After two gruelling days of events the decathlon athletes will be dragging their tired and aching bodies towards the line of the 1500m to finish the event off in the evening session of track and field alongside a variety of sprints, hurdles and field finals. It is also the start of the slightly less testing, but generally far more bizarre modern pentathlon with the men and women fencing it out for the early points.
They will not be the only ones with serious muscle aches by the time they cross the finishing line though. The men’s triathlon happens in the late afternoon and midday sun of Brazil as they endure the chopping waters before getting on a bike and finishing it off with a rather heft run around Rio.
For both events there will be some tired faces and some that fail to make it to the finishing line. In comparison the teams taking part in the technical round of the synchronised swimming will be desperately trying to remain composed and smiley as they step out of the pool despite spending two of three minutes upside down and under the water.
As well as getting to look at the pretty costumes for the team events there will also be a chance to watch something that is pretty laid back and relaxed; the BMX quarter-finals. They took part in the seeding events yesterday and are now prepared to do serious battle on the bumpy and winding course built in Brazil.
The riders will be hoping that they all manage to stay on the bike and avoid any nasty accidents and the men in the water polo semi-finals will be hoping the same as several players have ended up with masks to protect their nose and black eyes throughout the physical tournament so far.
If you are one of those people still yet to invest in fancy technology and be able to avoid the adverts on TV then you might have spotted the latest Muller Rice advert. It contains Craig Benson, one of the British triathlon competitors, who is taking part in today’s event alongside the Brownlee brothers.
56 athletes are due to take to the starting line, 3pm UK time, and many of them will be working in country pairs and trios to get them through the initial stages of the event. There are some participants that will be feeling a bit more lonely out there like Ron Darmon who is the only participant for Israel.
This is an event that involves great strength and endurance to be able to keep those legs kicking, swimming and running throughout what will be close to a two hour race. Let us hope that those less used to participating in events in weather like that present in Rio will ensure they take plenty of fluids on and have good waterproof sun screen on to reduce the amount of casualties to the field especially as they come out of the water soaking wet and will have the suns rays beaming down on them.
The Brownlee brothers got gold and bronze in London 2012 and have looked good during various meets in the last year so will be hoping to join each other on the podium again this year. The silver medallist from the last Olympics, Javier Gómez Noya from Spain, is not part of the event and leaves room for somebody to spoil the British brothers party.
15:25 – All of the athletes have made it out of the water and are on their bikes for the eight laps of the cycling course. The Brownlee brothers are in the leading pack of ten athletes whilst Benson is down near the back of the pack. The course involves a lot of ups and downs as well as some pretty noticeable bends that could cause problems if they cyclists cannot spread out enough or lose their balance slightly.
15:45 – The cyclists are nearly half way through the middle event of the race and the lead group has over a one minute lead ahead of the chasing pack. They are managing to work much more effectively because of being a much smaller group to rotate who is the leader whilst the chase group are mainly having to focus on not crashing into each other especially down the hill.
15:55 – The fourth lap of the cycling sees the front of the pack have a slightly more relaxed ride and seem to let off the pace a little but the chasing pack are still one minute and fifteen seconds behind. The lead pack, despite having that break, they have managed to maintain the gap and also get a little bit of a break to be able to push on nearer the end of the cycling and during the run. The weather is seeing the temperature nearly reach 30 degree Celsius.
16:15 – After the first two stages of the race the 10000m run is under way and whilst there is still a very long way to go the athletes can feel they are now on the final stretch and know that as long as they take on water from the bottles provided around the course they will be able to maintain their lead ahead of the rest of the field.
16:20 – As the first lap of the four lap run gets nearer to changing into lap two the Brownlee brothers start to extend their gap ahead of the rest of the men that were in that cyclist leading pack which is becoming very disjointed. Everybody is now starting to run their own race and focus on their own techniques.
16:30 – The second of the four laps are over and the Brownlee brothers have a thirteen second advantage of South African Schoeman who is running by himself ahead of a few other athletes just a little bit behind the pack. Because of the way the lap circuit works they may end up lapping a couple of the others in the pack that were near the back of the swimming and the cycling pack.
16:35 – The older of the two British brothers has taken decisive action and created a fairly comfortable margin ahead of his younger brother. Unless something happens he, who won gold in London 2012, will retain his Olympic champion title and his brother will be going from bronze four years ago to silver this year.
16:50 – Alistair Brownlee takes the gold by walking over the line. Jonathan gets silver and Schoeman holds on to get the bronze medal ahead of his team mate.
The British Brownlee brothers came out of the water in the first pack and were able to help push the pace throughout the cycling laps to give those ten cyclists a margin of over a minute ahead of the rest of the field.
Going into the running the brothers had found a way to get to the front and lead off strongly to quickly give themselves the title of a two man lead. With a couple of laps to go though the older of the two brother, Alistair, decides he is ready to go and just pushes on and heads to the finish line alone.
His brother, Jonathan, is unable to catch him up but maintains a comfortable gap ahead of the runners behind him. The brothers are able to get gold and silver after getting gold and bronze in London 2012 to make Alistair the most successful male Olympic tri-athelete to date.
Schoeman (South Africa) clinched bronze a few seconds ahead of his more favoured compatriot to get their country’s first ever triathlon medal at an Olympic games. A lot of runners struggled as they mad it over the line and were quickly assisted by medical professional to get them water and cool towels and out of the midday sun.
Some of the mighty men of water polo are going to have to fall at this late stage of the competition. Whilst defeat does not mean their dreams are completely over it means they will be left to battle it out for bronze and having seen tears of joy and despair already by the poolside I would expect to encounter a few more drops leave teams eyes come the end of the matches today.
The defending Olympic champions Croatia take on Montenegro, 4:20pm UK time, and will be looking to remind their coach that deserted team for another team after London 2012 that they can do it without him because their quality is so strong and resilient. But Montenegro, who have done fairly well in this competition and finished fourth four years ago, will be keen to cause an upset and be the ones to get into the gold medal match in a couple of days time.
Back in London 2012 Italy took silver and Serbia took bronze and the other semi-final sees these two teams battling it out. Italy will be hoping they can win and go one better than their previous performance whilst Serbia will be desperate to show improvement in the last four years and be able to get to the gold medal match to go one, if not two, better. This is the match of the two to watch, 8:30pm UK time, as it is likely to be the closest of the two and see the teams battling it out (in more ways than one) to get that spot in the better of the medal matches.
The main thing here is that the final four teams are the same four that got to the semi-finals of London 2012. It really shows how dominant these teams are in the sport but also that other teams are struggling to develop and progress enough to cause an upset in the running or of events. Will it be a complete replica of last years finals or will these semi-final matches be able to shake things up a little bit? By 10pm tonight we shall all know the answers.
After a fairly close first half the Croatian team were only leading two points with a score of 7-5 and knew that they would need to carry on pushing to secure that spot in the gold medal match. The Montenegro team could take hope at half time knowing that they have something in them to score and also stop a couple of shots. But by the end of the second half the lead had been extended by the Croatian team to 12-8 to secure the win and get closer to keeping the title of defending Olympic champions. Montenegro will have to settle for the bronze medal match and be hoping that they can go one better than four years ago to actually make it up onto the podium to collect a medal after all their efforts.
The Serbian team will go at least one better after beating the Italian team. Their win was more the comfortable and at some points they were absolutely crushing their rivals. They can finally be relieved of some pressure and live up to there high expectations and the weight of pressure being out on their shoulder. The medals will at least go to teams in a different order but the European, specifically Eastern European, teams can hit their chests victoriously at their efforts in the semi-final matches.
Team Synchronised Swimming
If you caught any of the duet synchronised swimming and thought that was impressive wait until you see the team events and especially as some that did the duets also do the team event and have had to perfect multiple routines and moves.
There are eight members in a team and on the first day of the finals, today, they have to do the technical routine. This involves them being given a set list of moves by the judges to do in a specific order but they are allowed to add their own music and elements of creativity to the performance as well and this creativity is something that they will be judged on as well as execution and the synchronisation itself.
In London 2012 Russia took home the gold with China and Spain joining them on the podium and it is likely there might not be much change in who wins the the gold and silver but of course anything can happen on the day and especially as more people need to synch up with each other. Spain failed to qualify to be one of the eight teams in the final of this event, determined through a number of competitions in the lead up to the games, so there is at least one medal certainly up for grabs but Japan would be the team I would back to step up to collect their medals at the end of tomorrows free routine.
17:05 – Wearing outfits that represent a mixture of tiny suit jackets and colours to look like they may fit in as introducing a boxing match (apart from a silly thing on their heads) the Brazil team get a technical score of 84.7985 points to get the competition started.
17:12 – The Russian team are the second to receive their scores and have fairly simple lines of sparkling silver and black throughout their costumes without making it one over the top mess and that is further balanced out by the back only having a pattern, instead of a skin coloured mesh, over their bottom in a more simple black with occasional piece of shimmer. Their synchronisation seemed pretty on point throughout the technical routine and were awarded with 97.01.06 points.
17:18 – Egypt are the third team up and have costumes that seems to represent a red military jacket with gold embellishment around the pieces that represent the button section. They are one of the less experienced teams in the competition as the sport is continuing to develop in Egypt and is slowly increasingly in popularity. They get 76.9838 for that technical performance.
17:23 – Australia have the theme of empowerment for their routine but their costumes are just different shades of shiny green and yellow in diamond shapes to add some depth of colour to them. I think they are aiming to keep them similar to their nations flag. The performance, done by members that live all over the country and have to meet up from time to time to compete, gets them 74.0667 points.
17:29 – The Italian team have rainbow colours waving their way down their costumes with a few silver waves thrown in too. I do not really get the outfit design if it is supposed to represent something pretty other than having slight chunks of colours on it. They got 91.1142 points in their technical performance.
17:35 – You would not lose Ukraine in a rush as they have very bright green costumes. Their theme is Tsunamis but there is barely any music to go with it and I feel the theme is just an excuse to cause a lot of splash. Nothing here strikes me as fantastic compared to those that have already gone but the judges award this technical performance 93.4413 to put them at second in this stage of the first day with several teams still to go.
17:40 – China have a theme of Brasilia but other than the walking section before they dived into the pool and the choice of drumming music there is really nothing that stands out as such. I mean in the water it is really hard to get a theme across over I feel. They manage to get the highest jump of the competition so far and are generally faultless and elegant above and under the water. They are rewarded with 95/6174 from the judges to put them just behind the Russians.
17:48 – Japan have taken the bright costumes thing to a whole new level. They had some really bright costumes in the duets and that has also been carried through to this team event. The bright yellow shows up under the water like you can imagine it would in the dark whilst the pink fades away a little but above water that is equally shocking pink too. They have even got the equally bright pieces in the hair to highlight their movements whilst performing to an originally created piece of music for them representing wind and chimes. A score of 93.7723 is awarded by the judges to put them in third going into the free routine tomorrow.
Russia, China and Japan hold the top spots going into the free routine tomorrow and will be hopeful to either maintain or improve on their positions. Egypt and Australia finish the table off but both are in a little battle of their own and not focussed on the medals but rather development and team pride.
Despite not having the technical complexity of some of the other teams the Egyptian eight certainly had the best outfits from this first day of competition and can clap their outfit designer and maker as well as the team for their performance.
Both the men and women get going in this event today and will be hoping to get off on the right foot to secure a decent amount of points to allow them chance to build and work into the medal positions. They start with fencing today but will face a 200m freestyle swim, show jumping, pistol shooting and a 3km cross-country run one after another tomorrow.
With such a range of events so many things have the potential to go wrong and it is quite difficult to predict a winner from the field but it is certainly an event that deserves a watch in general because the ability of these athletes to be good enough at all the sports is a truly incredible spectacle.