The men’s 1,500 meters always seems to deliver. Timothy Cheruiyot, the reigning world champion, was initially left off Kenya’s Olympic team when he finished fourth at the country’s trials in June. He was added to the team after he ran the fastest time since 2015 at a high-powered meet in Monaco a few weeks ago. He could be challenged by Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway, the youngest of the famous Ingebrigtsen brothers.
July 29, 2021, 8:05 p.m. ET
Of course, anything can happen: At the 2016 Olympics, Matthew Centrowitz took home gold for the United States by outsprinting the field at the end of a highly tactical race. At 31, he appears to be back in prime form.
Who are some of the other athletes to watch?
Any list like this needs to include Allyson Felix, 35, the grande dame of U.S. track and field. Felix, a six-time gold medalist, is set to compete in the 400 meters in her fifth and final Olympics.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, 34, is already a two-time Olympic champion in the women’s 100 meters. She hopes to win yet another gold after taking bronze at the 2016 Games. It seems entirely possible — she ran the fastest time of her life in June — and Sha’Carri Richardson, who would have been among the favorites, will be absent after she tested positive for marijuana, a banned substance, at the U.S. trials.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands could be planning something truly audacious: She is entered in the 1,500 meters, the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters. And she might just be the favorite in all three, if she can survive multiple rounds in multiple events.
At 21, Mondo Duplantis holds the pole-vaulting world record. He grew up in Louisiana but competes for Sweden, his mother’s home country.
A dominant figure in the men’s marathon, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya will try to repeat as the Olympic champion on the streets of Sapporo. Kipchoge, the world-record holder and the first man to break the 2-hour barrier (an unofficial mark), won 10 straight marathons before he placed eighth at the London Marathon last year, revealing his apparent mortality.