Summer Sports

Olympic viewing guide: Can Damian Warner follow in De Grasse's golden footsteps?

Here's what to watch on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, including potential Canadian gold medals in decathlon and canoe.

What to watch Wednesday night and Thursday morning

Canada's Damian Warner is halfway to an Olympic decathlon gold medal. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports' daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what's happening at the Tokyo Olympics by subscribing here.

Andre De Grasse is golden. The man who already held a bouquet of silver and bronze medals from the Olympics and world championships cemented his place in Canadian sports lore this morning by winning the men's 200-metre final in Tokyo.

De Grasse's victory gave Canada its first Olympic gold on the track since Donovan Bailey won the 100m and anchored the 4x100m relay team to gold in Atlanta a quarter century ago. It's also Canada's first Olympic title in the 200 since Percy Williams in 1928.

"This was the race of my life," De Grasse said.

And what a life. With Sunday's bronze in the 100m and today's gold in the 200m, the 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., now owns five Olympic medals — equalling the Canadian record for a track and field athlete set by middle-distance runner Phil Edwards in the 1920s and '30s, and two shy of Penny Oleksiak's newly minted record for all Canadian athletes.

De Grasse should have a chance to make it six — and complete his second consecutive Olympic-podium triple — in the men's 4x100 final on Friday morning.

Throw in his four world-championship medals and his impeccable record in the biggest meets (he's reached the podium in all seven individual events he's started at the Olympics or worlds) and there's no doubt: De Grasse is the king of men's sprinting right now.

Consider this: no other man even entered both the 100m and 200m events in Tokyo, which requires running a brutal six races in five days if you reach both finals. De Grasse didn't just run them — he won a gold and a bronze.

The fresher foes he defeated in today's 200m final included a trio of world-class Americans. Rising 22-year-old Kenneth Bednarek took silver, reigning world champ Noah Lyles settled for bronze, and 17-year-old phenom Erriyon Knighton placed fourth. Canada's Aaron Brown was sixth.

De Grasse beat them all in a Canadian-record 19.62 seconds — faster than Usain Bolt's time when he topped De Grasse in the last Olympic 200m final.

After two days without a Canadian medal, De Grasse's victory brought the total up to 15 — four gold, four silver, seven bronze. See the full standings and a detailed breakdown of Canada's hardware here.

Another gold could be on its way tomorrow morning in the decathlon, and maybe before that in women's canoe. There's also a chance for another Canadian medal in diving. We'll cover all those hopes in today's Olympic viewing guide. Plus, a possible time change for Canada's gold-medal women's soccer match, and literal children on the podium.

Here's what to watch on Wednesday night/Thursday morning:

Damian Warner leads decathlon 

Warner, the 31-year-old from London, Ont., who's the favourite for gold, has been a fixture on decathlon podiums for the better part of a decade, winning medals at the 2016 Olympics and the 2013, '15 and '19 world championships. He's taken gold at the Pan Am Games (twice) and the Commonwealth Games — but never at the Olympics or worlds.

Oddsmakers liked Warner's chances to finally do it in Tokyo after he broke his own Canadian record by racking up 8,995 points to win the prestigious Hypo Meeting decathlon in Austria in May. Only three decathletes have ever scored higher, and they're all Olympic and/or world champions.

With five of the 10 decathlon legs now in the books in Tokyo, Warner is still the man to beat. He got off to a phenomenal start last night, running the opening 100m leg in a world-class (for 100m specialists, not just decathletes) 10.12 seconds to match his own decathlon world record. Then he set a new Olympic decathlon best in long jump by soaring 8.24 metres, which would've won bronze in the men's long jump.

Warner held onto the top spot overall at the end of day 1 by finishing 11th in shot put, eighth in high jump and third in 400m. He leads 2018 world junior champion Ashley Moloney of Australia, who finished the day strong by winning the high jump and the 400m.

Canada's Pierce LePage is also eyeing the podium. The Commonwealth and Pan Am Games medallist is in third place heading into the final day. Decathlon world-record holder Kevin Mayer of France is fifth.

The final five legs begin tonight at 8 p.m. ET with the 110m hurdles, followed by the discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and the closing 1,500m Thursday morning at 8:40 a.m. ET.

WATCH | Warner, LePage lead Canada's medal hopes in decathlon:

Canada's Warner and LePage are 1st, 3rd in decathlon after 400m race

2 months ago
Damian Warner and Pierce LePage maintained their medal positions at the halfway point of the decathlon. 3:21

Other Canadian medal chances coming up

Canoe — women's 200m singles event

We covered Laurence Vincent Lapointe's backstory in yesterday's viewing guide, but it bears repeating because she has a chance to win gold tonight.

The 29-year-old dominated this event at the world championships for the better part of the past decade, winning the title six times. When women's canoe events were finally added to the Olympic program for Tokyo, it looked like Vincent Lapointe would finally get her chance to shine on the biggest stage.

But in 2019 she was provisionally suspended for four years after testing positive for a banned muscle-building drug. It was overturned when she successfully argued she didn't knowingly ingest it. In the meantime, though, a combination of the ban and the pandemic prevented her from qualifying.

Luckily, the Canadian team found a loophole and reallocated one of its Olympic kayak spots to Vincent Lapointe — allowing her and Katie Vincent to compete as a doubles pair and in the singles event.

Both looked strong in their first-round individual races last night, winning their respective heats. If they get through the semifinals at 8:44 p.m. ET (the top four in each heat advance), they'll race in the final at 10:57 p.m. ET

Diving — women's 10m platform event

Meaghan Benfeito took bronze in this event in Rio, then finished eighth at the 2017 world championships and sixth at the 2019 worlds. She's never won a medal in the individual 10m event at the world championships, but has won a combined six medals in the 10m synchronized at the worlds and Olympics. Last week in Tokyo, she and Canadian teammate Caeli McKay placed fourth as McKay gritted through a painful foot injury. The 10m semis go at 9 p.m. ET, and the final at 2 a.m. ET.

Some other interesting things you should know about

The men's 4x100m relay starts tonight. It's unclear whether De Grasse will run in the qualifying round, which begins at 10:30 p.m. ET. That's less than 14 hours after his gold-medal win in the 200m, which was his sixth race in five days.

In Rio, where De Grasse had an equally gruelling schedule, he sat out the first round of the relay before returning to anchor Canada to bronze in the final. Canada runs in the second of the two heats tonight, at 10:39 p.m. ET.

This group features a very deep U.S. team and Italy, with 100m gold medallist Lamont Marcell Jacobs. The top three in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify for the final on Friday morning.

Canada and Sweden are lobbying for a different start time for their women's soccer gold-medal match. At our publish time, it was still scheduled for 10 p.m. ET on Thursday. That's nice for fans in Canada, but could be pure hell for the players. When the match kicks off at 11 a.m. local time, the forecast calls for a temperature of 32 C — 37 C with the humidity. The women's bronze match and both men's medal matches are being held at night. Read more about the women's request to play at a cooler time here.

And finally…

Two more children won skateboarding medals.

Twelve-year-old Kokona Hiraki of Japan and 13-year-old Sky Brown of Britain took silver and bronze in the women's park event Tuesday night. This echoed the women's street event, where 13-year-olds won gold and silver and a 16-year-old took bronze. Park gold medallist Sakura Yosozumi of Japan is the elder stateswoman of the Olympic skateboarding podiums. She's 19.

In case you're wondering, the youngest verified Olympic medallist is a Greek gymnast named Dimitrios Loundras, who was 10 when he won bronze in the team parallel bars event at the 1896 Games. Unless, that is, you believe in the legend of the unknown rowing boy.

Before the pairs final at the 1900 Olympics in Paris, the Dutch team ditched its regular coxswain (the person who steers the boat) for a much lighter local kid. They won gold, and the coxswain, considered part of the team, gets a medal, too. The problem, for record-keeping purposes, is that no one knows who the boy is or how old he was. Estimates have ranged from as old as twelve to as young as seven. There's a photo in this story if you want to judge for yourself.

How to watch live events

They're being broadcast on TV on CBC, TSN and Sportsnet. Or choose exactly what you want to watch by live streaming on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports' Tokyo 2020 website. Check out the full streaming schedule here.

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