Rio Olympic track and field schedule released

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The Rio Olympic track and field schedule includes 13 finals in morning sessions, highlighted by the men’s 400m hurdles and triple jump, events with strong U.S. medal hopes.

The men’s 100m final — where Usain Bolt could go for a record third straight title — is Sunday, Aug. 14, at 9:25 p.m. ET. The women’s 100m final is the night before at 9:35.

The men’s 200m final — which could be Bolt’s last individual Olympic race, as he plans to retire before the 2020 Olympics — is Thursday, Aug. 18, at 9:30 p.m. ET. The women’s 200m final, which could include 2012 Olympic champion Allyson Felix, is the night before at 9:30.

The men’s 4x100m relay final — which could be Bolt’s last Olympic race — is Friday, Aug. 19, at 9:35 p.m. ET.

Eight stadium events will hold morning session finals, a first at the Olympics since 1988. The first is the women’s 10,000m on the first day of track and field competition on Friday, Aug. 12, one week after the Opening Ceremony.

The others are the men’s discus (Aug. 13), women’s 3000m steeplechase and hammer throw (Aug. 15), men’s triple jump and women’s discus (Aug. 16), men’s 3000m steeplechase (Aug. 17) and men’s 400m hurdles (Aug. 18).

U.S. Olympic medal threats in morning finals include Shalane Flanagan, the 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist.

Emma Coburn is also a rising threat in the 3000m steeplechase. Coburn was the third-fastest woman in the event this year. The U.S. hasn’t won an Olympic steeplechase medal since 1984.

The U.S. went one-two in the men’s triple jump in London, with Christian Taylor and Will Claye.

Gia Lewis-Smallwood was the second-ranked woman in the discus this year.

Michael Tinsley is the reigning Olympic and World silver medalist in the men’s 400m hurdles.

The men’s 400m hurdles is the event that Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton focused on in 2014. Eaton is expected to return to the decathlon in 2015.

Eaton was the ninth-fastest man in the 400m hurdles in the world this year and second-fastest among Americans, behind Tinsley. Three U.S. men can make the Olympic team in the 400m hurdles, which is not one of the 10 decathlon events.

In 2012, the 400m hurdles final was two days before the start of the decathlon.

In 2016, the 400m hurdles final will be on the same day as the second and last day of the decathlon. If there was any, tiny chance that Eaton could have considered trying the 400m hurdles in Rio, that now appears out of the question.

The eight morning stadium finals are split evenly between men’s and women’s and track and field events.

There is at least one final during each of the six morning sessions in the stadium.

The five road races — men’s and women’s marathon and 20km walks and men’s 50km walk — will also be in mornings.

Rio de Janeiro is one hour ahead of Eastern Time during the summer.

“Staging finals in the morning was done at the request of the Rio LOC [local organizing committee] and the Olympic Broadcasting Service, supported by the International Olympic Committee,” IAAF Competitions Director Paul Hardy said in a press release last month. “Having finals in the morning will also ensure that we receive maximum visibility for athletics at the Olympics across all time zones.

“Our prevailing view was that the leading distance runners will welcome this change to the athletics program at the Olympics as they will often have competitions throughout the year in the morning, such as road or cross-country races, and so will be accustomed to this timing.”

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U.S. Olympic women’s tennis qualifying already looks intense

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Serena Williams is in strong early position to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team. For everyone else, including older sister Venus Williams, every set of ranking points could be crucial over the next 10 months, including at the upcoming U.S. Open.

The U.S. has seven women in the world top 36 — not including 52nd-ranked Venus — but only four singles players can go to an Olympics from any one country come the rankings cutoff next June.

Serena Williams leads the way for Americans in second place overall in Olympic qualifying — which counts WTA rankings points starting after the 2019 French Open and running through the 2020 French Open. She has 1,885 points despite playing just two events the last two months, taking runner-up at Wimbledon and the Canadian Open.

Only Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, who has already been named Romania’s Opening Ceremony flag bearer, has more Olympic qualifying points (2,395).

After Serena, three more U.S. women are in the top 10 in Olympic qualifying — Sonya Kenin (No. 5), Madison Keys (No. 8) and Alison Riske (No. 10).

Keys, a quarterfinalist or better at all four Grand Slams in her career, jumped from outside the top 20 among Americans to the No. 3 American by notching her biggest title in Ohio last week.

Notables who must improve their ranking start with Venus Williams, who moved from 18th on the U.S. list to eighth by reaching the Cincinnati quarterfinals. She turns 40 before the Tokyo Games and could become the oldest Olympic singles player since the sport returned to the Olympic program following a 64-year break in 1988. She already owns the modern-era record of five Olympic tennis medals from her five previous Games and could still get to the Olympics in doubles if she doesn’t qualify in singles.

Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, is 12th in U.S. Olympic qualifying, winning a total of three matches among four tournaments in the window.

The veterans Williams sisters, Keys and Stephens, who made up the 2016 U.S. Olympic singles team, must fend off an emerging class.

Kenin, 20, backed up her French Open upset of Serena Williams by winning a lower-level event in June and then beating the world Nos. 1 and 2 the last two weeks.

Riske is playing some of the best tennis of her career at age 29. She beat world then-No. 1 Ash Barty to make her first Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon, a week before her wedding.

Then there are two of the phenoms of the year. Coco Gauff, 15, is ninth in U.S. Olympic qualifying after a run to the Wimbledon fourth round. Gauff was granted a wild card into the U.S. Open, after which she can’t play in more than five senior tournaments (and possibly no more than three) until her 16th birthday in March due to WTA age restrictions to keep young teens from burnout.

Amanda Anisimova, 17, is 13th in U.S. Olympic qualifying. Her best results this year — French Open semifinal, Australian Open fourth round — came before the Olympic qualifying window.

It’s looking like the toughest U.S. Olympic women’s singles team to make outright since 2004. Back then, the U.S. had Nos. 4 (Lindsay Davenport), 7 (Jennifer Capriati), 8 (Venus Williams), 11 (Serena Williams) and 18 (Chanda Rubin). Davenport, Capriati and Serena didn’t play at the Athens Games, opening the door for Lisa Raymond to play singles and doubles in Athens.

In 2000, Serena Williams didn’t make the Olympic singles field despite being ranked eighth in the world. A max of three players per nation were taken to Sydney, and the U.S. had Nos. 2, 3 and 6 in Davenport, Venus Williams and Monica Seles.

An Olympic rule mandating a minimum of Fed Cup appearances could affect Tokyo 2020 eligibility. However, the fine print allows for that to be bypassed in discretionary exceptional circumstances.

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U.S. Olympic Women’s Singles Qualifying Standings (Max. 4 can qualify)
1. Serena Williams — 1,885 points
2. Sonya Kenin — 1,081
3. Madison Keys — 972
4. Alison Riske — 802
5. Jennifer Brady — 356
6. Jessica Pegula — 348
7. Madison Brengle — 344
8. Venus Williams — 302
9. Coco Cauff — 298
10. Bernarda Pera — 280
11. Lauren Davis — 245
12. Sloane Stephens — 238
13. Amanda Anisimova — 230

U.S. athletes qualified for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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The U.S. Olympic team roster for the 2020 Tokyo Games will eventually reach more than 500 athletes. It is currently at seven.

Qualifying competitions and Olympic Trials events dot the schedule from now into early summer 2020.

Athletes qualified so far:

Modern Pentathlon
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Sport Climbing
Brooke Raboutou

Swimming
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Triathlon
Summer Rappaport

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