Rio 2016 Olympics day-by-day events to watch

Rio 2016



The complete Rio Olympic competition schedule was released Tuesday, allowing Games fans to start setting up their viewing schedules for August 2016.

Here’s a daily look at potentially intriguing events (all times Eastern):

Friday, Aug. 5 — Opening Ceremony

The Olympics will open at the famed Maracanã, though preliminary soccer matches will be played the preceding two days, as has been the case since 2000.

The Opening Ceremony will be highlighted by the Parade of Nations and cauldron lighting, the final torch bearer always a closely guarded secret. (Of note, the final torch bearer has actually been multiple people at the last three Olympics, so it will be interesting to see if Rio ends that streak.)

Saturday, Aug. 6 — Day 1

Gymnastics: Men’s qualification. Historically, the top eight nations qualify for the team final, the top 24 gymnasts competing on all six events make the all-around final (maximum two per country) and the top eight per event make each of the six apparatus finals (maximum two per country). The U.S. has qualified into the team final at the last four Olympics and put two men in the all-around final at the last three.

Swimming (9 p.m.): The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay could be another U.S.-Australia duel. The Aussies broke the world record at last summer’s Commonwealth Games. Missy Franklin has been part of the American quartet at every major international meet since 2011.

RELATED: Missy Franklin turns pro, starts plotting course to Rio 2016

Sunday, Aug. 7 — Day 2

Gymnastics: Women’s qualification. Same as the men, it has historically been the top eight nations, top 24 all-around gymnasts and top eight per the four apparatuses. The U.S. always qualifies into the team and all-around finals.

Swimming (9 p.m.): The men’s 4x100m freestyle relay has traditionally been a marquee event. Several teams could factor into the medals, including reigning Olympic champion France, World champion Australia, the U.S. and host nation Brazil. If Michael Phelps makes his fifth Olympic team, this figures to be his first day of competition. Katie Ledecky could go for her first individual gold of the Games in the 400m free (she’s the world record holder).

Monday, Aug. 8 — Day 3

Gymnastics (3 p.m.): Men’s team final. China won the last two Olympics and the last six World Championships. Japan could be its biggest rival, while the U.S. looks to return to the podium after a disastrous fifth place at London 2012.

Fencing (3 p.m.): Women’s saber medal rounds. American Mariel Zagunis took gold in 2004 and 2008 but tearfully dropped to fourth in 2012, after carrying the U.S. flag into the Opening Ceremony.

Rugby (4:30 p.m.): Women’s medal matches. The first rugby medals since 1924 will be awarded, though this is the first time rugby sevens has been part of the Olympics.

Swimming (9 p.m.): The 100m backstroke finals could include both defending U.S. Olympic champions Matt Grevers and Missy Franklin. The men’s 200m free final also takes place, an event Michael Phelps won in 2008 and Ryan Lochte won at the 2011 World Championships.

Tuesday, Aug. 9 — Day 4

source: Getty Images
Simone Biles was chased off a medal podium by a bee at the 2014 World Championships. (Getty Images)

Gymnastics (3 p.m.): Women’s team final. The U.S. has never won back-to-back Olympic team golds, but it will be favored if the dominating performance at the 2014 World Championships is any indication. Expect the usual contenders to be in the medal mix — Russia, China, Romania.

Swimming (9 p.m.): The women’s 200m free final could include Franklin and Ledecky, as it did at the 2014 U.S. Championships. Phelps and Lochte could be in the same race, too, on the U.S. team for the 4x200m free relay.

Wednesday, Aug. 10 — Day 5

Gymnastics (3 p.m.): Men’s all-around final. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura could become the first man in 44 years to repeat. British, Chinese, German and American men could all factor into the medals. American Danell Leyva took bronze in 2012.

Swimming (9 p.m.): The men’s 100m free final could see a rematch of 2012, when Nathan Adrian beat James Magnussen by .01. Brazilian sprinters may be boosted by the home crowd, too. The women’s 4x200m free relay could include Franklin and Ledecky.

Thursday, Aug. 11 — Day 6

Judo (2:30 p.m.): Women’s 78kg medal rounds. In 2012, Kayla Harrison became the first U.S. Olympic judo champion. She’s since missed a year due to knee surgery and was beaten at the 2014 World Championships, by Brazilian rival Mayra Aguiar.

Gymnastics (3 p.m.): Women’s all-around final. The U.S. could put two women on the podium, and as of today two-time reigning World champion Simone Biles is a heavy favorite. London all-around champ Gabby Douglas just started her comeback, as did fourth-place Aly Raisman. Again, Russia, China and Romania should field the biggest threats.

Rugby (4:30 p.m.): Men’s medal matches. Watch out for Fiji, which has never won an Olympic medal in any sport but is ranked second in this season’s World Series.

Swimming (9 p.m.): It could be a busy night for Lochte with the 200m back and 200m IM finals. He’s won medals in both events at the last two Olympics. Phelps could join him in the 200m IM final, looking for his fourth straight Olympic title in the event. Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, however, won the event over the Americans at the Pan Pacific Championships last August. The 100m free final could include Franklin, rising star Simone Manuel and the fast Aussies.

RELATED: A recent history of U.S. Olympic gymnastics comebacks

Friday, Aug. 12 — Day 7

Shooting: Women’s skeet. In London, Kim Rhode became the first American to win individual medals in five straight Olympics. In 2014, another American, Brandy Drozd, won the World Championship and Rhode missed the podium.

Swimming (9 p.m.): If Phelps makes it to Rio, his last individual Olympic swim could come in the 100m butterfly final. He’s won it at the last three Olympics. It could also be the final individual swims in Rio for Franklin (200m back) and Ledecky (800m free) in events they won in 2012.

source: Getty Images
Serena Williams didn’t lose more than three games in any set at London 2012. (Getty Images)

Saturday, Aug. 13 — Day 8

Tennis: Women’s singles medal matches. Serena Williams took gold at Wimbledon in 2012. No singles player has ever repeated as Olympic champion.

Rowing (7:50 a.m.): Women’s eight. The U.S. won gold at the last two Olympics and the 2014 World Championships.

Track and Field (7 p.m.): The world’s fastest woman will be crowned in the 100m final (9:35). Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took gold in 2008 and 2012. No woman has won the same individual Olympic track and field event three straight times. The U.S. could have medal threats in the men’s long jump and 10,000m (training partners Britain’s Mo Farah and American Galen Rupp went one-two in London). Great Britain currently has three medal contenders in the heptathlon that finishes up, including London champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, coming back from child-birth.

Swimming (9 p.m.): The competition concludes with the shortest and longest events (women’s 50m free, men’s 1500m free) and both medley relays. The U.S. men have never lost the Olympic medley relay. Phelps and Franklin were part of the medley relays at London 2012.

Sunday, Aug. 14 — Day 9

Tennis: Men’s singles final. Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray won the last two gold medals. That means an Olympic title is one of the glaring holes on the résumés of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Golf (6:30 a.m.): Men’s final round. The first Olympic golf medals since 1904 will be awarded at the conclusion of the 72-hole stroke-play tournament.

Gymnastics (1 p.m.): Apparatus finals include women’s vault, where McKayla Maroney‘s silver medal-winning facial expression went viral in 2012. Maroney hasn’t competed since October 2013, and no U.S. woman has made back-to-back Olympic gymnastics teams since 2000.

Track and Field (7 p.m.): The world’s fastest man will be crowned in the 100m final (9:25). Usain Bolt could try to become the first Olympic men’s runner to win the same individual event three straight times. The last two Olympic 400m champions could also face off for gold — Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt.

RELATED: Usain Bolt talks Justin Gatlin, retirement, Michael Jordan

Monday, Aug. 15 — Day 10

Gymnastics (1 p.m.): Apparatus finals include men’s still rings, which may include Brazil’s top gymnastics medal hope. Arthur Zanetti became the nation’s first Olympic gymnastics medalist in 2012, when he took rings gold. He followed that up with gold and silver at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships.

Track and Field (7 p.m.): The men’s 800m final (9:25) and women’s 400m final (9:45) could include both 2012 Olympic champions — Kenya’s David Rudisha and the U.S.’ Sanya Richards-Ross. Both endured injuries in the year after London and may not enter Rio as favorites.

Tuesday, Aug. 16 — Day 11

Gymnastics (1 p.m.): The artistic gymnastics competition concludes with three apparatus finals, including women’s floor exercise. Biles is the two-time reigning World champion in that event.

Track and Field (7 p.m.): In the women’s 1500m (9:30), reigning Diamond League champ Jenny Simpson could break a 44-year U.S. gold-medal drought in track events longer than 400m. The 110m hurdles goes 15 minutes later. The reigning Olympic and World champions are Americans — Aries Merritt and David Oliver. The men’s high jump (7:30) was the most exciting event in 2014, with Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko making attempts to break a 21-year-old world record.

source: Getty Images
Allyson Felix could make her fourth Olympic team in 2016. (Getty Images)

Wednesday, Aug. 17 — Day 12

Track and Field (7 p.m.): Americans Brittney Reese and Allyson Felix are reigning Olympic champions in the long jump (8:15) and 200m (9:30). Felix is tied with Jackie Joyner-Kersee for the most Olympic track and field medals earned by a U.S. woman (six) and three behind the most won by any woman in the sport (Merlene Ottey, Jamaica). The 100m hurdles (9:55) could include the last two Olympic champions — Australian Sally Pearson and American Dawn Harper-Nelson.

Beach Volleyball (9 p.m.): Women’s medal matches. The Copacabana Beach venue will be rocking if a Brazilian pair reaches the final. American Kerri Walsh Jennings eyes her fourth straight gold, this time with new partner April Ross replacing the retired Misty May-Treanor.

RELATED: Kerri Walsh Jennings on her Super Bowl commercial, toughest loss and brain games

Thursday, Aug. 18 — Day 13

Track and Field (6 p.m.): Bolt expects the 200m final (9:30) to be the last individual race of his Olympic career. The world’s greatest athlete will be crowned after the decathlon 1500m (8:45). American Ashton Eaton is the reigning Olympic and World champion and world record holder. Nobody has repeated as Olympic decathlon champ since Brit Daley Thompson in 1984.

Beach Volleyball (9 p.m.): Men’s medal matches. Several teams are in the medal picture at this point, including 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal of the U.S. and any pair put forth by Brazil.

Friday, Aug. 19 — Day 14

Water Polo: Women’s final. The U.S. finally took gold in 2012 after silver in 2000, bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008. The Americans captured the 2014 FINA World Cup, led by FINA Player of the Year Maggie Steffens.

Wrestling (3 p.m.): Men’s 74kg freestyle medal matches. American Jordan Burroughs won gold in 2012 and the World Championship in 2013 but, in 2014, lost for the first time since 2009 and settled for bronze at Worlds with an injury. Only two U.S. wrestlers have won gold medals in consecutive Olympics.

Soccer (4:30 p.m.): Women’s final. The U.S. won gold at four of five Olympic tournaments since the introduction of women’s soccer in Atlanta 1996. The semifinals were most memorable in 2012, when the U.S. outlasted Canada 4-3 in extra time.

Track and Field (7 p.m.): Bolt expects the 4x100m final (9:35) to be the last race of his Olympic career. His goal in Rio is sweep the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, which he did in 2008 and 2012. The women’s 4x100m (9:15) could be closer. The U.S. topped Jamaica at the London Games, but Jamaica returned the favor at the 2013 Worlds. Brazil’s best shot at a track and field medal may come with 2011 World champion Fabiana Murer in the pole vault (7:30). The last two Olympic champions — Jenn Suhr and Yelena Isinbayeva — may also be in the field.

source: Getty Images
Michelle Wie will likely have to keep her top-15 world ranking to make the Rio Olympic team. (Getty Images)

Saturday, Aug. 20 — Day 15

Golf (6:30 a.m.): Women’s final round. The only other time women’s golf was part of the Olympics, the U.S. swept the medals in 1900. That’s quite unlikely in Rio, given South Korea’s dominance on the professional tours.

Triathlon (10 a.m.): Women’s race. American Gwen Jorgensen is currently an overwhelming favorite, having won seven straight World Triathlon Series events. Triathlon has been part of the Olympic program since 2000, and the U.S. has collected one medal, a bronze in 2004.

Basketball (2:30 p.m.): Women’s final. There’s no reason to believe the U.S., on a 41-game Olympic winning streak, won’t take a sixth straight gold. It’ll likely be a matchup with Australia, France or Spain.

Diving (3:30 p.m.): Men’s platform final. The sport’s marquee event is the last of eight in the Olympic diving program. In 2012, American David Boudia won the first U.S. diving gold since 2000. As was the case four years ago, he’s currently looking up at Chinese divers in the run-up to the Olympics.

Soccer (4:30 p.m.): Men’s final. Will Brazil, perhaps led by Neymar, make it to the gold-medal game at the Maracanã with a shot at winning its first Olympic men’s soccer title?

Track and Field (7 p.m.): The last night of competition includes the 4x400m relays, where the U.S. is traditionally strong. However, the U.S. men were upset by the Bahamas at London 2012, and the U.S. women fell to Russia at the 2013 Worlds. The U.S. could earn more medals in the men’s 1500m (8 p.m.) and women’s 800m (8:15).

Volleyball (9:15 p.m.): Women’s final. Brazil defeated the U.S. in the last two Olympic finals. But the Americans, now with Karch Kiraly coaching, swept Brazil in the 2014 World Championships semifinals en route to gold.

RELATED: David Boudia scraps plan to add second diving event for Rio

Sunday, Aug. 21 — Day 16

Track and Field (8:30 a.m.): The men’s marathon takes to the Rio streets. Kenya is traditionally strong, but Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich pulled off the upset at London 2012. American Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, hopes to make the U.S. team and compete in Rio at age 41.

Volleyball (12:15 p.m.): Men’s final. This is one of the most coveted gold medals for the host nation. Brazil won gold in 2004 and silver in 2008 (behind the U.S.) and 2012.

Boxing (1 p.m.): Women’s middleweight final. Claressa Shields has not lost since she became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing champion at London 2012.

Basketball (2:45 p.m.): Men’s final. The U.S. will go for its third straight gold and should be heavily favored. Spain took silver in 2008 and 2012 but lost in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals to France.

Closing Ceremony: The Olympic cauldron will be extinguished at the Maracanã and anticipation will grow for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Watch NBC’s Rio 2016 Olympic promo video

World Athletics Athletes of the Year: Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Mondo Duplantis

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Mondo Duplantis were named World Athletics Athletes of the Year after world record-breaking performances in 2022.

McLaughlin-Levrone, who lowered her 400m hurdles world record twice this year, won the award for the first time. She became the first American to win Athlete of the Year since fellow 400m hurdler Dalilah Muhammad in 2019.

“I would describe 2022 for myself by just saying incredible,” McLaughlin-Levrone said. “Everything that we aimed to do we were able to accomplish.”

The other finalists were Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan, who broke the 100m hurdles world record en route to the world title; Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won her fifth world 100m title; Peru’s Kimberly Garcia, who swept the 20km and 35km race walk world titles, and Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas, who broke her own triple jump world record and swept the indoor and outdoor world titles.

McLaughlin-Levrone has said she wants to add the flat 400m to her program in the coming years. She has never run that event at a senior championship meet, but showed her flat potential in the 4x400m relay at worlds in July. Her split — 47.91 seconds — made her the seventh-fastest relay performer in history and second-fastest in the last 33 years behind Allyson Felix.

At next summer’s world championships, the women’s 400m hurdles first round heats start 2 hours and 20 minutes before the women’s 400m semifinals. Top-level pros rarely race multiple times in one session in a distance longer than 200 meters at any meet.

Duplantis, the Louisiana-raised Swede, won the men’s award for the second time in three years. He upped his pole vault world record three times in 2022 and swept the world indoor and outdoor and Diamond League titles in the event.

“It’s probably been by far the best year that I’ve ever had,” Duplantis said.

The other men’s finalists were Moroccan steeplechaser Soufiane El Bakkali, who went undefeated in 2022; Norwegian runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the world outdoor 5000m champion who ran the world’s fastest mile in 21 years; Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own marathon world record by 30 seconds, and American Noah Lyles, who broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old national record in the 200m.

Duplantis will likely try to continue upping his world record one centimeter at a time like Ukraine legend Sergey Bubka did on an almost annual basis from 1984 through 1994. Duplantis’ current record is 6.21 meters. The next significant milestone is 6.25 meters, or 20 feet, 6 inches.

“We’ll so how high, but I want to push it higher than people think is even possible,” he said.

Erriyon Knighton became the first athlete to twice win the Rising Star award, given to the top U20 track and field athlete.

Knighton, 18, took 200m bronze at the world championships on July 21 in Eugene, Oregon, becoming the youngest individual sprint medalist in championships history. He was part of a U.S. medals sweep with Lyles and Kenny Bednarek.

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A wild Grand Prix Final has a quadruple Axel, the Brits and a figure skating tale for the ages

Ilia Malinin

The world’s best figure skaters gather for the first time this season at this week’s Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy. The Who’s Who is a very different group than from February’s Olympics, as expected, with the fall Grand Prix Series also producing some unpredictable stories.

Of the 18 skaters who won Olympic medals outside of the team event, just two of them competed internationally this fall. As was known before the season, all Russians are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. China’s top skaters didn’t enter the Grand Prix Series. Nathan Chen and the French ice dance couple of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are on indefinite, possibly permanent breaks after winning long-awaited golds.

It is time for new stars to emerge. That happened. American Ilia Malinin, last year’s world junior champion at age 17, became the first skater to land a quadruple Axel in competition in September. Then he did it again in October, and again in November.

It is time for new stories to emerge. The Grand Prix Final is the most exclusive event in figure skating — taking the top six per discipline from the Grand Prix Series — since it was introduced in 1996. This year, Belgium and Great Britain qualified skaters for the first time in more than a decade. Japanese men who were seventh and eighth at their national championships last season are in the field. As is a 39-year-old pairs’ skater from Canada who competed against Michelle Kwan in the 6.0 scoring era.

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Broadcast Schedule

The U.S. qualified skaters into the Final in every discipline for the first time in 15 years. The team is led statistically by Malinin, the world No. 1 bidding to be the second-youngest man to win a Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko.

Malinin, whose mom won the 1999 Grand Prix Final, is one half of the most anticipated head-to-head showdown this week. He takes on Japan’s Shoma Uno for the first time since the world championships in March, when Uno won and Malinin placed ninth in his debut on that stage. This season, Malinin and Uno each won their two separate Grand Prix starts, with Malinin having the best total score by a scant 61 hundredths of a point.

NBC Sports analyst Johnny Weir called Malinin the favorite for the Final and for March’s worlds (which could include Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan, who has been sidelined this fall due to leg and ankle injuries). But Weir also said that if Malinin and Uno skate clean this week, the 24-year-old Uno has the advantage.

“He’s had the longevity. He’s had the time in front of these top judges. And artistically, he’s so excellent,” Weir said.

The world’s highest-scoring women’s singles skater this season will compete at the Final, but in the junior division. Japan’s Mao Shimada won both of her junior Grand Prix starts. She is 14 years old, and with the age limit being raised in coming seasons will not be old enough for the next Olympics in 2026 (reminiscent of countrywoman Mao Asada, who was too young the last time Italy hosted the Winter Games in 2006).

Without Shimada, and without the Russians who dominated recent seasons, the women’s field is the most closely bunched at the Final. Mai Mihara, who missed the Olympics after placing fourth at Japan’s Nationals last December, was the lone woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this fall. Kaori Sakamoto, last season’s world champion in the Russians’ absence, has the top score this season among senior women (and a shout out from Janet Jackson). But the six skaters at the Final are separated by just 4.47 points in best scores this fall.

American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, is the youngest woman in the field by four years. NBC Sports analyst Tara Lipinski said that Levito has a total package of jumps, artistry and competitive fire not seen in U.S. skating in many years. Levito, who has made short films, including “The Pickle Murder,” is reminiscent of Sasha Cohen, the last U.S. women’s singles skater to win an Olympic medal in 2006.

“There’s never a hand, finger, hair out of place when it comes to Isabeau’s skating,” Lipinski said. “Looking back at my first year as a senior, I was terrified. I looked like a junior coming up to the senior ranks. Isabeau, she’s gone past that phase.”

Pairs’ skating saw the highest turnover. The top five teams at the Olympics were Russian and Chinese, and none have competed internationally since. Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier took advantage at March’s worlds, becoming the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Knierim and Frazier won both of their Grand Prix starts this fall, but were flawed. Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who took silver at worlds, averaged 10 more points in their separate Grand Prix victories.

“Comparing people based on the scores that they accrue in different competitions is a nice way to see how people are faring in front of international panels, but it’s not a direct comparison between the two at all,” Weir said. “They’re very evenly matched.”

But the coolest story in pairs, and arguably in all of figure skating, is 39-year-old Canadian Deanna Stellato-Dudek. With partner Maxime Deschamps, she became the oldest Grand Prix podium finisher in October and the oldest champion in November. Stellato-Dudek, the 2000 World junior silver medalist in singles from Chicagoland, retired from figure skating in 2001 due to injuries, then came back in 2016 in pairs and switched nationality.

Weir recently came across photos of him with Stellato-Dudek when they competed at the same junior Grand Prix event in Norway in 1999.

“I’m pretty sure she was skating when I was skating, so that is a crazy feat in itself,” said Lipinski, whose last competition was winning the 1998 Olympics.

Ice dance, usually the most predictable of the four disciplines, sprung surprises this fall. Three-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates were the top returning couple based on results from last season’s Olympics and worlds, but the Americans rank outside the top three this fall by results and best total score.

Still, 2006 Olympic silver medalist Ben Agosto said they’re looking better than ever, having improved from their first Grand Prix to their second Grand Prix.

“The challenge for them is they’ve been so good for so long that they don’t want to get stale,” Agosto said of a couple that’s in their 12th season together. “They don’t want people to start to think, well, you know, two seasons ago was better than this, or five seasons ago was better than this. They want to always be reinventing, but then also capitalizing on their biggest strengths.”

Canadian veterans Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, ranked third among returning couples going into the fall, won both of their Grand Prix starts with the world’s top two scores across all events. Agosto believes that the field is closer than the point totals suggest and that some couples have been underscored, including Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who qualified into the Final in the sixth and last spot.

Agosto said that Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson, Great Britain’s first Grand Prix Final qualifiers since 2009, can “blow the roof off” with their Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez rhythm dance and Lady Gaga free dance.

“You can just feel the the intensity that everyone is bringing after their Olympic experience and coming back and feeling rejuvenated and maybe feeling the adrenaline effect of having a little bit more of an opportunity because Papadakis and Cizeron are not there, because the Russians are not there,” Agosto said. “I’ve really seen across the board this group stepping up from last season, so I don’t think that it would just be a clear OK, well, if those other teams were in the game this year, they would, by default, be on top.”

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