RIO DE JANEIRO - The second day of track and field events at the 2016 Rio Olympics was all about the upsets. In three of the four medal events, first-time Olympians took their place on the podium. Below, some takeaways from the day's action.
Women’s 100-meter Olympic gold medal stays in Jamaica
Elaine Thompson provided a glimpse of the future of Jamaican sprinting as she dominated a strong women’s 100-meter final and took gold in 10.72 seconds.
Tori Bowie of the United States won the silver medal, running 10.83. Her rise on the global sprints scene has been remarkable considering the fact that she was still balancing time as a long jumper and short sprinter as recently as 2013. This Olympics marks the second straight time that an American sprinter has taken second in this event—in London, Carmelita Jeter took the silver.
Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the two-time reigning Olympic champion, took bronze. Fraser-Pryce had the opportunity to beat Usain Bolt to the three-peat, but came up just short (though still on the podium).
U.S.’s Jeff Henderson final jump of 8.38 meters was good enough to win the gold, just one centimeter better than silver-medalist Luvo Manyonga of South Africa. The defending champion Greg Rutherford, with a final jump of 8.29, finished with the bronze. Henderson’s medal brought the United States’ all-time gold medal count to 999.
But the real drama came with Jarrion Lawson’s final jump. The American unleashed a wicked final jump, which he thought was good enough for gold (and he celebrated appropriately), but officials determined that his arm dragged in the sand far ahead of where his body landed, keeping him off the podium.
A newcomer wins the heptathlon
Great Britain's Jessica Ennis-Hill was unable to defend her Olympic heptathlon title as she took silver behind Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam, who scored 6,810 points—good enough to break the Belgium record. Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton took bronze and now awaits her husband Ashton’s competition as he attempts to defend his Olympic decathlon title from 2012.
Mo Farah defends 10,000 meter gold medal
Mo Farah continued his global dominance with his second straight Olympic 10,000-meter win despite a fall early in the race. He joins the likes of Olympic greats like Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Lasse Virén and Emil Zátopek as back-to-back 10,000 champions.
Farah unleashed his signature kick with about 1,000 meters to go but was unable to brush off the Kenyan challengers until 200 meters remained in the race. He threw up his arms for his Mo-Bot pose and now prepares to win another gold in the 5,000 meters next week.
Bolt advances with ease
There was no false start or surprise injury to shock in the first round of the men’s 100 meters. American Justin Gatlin posted the fastest time of the day, running 10.01 (+0.8 m/s wind) to win the second heat. Olympic rookies Trayvon Bromell and Marvin Bracy also qualified for the semifinals, running 10.13 and 10.16 in their respective heats.
After very subpar attendance for the first day of track and field action in the Olympic stadium on Friday, Bolt’s arrival put fans in the seats. He hushed the crowd, went to work and 10.07 seconds later he was finished. It was not the best of starts but there is still one more round on Sunday morning to get it done before the grand finale on Sunday evening.
Allyson Felix’s ankle injury has healed
Allyson Felix appeared in good spirits after running two rounds of the women’s 400 meters. She battled a nagging ankle injury during the Olympic trials yet managed to run the fastest time in the world at the time with her 49.68.
“It’s been a lot of progress since trials and it’s feeling very close to how it was,” Felix says. “Just the recovery is key now.”
Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas holds the fastest time of the year with a 49.55 run in late July, and she’s expected to give Felix the biggest challenge in the final Sunday.
David Rudisha ready to defend his Olympic medal
David Rudisha’s form is one of the most fascinating to watch in track and field. In 2012, he set the 800-meter world record of 1:40.91 in the Olympic final—a remarkable feat considering that most world records come in races with pacers. An injury caused him to miss most of the 2013 season, but he returned to win the world championships last summer in Beijing.
In that time, the United States has also seen the rise of Boris Berian, who two years ago was working at a McDonalds, contemplating a return to running. Berian and U.S. Olympic trials champion Clayton Murphy (just 21 years old) look to end a gold medal drought that's lasted since 1972.
It is not looking easy but it is not improbable.
Three American women advance to the steeplechase final
Ruth Jebet is excited to be at her first Olympics as she posted the fastest time of the day in 9:12.62 to pull away from the pack in the first heat of the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase. She may be the favorite for gold as she ran 8:59.97 earlier in the year for the second fastest time in history.
American record holder Emma Coburn ran 9:18.12 for second place in the second section for the fastest time by an American. She looks to improve upon her sixth-place finish in London; her record-setting 9:10.76 run at the Prefontaine Classic in June is the third-fastest time in the world this year.
Fellow Americans Colleen Quigley and Courtney Frerichs also advanced to the final, which marks the first time in Olympic history that three American women will compete in the steeplechase final.