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Previews02 Aug 2021

Five (okay, six) things to follow on day five in Tokyo


Mondo Duplantis in pole vault qualifying at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (© Dan Vernon)

Time flies when you’re having fun and athletics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is approaching the half-way mark! We’ve been treated to some incredible action so far, with more in store on day five (3).

Tuesday’s programme offers six finals: the women’s 200m, 800m, long jump and hammer, plus the men’s 400m hurdles and pole vault.

This list is supposed to be five things to follow, but how can we leave out one of the finals? So here are six things to watch on day five…

Duplantis’ dream

Men’s pole vault final
7:20pm Tokyo time | 12:20pm CEST

Five years ago when watching the action in Rio, Mondo Duplantis was a 16-year-old with a PB of 5.51m, imagining himself at the Olympics some day.

This day.

Now the Swedish star is the world pole vault record-holder and he’s not just going to the Olympics, he’s going for gold at the Olympics.

Since winning world silver behind the USA’s Sam Kendricks in Doha in 2019, Duplantis has broken the world record twice, clearing 6.17m and then 6.18m just one week later during the February of 2020. Now, in 2021, and at the age of 21, Duplantis has taken his tally of six-metre-plus competition wins to… yep - 21. He will be looking to add to that list to get his first senior global gold in Tokyo.

But a head-to-head with Kendricks is no longer possible, with the two-time world champion having withdrawn from the competition after testing positive for Covid-19. Among those looking to challenge Duplantis for the title will be 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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Can Thompson-Herah do the double double?

Women’s 200m final
9:50pm Tokyo time | 2:50pm CEST

Some of the stars from what turned out to be one of the greatest sprint races of all-time – the women’s 100m final in Tokyo – return to the track for the 200m.

After successfully defending her 100m title on Saturday, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah will look to complete a second successive Olympic double. She ran an impressive 21.66 to win her semifinal, but getting gold won’t necessarily be an easy task.

Going into the Games, six women had stormed under 22 seconds, led by the USA’s Gabby Thomas, who set a world lead in each round at the US Olympic Trials, eventually improving to a remarkable 21.61 to become the second-fastest ever and secure her debut Olympic spot.

Then there’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who claimed 100m silver behind Thompson-Herah at the weekend, plus Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast and Bahamian Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who will be on the hunt for a second Olympic title following her success over double the distance in Rio five years ago.

In the heats and semifinals, 18-year-old Christine Mboma of Namibia improved the world U20 record to 22.11 and then 21.97. Switzerland's Mujinga Kambundji comepletes the line-up for the final.


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Warholm vs Benjamin

Men’s 400m hurdles final
12:20pm Tokyo time | 5:20am CEST

World record-holder Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin, the man who came so close to the record at the US Trials, met for the first time this year in the Olympic semifinals and now they will go head-to-head proper as they battle for Olympic glory.

It was in Oslo on 1 July that Norway’s two-time world champion Warholm ran 46.70 to finally eclipse Kevin Young's legendary world record which had been set at the 1992 Olympic Games. That performance was at least in part a reaction to Benjamin's stunning run in Eugene just four days earlier, when he ran 46.83 for a time which moved him, albeit briefly, past Warholm and into the No.2 all-time spot. It may be that it takes another revision of those figures in Tokyo to get the gold.

The pair have raced each other just three times before – one of those being the semifinals in Tokyo. Warholm has won on all three occasions, but narrowly. At the Weltklasse Diamond League meeting in 2019 Warholm ran 46.92 to Benjamin’s 46.98 and at the World Athletics Championships that year it was 47.42 to 47.66.  And both have gone up another notch since.

They looked impressive in easing through to the final and joining them there will be Brazil's South American record-holder Alison Dos Santos, Qatar’s world bronze medallist Abderrahman Samba and Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands, the fourth-place finisher in Doha.

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Mu, from prodigy to champion?

Women’s 800m final
9:25pm Tokyo time | 2:25pm CEST

The 800m semifinals saw the elimination of three leading contenders in Uganda’s world champion Halimah Nakaayi, Cuba’s Rose Mary Almanza and the USA’s Ajee Wilson, showing the strength of the field which will line up for the final.

The 19-year-old Athing Mu is the world leader, her 1:56.07 at the US Olympic Trials being the second-fastest ever time for a US woman. In Tokyo she won her semifinal in 1:58.07 and the youth push continued as her fellow teenager Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain won her semifinal in 1:59.12. Jamaica’s Natoya Goule was the other semifinal winner (1:59.57) and they will be joined in the final by Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu, Britain’s Jemma Reekie and Alex Bell, the USA’s Raevyn Rogers and China’s Wang Chunyu.

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Hammer time

Women’s hammer final
8:35pm Tokyo time | 1:35pm CEST

Arguably the most dominant athlete of her generation, Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk won back-to-back Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016, notched up four world and European golds, and set six world records, becoming the first woman to throw beyond 80 metres. In Tokyo she will aim to win a record third hammer gold and she led the list of qualifiers for the final with her single throw of 76.99m.

Up until a few weeks ago, Wlodarczyk remained the only woman to have ever produced an 80-metre throw. The USA’s DeAnna Price joined her after her 80.31m victory at the US Trials and also qualified for the final in Tokyo but later explained that she had picked up a foot injury shortly after her national title win in Eugene.

Among those also in the final are China’s Zheng Wang, the USA’s Brooke Anderson and Gwen Berry, France's Alexandra Tavernier and Canada’s Camryn Rogers.

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Close contest

Women’s long jump final
10:50am Tokyo time | 3:50am CEST

This Olympic season has thrown up a number of medal contenders, with six women possessing legal jumps over the still-impressive barrier of seven metres this year, five of whom are in the final in Tokyo.

Nigeria’s world bronze medallist Ese Brume has the biggest jump of the year with 7.17m, from the USA’s Tara Davis (7.14m) and 2012 Olympic champion Brittney Reese, who leapt 7.13m to win at the US Olympic Trials last month. Chantel Malone of the British Virgin Islands has jumped 7.08m and Serbia’s 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Ivana Spanovic 7.00m.

Germany’s reigning world champion Malaika Mihambo has not yet found the form that carried her to that title in Doha in 2019 but will be looking to peak on the major stage again.

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