Athletics at Rio 2016 begins on Friday and that’s just as well, because we’ve got a lot of questions that need answering. Questions like these.

1. Can any of this quartet do the triple?

Tirunesh Dibaba 2012 ()

No woman has ever won individual gold medals in the same event at three consecutive Olympics. FACT. Four could break that hoodoo in Rio, two on the very first day. FACT.

Tirunesh Dibaba pursues a third 10,000m title in athletics’ first medal event. She’s had a baby since London, so look out for mother of all comebacks graphics on Friday morning if she achieves the remarkable. In the evening session Valerie Adams goes after her third straight shot put gold – worth staying up for.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will underline her status as one of the finest sprinters of all time if she gets her third straight 100m title. The world champion will hope to prove her form in Friday’s prelims ahead of the semis and final on Saturday.

Like SAFP, javelin world record holder Barbora Spotakova’s place in history is already secure. A third Olympic title in Thursday’s final would add to her legend. And the maths.

2. Will this double double his double?

Mo Farah Double ()

More maths for top twin Mo Farah, whose non-identical brother qualified him as a doubler from day one.

The Briton lived up to his birthright by clinching the distance double (5000m/10,000m) at London 2012. Seven men had done that double before him, but only one has repeated the trick at the next Games (Lasse Viren in 1972 and ‘76).

Farah, who doubled his world champs double with a double in Beijing last year, is already considered one of the best of all time. Double the double again and he will be talked about as the best there’s ever been.

3. Will the big man treble his treble?

Usain Bolt 2008 ()

Perhaps the biggest barrier to Usain Bolt winning his third straight 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles is his trio of relay teammates.

The Jamaican is outside the top three in both the 100m and 200m world rankings, but has proven his appetite for the big stage at every major championships since 2008. Yet the relay is even less of a given; the US team will be out to prove a point if none of Justin Gatlin, Trayvon Bromell et al are able to unseat Bolt in the individual events.

4. Will there be a three-way double-barrel seven-eventer?

Ennis-Hill Thesen-Eaton ()

Will the maths ever end? Probably not. Let’s hope not. Anyway.

At last year’s Beijing World Championships a hot-headed three-way heptathlon battle between Jessica Ennis-Hill, Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Katarina Johnson-Thompson didn’t quite materialise.

With Theisen-Eaton full of beans after winning world indoor gold in March, and Johnson-Thompson not full of injuries after surgery last fall, both should be more prominent as they look to take down 2012 champ Ennis-Hill.

If the three-way tussle doesn’t happen then it means there’ll be drama and heartbreak akin to the Beijing worlds. If it does it will be SICK.

5. Will Kenya dine at the top table?

Julius Yego 2015 ()

The medal table at the Beijing world champs was topped by Kenya, aided by the unexpected gold medals of Julius Yego in the javelin and Nicholas Bett in the 400m hurdles.

The East African nation’s dominance was nowhere to be seen at the world indoors in March, where the Americans recovered their pride with a record medal haul (23 in all, 13 gold).

With others absent, the battle between the two great athletics nations in Rio will brought more sharply into focus.

6. Which style will prevail in the javelin?

Keshorn Walcott competes at the London 2012 Olympics ()

Poetic licence is not just the reserve of the poets in SPIKES towers. There’s quite a bit of it on display in the javelin.

Technical artisans like European champion Antti Ruuskanen contrast with new world power throwers like Yego and 2012 champion Keshorn Walcott.

As Walcott showed in London, the door to a shock is always open in this precision event. He won on his Olympic debut in torrential rain. The current world leader Thomas Rohler will hope to do the same on the second Saturday’s (August 20) battle of the styles.

7. Can anyone out-superhuman the ultimate superhuman?

London 2012 Decathletes ()

Anyone prepared to compete in multiple events in a single day and then come back the next morning to do a load more is a) a little bit nuts, and b) a de facto superhuman.

Ashton Eaton is the standout freak of nature; the American holds not just the Olympic title but also two world records (indoor and outdoor) and five world titles (indoor and outdoor).

Can anyone beat his inevitable march to decathlon gold? Probably not. But that’s not the point. The point is that 31 athletes are going to contest ten events in two days to try.

Sound nuts? It is. It’s also superhuman.

8. Will there be a home gold?

Fabiana Murer AR ()

Super Saturday became a thing in the UK after Ennis-Hill, Farah and long jumper Greg Rutherford won Olympic titles within the space of 90 heady minutes on the first Saturday of athletics at London 2012.

Brazil have four athletes ranked inside the top ten of their respective events – Wagner Domingos (hammer), Thiago Braz Da Silva (pole vault) and Erica de Sena (race walk). Perhaps the biggest hope is Fabiana Murer (who is also a really nice person), the pole vaulter who set a South American record 4.87m to qualify for her third and final Olympics as the number two ranked athlete in her event this year.

If any of them win gold it will be a fairytale. And if you don’t think fairytales happen then go read the first sentence of this point again.

9. What will it take to win the women’s pole vault?

Jenn Suhr 2012 ()

Murer might be Brazil’s most legitimate hope, but she finds herself in athletics’ most competitive event (besides the women’s sprint hurdles with WR holder Keni Harrisson absent).

The mean standard in the women’s pole vault has been creeping ever upwards since 2000, when the event was first brought into the Olympic fold. As we reported at the time, the Beijing World Championships saw 12 women go over at 4.60m and seven at 4.70m for the first time ever. At the Portland World Indoor Championships five made it past 4.70m for the first time in indoor competition.

The startlist in Rio features nine women with lifetime bests of 4.80m or more, a mark that has been good enough for a medal at every Olympics yet. That probably won’t be the case this time round. The world record is 5.06m. Just sayin.

10. Who will last the distance?

If you’re anything like this European-based correspondent you’ll have spent the last six days desperately trying to re-align your body clock with Rio’s. So far so bad on that front (although the sound of hockey bat on hockey ball is a lovely one to sleep to).

The answer is not just coffee and cake washed down with a round of coffee and cake (though we recommend this all the same). From Friday onwards there’ll be a global athletics feast to keep us all in the lovely world of upsidedown sleeping patterns.

And after ten days living dream land, sentences like the one below might even start making sense.