Tokyo Olympics Athletics Events commencing on Friday!

Buckle your seatbelts and get ready for a rollercoaster ride. The Track & Field events of the Tokyo Olympics set to commence on Friday (30 July). As much as 2,038 athletes from 196 countries promising 10 days of fiesta that spreading in to 48 competitive events.

The 4 x 400m MIXED RELAY is making its DEBUT in Tokyo 2020 and already throw a lot of expectations among the competing teams.

Tokyo will be the LAST stop for the men’s 50 km race walk as the World Athletics decided to replace it with 35 km in future editions of the quadrennial Games, starting from Paris 2024.

Ten neutral athletes from Russia are entering under the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) banner while the Refugee Olympic Team making its second appearance in the Olympic Games.

Race walker Jesus Angel Garcia from Spain will be taking part in his EIGHTH Olympics in Tokyo. For discus thrower Melina Robert-Michon of France is getting ready for the SIXTH appearance!

Indian athletes will be in action in 14 events (5 Women’s, 8 Men’s and 1 Mixed).

The men’s javelin throw, with World U20 champion Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh should be a main attraction from the Indian point of view. Johannes Vetter (Germany) with an incredible World Lead (96.29m) is gunning for Andreas Thorkildsen’s 13-year-old Olympic Record (90.57m). The field is open for minor medals.

Women’s discus throw could throw some surprise. Kamalpreet Kaur’s 66.59m from home placed her sixth in the season top lists. Sandra Perkovic (Croatia) with two consecutive Olympic titles together with Yaime Perez (Cuba) will have to face the two 70+ throwers of the season, Jorinde van Klinken (NED, 70.22m) and Valarie Allman (USA, 70.01m) for the top prize. Jamaica’s Shadae Lawrence is the only other entrant who logged better distance than the Indian.

Steeplechaser Avinash Sable, if improved his timings rapidly, expected to enter the finals. Here the top seed is Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR). With the top rung Kenyans out of action, the Ethiopians under the season leader Lamecha Girma (8:07.75) will provide the expected challenge to the Moroccan. Sable said to have clocked 8:10 in the “practice”. Let us wait and see.

In 25 individual events the winners from Rio 2016 are not competing in Tokyo due to reasons like retirement, injury, etc. It opened the avenue for several new faces to exhibit their talents in this edition of the Games.

Newly crowned world record-holders in five events (men and women 400m hurdles, men’s shot put, women’s 10,000m and 20 KM walk) will be in action from tomorrow onwards. Rio 2016 saw world records in three events while there were new global marks set in four events at London 2012. Moscow 1980 produced 6 WRs while Seoul 1988 and Beijing 2008 witnessed 5 each. What is in store in Tokyo will be interesting to watch in the next ten days.

Ram. Murali Krishnan

with grateful acknowledgements to Alfonz Juck and Peter Matthews