Rio 2016 Olympics Dibaba, Adams bid for 3 consecutive golds

Dibaba has run faster, clocking 29:54.66 in her 2008 Beijing Olympics victory. Her best this season is 30:28.53

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Tirunesh Dibaba runs. Athletics - Rio 2016 Olympic Games – Women’s 10,000 meters training - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 26/7/16 – REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri play Tirunesh Dibaba runs. Athletics - Rio 2016 Olympic Games – Women’s 10,000 meters training - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 26/7/16 – REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
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Ethiopian 10,000 metres runner Tirunesh Dibaba and New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams are both bidding to become the first woman to win three consecutive individual athletics golds when track and field joins the Olympic party on Friday.

The sport's opening day in Rio also will feature the start of what should be a mouth-watering heptathlon battle between British Olympic and world gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill, her compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, the world indoor champion.

Defending will not come easy for the 30-year-old Dibaba, who returned this year from a two-year layoff for the 2015 birth of her son.

Compatriot Almaz Ayana, seven years Dibaba's junior, holds the year's fastest time, 30 minutes and 7 seconds, and is considered by many the favorite in the first final of the 10-day athletics programme.

Ayana, the world 5,000 metres champion, has run only one 10,000 final, but it was the seventh fastest of all-time.

Dibaba has run faster, clocking 29:54.66 in her 2008 Beijing Olympics victory. Her best this season is 30:28.53

World champion Vivian Cheruiyot, the 2012 bronze medallist, also should be a strong contender.

 

BATTLE OF THE HYPHENS

Four-times world outdoor champion Adams also will have her hands full in the shot as she seeks a treble having been promoted to gold in 2012 behind subsequently banned Belarussian Nadzeya Ostapchuk.

Nearly unbeatable before surgery in 2014, she struggled at times this season before hitting 20.19 metres in July.

Olympic bronze medallist Gong Lijiao, who has the top throw of the season at 20.43m, will be aiming for gold in Rio.

German world champion Christina Schwanitz and American world indoor winner Michelle Carter could also be in the medals mix.

The seven-event heptathlon will renew the rivalry between Ennis-Hill and Theisen-Eaton in what has become known as the battle of the hyphenated names.

Ennis-Hill, who is rounding back into form, holds the upper hand, having won the 2012 Olympic gold medal and world titles in 2009 and 2015.

Theisen-Eaton grabbed her first global title at the 2016 world indoor championships after taking silver at the 2013 and 2015 outdoor worlds.

Theisen-Eaton again narrowly has the year's leading score over Ennis-Hill. That put a lot of pressure on her last year, she has admitted, and is working to avoid the same downfall.

Theisen-Eaton and her husband, U.S. decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, could become the first married couple to both win gold medals in the same Olympics with victories in Rio.

Qualifying also will start in a number of events on Friday, including the women's 100 metres and men's 400.

The big show, the men's 100 metres featuring Usain Bolt, begins on Saturday when Bolt will hope the omens of his double world record on the blue of Berlin in 2009 will bring more glory in Rio, the first Olympics to boast a blue track.

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