The greats of athletics were out in force on the seventh day of track and field at Rio 2016. This is what we made of a emotion wrenching day in the Olympic stadium.

Asian sensations

Japan Relay Wrap ()

In the first men’s 4x100m heat, China stuck to the tails of the flying American team to run an Asian record 37.65.

Nice, but only for all of 37.68 seconds. That was the amount of time it took for Japan to pass the baton round in the very next heat for a new area record.

Don’t bet against that Asian best dropping again when both teams meet in the final.


Re Run USA 4x100m Rio ()

The women’s 4x100m qualifiers were a rather more protracted affair. The first heat started at 11:40am; the finalists weren’t confirmed until 41.77 seconds past 7pm.

That’s because the US team were given a re-run after it was judged that unfair obstruction had caused them to fudge their baton exchange in the original heat. In their solo time trial, all they had to do was beat China‘s time of 52.30, which they did swiftly with the fastest time in the world this year. They won’t get second chances in the final.

Classes of their owns

Kerron Clement and Dalilah Muhammad 2016 ()

Ahead of Rio, USA’s Olympic record in the men’s 400m hurdles read 18 gold medals from 23 contests, which is about as dominant as it gets. Strangely, never before had an American won the women’s event.

That run came to an end courtesy of Dalilah Muhammad. The 2013 silver medallist has enjoyed a timely revival this season and didn’t waste time storming into the lead in the evening final. Her 53.13 was the second best time of her career – her gold medal a little slice of history for the USA.

Kerron Clement was also at his best in adding another notch to the American 400m hurdle bedpost in the morning session. The silver medallist at Beijing 2008 went out determined and held his lead to take gold. Behind him there were four national records and one personal best; Clement’s 47.73 was his best since 2007 – another handily timed resurgence.

Until last night, when Brianna Rollins led a sweep of the 100m hurdle podium, the US had not had a single track gold from the 2016 Games. Through Muhammad and Clement, they trebled that haul.

The big show

Ryan Crouser ()

A shot put field that contained a double Olympic (Tomasz Majewski), a double world (David Storl), the reigning outdoor world (Joe Kovacs) and reigning indoor world (Tomas Walsh) champions was always going to be hot.

But the man who really lit up the final was 23-year-old Ryan Crouser. The young American had three puts beyond the 22m gold standard across a brilliant series. His biggest was historic, a 22.52m whopper that counted as a huge personal best and the Olympic record.

Most importantly of all it secured him gold over a classy field, USA’s first in the event since 2004.

Still the best

Ashton Eaton Rio 2016 ()

It was unusual to see Ashton Eaton going into the final event of the decathlon with just a 44 point lead over flying Frenchman Kevin Mayer. The world record holder hadn’t pulled away over the two days as we’ve been accustomed to in the last few years.

That he emerged top with an Olympic record 8893 points without dazzling is a testament to Eaton’s incredible athleticism. That he had to produce that level of form to win is credit to the depth of the field: 11 men scored 8300 or higher for the first time in Olympic history.

Yet there would be no challenging Eaton, who becomes the first man to retain the decathlon title since Daley Thompson in 1984. He had to fight, but Eaton is still the best.

Two out of three ain’t bad

Barbora Spotakova ()

Barbora Spotakova became the fourth woman this week to fall just short of an historic third consecutive individual gold medal. Yet just like Tirunesh Dibaba, Valerie Adams and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce before her, she at least secured an Olympic podium spot for a third time.

The world record holder’s 64.80m was only good enough for bronze behind Sunette Viljoen (silver with 64.92) and precocious Croatian Sara Kolak, who set a national record 66.18m to win gold at the tender age of 21.

Spotakova was clearly delighted to finish top three after the injuries that have troubled her since she returned from becoming a mother. We were delighted to see a true champion back on the big stage.

Double treble

Usain Bolt 2016 ()

A different set of rules apply to Usain Bolt. Where others fell short in their hat-trick attempts, he romped.

The big man killed off the 200m final with a lightning bend and won at a canter (drama fans were watching the battle for third, where 0.006 secs separated Christoph Lemaitre in bronze from Adam Gemili in not bronze).

Although the big man was initially slightly peeved with his 19.78 winning time, he can’t be annoyed at the history he made. Bolt’s gold secured Jamaica’s second sprint double of the week (after Elaine Thompson’s 100m/200m) and his eighth in the Olympics.

He is due for one more Olympic appearance, tomorrow, in the 4x100m final. After that, a whole new landscape.