Yesterday’s blog predicted that the first Thursday of the Olympics might be the “calm before the storm”. I am delighted to have been proved utterly wrong. Not least in the cycling where reports of a malaise have clearly been way off the mark. The men’s team sprint was simply sensational. Kath Grainger and Vicky Thornley were tremendous. Florence and Hounslow oh so close to gold. Yesterday was a magnificent surprise. Today is immense.
Rowing 1504 (weather permitting)
Heather Stanning and Helen Glover got the party started in 2012. They go in the final of the women’s pairs today as heavy favourites. Watch out for the Danes.
Denied their usual “Super Saturday” slot, the men’s four will also start their final today as heavy favourites. Nonetheless I don’t think they are as ahead of the Aussies as the jingoistic commentary team believe. Delighted to be proved wrong.
Cycling – Men’s Pursuit
The men’s sprint was a bonus gold. Tomorrow , if the women’s pursuit win it will be a bonus gold over the previously heavily fancied Americans. By contrast, this evening’s men’s pursuit final should, in theory, be a procession. I say in theory, because, as the Dutch found out last night, accidents can happen.
I have been loathe to making predictions for fear of jinxing it. I will only say that we start big favourites in all three of the above events.
One in which we are not favourites is the Team Dressage which reaches its conclusion today. But the peerless Valegro has guided the team into a silver medal position behind the Germans.We need the Germans to falter today, but realistically that is not going to happen.
Our other decent shout of a medal is Jazz Carlin, in the latest round of the Katie Ledecky Show aka the 800m freestyle. Of course it won’t be gold, but in the form she is in she has a great shout of bronze, or hopefully silver.
Then, of course, there is the small matter of THE ATHLETICS.
Just as in 2012 the programme begins with a bang with the women’s heptathlon. I must stress that other athletes are more than capable of bringing the better than A game to the party, and it would be no great shock to see that happen. However, conventional wisdom has it that there are three main rivals going for gold.
Brianne Theisen-Eaton The Canadian has the proven pedigree in 2016, having won in Gotzis, and in my humble opinion is the marginal favourite because of that.
Jessica Ennis-Hill She has done it all, and as a result starts official favourite.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson A prodigious talent, who has yet to truly shine at a major champs. Was very much in the running at the worlds in 2015 before disaster struck at the long jump.
This event is about shoring up your weaknesses and nailing your strengths. At 1335 the heats of the 100m hurdles start. Ennis-Hill has no chance of matching her 2012 time, but anything under 12.80 seconds will do.
At 1450 the High Jump starts. It is essential that Ennis Hill jumps 1.83 or more. KJT by contrast simply must jump over 1.90.
In the evening the shot put takes place, a weaker event for Ennis-Hill and a terrible event for KJT. And then there is the 200m. Last year at the worlds KJT won this in style. Both her and Ennis-Hill need to put disatnce between them and Theisen-Eaton.
This competition is way too tight to call, and too many things can go wrong. I’m terrified.
Also in athletics.
Greg Rutherford attempts to qualify for a spot on Super Saturda y’s packed programme.
Sudden medal hope Laura Muir goes in the first round of the 1500m.
The final of the women’s 10,000m. Ethiopians to dominate.
Also on Friday
Jason Kenny starts his attempt at the men’s sprint.
Giles Scott continues his quest for Laser.
Murray’s quarter final, hopefully avoiding the old school Murray meltdown of yesterday.
Justin Rose goes for a hole in one again. He’s shaping up nicely so far.
Do you know how stressed I am about today’s heptathlon? No hot men today.