Day 8 of track and field at the Tokyo Olympics was Friday in Japan, and aside from the race-walk road events only included an evening session, therefore Friday morning stateside.
There were finals in the women's 400m, women's and men's 4x100m relays, women's 1500m, men's 5000m, women's javelin, men's 50km walk and women's 20km walk. And, for the final prelim round of the Games, heats of the men's 4x400m relay.
Men's 50km Walk
China's Luo Yadong, fifth at the 2019 World Championships, took an early lead after about six miles and held it for the next eight miles before being overtaken shortly before the midway point.
That's when Poland's Dawid Tomala, 19th in the 20km at the 2012 London Olympics, assumed the lead and never looked back, clocking 3:50:08 to win gold in just his third 50km race ever.
German Jonathan Hilbert earned silver while Evan Dunfee of Canada repeated his finish from the 2019 World Championships in third with bronze.
Kawano Masatora was the top Japanese finisher in sixth.
The Japanese, who prior to the Games owned seven of the top 10 times recorded over the leadup cycle since Rio, are led by Kawano, 11th-fastest all-time at 50 km, and Maruo Satoshi, fourth at the 2017 World Championships. Their compatriot and the event's reigning world champion Suzuki Yusuke pulled out, reportedly due to a lack of high intensity training.
World record-holder Yohann Diniz of France, the 2017 world champion, and Suzuki's runner-up at Doha worlds Joao Vieira of Portugal are expected to contend.
Women's 20km Walk
Italy's Antonella Palmisano finished in 1:29:12 for gold, picking up the pace in the final four kilometers and beating silver-medal winner Sandra Arenas of Colombia.
Defending champion Liu Hong of China – who won gold in this event five years ago in Rio – took bronze.
China's trio of racewalkers – Yang Jiayu, Liu and Qieyang Shenjie – clocked the second- through fourth-fastest times in history at the 2021 Chinese national championships in March.
Technically, their marks were just short to overtake Russian Elena Lashmanova's 1:23:39 from 2018, but that time is not recognized by World Athletics as the world record, therefore by official terms the Chinese have the top if not three best performances in the event's history.
Yang is the world record-holder and 2017 world champion; Liu the defending Olympic champion and 2012 bronze medalist; and Qieyang the 2019 world and 2012 Olympic silver medalist.
Men's 4x400m Relay
1st Round (7:25aET)
The United States' first-round men's 4x400m relay prelim squad – Trevor Stewart, Randolph Ross, Bryce Deadmon and Vernon Norwood – clocked a world-lead 2:57.77 for the win in heat one, advancing the team into the final.
Entering Tokyo the U.S. owned all five spots atop this season's world-best men's open 400m list; among them, only reigning NCAA indoor champion Noah Williams did not make the trip.
Ross, the reigning NCAA outdoor individual 400m champion, Michael Norman, joint-No. 4 all-time at 400m, and 2019 world gold medalist in the event Michael Cherry – respectively one, two and four on that list – are the three who represented the U.S. in the open 400m. None made the podium.
The fifth, Deadmon, runner-up to Ross at NCAAs, has already won bronze in the mixed 4x400m relay, anchoring the prelim team that initially disqualified but was reinstated.
Team USA also has Stewart and Norwood, lead and anchor legs on the mixed 4x400m relay bronze-winning final team; Elija Godwin, lead leg on that team's first-round prelim squad; and possibly even 400m hurdles silver medalist Rai Benjamin, who won gold in the event in Doha, in the mix from which to choose.
Had it not been for a retroactive anti-doping medal strip of its 2000 Sydney Games gold, the U.S. would've won seven straight medals in the event from 1984-2008. It suffered a fair-and-square loss to the Bahamas at the next Olympics in London, before reclaiming gold in Rio.
Liu Shiying of China took home gold in the women's javelin throw after her first throw reached 66.34m.
Poland's Maria Andrejczyk enters as the world leader by a good two meters, having thrown 71.40m in May. The mark bettered her previous best from 2016 by an astonishing 14 feet and made her the third-best women's javelin thrower of all time. She was the top thrower of the qualifying round with 65.24m.
Germany's Christin Hussong, the world No. 2 this year, was fourth at the 2019 World Championships .
American Maggie Malone, third-best thrower this year, finished second among qualifiers behind Andrejczyk with 63.07m.
Lyu Huihui of China, rounding out the season's top four thus far, won bronze at both the 2019 and 2017 world championships, and took silver at the global event's 2015 edition.
After earning a silver in the 10,000m, world record-holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda found gold in the 5000m in 12:58.15.
U.S. champion Paul Chelimo leaned at the line for bronze, adding to his silver from Rio.
Cheptegei was upset in the 10,000m – an event in which he's also the all-time best – on the opening night of track and field one week ago Friday.
He still took 10K silver, but with the double in mind may have conserved too much. Without that on his mind in the 5K, this might not be a race at all.
Those challenging: Cheptegei's teammate Jacob Kiplimo, who earned bronze behind the reigning 10K champion in that event's final, and Spaniard Mohamed Katir, who led the field overall in first-round qualifying.
Five-time Olympian Allyson Felix, competing in the final individual Olympic race of her remarkable, storied career, came from behind in a triumphant display of power and grit to claim 400m bronze in 49.46 and earn an extraordinary 10th medal at the Games.
The 35-year-old mother matches Carl Lewis for the most Olympic medals all-time among American track and field athletes, and breaks a tie with Jamaican Merlene Ottey, who won three silver and six bronze, for most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history.
Defending Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, whose memorable dive at the line in Rio beat Felix for gold, repeated her title in a personal-best 48.36 to give the Bahamas a sweep of both the women's and men's 400m after compatriot Steven Gardiner's victory Thursday. Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic took bronze in 49.20.
World leader Faith Kipyegon of Kenya repeated as Olympic 1500m champion, passing reigning world champion Sifan Hassan at the 225-meter mark to finish in an Olympic-record 3:53.11, besting Paula Ivan's 3:53.96 from the 1988 Seoul Games.
Hassan of the Netherlands will try to claim gold No. 2 in her attempt to triple across middle and long distances.
She won her first Monday in the 5000m by defeating Kenyan Hellen Obiri, the only reigning world champion of the three events not her, in 14:36.79.
But the 1500m is perhaps her toughest challenge, the most likely of the three events to spoil the bid, because she'll have to beat defending Olympic champion and world leader Kipyegon, who topped both the first round and semifinals in a respective 4:01.40 and 3:56.80.
Hassan beat Kipyegon by more than two seconds to win her 2019 world title. But in July at the 2021 Monaco Diamond League meet, Kipyegon returned the favor by defeating Hassan by two and a half seconds in a national-record 3:51.07, becoming the fourth-fastest of all time at the distance.
Hassan is entered to run the 10,000m less than 24 hours later on Saturday.
Women's 4x100m Relay
A stacked Jamaican women's 4x100m relay team clocked the second-fastest time in history to win gold and solidify a historic Tokyo Olympics for Elaine Thompson-Herah.
The United States, Jamaica and Great Britain all made it through to the final. The nations have taken all the medals at the last three global championships.
It was USA-JAM-GBR at the 2016 Rio Games, USA-GBR-JAM at the 2017 World Championships in London and JAM-GBR-USA at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
Great Britain clocked a national-record 41.55 to take heat one, followed by the American team in second at 41.90 and Jamaicans in third at 42.15.