Rio Olympics six months out: Must-see Olympic events

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A more detailed schedule is here, but one must-watch Rio Olympic event per day, starting with a spectacle six months from today (all times Eastern):

Friday, Aug. 5 — Opening Ceremony (7 p.m.)
The cauldron will be lit at the famed Maracanã, preceded by the usual Parade of Nations and artistic performances.

Saturday, Aug. 6 — Swimming women’s 4x100m freestyle relay (9 p.m. session)
This could be the Rio debut for Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky, who should be vying for several medals each in the first week of the Games. The U.S. hasn’t won this event since 2000 and finished third (without Ledecky) at the World Championships on Aug. 2.

Sunday, Aug. 7 — Swimming men’s 4x100m freestyle relay (9 p.m. session)
No swimming race has provided more consistent drama over the last four Olympics, and this year’s edition is dripping with potential storylines. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte could be part of the U.S. quartet looking to take the Olympic title back from the French. Host Brazil has a deep pool of young sprinters, plus one of its most recognizable athletes, Cesar Cielo. Australia and Russia may also factor in.

Monday, Aug. 8 — Rugby women’s medal matches (4:30 p.m.)
The first Olympic rugby medals since 1924 will be awarded, though it will be the first for women and the first for the sevens version. The previous Olympic rugby tournaments were 15 players per side.

Tuesday, Aug. 9 — Gymnastics women’s team final (3 p.m.)
The U.S. looks to repeat as Olympic women’s team champion for the first time. It should be heavily favored over China and Russia given easy wins at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships.

Wednesday, Aug. 10 — Gymnastics men’s all-around final (3 p.m.)
Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, the six-time reigning World champion, could become the first repeat Olympic champion in 44 years and further the argument that he’s the greatest gymnast of all time.

Thursday, Aug. 11 — Gymnastics women’s all-around final (3 p.m.)
Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas went one-two at the World Championships on Oct. 29. Biles is the three-time reigning World all-around champion. Douglas is the reigning Olympic all-around champion.

Friday, Aug. 12 — Swimming men’s 100m butterfly (9 p.m. session)
It’s been said before, but expect this to be Phelps’ last individual Olympic swim. He captured the 100m butterfly at the last three Olympics and posted the world’s fastest time for 2015. Franklin (200m backstroke) and Ledecky (800m free) may also race individually for the last time (in Rio, not overall) in events they won four years ago.

Saturday, Aug. 13 — Tennis women’s singles final
Serena Williams could become the first singles player to repeat as Olympic champion.

SIX MONTHS OUT: Burning Questions | Team USA Roster | Rio Schedule Highlights | Key Qualifying, Trials Dates | Records Watch | Brazil’s Preparations

Sunday, Aug. 14 — Track and field men’s 100m final (9:25 p.m.)
In what’s expected to be his final Olympics, Usain Bolt could try to become the first male runner to win the same individual Olympic event three straight times. The last man other than Bolt to win the event — 2004 champ Justin Gatlin — could be his biggest competition.

Monday, Aug. 15 — Track and field women’s 400m final (9:45 p.m.)
Allyson Felix could capture the first of a possible four gold medals in six days. She is the reigning Olympic 200m champion and World 400m champion and was part of gold medal-winning 4x100m and 4x400m relays in London.

Tuesday, Aug. 16 — Weightlifting men’s super heavyweight final (6 p.m.)
The world’s strongest man will be crowned. At the 2015 World Championships, Russian Aleksey Lovchev lifted a world-record combined 1,047 pounds in the snatch and clean and jerk for gold.

Wednesday, Aug. 17 — Beach volleyball women’s final (9 p.m. session)
Three-time U.S. Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and new partner April Ross could spoil the Brazilian party on Copacabana Beach in one of the nation’s most popular sports. However, the two best beach teams last season were Brazilian pairs.

Thursday, Aug. 18 — Track and field men’s 200m final (9:30 p.m.)
This could be Bolt’s final individual Olympic race, one that he has dominated, winning every Olympic and World title since 2008. Again, Gatlin may play spoiler.

Friday, Aug. 19 — Soccer women’s final (4:30 p.m.)
The U.S. women could be going for a third straight Olympic gold medal, while host Brazil may seek its first Olympic men’s or women’s soccer title at the Maracanã.

Saturday, Aug. 20 — Volleyball women’s final (9:15 p.m.)
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 Championship semifinals en route to gold.

Sunday, Aug. 21 — Basketball men’s final (2:45 p.m.)
The biggest challenge ahead for the U.S. men’s program could be which players to leave off its 12-man Olympic roster. Anything less than a third straight gold medal could be the shocker of the entire Games.