One of the key questions heading into Olympics will soon be answered in Tokyo: who are the fastest runners in the world?
Qualifying rounds in several race events kicked off Friday, but fans won’t see any medals get handed out until this weekend and next week.
Here are some key events to watch for next week, and who to watch for crossing the finish lines first.
100-metre dash – July 31, Aug. 1
The key racing event where Canada’s Donovan Bailey and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt became international superstars will see its next champions emerge this weekend.
On Saturday, the women will take their marks in the 100-metre semifinals after making their way through Friday’s preliminary rounds. The gold medal race will then take place at 8:50 a.m. ET Saturday.
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah currently hold the top fastest times heading into the Tokyo Games. Thompson-Herah is also the defending champion, having won the gold at the 2016 Games in Rio, while Fraser-Pryce won the bronze.
The United States lost possibly its best shot at the title after Sha’Carri Richardson was eliminated from the team due to a positive marijuana drug test.
Canada is pinning its hopes on Crystal Emmanuel and Khamica Bingham, who both made it through to the semifinals after Thursday night’s qualifying rounds.
Saturday will also see the men begin their first rounds of the same race, leading up to the semifinals on Sunday and the final at 8:50 a.m. ET that day.
The U.S. lost one of its all-stars, Justin Gatlin, in the pre-Olympic time trials but still boasts several athletes who could succeed Bolt at the top of the podium, including Trayvon Bromell.
But eyes are also on Canada’s Andre De Grasse, who won the bronze in Rio and remains a top contender for the gold in these Games.
200-metre dash and 4×100-metre relay – Aug. 3, 6
Many of the same athletes from the 100-metre race will also run the 200-metre and the four-person 100-metre relay — both key benchmarks for the world’s top sprinters.
The women’s 200-metre final will take place Tuesday at 8:50 a.m. ET, after qualifying rounds the day before.
The men will work their way through the 200-metre elimination rounds before racing in the final Wednesday at 8:50 a.m. ET.
On Friday, both the men’s and women’s 100-metre relay finals will take place. The women will race first at 9:30 a.m. ET, followed by the men at 9:50 a.m. ET.
Hurdles – Aug. 1, 2, 3, 4
Olympic watchers are always keen to see who will come out on top in the women’s 100-metre hurdles, men’s 110-metre hurdles, and men’s and women’s 400-metre hurdles.
The women will vie for a medal first in the 100-metre hurdles, with the final race kicking off at 10:50 p.m. ET Sunday. Semifinals take place Sunday morning with qualifiers on Saturday.
The United States swept the medals in this event at the 2016 Games in Rio, but none of those athletes will run in Tokyo, leaving the field wide open.
At 11:20 p.m. ET Monday, the men will race the 400-metre hurdle final, following semifinals Monday morning Eastern time.
Then on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET, it will be the women’s turn to race for gold in the 400-metre hurdles. Semifinals take place Monday morning.
Canada will have two women, Noelle Montcalm and Sage Watson, looking to qualify for the 400-metre hurdle final.
Finally, the men’s 110-metre hurdle final will kick off at 10:55 p.m. ET Wednesday, after athletes make it through Tuesday evening’s semifinal rounds.
Spain’s Orlando Ortega is the only medallist from Rio to make it to the Tokyo Games, having won silver in 2016.
No Canadian men made it to Tokyo in any of the hurdle events.