RIO 2016

History beckons for Usain Bolt and Fraser-Pryce

The best track and field athletes on the planet are preparing to light up Rio a week after the Olympic Games officially started with a spectacular opening ceremony, with Usain Bolt among the starts aiming to make history.

Friday marks the start of the track and field events and the anticipation will build in expectation of seeing Bolt defend his 100 metre crown in the blue riband event of the Games at the Olympic Stadium two days later.

Charismatic showman Bolt won 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold at the last two Olympics and is confident he can complete an unprecedented triple-triple in Brazil.

The legendary Jamaican vowed this will be his last Olympics and warned his rivals that he is ready to shatter the 200m world record, as well as winning the 100m and taking relay gold yet again.

Bolt, who insisted he is fully fit after recovering from a hamstring injury, will become the third athlete to win nine Olympic athletics golds if he pulls off another treble, a tally only the great Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi can boast.

Justin Gatlin has clocked the fastest time of the year – 9.80 seconds – but it would be a surprise if Bolt fails to outpace the American in his Olympic swansong.

After months of talk over whether Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in Rio, the attention can finally shift to the athletes who will showcase their talents on the big stage and there will be no shortage of global icons on show.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce can also go down in the record books for Jamaica by winning Saturday’s women’s 100m final to become the first female athlete to win the shortest sprint race three times in a row at the Olympics.

Allyson Felix failed to qualify for the 200m, but will compete over a full lap of the track and the United States sprint sensation needs just one gold to become the first woman to win five in athletics.

Felix is set to face stern competition from Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas, who clocked the fastest time this year of 49.55 seconds, in a potential 400m showdown on Monday.

World record holder Ashton Eaton can be expected to defend his decathlon crown, while Mo Farah is targeting another 5000m and 10,000m final double after raising the roof by leaving his rivals trailing in his wake on home soil in London.

Eliud Kipchoge is another man on a mission, striving to add a marathon medal to the 5000m silver he won at Beijing 2008 and bronze over the same distance four years earlier in Athens.

Athletics’ reputation has taken a battering in recent times, but some of the most impressive sportspeople in the world are ready to show the sport at its best over 10 days of competition.

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