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Previews30 Jul 2021

Five things to follow on day two in Tokyo


Elaine Thompson-Herah on her way to a 100m heat win in Tokyo (© Getty Images)

There are three titles up for grabs on the second day of athletics action at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Saturday (31).

After the fastest heat times in Olympic history were recorded on Friday, the champion will be crowned in the women’s 100m, while the first ever Olympic winners in the mixed 4x400m will be decided and the world’s best will battle for men’s discus glory.

Here are five things to follow on day two… 

More history to be made?

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

The women’s 100m got off to an expected fast start on Friday as first Elaine Thompson-Herah ran 10.82, then Marie-Josee Ta Lou clocked 10.78, as they produced the two fastest ever women’s 100m Olympic heat times.

Combine that with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s 10.84 to win her own heat and a whole host of other strong performances behind them, and the next two rounds of competition are sure to be quite a show.

The semifinals get under way at 7.15pm Tokyo time (12.15pm CEST), with Jamaica’s defending Olympic 100m and 200m champion Thompson-Herah heading the first as she lines up alongside Ajla Del Ponte, who with 10.91 in her heat improved Mujinga Kambundji’s national record of 10.95 which she had matched a few heats earlier. That semifinal will also feature Britain’s world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith and Nigeria’s multiple world medallist Blessing Okagbare.

Ta Lou, who equalled the African 100m record in her heat, goes in the second semifinal along with Jamaica’s Olympic and world 400m medallist Shericka Jackson.

In the third semifinal, Fraser-Pryce will continue her campaign towards becoming the first woman to win a single individual Olympic athletics event three times, to add to her 100m victories claimed in 2008 and 2012.

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Mixed relay magic

Mixed 4x400m final
9:35pm Tokyo time | 2:35pm CEST

Making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, the first ever mixed 4x400m medallists will be decided on Saturday.

First tried out at senior level at the 2017 World Relays in Nassau, the mixed relay featured at the World Championships for the first time in Doha in 2019 and proved to be a big hit with its unique and unpredictable format.

The US team of Wil London, Allyson Felix, Courtney Okolo and Michael Cherry won gold in a world record time of 3:09.34 in Doha and the USA again shapes up as the favourites in Tokyo. They clocked 3:11.39 to win their heat and although intially disqualified, the team was reinstated with a place in the final secured.

The Poland quartet qualified quickest, running 3:10.44, and they will be joined in the final by the Netherlands, Jamaica, Great Britain, Dominican Republic, Belgium and Ireland.

Strategy and tactics can come into play. While teams can select any order, most have chosen to go with a male lead-off runner, followed by two women over the following two laps, and a man running the anchor leg.

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Stahl seeks success for Sweden

Men’s discus final
8:15pm Tokyo time | 1:15pm CEST

Daniel Stahl will aim to become the first Swedish athlete to ever win an Olympic discus title, as he looks to add gold in Tokyo to the world title he won in Doha in 2019.

The world leader with a best of 71.40m this year, Stahl needed just one throw – from which he recorded 66.12m – to qualify for the final.

There he will be joined by Slovenia's European U23 champion Kristjan Ceh, who threw 70.35m in Kuortane in June, and Lithuania’s 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius. Jamaica’s world silver medallist Fedrick Dacres will not feature, as his best of 62.91m in qualification placed him 13th overall as he continues his comeback after surgery on his hand earlier this year. 

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Mondo’s moment?

Men’s pole vault qualification
9:40am Tokyo time | 2:40am CEST

After becoming the world record-holder in 2020, clearing 6.17m and then 6.18m just one week later, Mondo Duplantis will go for his first senior global gold in Tokyo.

He will seek a smooth qualification during the morning session on Saturday, but his expected head-to-head with the USA’s Sam Kendricks will no longer be possible, with the two-time world champion having withdrawn from the competition after testing positive for Covid-19.

“I have been basically jumping my whole life for this moment,” said world silver medallist Duplantis. “Ever since I was a little kid, I've always wanted to compete in the Olympics, and now the time is finally here after 15 years of jumping.”

On the withdrawal of Kendricks, he added: "It's hard to react to it because it still doesn't really feel real right now. An hour ago I was still preparing myself for a big battle with Sam.”

As well as Duplantis, the field will feature Brazil’s defending champion Thiago Braz, France’s former world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie and Poland’s multiple world medallist Piotr Lisek.

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Another world record-holder takes to the track

Women’s 400m hurdles heats
9:00am Tokyo time | 2:00am CEST 

After finishing second to Dalilah Muhammad’s world record performances at both the US Trials and World Athletics Championships in 2019, this time Sydney McLaughlin goes into global competition as the world record-holder.

The 21-year-old clocked 51.90 in Eugene last month to secure her spot on the Olympic team in superb style and now forms part of a top field which will begin their Tokyo journey by racing in the 400m hurdles heats on Saturday morning.

McLaughlin stars in the third heat, while Muhammad is in the fifth and final heat. Femke Bol of the Netherlands, who has reduced her personal best from 53.79 to 52.37 this season and now ranks fourth on the world all-time list, starts in heat four.

Other track action beginning on day two includes the men’s 100m and 800m, plus the women’s 100m hurdles.

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