As controversial president Michel Temer declared the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro open and Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lit the Olympic cauldron on Friday night at Maracanã Stadium, the focus is now on the medals.
The United States looks to top the medal table for a second straight Olympics. Four years ago in London, it came away with 103 medals (46 gold, 28 silver and 29 bronze.) The biggest challenger for the top spot may be China, which finished second in 2012 with 88 medals but topped the Beijing Olympics in ‘08 with 100. (The U.S. had 110 but only 36 were gold while China collected 51 golds.)
Saturday’s must-watch events
The Summer of Froome continues (Begins at 8:30 a.m. ET, NBC)
Chris Froome is less than three weeks removed from his Tour de France victory but now sets his sights on the Olympic road race title. If he takes gold, it would be his first Olympic gold medal and his first victory on a one-day course. His teammate Adam Yates could also contend for the top of the podium, thought the course may favor Froome as it is tougher than London, being over 237.5 kilometers with eight climbs.
U.S. women take on France in toughest soccer match of group stage (4:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Per Grant Wahl: “USA-France is the game of the group stage in these Olympics, and the stakes are significant. The team that wins the group should have an easier road in the knockout rounds and get the chance to play in Rio de Janeiro one round earlier in the semifinals. The team that finishes second will likely have to meet Germany in the quarterfinals.
“The U.S. and France may be the two best teams in the world right now.”
So, you should probably watch.
USA basketball hits court for the first time (6:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Kevin Durant and Co. ran China off the floor in an exhibition match before the Olympics, and this game will likely follow a similar script. It’s notable because it’s Team USA’s debut, and there’s so much interest in the event that the IOC made it a ticketed affair, the only ticketed event of the basketball slate outside of the gold medal game.
Women's swimming 4x100-meter freestyle relay (10:24 p.m. ET, NBC)
Katie Ledecky hits the pool for the first time in Rio as she swims in the heats of the women’s 4x100-meter freestyle. The United States could swim Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, Amanda Weir and Abbey Weitzeil in the final, though Ledecky would still earn a medal for her earlier participation in her quest for five golds. Australia’s Campbell sisters, Cate and Bronte, will closely challenge the United States.
Where will the first American medal come from?
On Saturday, medals will be awarded in specific disciplines within shooting, cycling, fencing, archery, judo, weightlifting and swimming.
The women’s air rifle podium in shooting has not featured an American since Nancy Johnson took gold in 2000. The United States men’s team competition may make the podium after taking silver to Italy in an unforgettable team final in 2012 in which Michele Frangilli hit a 10 to clinch the team title at the last second. This year’s American team returns Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski for another shot at gold while also adding Zach Garrett. USA just missed the podium at last year’s world championships, finishing fourth.
Medals may be earned on Saturday but the United States’ first gold could come on Sunday when Ledecky swims in the women’s 400-meter freestyle.
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Don’t miss a moment of the action
NBC will broadcast a record 6,755 total hours of coverage from Rio and every event will be available live online or on NBC’s app.
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Athlete to root for
Table tennis player Kanak Jha will be the first American Olympian born in 2000 to compete at the Summer Games when he plays in the preliminary round of the tournament. The U.S does not have much of a medal chance, but the next generation of Olympic stars has arrived.