Tokyo’s athletics schedule got under way today, kicking off some of the most anticipated events on the Olympic programme.
Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega took home the first athletics gold with his win in the men’s 10,000 metres, becoming the first new victor in the event since Mo Farah.
Farah was not present to challenge the Ethiopian after failing to qualify, but in Dina Asher-Smith and the men’s 4x100m relay team, there is still plenty for Team GB to be hopeful about on the track.
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With record-breakers and sub-plots galore, here are seven unmissable athletics events coming up in Tokyo.
Women’s 100m final
Huge stories surrounding the women’s 100m final broke well before the athletes landed in Tokyo, with Sha’Carri Richardson controversially barred from competing.
The American sprinter received a one-month doping suspension after testing positive for cannabis, prompting former British hurdler Colin Jackson to argue that Richardson had been ‘let down’ by her advisors.
The American’s absence opens the door for Jackson’s compatriot Asher-Smith to push for a medal.
Asher-Smith is the fastest woman in British history and arrives in Tokyo as arguably Team GB’s best chance of an individual sprint medal.
However, the Brit will have her work cut out by two-time Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica.
Having become the fastest woman alive earlier this year with a record-breaking 10.63 time, the 34-year-old is set for her first Games as a mother.
Keep an eye out for Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou too, who set a new African record in qualifying with a ferocious 10.78 run.
Greg Rutherford predicted it as “one of the events of the games”, and it’s hard to find fault in his forecast.
Men’s 200m
The men’s 200m event will see a 17-year-old challenging to take up Usain Bolt’s mantle, American teen sensation Erriyon Knighton.
Bolt’s retirement means a new champion is guaranteed, with Noah Lyles of the US picked as the favourite to take gold.
Lyles is the current 200m world champion, but the challenge of his young compatriot Knighton could make for a thrilling contest.
Women’s 400m
The women’s 400m event will feature the joint most decorated female track and field Olympian in history, Allyson Felix.
The American turns to Tokyo with an incredible six gold medals to her name, and now a new title: mother.
Felix will be contesting her first Olympics as a parent after giving birth to her daughter in 2018, and all eyes will be on her in her fifth Games.
Men’s 4 x 100m relay
Predicted to be GB’s only athletics gold, British viewers may want to tune in to the 4x100m relay.
Victory would mark a stunning upset over the US, but Gracenote are backing Team GB to beat the odds. again.
Men’s marathon
He’s the only man to have run a marathon in under 2 hours, surely Eliud Kipchoge can add another Olympic gold to his tally?
The Kenyan was regarded as one of the greatest marathon runners of all-time well before his record breaking 1:59:40 run in Vienna in 2019 but could add another chapter to his incredible story in Tokyo.
There may be a chink in the armour, however, as Kipchoge lost his first marathon in seven years in October.
Men’s long jump / high jump
JuVaughn Harrison is set to become the first US athlete in over a century to compete in both the high jump and the long jump.
As a result, Harrison will be competing for a place in the history books regardless of whether he wins.
Women’s hammer throw
Forget Robert Lewandowski, Anita Wlodarczyk might just be the most dominant athlete in Poland.
The hammer thrower is set to steal the spotlight in Tokyo, looking to become an Olympic champion for the third time in a row.
She is the current world record holder with an 82.98m throw, and was the first woman to throw over 80m.
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