Everything you need to know about tonight's Olympic primetime coverage—without knowing what actually happened.
MEN’S POLE VAULT
As with all throwing events, you don’t really have a choice whether or not you want to watch this. It actually ends up being a pretty good competition, though, between Renaud Lavillenie of France and the German duo of Bjorn Otto and Raphael Hozdeppe. Just three guys, sticking a giant pole into the ground, and seeing how high they can leverage themselves. If pole vaulting isn’t a metaphor for capitalism, then I clearly don’t know what a metaphor is.
WOMEN’S HAMMER THROW
This event is pretty crazy, actually. Maybe the actual competition aspect of it isn’t all that exciting, but just watching a person who is good at throwing a hammer throw a hammer is pretty startling. They swing the hammer—which is not a hammer at all, and rather just a chain with a ball on the end—and then spin around a bunch of times and let go of the chain so that the hammer flies in the right direction and doesn’t hit the safety net. If it’s been a lifelong dream of yours to see a ball-and-chain-called-a-hammer fly into a safety net, you do not want to miss this.
I believe these runners do something like a billion laps around the track in this race. It’s impossible to actually know how many because networks will never show the race straight through, and if you watch people run in a circle for long enough, you will be transported into an alternate dimension where “numbers” don’t exist. But anyway, Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego of Kenya and Meseret Defar of Ethiopia are the favorites. The winner celebrates by yelling the word “win” a bunch of times in a row—in case you lose track of what happens.
If this were badminton, everyone competing in this race would be kicked out of the Olympics and possibly exiled to Antarctica. The world record in the 1,500m is 3:50.46, while the winner of this race comes in at 4:10.23. It’s a pretty close one, though, as both second and third are under 4:11 too. Not everyone ends up finishing the race, and it’s all pretty terrible and sad. There’s really no reason to watch this race, it seems, but at the same time it’s maybe a defining moment of the Olympics. So, um, decide for yourself.
WOMEN’S 4X100M RELAY
Americans Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix and Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown are probably the four best sprinters in the world, and they’re all running this race. The world record in this relay has stood since 1985, and it was set by a country that no longer exists. If you’ve made it this far—in this post or in these Olympics—you will watch this race. It’s worth your time, and actually worth more than your time, so if you could throw some change at your television, that’d probably be a good idea.
MEN’S 4X400M RELAY
The U.S. has won gold in this race in every final they’ve participated in since 1952. The team’s been ravaged by injuries with LaShawn Merrit, Jeremy Wariner, and Manteo Mitchell, who ran his leg of the qualifiers with a broken leg, all bowing out. This is pretty much the first time the U.S. hasn’t been favored in the race, with Bermuda looking the smart pick to take home gold. Still, the U.S. makes a race of it and is in this one until the end. Oh, and this might be your last chance to see Oscar Pistorius run an Olympic race, as he’s the anchor for the South African team. Fans of being a person who is alive should definitely tune in.