Tour de France winner Chris Froome is among a strong British team aiming for medals in the men’s cycling road race on the first day of Rio 2016 today, while Individual Medley swimmer Hannah Miley will also be going for gold in the women’s 400m.
Meanwhile, 100m breaststroke world record-holder Adam Peaty is up in the semi-finals, and last year’s women’s rowing gold medalist Katherine Grainger, now 40, teams up with Vicky Thornley for another crack in the double sculls. There’s also fencing, volleyball and gymnastics.
See the bottom of the page for a guide to every single gold up for grabs today, plus our Brit To Watch, hockey star Kate Richardson-Walsh. And take a look at the rest of our Olympics coverage here.
Cycling: Men’s Road Race
The expert’s choice: Jill Douglas
There was so much hype around the men’s road race on the first day of London 2012. Everybody expected Mark Cavendish to open Britain’s medal account, but things went against him. It’s a reminder that in a big one-day race, anything can happen. That will be true of Rio, where the 237.4km course is much hillier than London.
The race starts at Fort Copacabana and travels along a spectacular coast road and through national parks, and it’s the kind of test that could suit Britain’s Adam Yates after his great Tour de France. There are a whole host of favourites, and I wouldn’t necessarily put Tour winner Chris Froome at the top of them. The rest of the GB team comprises Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Steve Cummings — all of whom completed this year’s Tour — with Cavendish, like Bradley Wiggins, only competing on the track this time round. Other names to look out for include Alejandro Valverde of Spain, Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Rui Costa of Portugal.
Gymnastics: Men’s qualification
The expert’s choice: Christine Still
The pressure is on right from the start as gymnasts compete as teams and as individuals.
Twelve nations compete for the eight places in the team final, and each gymnast is also trying to qualify for the all-around final and individual apparatus events. The whole process is nerve-racking — if you don’t perform, you’re out, and a single mistake can wreck your chances. Look out for GB’s Max Whitlock on the pommel horse.
Swimming: Women’s 400m IM Final
The expert’s choice: Sharron Davies
A good start is so important, and in Rio we could get just that with our top Individual Medley racer Hannah Miley. The medley features all four strokes — butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle — of which three are variations on each other, but breaststroke is different. Most IM racers can do a really good butterfly, back and freestyle, with a good enough breaststroke not to get left behind. At least, that’s the way I swam it!
Swimming: Men’s 100m Breaststroke Semis
The expert’s choice: Steve Parry
This is the best British swimming team in living memory. In 2014 we had a superb Commonwealth Games and European Championships, stepping up again at last year’s World Championships. Today we’ll be looking to world record-holder Adam Peaty to get us off to a flying start in the 100m breaststroke. He’s the man who became the first to break 58 seconds when he clocked 57.92 last year.
Beach Volleyball preliminaries
Beach volleyball on Copacabana Beach: has there ever been a more appropriate venue for an Olympic event? Rio is the sport’s spiritual home: in 1987 the first international event was held here; Brazil’s women won gold and silver in the first Olympic competition in 1996. Medals have been won by Brazil’s men and women at every Olympics since. Forget everything else: this is the sport Rio residents really want to shout about. James Gill
Rowing: Women’s Double Sculls
The expert’s choice: James Cracknell
I’d love to be proved wrong, but I just can’t see the British pair, Katherine Grainger (pictured) and Vicky Thornley, winning gold. Katherine — Olympic champion in 2012 after so many near misses — is now 40, which isn’t ideal, but it’s the fact she took two years out of rowing post-London. Steve Redgrave was 38 when we won gold in Sydney and, like Katherine, had immense hunger — but, crucially, he’d never taken any time out of the boat. This is a fiercely competitive field, with Poland, Germany, Italy and New Zealand all strong.
Australia are always annoyingly good, too. I think the GB duo are going to have to massively frontload the race. Katherine’s status means that if they go out in front, it might put the fear into the opposition’s minds that she’s going to win. It’s the most painful way to race, but it’s the only way I can see them winning. And if they do, what a story!
Fencing: Women’s Épée Final
Croquet, pigeon-shooting, tug-of-war — just some of the Olympic events that have come and gone since the modern Games began in 1896. Fencing, however, has withstood the cut and thrust (sorry) of sporting trends and featured at every Olympics.
There are three types of weapon: épée, sabre and foil. The épée is the largest and heaviest, and it’s the easiest form of the sport to follow because competitors can score by hitting any part of the body — no below-the-belt penalties here. You score points by making contact with your opponent with the tip of the sword. Sensors register a successful attack; whoever scores the most touches wins the round. In the épée everything is game; with the sabre it’s everything above the waist; and foil restricts hits to just the torso. James Gill
Brit to watch: Kate Richardson-Walsh
Women’s hockey: GB v Australia, 12:30am BBC1
GB’s 2012 bronze medal-winners begin their campaign looking to go at least one better. Skipper Kate Richardson-Walsh broke her jaw competing in London, but returned later in the week to lead her side to victory. Supporting her is worth staying up for, right?
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