For those who want to watch the greatest runners on the planet, from the 100-meter dash to the 26.2-mile marathon, the running events will begin Aug. 12.
Nothing will be hotter on a hot August night than when “World’s Fastest Human” Usain Bolt steps on the track in Rio to defend his title in the 100-meter dash Saturday, Aug. 16.
Bolt holds the world record for the 100 meters with a time of 9.58 seconds, a record that has stood since 2009. He also holds the world record for the 200 meters, an incredible 19.19 seconds. Bolt owns six Olympic gold medals and 11 world titles.
At the London Olympics in 2012, Bolt achieved an unprecedented “Double Triple” by retaining the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter relay titles he won four years earlier in Beijing. He hopes to earn a “Triple Triple” at Rio, and he has already stated that he wants to destroy the world record in the 200 meters by breaking the 19-second barrier.
Hamstring issues that forced Bolt to withdraw from the Jamaican Olympic Trials earlier this summer may seriously hamper his effort.
America’s Justin Gatlin will challenge Bolt in both the 100- and 200-meter races. The charismatic Bolt has dubbed his races against Gatlin as a “Battle between good and evil.” Gatlin, age 34, has been convicted twice of doping violations, but has tested clean this year.
Anyone can steal the sprint events, but hurt or not, Bolt remains the favorite to achieve an unheard of “Triple Triple” at Rio.
On the opposite end of the running spectrum, an American distance runner will attempt to become the first United States runner to win the Olympic Marathon since Frank Shorter won the 26.2-mile event in 1972.
Oregon’s Galen Rupp is a savvy, seasoned runner who has distinguished himself at distances from the 1,500 meters to the marathon. At the 2012 Olympic Games, he placed second to Great Britain’s Mo Farah in the 10,000-meter (6.2-mile) race. Rupp dominated the field to win the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon on a hot day in Los Angeles back in February. Last month he also won the Olympic Trials 10,000-meter event at Heyward Field in Oregon.
Rupp is taking on a formidable task at the Rio Olympics. He will compete in both the 10,000 meters and the marathon events. There is a week between the races, with the 10,000 being contested Aug. 13 and the marathon Aug. 21. Still, the competition will be fierce, especially from the East African countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. The last, and only, person to win an Olympic marathon and the 10,000 meters was legendary Czech runner Emil Zatopek, who did it in 1952.
From the explosive speed of the sprint events to the steady, measured discipline of the marathon, drama is certain to abound at the Rio Olympic Games.