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

The expected highlights on day two – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

After a record-breaking opening day, more history could be made on day two of athletics at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Here’s what to look out for on the second day of action in the Olympic Stadium.

Discus door open

Defending champion Robert Harting couldn’t make it through Friday’s discus qualifiers, allowing room for another thrower to pounce in the final, which starts at 10:50 (local time).

World champion Piotr Malachowski is now the favourite to take the gold. The Pole has the best mark in the world this year and was best in qualifying with a round-two throw of 65.89m.

Win and he’ll add to the European crown he won in July, but will have to be wary of potential big performances from 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter (Malachowski was second there) and world silver medallist Philip Milanov.


Christoph Harting in the discus at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images)Christoph Harting in the discus at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright


Lukas Weisshaidinger produced his best form of the season to finish second best in qualifying (65.86m). Harting’s brother, Christoph, will have strong hopes of upholding the family name. The younger brother was the best in qualifying in his group – third overall with 65.41m – and goes after his first major championships medal.

Both Weisshaidinger and Christoph Harting lack championships pedigree – neither has won a senior global championships medal before – but as the qualifying round proved, nothing is certain when the pressure is on.

Farah pursues greatness

On Friday morning Almaz Ayana became the fastest women’s 10,000m runner in history; on Saturday night Mo Farah will aim to set records of his own over the same distance.

The Briton, seeking to become only the second man in history to retain both Olympic distance (5000m/10,000m) crowns, can complete the first half of the double at 21:25 (local time). Whether the pace is anything like it was in the women’s race depends on how Farah’s rivals choose to attempt to take him down.


Mo Farah in the 5000m at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty Images)Mo Farah in the 5000m at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright


The Ethiopian trio of Yigrem Demelash, Tamirat Tola and Abadi Hadis are numbers one, two and three on the 2016 performance lists of the athletes competing (Farah aside), but the most sustained challenge is likely to come from elsewhere.

Geoffrey Kamworor, the world cross-country champion, beat Farah at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in March. He also took silver behind Farah in the 10,000m at the 2015 World Championships.

The Kenyan – with the help of his teammates Bedan Karoki and Paul Tanui – may ratchet up the pace early; they could take turns to surge, they might wait for a late kick. Whatever the plan, they will need to execute it to perfection if they are to stand even an outside chance of stopping Farah.

Fraser-Pryce chases history

In the 100m, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce can become the first woman in history to win three straight Olympic titles. The seven-time world champion showed no signs of the toe injury that disrupted her preparation. She was fastest in round one, running 10.96 to advance to Saturday’s semifinals (at 21:00).


Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images)Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright


With US champion English Gardner, European champion Dafne Schippers and Jamaican champion Elaine Thompson in the mix, there is no room for error in the race for a places in the final (22:35).

Each of those three rivals has credible chances of stepping up to take Fraser-Pryce’s crown. A host of other women could equally emerge to write their own chapter in women’s sprinting.

Just don’t forget that the defending champion is adept at making history herself.

There is a lot on Greg Rutherford’s plate

Greg Rutherford’s championship record speaks for itself – he is the reigning Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth long jump champion. However, he will need to improve if he is to become the first man to successfully defend an Olympic long jump title since Carl Lewis in 1996. In qualifying, he was 10th best of the 12 athletes through to the final with 7.90m.


Greg Rutherford in the long jump at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images)Greg Rutherford in the long jump at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright


His rivals will include the US duo of NCAA champion Jarrion Lawson and Pan-American champion Jeff Henderson. China’s world bronze medallist Wang Jianan could threaten, the 19-year-old was best in qualifying with 8.24m. Australia’s world silver medallist Fabrice Lapierre was down with a best of 7.96m, but will also figure in the final, which starts at 20:50.

Heptathlon promises

Jessica Ennis-Hill is well-poised to become the first woman since 1992 to retain the Olympic heptathlon crown. She enters day two with a 108-point lead over Nafissatou Thiam, who set a world heptathlon best 1.98m in the high jump on day one.


Nafissatou Thiam in the heptathlon high jump at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images)Nafissatou Thiam in the heptathlon high jump at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright


That high jump mark was matched by Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Yet she, along with world indoor champion Brianne Theisen-Eaton, will need a strong start in the long jump to recover the deficit on the leaders. The form of Akela Jones of Barbados should be of note. She goes into the fifth event third overall after only making her competitive heptathlon debut last year.

Long jump begins at 11:45, javelin from 20:00, with the 800m finals taking place at 22:53.

Beyond the medals

The day’s qualifiers will see first glimpses of another Jamaican going after a sprint triple, as Usain Bolt takes to the track for round one of the 100m (12:00), following a preliminary round that will open events on the track and 09:30.

Places in the final will be up for grabs in the women’s triple jump (09:40); world champion Caterine Ibarguen is favourite to win Colombia’s first ever track and field Olympic gold medal, but will have to beat defending champion Olga Rypakova, who ended Ibarguen’s 34-competition winning streak in June.

The women’s steeplechase (10:05) will see the all-time numbers two Ruth Jebet, three Hyvin Kiyeng and four Habiba Ghribi out to navigate the qualifying round ahead of Monday’s final. Round one of the women’s 400m will also take place (11:00).


Kirani James in the 400m heats at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images)Kirani James in the 400m heats at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright


On the men’s side, Renaud Lavillenie will look to advance in the pole vault (20:20) as the world record-holder seeks to retain his title; the rapid trio of Wayde van Niekerk, Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt will look to advance through the 400m semifinal (20:30); and the men’s 800m (22:05) semis will see world record-holder David Rudisha run in pursuit of a second Olympic gold.

Thomas Byrne for the IAAF