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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Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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