Olympic viewing guide: Andre De Grasse’s best chance for gold?

Olympic viewing guide: Andre De Grasse’s best chance for gold?

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening at the Tokyo Olympics by subscribing here.

After a blazing start to the Games, Canada has hit a bit of a dry spell, going two straight days without a medal. There were some close calls on Day 11. Ellie Black finished fourth in the women’s balance beam — one spot behind Simone Biles, who salvaged a bronze on the final day of gymnastics competition.

In track cycling, Canada lost the bronze race in the women’s team pursuit to the U.S.

And hammer thrower Camryn Rogers placed fifth. Canada’s medal total remains stuck at 14 — three gold, four silver, seven bronze.

But the drought is temporary. Canadians are in position to reach more podiums soon — including Andre De Grasse going for his second medal of the Games in the men’s 200-metre final on Wednesday morning. We’ll start our daily Olympic viewing guide there, and look at Canadian contenders in the decathlon and men’s 5,000-metre. Plus, a canoe superstar hits the water, the country’s highest-ranked golfer tees off, and a devastating day in beach volleyball.

Here’s what to watch on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning:

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Andre De Grasse looks poised to win another medal — and maybe his first gold

Canada’s biggest track star looked tired yesterday. Fair enough: he was coming off three 100-metre races in a span of two days, culminating in a personal-record performance to take bronze in Sunday’s final. Tack on an early wake-up call and the blistering midday temperatures of a Tokyo summer, and it’s no wonder De Grasse was feeling, well, the heat during his 200-metre heat. He got through it, grabbing the third and final automatic ticket to the semifinals from his grouping. But it sure did not look easy. And the time (20.56 seconds) was pretty ugly.

So, De Grasse returned to his room for some much-needed rest. Refreshed after two hours of shut-eye, and with the sun mercifully set for the night in Tokyo, he roared back with a Canadian-record 19.73 seconds in the semifinals. That was not only the best time overall, but the fastest anyone in the world has run since 2019.

Now De Grasse seems poised to grab his second consecutive Olympic medal in this event. He might even upgrade from the silver he took from his bromance with Usain Bolt in Rio. After witnessing the semis, the betting markets now price the race for 200m gold as a virtual three-way toss-up between De Grasse and Americans Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton. A third American, Kenny Bednarek, is not too far behind in the odds.

Lyles, 24, is the reigning world champion. He made a dangerous miscalculation in today’s semis, pulling up too early and allowing Canada’s Aaron Brown and Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh to clip him in a photo finish. Only the top two in each semifinal heat advance automatically, but Lyles moved through as one of the two wild cards with his strong time of 19.99. That he could go sub-20 so cavalierly shows the American has plenty of upside for the final.

Speaking of Americans with upside, how about Knighton? The 17-year-old phenom has looked fantastic in Tokyo, winning his first-round and semifinal heats in comfortable fashion. He’s been on the radar since breaking Bolt’s under-18 world record in early June. Then, at the U.S. Olympic trials, Knighton twice lowered Bolt’s under-20 record of 19.93. Knighton is clearly the future of this event. Question is, has the future already arrived?

With so much elite talent in the field, Brown (the “other” Canadian in the final) is considered a long shot for a medal. But he should be taken seriously after his 19.99 in the semis. That tied for third-fastest overall, behind only De Grasse and Bednarek. Brown’s decision to abandon the 100-metres in Tokyo and focus on the 200-metres appears to be paying off.

If De Grasse reaches the podium again, it will be his fifth Olympic medal — two behind Penny Oleksiak’s newly minted Canadian record, with a chance to win his sixth in the 4×100 relay. And there’s not much reason to doubt him. In his career, De Grasse has started six individual events at the Olympics or world championships — and won six medals. This might be his best opportunity yet to land a gold.

The men’s 200-metre final happens Wednesday at 8:55 a.m. ET. Watch it live on the CBC TV network or stream it live on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports’ Tokyo 2020 website.

Andre De Grasse won his 200m semifinal with a time of 19.73 seconds, good for a personal best and Canadian record. 2:20

Another Canadian track and field star is in action on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning

Andre De Grasse looks like Canada’s only really strong podium threat on Day 12, but one of the country’s best hopes for gold gets started in the decathlon. Thirty-one-year-old Damian Warner has been a podium fixture for the better part of a decade, winning medals at the 2016 Olympics and the 2013, ’15 and ’19 world championships. He’s won gold at the Pan Am Games (twice) and the Commonwealth Games — but never at the Olympics or worlds.

This could be the year. In May, Warner broke his own three-year-old Canadian record by scoring 8,995 points to win the prestigious Hypo Meeting decathlon in Austria. Only three decathletes have ever scored higher, and they’re all Olympic and/or world champions.

The decathlon starts with the 100-metre leg tonight at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the long jump, shot put, high jump and 400-metre. The final five legs — 110-metre hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and the closing 1,500-metres — go Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Warner will be joined by fellow Canadian Pierce LePage, who finished second at the Hypo Meeting.

Apart from De Grasse and Aaron Brown in the men’s 200-metre, the only Canadian in a track and field final on Day 12 is Genevieve Lalonde in the women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase at 7 a.m. ET. She reclaimed the Canadian record in her heat, but is not expected to contend for a medal.

Canadian sisters Gabriela DeBues-Stafford and Lucia Stafford will compete in the women’s 1,500-metre semifinals, which start at 6 a.m. ET. Gabriela won her opening-round heat in the so-called metric mile, while Lucia got through hers as a wild card. In the semis, Gabriela will run in a heat with Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, who’s favoured to win her second consecutive Olympic gold medal. Lucia’s heat features reigning world champion Sifan Hassan. The Dutch runner became a sensation the other day when she bounced up from a fall on the last lap to win her first-round 1,500-metre heat, then returned to the track less than 12 hours later to win gold in the 5,000. She’s also favoured to take gold in the 10,000.

A couple of interesting track results from this morning that you should know about:

Canadian medal contender Moh Ahmed advanced to the final of the men’s 5,000-metre by finishing second in his heat. He took bronze in this event at the 2019 world championships and finished fourth at the Rio Olympics, so Ahmed will be in the running for the podium when the final goes Friday morning. Canada’s Justyn Knight also qualified for the final.

In the main event of the day in track and field, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah won the women’s 200-metre final to become the first woman ever to complete the 100/200 double at back-to-back Olympics.

Some other interesting things you should know about:

It was a brutal day for Canada in beach volleyball. Yesterday, we were excited about the possibility of two Canadian teams meeting in the semifinals. Now they’re both gone. First, 16th-ranked Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson saw their run come to an end when they were eliminated in the quarter-finals this morning. Then the real gut punch: reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, who had not dropped a set through their first four matches, got upset by an Australian duo ranked 18th. So one of Canada’s best gold-medal hopes will go home without a medal. Read more about Pavan and Humana-Paredes’ crushing defeat and watch highlights (lowlights?) here.

One of Canada’s most dominant athletes hits the water tonight. If you don’t know the name Laurence Vincent Lapointe, that’s only because she’s never had a chance to compete in the Olympics before. Despite men’s canoe events being on the official program since 1936, women were excluded from the Games until now. Vincent Lapointe dominated the two women’s events that will be held in Tokyo — the 200m singles and 500m doubles — for the better part of the past decade, winning a combined 10 world titles. It looked for a while like Vincent Lapointe might miss her chance to finally compete in the Olympics after she tested positive for a banned muscle-builder in the summer of 2019. Her provisional suspension was eventually overturned after she successfully argued she didn’t knowingly take the drug. But, in the meantime, the combination of the ban and the pandemic prevented her from qualifying for Tokyo. Luckily for her, the Canadian team found a loophole and reallocated one of its kayak spots to her — allowing Vincent Lapointe and Katie Vincent to compete as a doubles pair and in the individual event. The solo event starts tonight at 9:05 p.m. ET, followed by the quarter-finals at 11:29 p.m. ET. The semis and final are Wednesday night. Read more about Vincent Lapointe and her rough road to the Olympics here.

Canada’s top-ranked golfer tees off tonight. World No. 7 Brooke Henderson is a contender in the women’s tournament, which starts at 6:30 p.m. ET. Henderson, who tees off an hour later, has won a Canadian-record 10 pro events, including the Women’s PGA Championship in 2016. She lost in a playoff at another major, the ANA Inspiration, last year. The other Canadian competing is Alena Sharp, who’s ranked 152nd in the world. She tees off at 6:41 p.m. ET. Read more about how Henderson and Sharp are approaching the tournament (aggressively) here.

And finally…

Jose Bautista is still out there flipping bats. The former Toronto Blue Jays slugger — and author of that iconic walk-off celebration from the 2015 playoffs — last appeared in the majors in 2018. But the 40-year-old is playing for the Dominican Republic at the Olympics, and still delivering big hits. He came through with a walk-off single in the ninth inning of an elimination game today vs. Israel to advance the Dominican to another do-or-die matchup vs. the United States. The cameras apparently didn’t catch his reaction, but the Associated Press’ account of the game says Bautista flipped his bat (because of course). Sounds like it was pretty subtle, though, compared to the one Jays fans know and love.

How to watch live events

They’re being broadcast on TV on CBC, TSN and Sportsnet. Or choose exactly what you want to watch by live streaming on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports’ Tokyo 2020 website. Check out the full streaming schedule here.

Published at Tue, 03 Aug 2021 20:25:49 +0000