing in the long jump.

Seeking a strong performance on home soil will be Naoto Tobe, who cleared his PB of 2.35m indoors in 2019.

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Top shot

Women’s shot put final
10:35am Tokyo time | 3:35am CEST

The first shot putter in history to reach five Olympic finals, New Zealand’s Valerie Adams will now aim to become the first woman to win a single individual Olympic athletics event three times.

Bedeviled by a spate of injuries over the past six years, the 36-year-old weathered pandemic restrictions and cancellations well in 2021, throwing 19.75m in July. Four others have thrown farther this year, however, and will also be looking to take that title.

China’s Gong Lijiao has topped the world lists in three of the last four seasons and is the best so far this year, throwing 20.39m in June. Jessica Ramsey threw a PB of 20.12m to win the US Olympic Trials and will be out to prove that her performance in Eugene wasn't a one-off. Her teammate Raven Saunders was second at the trials with a 19.96m lifetime best and arrives with big meet experience having finished fifth in Rio. While Portugal's Auriol Dongmo will also be one to watch, having shown good consistency and thrown a national record of 19.75m this year. 

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Let the steeplechase begin

Women’s 3000m steeplechase heats
9:40am Tokyo time | 2:40am CEST

Beatrice Chepkoech (heat two) broke the world record in 2018, clocking 8:44.32, and then went on to win the world title in 2019 with a championship record of 8:57.84. But despite a promising start to her year, which included a world record of 14:43 over 5km and an indoor 3000m PB of 8:31.72 just three days later, the Kenyan hasn’t won any of her steeplechase races in 2021. Her season’s best of 9:04.94 was set when finishing a distant second at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

Her compatriot Hyvin Kiyeng (heat three) was the winner on that occasion, running a season’s best of 9:03.82, and the 2016 Olympic silver medallist looks set to be a big threat in Tokyo. The fastest of the entrants, however, is African Games champion Mekides Abebe (heat three), who set an Ethiopian record of 9:02.52 at the Diamond League meeting in Doha. She will be joined by teammates Lomi Muleta, who set a PB of 9:14.03 this year, and Zerfe Wondemagegn, who set a national U20 record of 9:16.95 in Hengelo.

US champion Emma Coburn (heat one) will once again be a medal contender, should all go to plan in the heats.

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