The Rio Olympics: A Crib Sheet

From Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky to Simone Biles and Usain Bolt, follow the 2016 games with our handy cheat sheet.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt poses after winning the gold.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt poses after winning the gold. (David Gray / Reuters)

For Usain Bolt, good things come in threes. The ebuillent Jamaican sprinter led his country’s team to victory in the 4x100m relay on Friday night, taking home his ninth career gold medal. Alongside his victories in the 100m and 200m dashes earlier this week, Bolt has now won three gold medals for the third straight Games, securing his status as the sport’s all-time greatest.

The strong performance of the United States in the Rio Games continued on Saturday, as the American squad tallied its 110th total medal, nearly twice as many as second-place Great Britain (63). American women led Saturday’s highlights, with Gwen Jorgensen taking the first U.S. gold medal in women’s triathlon as the American women’s basketball team steamrolled Spain to win its sixth consecutive gold.

The Good: Before Helen Maroulis took the mat in Rio, no American woman had won a gold medal in wrestling. Her opponent was no less than a living legend in the sport: Japan’s Saori Yoshida, who won the first gold medal awarded in her weight class when the IOC added women’s wrestling in 2004, then defended it in 2008 and again in 2012. That winning streak ended Saturday when Maroulis, a 24-year-old first-time Olympian, defeated Yoshida in a dramatic 4-1 victory.

The Bad: The U.S. men's 4x100m relay team crossed the finish line thir​d during Friday night’s race, but won’t take home a bronze medal. Officials disqualified them shortly afterward​s for an illegal early baton handoff between runners Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin. U.S. track and field officials quickly appealed the decision to the International Association of Athletics Federations, athletics' world governing body. But the IAAF declined to overturn the results on Saturday, thereby handing Canada’s fourth-place team the bronze.

The Ugly: Kyrgyz weightlifter Izzat Artykov was stripped of his bronze medal on Thursday after he tested positive for doping with an alkaloid commonly used in rat poison. Strychnine, the banned substance, was frequently used by athletes in Olympics games of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but has been rarely seen in the modern sporting era.


Who to Watch:

  • Men: Japan’s Kohei Uchimura was the favorite to take gold in the men’s individual all-round and did so on Wednesday, coming from behind to beat Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev for the gold. Britain’s Max Whitlock won two gold medals on Sunday, the first ever for his country, while North Korea and Greece earned individual golds on Monday in the vault and rings, respectively.

  • Women: The spotlight remains on America’s Simone Biles, 19, viewed as the world’s best gymnast. She earned her fourth gold medal on Tuesday, becoming only the fourth woman to do so in a single Olympiad.

The Story:

  • The U.S. women’s team dominated their rivals to win gold, earning the highest score in all four gymnastics events (184.897). It’s the USA’s fifth successive global title. Russia, which scored 176.888, claimed silver; China with 176.003 won bronze. On the men’s side, Japan won the team all-round, shocking China, the favorites, who took bronze; The Russian men won silver. The U.S. finished fifth.

    The American women have dominated on an individual level, too. Simone Biles won her fourth gold medal of the Games on Tuesday, tying a record for a single Games, en route to her fifth medal overall. For the 19-year-old Biles, the performance will go down as one of the greatest ever in the history of Olympic gymnastics.

Football (Soccer)

Who to Watch:

  • Men: Honduras’ Cinderalla performance in the 2016 Games came to a screeching halt on Wednesday, as they lost to Brazil in a 6-0 rout. The home country will face Germany in the gold-medal game on Saturday, two years after the European country embarrassed the Brazilians 7-0 in the World Cup.
  • Women: The Germans will have a chance to win gold in both men’s and women’s soccer this year, as their women’s team meets Sweden in the gold medal game on Friday. Brazil, who along with the U.S. were upset by the upstart Swedes, will face Canada in the bronze medal game.

What We’re Watching Next:

Saturday, 8/20: Men’s final.

The Story So Far:

  • Sweden. Four days after upsetting the United States, the Swedish women scored another upset with a penalty kick victory over Brazil, earning a spot in the gold medal game against Germany. The U.S. is still licking its wounds after an ignominious exit, punctuated by distasteful remarks uttered by goalkeeper Hope Solo after the game.

Track and Field

Who to Watch:

  • Men: Two words: Usain Bolt. No one has beaten the Jamaican powerhouse in the 100 meters or 200 meters at an Olympic or world-championships final since 2007. On Sunday, Bolt continued his sterling streak in Olympics sprinting with an easy victory in the 100m and 200m, becoming the first person to win three consecutive gold medals in both events in history.
  • Women: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price raced for her third consecutive Olympic medal in the 100m—but it was another Jamaican, Elaine Thompson, who took home the gold in the 100m and 200m. In the 800m, don’t sleep on South Africa’s Caster Semenya, while Shaunae Miller of The Bahamas outlasted America’s Allyson Felix in the 400m.

The Story So Far:

Usain Bolt cemented his status as the fastest man alive with his victories in the men’s 100m and 200m dash and men’s 4x100m relay. The gold medals were Bolt’s third consecutive in each of the events, a record. Another noteworthy performance was that of Wayde van Niekerk: On Sunday, the South African shattered a longstanding world record in the 400m with a time of 43.03 seconds, further cementing his reputation as a major star in track. And on Monday, Kenya’s David Rudisha won his second consecutive gold in the 800m, reaffirming his dominance of the event. On Tuesday, Canada’s Derek Drouin, Christian Taylor of the United States, and Jamaica’s Omar McLeod earned gold medals in the high jump, triple jump, and 110m hurdles respectively.

On the women’s side, Elaine Thompson’s victory in the 100m on Saturday earned her the distinction of the fastest woman in the world—a status she maintained with her victory in the 200m on Wednesday. Michelle Carter, of the U.S., may well be one of the strongest—she won gold on Friday in the shot put. Monday’s 400m race ended in dramatic fashion when The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller dove at the finish line to take the gold away from the veteran American Allyson Felix. Tuesday’s largest upset brought Faith Kipyegon of Kenya a gold medal over the heavily favored Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba in the 1500m.