"His job, in short, is to rescue the modern Olympic Games and let them breathe clean air. And not in the way that American swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky and gymnast Simone Biles rescue the Olympics by keeping U.S. television viewers sated with medals and repeated playings of The Star-Spangled Banner. Bolt is expected to save the Olympics from the galloping scourge of mistrust and disinterest, expected to act as the beacon of purity that brings us back to another time. This is a tall order, but Bolt is always game to try."
So writes Tim Layden of Usain Bolt, who will run his final Olympic race on Friday. The Jamaican star says he will retire from competitive track after next year’s World Championships so this is your final time to witness his Olympic legend. Bolt gets the call for Jamaica in the 4x100-meter relay event, a final opportunity to add to his once-in-a-lifetime resume. The U.S. (featuring Justin Gatlin) and Canada (led by Andre De Grasse) are the main competition. If you have watched Bolt during these Games, you have witnessed unparalleled sprint greatness. Savor the legend. His kind will not come around again soon.
Medals will also be awarded in badminton, boxing, cycling BMX, equestrian, soccer, field hockey, modern pentathlon, synchronized swimming, taekwondo, water polo and wrestling.
WHAT TO WATCH
• The women’s 4x100 relay final features Jamaican 100-200 sprint queen Elaine Thompson against a U.S. group featuring Allyson Felix. In a remarkable story on Thursday, the U.S. women relay dropped the baton on the second exchange in the qualifying heats, knocking them out of the final but replays confirmed that Felix was bumped by a Brazilian runner right before she got to the zone. In the rerun the Americans crossed the finish line in 41.77 seconds, the fastest time for Friday’s final.
• Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana and Gelete Burke are the favorites in the women’s 5000 final (7:40 p.m.) while Cuba’s Yaruskey Silva and Jenn Suhr of the U.S. are medal contenders for the women’s pole vault (starts at 6:10 p.m.).
• The United States will play for the women’s water polo gold medal at 2:30 p.m. against Italy. Writes SI’s Alan Shipnuck: “In Wednesday’s semifinals, overmatched Hungary tried to manhandle the American but badly underestimated their toughness and resolve; afterward the U.S. players giddily compared their various slashes and bruises, proud of these badges of honor. Italy is known for its oppressive defense and the Yanks are already spoiling for a fight. ‘It’s gonna be a war,’ says center Kami Craing. ‘Bring it on!’”
• The Netherlands and Great Britain will play for the gold medal in field hockey (4:00 p.m.) while Germany and New Zealand compete for the bronze (11:00 a.m.).
• The women’s gold medal match in soccer (4:30 p.m.) pits upstart Sweden (who knocked out the U.S. and host Brazil in shootouts) against Germany. Brazil will play Canada for the bronze medal (noon).
• The men’s indoor volleyball semifinals are set: The U.S. faces traditional power Italy, who beat the U.S. 3-1 in pool play while Brazil meets Russia (8:15 p.m.) in a rematch of the 2012 gold medal game.
AROUND THE WEB
• Via The Guardian’s Martina Hyde: Blame it on the IOC: its profiteering Olympics has never looked more exploitative
•SI’s Michael McCann on the legal implications for Ryan Lochte and the other U.S. swimmers
• Via Ben Golliver: A look at the U.S. men’s basketball team in 2020
• From Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski: How Rio Olympics kids’ ticket donation program failed
Note: Not all events listed below are live, but you can watch every Olympic event live on NBCOlympics.com.
All times Eastern.
Golf: Women’s third round — Golf Channel
Track and field: Men’s 50km race walk — NBCSN
(9:35 a.m.) Badminton: Men’s semifinal — USA Network
Water polo: Women’s bronze medal match — USA Network
Equestrian: Individual show jumping — NBC
Canoe/Kayak: Sprint semifinals — NBC
Sychronized Swimming: Team final — NBC
Wrestling: Men’s qualification — NBCSN
Taekwondo: Round of 16 — NBCSN
Rhythmic gymnastics: Qualification — NBCSN
Badminton: Women’s singles final — MSNBC
Field hockey: Women’s bronze medal match — USA
Badminton: Men’s semifinal — USA
Volleyball: Men’s semifinal — NBC
Soccer: Women’s bronze medal match — MSNBC
BMX: Men’s and women’s semifinals — NBC
Water polo: Women’s gold medal match (USA vs. Italy) — NBC
Track and field: Women’s 20km race walk — MSNBC
Handball: Men’s semifinal — MSNBC
Basketball: Men’s semifinal (USA vs. Spain) — NBCSN
Equestrian: Individual jumping — NBC
Rhythmic gymnastics: All-around — NBC
Field hockey: Women’s gold medal match (Netherlands vs. Great Britain) — MSNBC
Soccer: Women’s gold medal match (Sweden vs. Germany) — NBCSN
Wrestling: Men’s medal matches — CNBC
Basketball: Men’s semifinal (Australia vs. Serbia) — CNBC
Handball: Men’s semifinal — NBCSN
Diving: Men’s 10m platform — NBC
(9:35 p.m.) Track and Field: Men’s 4x100m relay (Usain Bolt’s final race) — NBC
Volleyball: Men’s semifinal — NBCSN
Boxing: Women’s light heavyweight gold medal match — NBCSN
Taekwondo: Men’s and women’s gold medal matches — NBCSN