Rio 2016: Who to watch and when as biggest sporting show on Earth finally begins

05 August 2016

It’s finally here – today’s the day the Rio 2016 Olympic Games officially get under way!

What is sure to be a colourful, vibrant and spectacular opening ceremony will start the XXXI Olympiad at 8pm Rio time (midnight in the UK).

Fifteen University of Bath-based athletes will be in action over the next 16 days, hoping to emulate the likes of Dr Stephanie Cook (modern pentathlon), Jason Gardener (athletics), Kate Howey (judo) and Michael Jamieson (swimming) in bringing a medal back to the Sports Training Village.

Politics & French graduate Samantha Murray did just that at London 2012, her modern pentathlon silver being Team GB’s 65th and final medal of the home Games, and she is hard in training for her second Olympic appearance.

Murray and team-mates Kate French, Jamie Cooke and Mathematics student Joe Choong are finalising their preparations at Pentathlon GB’s National Training Centre at the University before flying out to Brazil early next week – the modern pentathlon competition doesn’t begin until Thursday, August 18.

The first University-based athlete in action in Rio will be tennis player Marcus Daniell, representing New Zealand in the men’s doubles with Mike Venus. They have been drawn against Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in the first round, their match scheduled to take place on Sunday.

Before that, graduates Natasha Hunt and Amy Wilson Hardy will make history on Saturday when rugby sevens makes its Olympic debut – Team GB women’s first matches are on Saturday, against hosts Brazil at 4pm BST and Japan at 9pm BST.

Rower Vicky Thornley, a graduate of the GB Rowing Team Start talent ID and development programme at the University of Bath, also races on Saturday, partnering defending champion Katherine Grainger in the women’s double sculls at 3pm BST.

Olympic, World and European Champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, the Bath Start programme’s most celebrated rowers, begin their women’s pair title defence at 2.10pm BST on Sunday.

That is also the day swimmers who train at the British Swimming National Centre Bath begin their campaign, with Jazz Carlin hoping to win a medal in the 400m freestyle final at 3.01am BST on Monday.

“You are still racing the best in the world, like at a World Championships, it is just on a bigger scale,” Carlin told

“It is so exciting when you are walking around the village and seeing everyone from all the different sports. You are part of one Team GB, the same team together, you’re not just by yourself. You have a whole group of athletes around you supporting you.”

Click here to see a schedule of who to watch and when or here to find out more about the University of Bath-based athletes competing in Rio.

You can watch Olympic action on the big screen in the Sports Café and don’t forget to join us for a have-a-go judo session from 2-4pm on Thursday, August 11 to celebrate Ben Fletcher’s appearance in the men’s -100kg division in the Carioca Arena that afternoon – click here for more details.

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