It was a good day to be a track and field fan.
Especially if you are a Jamaican fan. It doesn't get much better than a 1-2-3 sweep in the men's 200 meters by Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir.
Or, if you are a Kenyan fan, how about another world record (1 minute, 40.91 seconds) by David Rudisha in the men's 800—with a cherry on top supplied by Timothy Kitum's bronze?
Americans are celebrating as well with two golds and two silvers in the men's triple jump and the decathlon.
And even though the Czech Republic's Barbora Spotakova predictably picked up the gold in the women's javelin with a 228 feet, 2 inch throw, Germany has reason to tip a stein or two as Christina Obergfoll and Linda Stahl got silver and bronze. Another German thrower finished in sixth.
Bolt equaled Michael Johnson's old world record, finishing in 19.32 seconds. Blake blazed to a 19.44 and the relatively unknown Weir sealed the deal in 19.84. The case is closed for now as to the world sprint supremacy, with only the 4x100 relay left to haggle over.
Rudisha was having nothing to do with a tactical race. He simply took control of his own destiny and essentially ran two 50.45-second laps. Nijel Amos of Botswana ran a very good race to claim silver in 1:41.73, nearly a full second ahead of Kitum.
So torrid was Rudisha's pace that every runner in the field established new ground via a season's best time, personal best time or national record. And Rudisha is still not much more than a kid...
As expected, USA's Christian Taylor (58'-5") and Will Claye (57'-10") went 1-2 in the men's triple jump. However, the Italians served notice that they are right on the threshold as Fabricio Donato and Daniele Greco picked up the next two spots.
Ashton Eaton intentionally never focused on another world record—only the gold medal. And that is what he got after two grueling days and ten disciplines. Still, his 8869 points total was the eighth best in history. Teammate, and world champion Trey Hardee, who almost overtook Eaton after today's discus event, earned silver.
Yes, it was a good day for track and field fans. Now, let's see what kind of movement this great action generated in the team points standings.
|Men's Team||Women's Team||Overall|
| USA 136 || USA 108 || USA 244|
| Jamaica 45 || Russia 66 || Jamaica 86 |
| Kenya 38 || Jamaica 41 || Russia 79|
| Great Britain 35 || Germany 41 || Kenya 68|
| Germany 25 || Ethiopia 38 || Germany 67|
| Ethiopia 23 || Kenya 30 || Ethiopia 61|
| China 19 || Great Britain 24 || Great Britain 61|
| Dominican Republic 15 || China 24 || China 43|
| Russia 13 || Belarus 10 || Ukraine 29|
Note: we're using an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system for places 1 through 8.
With only one event finals for the women, the biggest change was Germany's jump in the women's column from sixth to fourth. They picked up 16 points with a 2-3-6 finish in the javelin.
Great Britain is beginning to lag—or at least, stay static while others climb. There are still some good opportunities for them coming up, especially in the relays.
The Jamaicans and Kenyans made some bold moves in the men's column. A medals sweep (Jamaica) and a 1-3 finish (Kenya) will do that. But when the American men gain 44 points today as well, that movement is barely discernible.
Friday (see below) should be a good day for the rest of the world to gain some ground, although USA does have two good scoring opportunities in the women's 4x100 relay and the men's 4x400 relay.
For now, the standings look like an internal competition between the U.S. women and the U.S. men.
We'll be moving out of the qualifying portion of the competition on Friday and more into a strictly finals mode. This is where the action comes with a fury, leaving little time for fans to catch their breath.
In the men's pole vault final, the gold is virtually Renaud Levillenie's to lose. The Frenchman has been that dominant. The German duo of Malte Mohr and Bjorn Otto and USA's Brad Walker will likely battle for silver and bronze. Aussie Steven Hooker, defending Olympic champ who is coming back from injury (and a bad case of "yips"), will be looking to put himself back in the mix.
World record-holder Betty Heidler (Germany) will be challenged by Tatyana Lysenko (Russia), Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland), and Aksana Menkova (Belarus) in the women's hammer. (If you've never really watched a hammer competition, I urge you to do so. The footwork, timing and leverage is a beautiful thing to behold. Plus, watching that iron ball and chain fly nearly the length of a football field is worth the time).
The amazing rivalry between Ethiopia and Kenya will likely be on display in the women's 5,000 meters final. Tirunesh Dibaba, who already won the 10,000, and Meseret Defar of Ethiopia battle Sally Kipyego and Vivian Cheruiyat of Kenya.
America's chance for redemption (dropped baton in Beijing) comes in the women's 4x100 meter relay final. But even if they do get the stick around the track, a gold medal is not guaranteed. Many consider Jamaica a shoe-in, but the entire field is so quick, there may be some surprises here.
My picks for medalists in the women's 1,500 meters final are Abeba Ategawi of Ethiopia, Tatyana Tomashova of Russia and USA's Morgan Uceny, in no particular order.
The men's 4x400 meters relay is wide open, with the entire field capable of running under three minutes. But with the USA, Bahamas, Great Britain and Cuba in the mix, it may well take 2:57.0 to medal.
Defending 400 gold medalist LaShawn Merritt's absence (injury) from the USA team hurts, but is not fatal.
With so many event finals coming now, the team standings are very fluid. Find my Friday's column for a complete update on scores and standings, analysis and more.
Enjoy the Games!