Warholm and Duplantis seek gold on Day 5 of Olympic athletics

Sports Tokyo 2020

Norway's Karsten Warholm (L) and USA's Rai Benjamin will continue their rivalry in the 400m hurdles. AFP
Norway’s Karsten Warholm (L) and USA’s Rai Benjamin will continue their rivalry in the 400m hurdles. AFP

Tokyo, Japan | AFP

by Luke PHILLIPS

The fifth day of athletics at the Tokyo Olympics takes place on Tuesday. AFP Sport looks at five stand-out events:

Men’s 400m hurdles - FinalOne of the most keenly anticipated events pitches world record-holder Karsten Warholm against arch rival Rai Benjamin.

Norway’s two-time world champion Warholm edged Benjamin in their semi-final, although the American eased up well before the line with qualification assured.

Benjamin has largely played second fiddle to Warholm, including finishing runner-up behind the Norwegian in the 2019 world final in Doha.

However, the 25-year-old American -- son of former West Indian pace bowler Winston -- came off the track in an excellent frame of mind, saying he was “excited for the final... The job’s not done”.

Brazilian Alison dos Santos, Qatar’s 2019 world bronze medallist Abderrahman Samba and Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands are sure to be in the running for a podium place.

Women’s 200m - Final

The moment of truth for self-proclaimed “Olympic baby” Elaine Thompson-Herah in her bid for an unprecedented women’s sprint “double-double”.

The 29-year-old looks most under threat in the final from her compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, whom she beat to gold in the 100m.

“I guess I’m an Olympic baby, an Olympic darling because I have not won a world championship title,” Thompson-Herah said. “It means a lot to me and in the next three years to come.”

Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo could get into the medals mix along with the surprise Namibian duo of Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, who were both barred from competing in their preferred 400m due to elevated testosterone levels.

Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah is favourite to add the 200 gold to her 100m crown. AFP
Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah is favourite to add the 200 gold to her 100m crown. AFP

Men’s pole vault - Final

Another male star of track and field goes for gold in the shape of pole vault world record holder Armand “Mondo” Duplantis.

The US-born Swede revealed how fate intervened to help him avoid a potentially ruinous meeting with Covid-positive rival Sam Kendricks.

He said he only missed a coffee appointment with the American because a conversation with his girlfriend overran.

Potential disaster averted, Duplantis was one of 14 men to go through to the final after clearing 5.75 metres in qualifying.

He predicted, however, that the Olympic record of 6.03, set by Brazil’s Thiago Braz in the 2016 Rio Olympics, could well be broken in Tokyo.

“I’m just going to go 110 percent for it no matter what,” he said.

Sweden's Armand Duplantis is the red-hot favourite for the men's pole vault. AFP
Sweden’s Armand Duplantis is the red-hot favourite for the men’s pole vault. AFP

Women’s hammer throw - Final

After the failure of Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (100m), New Zealander Valerie Adams (shot put) and Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic (discus) to seal a third individual Olympic gold, next up is Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk.

The 35-year-old Pole won golds in the 2012 and 2016 Games in London and Rio and is hot favourite to win a third title in Tokyo.

Rivals include America pair Deanna Price and Gwen Berry, and Polish teammates Malwina Kopron and Joanna Fiodorow.

On her day, Wlodarczyk should be untouchable.

Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk is looking for her third discus title. AFP
Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk is looking for her third discus title. AFP

Men’s 200m - Heats

Noah Lyles makes his Olympic bow in Tokyo, aiming to emulate American compatriot Michael Johnson (1996) and Jamaican Usain Bolt (2012, 2016) in being reigning world champions who go on to win Olympic gold.

Lyles saw his chances of a sprint double in Japan go to pot when he finished seventh in the 100m in the US trials.

He owns the fastest time this year in the 200m, 19.74 seconds.

The 24-year-old will not have it his own way, however, with teammates Kenneth Bednarek and teenager Erriyon Knighton both potential contenders.

Jamaica’s hopes do not look great, having also failed to even get a runner into the men’s 100m final.

But pushing for the podium will be Rio silver medallist Andre de Grasse of Canada, a bronze medallist in the blue riband event in Tokyo, and Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev, a shock 2017 world champion and reigning European gold medallist.

Noah Lyles is the 200m world champion. AFP
Noah Lyles is the 200m world champion. AFP

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