Summer Olympics 2016: What to Watch for on Day 11 in Rio

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2016

United States' Simone Biles waits to perform her floor routine during the artistic gymnastics women's qualification at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Associated Press

Two major events highlight Day 11 of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: one a final, the other merely heats and semis.

The morning boasts the men's 200-meter dash heats, which set the fields for the three semifinals Wednesday night. In the heats you'll see Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin and LaShawn Merritt slug it out for a spot in Wednesday night's final

In the afternoon, the women's gymnastics floor exercise final takes place, featuring Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.

At night, the women's 1,500-meter final features Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury of the United States as they try to run down Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba.

Let's not forget about Team USA's Christian Taylor looking for a gold medal and a world record in the triple-jump final.

Lots of action to get to, so let's get started.


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The Men's 200-Meter Dash Begins

Ten heats launch from the blocks, one with the legendary Bolt.

We can expect—nay!—guarantee Bolt, Gatlin and Merritt will reach the semifinal heats. Still, first they must survive their heats against such competitors as Jamaica's Yohan Blake or Canada's Andre de Grasse.

Bolt, as some of you may or may not know, is attempting to win his eighth gold medal in eight tries. He's also on a projected course for three gold medals in each of the last three Olympic Games (the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 4x100-meter relay). It's being called the Triple-Triple.

We'll call it something else: legendary.


Simone Biles Looks to Bounce Back from the Balance Beam

The gold-medal streak in event finals came to an end Monday afternoon when Biles lost her footing on the balance beam. She settled for bronze, where her teammate Laurie Hernandez earned silver. The Netherlands' Sanne Wevers won gold.

Biles was still—please, pardon the pun—beaming after the routine, which sets up perhaps her best discipline: the floor routine.

In track terms, she has lapped the field heading into the final. Biles' qualifying score of 15.733 is .458 points ahead of Raisman and .867 points ahead of Italy's Vanessa Ferrari.

But Tuesday at 1:47 p.m. ET, Biles will execute her signature floor routine and likely take the gold with Raisman on her heels.


Christian Taylor Looks to Secure Gold in Men's Triple Jump

Taylor can smell the gold.

It's a familiar scent. He won gold in the 2012 Olympics and at the 2015 world championships, an event every bit as competitive as the Olympics.

It's amazing he suffered from a knee issue and had to change his takeoff leg. Imagine trying to dunk on your Nerf hoop off your weak leg? Good luck. Taylor came within eight centimeters of breaking the world record at the world championships last year after making that change.

"Getting through that slump was probably, actually, the toughest part of my career," Taylor said, per the New York Times. "It wasn't the physical aspect—but it was the mental."

After the hop, he lands with a force equal to nine times his body weight. This is, after all, what made him switch takeoff legs.

"You want to get on and off the ground as quick as possible," he said, "almost like a rock skipping across the water."

He's eight centimeters from Jonathan Edwards' world record of 18.29 meters. The last American to hold the record was Willie Banks in 1985. It took 10 years for Great Britain's Edwards to break it, and it has stood unbroken for 21 years.

"The world record is, is—that's it. That's my bucket list. That is, you know, that's the final check I'm waiting for," Taylor said.

His preliminary round finished with a hop, step and jump of 17.24. He'll gun for that extra 1.06 meters to break the record early Tuesday morning (8:50 a.m. ET).


Jenny Simpson Takes Aim at Genzebe Dibaba in More Ways than One

At the 2012 London Games, the United States' Simpson failed to reach 1,500-meter final. She was the 2011 world champion, so that came as a shock.

This year, it's been a different story. Simpson qualified for the 1,500-meter final by finishing fourth in her semifinal heat..

It's what Simpson said afterward that screeched the record.

"I think that you know a tree by the fruit that it bears," Simpson said, per Joe Rexrode and David Woods of USA Today. "And if a tree bears sour fruit, then the fruit around it are likely infected. And so I live my life that way in every way, not just through doping. And so I think that if WADA is on the case, they'll find what they need to find. I hope so."

Simpson refers to world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba's coach, Jama Aden, who was arrested two months ago on suspicion of possessing performance-enhancing drugs. So Simpson, along with swimmer Lilly King, has been vocal about the participation of athletes so closely tied to—or guilty of—doping.

Simpson, along with Shannon Rowbury of the U.S., will try to keep pace with Dibaba, suspicions—and that's all they are—aside.

On the track, Simpson set the pace in her semifinal heat through 400 meters when she saw its tepid nature.

"So to me, I was just thinking about, what about nervousness tips you over the edge? And I decided today that what tips you over the edge is when nerves turn into worrying, when you're worrying about things," she said.

Now she'll try to run back to that 2011 form that won her a world championship or the 2013 pace when she won a silver medal at worlds.


Jamaica's Omar McLeod Favored in 110-Meter Hurdles

One of the most demanding races became more so when it rained gatos y perros in Rio.

Omar McLeod, the uber-favorite to win the event Tuesday night, easily qualified. So did France's Dimitri Bascou.

"He's a veteran and he ran like a veteran," NBC track analyst Ato Boldon said of the Frenchman during the broadcast. "He is very comfortably into the next round with a 13.31."

Devon Allen, the Oregon Duck wide receiver and U.S. champion, coasted through his heat with a respectable 13.41 seconds.

"For somebody who has not been hurdling that long, he recovered very well," Boldon said. "Halfway down now he's going to start to hit hurdles. He recovered well and came across the line in second place, the same time as the winner."

"My adrenaline is a real high," Allen told NBC. "I've got to come down and I'll run better tomorrow night."

Team USA's Ronnie Ash ran an impressive 13.31 to win his heat. Jeff Porter, also of Team USA, reached the semis as well in 13.50.

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