Rio Day 3: Ibtihaj Muhammad opens Olympic campaign, U.S. men’s gymnasts eye medal
- Three days into the Rio Games, Michael Phelps looks to add to his storied swimming career, chasing his first individual medal of the 2016 Olympics, while U.S fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad aims to make history of her own.
RIO DE JANEIRO – On the second day of the Summer Games, Andrew Sharp and I hopped from venue to venue to get a feel for the Olympic fever that’s taking the city by storm–sort of.
It’s still early and there are preliminary heats and rounds to go before some of the more popular and mainstream medals are awarded to the likes of Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. So the empty seats at the beach volleyball stadium in Copa Cabana or the diving venue within the Olympic Park are to be expected.
The biggest crowd we experienced was not at the Spain vs. Croatia basketball game on Sunday (Confession: We left at half-time and haven't forgiven ourselves since) but indoors at the Carioca Arena to watch fencer Alex Massialas go for the first individual U.S. gold medal in the sport in 112 years. He fell short in his quest, losing 15-11 to Italy’s Daniel Garozzo. Chants of ‘Italia!’ and ‘U-S-A!’ have our ears still ringing.
Here’s a look at what to watch for on Day 3:
Ibtihaj Muhammad’s Olympic fencing debut (Begins at 9 a.m. ET, USA)
Muhammad will make Olympic history when she becomes the first U.S. Olympian to compete in a hijab, a Muslim headscarf. She owns one gold and four bronze medals in the team event since joining the women’s national team in 2010 and is the second-ranked American fencer and No. 8 in the world in 2016. She will face Olena Kravatska of Ukraine.
David Boudia and Steele Johnson pair up (Diving starts at 3 p.m., broadcast at 8 p.m. ET, NBC)
Four years ago, Boudia and then-partner Nick McCrory captured the United States’ first medal in synchronized 10-meter platform when they took bronze in London. Boudia and Johnson finished fifth at the world championships together in 2015, but a medal is not out of reach in Rio though China is the favorite to win it all.
Mariel Zagunis wants her third gold (Begins at 4 p.m., NBCSN)
American fencer Zagunis already owns gold medals from Athens and Beijing but she returns to the Olympics after a disappointing fourth place finish in London. She is ranked No. 3 in the world.
Women’s rugby sevens gold medal match (Begins at 5:30 p.m., CNBC)
The first-ever medals for women’s rugby will be awarded on Monday evening at Deodoro Stadium. Australia will play Canada and Great Britain faces New Zealand earlier in the day to decide which teams will compete in the bronze and gold medal matches (6 p.m.).
Men’s gymnastics targets podium (Gymnastics begins at 4 p.m., broadcast at 8 p.m. ET, NBC)
The U.S. looks to win its first medal since 2008. The Americans took bronze at the 2014 world championships and finished fifth at last fall’s worlds. It will likely be a battle for bronze while Japan and China are the favorites to take the top two spots on the podium. The Japanese men, led by Kohei Uchimura, broke a streak of six straight world championship wins by China, though China has won the last two team Olympic titles. Russia, Great Britain and Brazil will also be in contention for a medal.
Michael Phelps individual debut (Swimming begins at 10 p.m., NBC)
The most decorated Olympian in history will open his individual campaign in Rio with the 200-meter butterfly on Monday afternoon. Phelps took silver in the event in 2012 behind South Africa’s Chad LeClose, who will go in the heat immediately before the American swimming star.
Night owl volleyball (USA vs. China match starts at midnight ET)
Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross will take on China’s Wang Fan and Yue Yuan at midnight. The U.S. pair swept Australia’s Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Nicole Laird in its first Olympic match together.
Tweets of the day
katie ledecky— Ben Moss (@BenKMoss) August 8, 2016
We’re two days in and I think I’ve consumed 100 cups of coffee.
We’ve made the Top 10!
Word on the street is that the Sports Illustrated at the Games podcast has cracked the top 10 on iTunes. You should subscribe to it now and wake up to a fresh and thorough recap of all the day’s action from our own Mitch Goldich and Alex Abnos.
Still can’t navigate through all the television coverage? Here’s Richard Deitsch’s day-to-day watch guide.
Recommended reads and videos from the SI staff
• Tim Layden has covered Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt extensively since their rise to stardom at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He takes a look at the bond they share as they head into what is likely their final Olympics.
• China has fallen on the world stage since Yao Ming’s fade from the spotlight. Alex Wolff examines what’s gone wrong for China and its next generation.
• Tom Taylor examines how Michael Phelps’ body has changed as his Olympic experience grows.
• USA Basketball star Tina Charles wrote a guest column on the Black Lives Matter movement and activism.
• Nico Hernandez and Tony Losey planned to box at the Olympics together. Now, Hernandez plans to carry Losey’s memory with him in Rio.
• Michael Phelps, reborn and revitalized, helped power the U.S. to gold in the 4x100 freestyle relay on Sunday
Athlete to root for
Marti Malloy’s bronze medal in judo at the 2012 Olympic matched Ronda Rousey’s medal feat from the 2004 Summer Games. She returns to compete in the 57kg lightweight class (3 p.m. ET, MSNBC) and could be the first American to win two medals in judo.