Preview Sport

Tokyo Games 2020 – The Week Ahead

Men’s 800m – Peter Bol – Wednesday 4 August @ 2:40pm

How about this bloke. Family flees war-torn Sudan in the 90s. Lives in Egypt for four years. Lobs in Toowoomba. Relocates to Perth. The school teacher doesn’t have anyone to run a leg of the 400m relay. Someone suggests the Sudanese kid on the basketball scholarship. Said kid scorches around the track, wins by a hundred metres. Five years later he’s running for Australia in Rio. And five years after that, here he is, at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo among the favourites in the 800m, the world’s toughest two-lap gut-buster. He is Peter Bol. You wonder should we call him “Spaghetti”. Or “Cannon”. Even “Lucille”. Regardless. Go him.

Men’s 1500m – Stuart McSweyn – Saturday 7 August @ 9:40pm

It’s been 53 years since Australia’s had a man in an 800m final at the Olympics (Ralph Doubell who won gold in Mexico City) and it’s been 61 years since an Australian won a medal in the 1500m (Herb Elliott who won gold in Rome). And good judges will you that  Stuart McSweyn of King Island belongs in this rarefied air. With Doubell, Elliott, John Landy, Ron Clarke – the greatest middle-distance runners Australia’s ever seen. We’ll run those 3.75 hot laps with him. Yet the man to beat is world number one Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya (of course) who beat McSweyn (who smashed the Australian record) by a second in the Oslo Diamond League. Cheruiyot was then not picked for Kenya because two other guys had beaten him at the Kenyan national titles. Those guys didn’t take enough drug tests, however, so Kenya slotted back the world number one 1500m guy. So – good luck, Stuie. And good luck also to the two other Aussies in the 1500m, Jye Edwards and Oliver Hoare.

Basketball – Boomers vs Argentina – Tuesday 3 August @ 10 pm

Quarter-final time in men’s hoops, hoops fans, and our Boomers take on Argentina for the (likely) right to play the United States of America in a game America is historically quite good at. But enough of them – this Australian unit is full of NBA-hardened hard-arses who can land bombs from downtown, leap with unapologetic elbows for rebounds and steal what others believe is by divine right is theirs. The team’s spirit animal, of course, is flag-bearing Canberran action man Patty Mills of San Antonio Spurs while Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz), Matisse Thybulle (Philadelphia 76ers), Dante Exum (Houston Rockets), Jock Landale and Chris Goulding (both Melbourne United) give the Boomers formidable offence, defence and mojo. Maybe Mabo, too. We may never know. But these people are, as they say, the real deal. And they have a few mates. And they’re actually very, very good. Go them.

Basketball – Opals vs the USA – Wednesday 4 August @ 2:40 pm

Australia needed to beat Puerto Rico by 25 points or better to continue into the quarter-finals of the women’s basketball and did, begetting a memorable headline about a “thrilling 27-point win”. Yes, Liz Cambage (get well soon, Cambo) would’ve been handy under the hoop but Opals’ veterans Marianna Tolo, captain Jenna O’Hea and Cayla George filled the breach. Tolo was best on the court against PR scoring 26 points and making 17 rebounds. O’Hea had 15 points and four assists while George – who was everywhere in a frenetic final quarter – finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. And onwards the Opals roll into a rather difficult quarter-final with the United States who haven’t lost a game at the Olympics since Barcelona in 1992. That said, they did suffer a loss in a warm-up game in Las Vegas. Their conquerors? None other than these Aussie Opals. Go them, too!

Men’s 400m – Tuesday 3 August @ 10pm

Men’s four hundred metre runners, they say, consider themselves the alpha males of athletics. Theirs, they contend as they strut about all rippling buttock muscles and ‘tood, is the purest form of their pursuit: one hot lap around the track. And hot it will be. Effectively a sprint, the world record was set in Rio by South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk (43:03) who couldn’t get past the semi-finals in Tokyo. Perhaps unusually Americans aren’t in the top three, at least in betting calculations, with Steven Gardiner (Bahamas) favourite ahead of Kirani James (Grenada) and Anthony Zambrano (Colombia). Michael Norman and Michael Cherry (both USA) should also be “kept safe” in punting parlance because they can, in other parlance, run like a shower of shit.

Women’s Golf – Minjee Lee and Hannah Green – Wednesday 4 August @ 08:30

The Olympic Games missed a trick with golf by making it a 4-round 72-hole tournament like every generic PGA Tour event largely indistinguishable from every other one. For some reason, (I go for the cookie-cutter thing that gave us Macca’s, Avis, Holiday Inn, all that) people in golf believe that four-round, 72-hole golf is the only way to decide a top individual. Now, for sure, it’s a good test for that. But a Ryder Cup-style mixed team event that still awards individual gold would better represent the nation that’s the best at golf, at least at the end of the quadrennial Olympic period. But 72 holes of individual strokeplay is over four days at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Australia will golf clap a recent major winner in Minjee Lee and 24-year-old world No.17 Hannah Green who’s notched $2,204,295 in career earnings and is very good at golf. Go them.

Men’s Marathon – Sunday 8 August @ 08:00

You know what’s too bad? The marathon isn’t the last event of the Games (it’s the men’s gold medal match in water polo) and they don’t run into the stadium to finish it. It’s not even in Tokyo but rather 800km away in Sapporo. Do you know what’s also too bad? There won’t be tens of thousands, even millions of happy Japanese lining the streets to cheer on athletes who can maintain a pace under three minutes per kilometre for a nudge over 120 minutes. It’s ridiculously fast. Go for a run this week and see if you can rip off a kilometre in three minutes. Then imagine keeping up that pace for 40 sets. It will not feel possible. Superstar Eliud Kipchoge is the favourite for the marathon from fellow Kenyans Lawrence Cherono and Amos Kipruto. Three Ethiopians – Lelisa Desisa, Sisay Lemma and Shura Kitata – should be in the leading bunch at the business end while Japanese hopes rest with Suguru Osako whose PB is 2:05:29 – three minutes better than Kipchoge’s gold medal run in Rio but three minutes slower than Kipchoge’s world record. Shout out also to our little Anzac Zane Robertson of New Zealand whom bookmakers reckon is a 25-1 shot of winning Olympic gold in Tokyo.

Women’s Beach Volleyball – Australia vs Canada – Tuesday 3 August @ 11 pm

That Canada can call upon anyone to even form a team to play beach volleyball is mysterious enough much less have a duo regarded as world number one. But in Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Peredes Canada has the reigning world champions, Commonwealth Games gold medallists and serial arse-kickers on the Pro Tour. And that’s who Australia – represented by Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar

– will be taking on on Tuesday night. The Aussie girls have smoked all before them on the sands of Shiokaze Park and are in hot form after dominating Chen Xue and Xinxin Wang of China. Go them, also.

Be sure to watch out for plenty more throughout the games. Why not make it even more interesting and make your best bet on the games with PlayUp.

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