Anita Wlodarczyk at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images / AFP) © Copyright
Preview Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Expected highlights on day four – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

The fourth day of athletics at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games contains five gold medal events. Here’s what to look out for across two sessions of action in the Olympic Stadium.

Morning medals in hammer and steeplechase

In the morning’s first final, the hammer (10:40 local time), world record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk will attempt to go one better than the silver medal she won four years ago in London. The Pole brings a 28-competition winning streak to Rio, a run that includes one world title and two European titles.

The 31-year-old needed only one effort in qualifying, her 76.93m led the field by more than three metres. She is the overwhelming favourite for gold and indicated after qualification that she wants to break her world record as well.

Former world record-holder Betty Heidler and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Zhang Wenxiu, number two and three in the world this year, have the experience to challenge for a medal. Yet neither has thrown within four metres of Wlodarczyk this season. It will need a major off day for the gold to go to anywhere other than Poland.

There should be a fierce battle for medals in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, which is the morning’s only final on the track (11:15).

Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet ran 9:12.62 in the first qualifying heat after taking off at half way. Jebet did the same at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene when she posted the second-fastest time in history, though on that day she was nearly caught by the late surge of Hyvin Kiyeng.

Ruth Jebet at  the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images)Ruth Jebet at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright

Kiyeng, the world champion, was the winner in Saturday’s third heat in a more sensible 9:24.61, and will hope to have enough in the tank to avenge that 0.03-second loss in Eugene.

Habiba Ghribi could be the woman to stop that pair. The Tunisian was comfortable in qualifying and hopes to win gold to go with her upgraded first-place finish in 2012. She is the fourth-fastest steeplechaser of all time, and is perhaps the only woman in the field able to live with the pace should Jebet and Kiyeng take off.

In the morning’s preliminary rounds, men’s triple jump qualifiers begin the day’s programme at 09:30. The women’s sprinters are back in action, the first round of the women’s 200m taking place at 09:35. There are also first-round races in the men’s 3000m steeplechase (10:25) and 400m hurdles (11:35).

Three champions seek more gold in evening

In the evening session, two world record-holders will attempt to defend their Olympic titles, while another 2012 champion will look to add more gold to her glistening collection.

The first final is the men’s pole vault (20:35), and will see Renaud Lavillenie try to become the first man since Bob Richards in 1956 to win back-to-back Olympic men’s pole vault titles.

The Frenchman’s indoor 6.16m in 2014 is the best clearance of all time, but he has faltered in past championships, most recently no-heighting at the European Championships in Amsterdam.

That said, Lavillenie claimed his second world indoor title in March and he looked confident in qualifying, entering at 5.70m and clearing at the second attempt to advance to the final.

World indoor silver medallist Sam Kendricks had four out of four successful vaults up to 5.70m in qualifying. Shawn Barber was less assured, needing three attempts at 5.45m. The world champion hasn’t this season hit the heights he did in 2015 but can’t be discounted.

There is a home medal hope in Thiago Braz. He enjoyed rapturous support as he cleared 5.70m at the first attempt in qualifying. A 5.92m vaulter at his best, a place in the top three is not beyond his reach, especially with 2011 and 2013 world champions Pawel Wojciechowski and Raphael Holzdeppe failing to make the 12-man final.

David Rudisha produced the run of the Games in 2012 to win 800m gold in a world record of 1:40.91. He is the world champion and has the fastest time in the world this year, a 1:43.35 run in Szekesfehervar, but expect a scrap rather than a procession in the Rio final at 22:35.

David Rudisha in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 800m semi-finals (Getty Images)David Rudisha in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 800m semi-finals (Getty Images) © Copyright

His teammates, 2014 world U20 champion Alfred Kipketer and Ferguson Rotich, will both be confident after beating Rudisha at the Kenyan trials. Neither will Pierre-Ambroise Bosse be fazed: he finished ahead of Rudisha at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm and tuned up before Rio with a win in London.

Like Rudisha, USA’s Boris Berian likes to run from the front. He did so in devastating style to win the world indoor title in March. Clayton Murphy had the beating of him at the US trials, though, and he goes into the final full of confidence after a personal best in the semi-finals.

Track action concludes with the final of the women’s 400m, where Allyson Felix attempts to win a fifth Olympic gold medal in athletics, a haul no other woman has achieved.

The US sprinter has never won the individual Olympic 400m title, but she won the world title last year and has a 4x400m gold from 2008. An ankle injury affected Felix’s build up, but it hasn’t showed on her route to the Rio final, which included wins in her heat and semi-final.

Shaunae Miller was second in her semi-final behind Felix, as she was at the World Championships final last year. The 22-year-old has the fastest time of the year and looked to be holding back ahead of the final.

Jamaica has two finalists: world 4x400m champion Stephenie-Ann McPherson and world bronze medallist Shericka Jackson were both automatic qualifiers and have the pedigree to challenge for medals.

USA’s Natasha Hastings was a relay medallist in 2008 and could also step up, as could Italy’s two-time European champion Libania Grenot.

Outside of the medal events, there will be qualifying for the final in the women’s discus (20:30) while round-one races will take place in the men’s 110m hurdles and women’s 400m hurdles.

Thomas Byrne for the IAAF