One road race and two hours in the stadium was enough for day three of athletics at Rio 2016 to remind the world why track and field delivers sport in its most electrifying form. This is how the sparks flew.

The Greatest

Usain Bolt 2016 ()

Usain Bolt achieves what others cannot.

The world produces no shortage of ferocious sprinters; none combined consistent ferocity, devastating success and the love of an entire planet, until Bolt. So far this week three athletes have attempted to win a third straight individual crown; each failed, until Bolt. In history, four sprinters have won two consecutive Olympic 100m titles; no one had three, until Bolt. 

No athlete has ever won three consecutive 200m crowns. One man can end that run this week. Do you doubt The Greatest?

Mr Sparkle

Wayde Van Niekerk 2016 ()

At the London Diamond League in July, in the race that preceded Usain Bolt’s 200m run out, Kendra Harrison ran 12.20 for a 100m hurdles world record.

At the Rio Olympics tonight, in the race that preceded Usain Bolt’s 100m coronation, Wayde van Niekerk ran 43.03 for a quite stunning 400m world record from all the way out in lane eight.

Coincidence? Yes. Spooky? Kinda. Phenomenal? Absolutely.

If you’re happy and you know it, triple jump

Caterine Ibarguen Spikes Wrap ()

An event that involves skipping is always going to be a lark. Caterine Ibarguen makes the triple jump look more fun still.

Mind you, you’d be enjoying yourself if you were as good as the Colombian is – Ibarguen has only lost one comp since her second place at London 2012. In tonight’s final showed her dominant form from the start and wore a smile throughout. It did slip from her face once, though. That was in round four, when Ibarguen, at that stage leading with a best of 15.03m, watched as excitable Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas went out to 14.98m to threaten her lead.

Ibarguen looked annoyed at the temerity. On landing her next effort she flicked the sand from her skin with impudence. When the mark of 15.17m – a season’s best – came up she shook her head in rufflement, paused for a brief moment of contemplation and promptly began grinning from ear to ear once again.

The Queen of the Triple Jump had roused to do enough to win Colombia’s first Olympic title. The gold medal is a perfect fit for Ibarguen’s record, tenacity and infectious smile.

History cookies

Jemima Sumgong ()

Jemima Sumgong is a tough cookie. She won at the London Marathon in May despite falling and smashing her head on the floor at 21 miles.

In Rio she showed similar mettle. The pace from the start was consistent and honest without being frantic (half way in 1:12:56), but as the miles wore on and the sun burned brighter in the Rio sky, athlete-after-athlete began to drop from the lead group.

Sumgong won the war of attrition, showing the same determination she did in London. She didn’t allow her guard to slip down until she had shaken the stubborn Eunice Kirwa in the last km, allowing herself a mini fist pump before crossing the line backed by a boisterous crowd in Sambódromo.

Her time: 2:24.04. Her prize: Kenya’s first ever women’s marathon gold medal.