Rio Sunday: Big Day for Athletic and Gymnast Greats


RIO DE JANEIRO (CNN) – It’s judgment day for some of the biggest names in Olympic sports on Sunday, with the runners and gymnasts competing for gold at the Rio 2016 Games.

Who will emerge as fastest man over 100 meters and 400 meters? Both events will be hotly-contested amid more track action on Day 9.

It’s also the chance for the world’s best gymnasts — both men and women — to show their incredible specialist skills on the apparatus.

Having waved farewell to the Olympic swimming events until Tokyo in four years’ time, it’s also the last day of events in shooting — and the tennis finals.

There’s plenty of action across 12 sports with 22 gold medals being awarded Sunday. Here’s a few highlights to watch:


An Olympic showdown — can the fastest man in history, Usain Bolt, take the gold medal in the 100m sprint for the third successive Games?

He has had a difficult season, and Americans Justin Gatlin and fellow Jamaican Johan Blake are among those who have been trying to get close to the superstar runner. Can anyone spoil the coronation in Rio? Gatlin’s career has been dogged by doping suspensions and controversy, but he is in good form and the fastest man in the world this year.

The women start proceedings earlier in the day with the marathon. The Ethiopians are fielding two very strong contenders in Mare Dibaba, who is reigning world champion, and Tirife Tsegaye, who has the fastest time in the world this year.

The Kenyan challenge is likely to come from Helah Kiprop, who ran the third-best time and a personal best in 2016.

The men’s 400-meter final looks like a really exciting encounter if the top contenders get through the rounds. Grenada’s Kirani James is tipped as a hot favorite, and some think he is capable of breaking Michael Johnson’s world record set in 1999, although Johnson has questioned his technique.

He is sure to be pushed by American LaShawn Merritt — who set the fastest time in the world this year — and South African Wayde van Niekerk. The World Championship final in Beijing last year was the first time in history that three men broke the 44-second barrier.

It’s also the women’s triple jump final. Watch out for Colombian Caterine Ibarguen, 20-year-old Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas and Kazakh athlete Olga Rypakova.


Four big medal events are on the schedule in the Rio Olympic Arena on Sunday. It’s the final of the men’s floor exercise and pommel horse, and the women’s vault and uneven bars.

American Simone Biles and Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura have been exceptional. Both have two gold medals to their names having led their teams to victory in the team competition before showing their brilliance to claim their respective individual all-around titles.

Biles will feature in the scrap for the gold in the vault and uneven bars, but she faces a challenge from Swiss gymnast Giulia Steingruber and North Korean Jong Hong Un.

Uchimura will be in action in the men’s floor final and the men’s pommel horse final.

The British pair Max Whitlock and Louis Smith both strong on the pommel horse, but there will be plenty more competition from Russians Nikolai Kuksenkov and David Belyavskiy, and from Cyril Tommasone of France.


The Rio tennis tournament has seen some shocking upsets with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic going out early. But the men’s competition could yet turn out to be a clash of titans.

Juan Martin del Potro has a shot at gold after overcoming 2008 winner Rafael Nadal in Saturday’s second semifinal.

The Argentine will take on defending champion Andy Murray of Great Britain, who beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Murray was knocked out of the doubles competition and his performances in Rio have been mixed, but he was the flag bearer for Team GB and will be keen to repeat his success from London 2012.


The return of golf to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 has been blighted by the absence of the sport’s biggest names.

Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth all withdrew after raising concerns about the Zika virus.

But with the world’s top four stars missing, it has given an opportunity for others.

Great Britain’s Justin Rose led by one shot after Saturday’s third round, with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson his closest challenger — despite a close encounter with some reptilian wildlife on the course.

… and grace and power

Though the swim races are over and the rowing regatta is finished, for other athletes the Rio Games are just beginning.

The synchronized swimmers go into action Sunday, as do the wrestlers. Canoe sprinters begin their campaigns Tuesday.

The aquatic ballet routines were introduced into the Games in Los Angeles 1984, and Sunday sees the duets, with team events starting later in the week.

Wrestlers may lack the grace of the swimmers, but the same desire to win will be seen in a packed program with bouts across two weights.

The Olympic Games provide a bigger arena to showcase these sports to a global audience, so catch them while you can.

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