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= TOKYO 2020 =
From Lane One
A lot of reporting from Tokyo has been about the coronavirus, heat, political protests and a lot of other things that have nothing to do with sports. But sometimes the sports actually shines through.
This was especially true on Monday, when Cuban Mijain Lopez, 34, won his fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in the super-heavy 130 kg class in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Four in a row, in 2008-2012-2016-2021, a feat which has rarely been contemplated, let alone accomplished.
According to a Wikipedia listing, Lopez is only the sixth to do this:
● 1948-1960: Paul Elvstrom (DEN) in men’s sailing (Firefly/Fin classes)
● 1956-1968: Al Oerter (USA) in men’s athletics (discus)
● 1984-1996: Carl Lewis (USA) in men’s athletics (long jump)
● 2004-2016: Kaori Icho (JPN) in women’s wrestling (58 and 83 kg Freestyle)
● 2004-2016: Michael Phelps (USA) in men’s swimming (200 m medley)
● 2008-2020: Mijain Lopez (CUB) in men’s wrestling (120 and 130 kg Greco-Roman)
Said Lopez afterwards: “It’s incredible. I have sacrificed 20 years and I deserve the gold medals and I have achieved that with the help of my coaches. I am going to enjoy it.”
Lopez was in his fifth Games in Tokyo; he participated in Athens in 2004 and was fifth. Then he started his Olympic run, winning 16 straight matches over four years and outscoring his opponents by 78-3.
All this from a resource-starved country like Cuba. It’s an amazing feat and deserves to be not just remembered, but celebrated.
We’re past halfway, with 109 of 339 events (59%) completed in Tokyo. The current medals leaders:
1. 64: United States (22-25-17)
2. 62: China (29-17-16)
3. 50: Russian Olympic Committee (12-21-17)
4. 35: Great Britain (11-11-12)
5. 33: Japan (17-6-10) and Australia (14-4-15)
So far, 80 countries have won at least one medal, compared to 86 for the entire 2016 Games in Rio.
Our exclusive TSX team scoring uses the familiar collegiate system of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 per event to give a much better view of the relative achievements of the teams:
1. 784.0 United States
2. 657.0 China
3. 529.5 Russian Olympic Committee
4. 428.5 Great Britain
5. 425.5 Japan
6. 353.5 Australia
7. 340.5 Italy
8. 315.0 France
9. 285.5 Germany
10. 257.6 Netherlands
11. 239.0 Korea
12. 192.0 Canada
Perhaps the most impressive performance on a team-wide basis has to be the Netherlands, standing 10th overall with a population of just 17.3 million. The Dutch have 18 medals – no. 11 by total – with five golds, seven silvers and six bronzes.
No numbers posted by NBC for Saturday’s Olympic primetime programming ratings, with a note that competition sessions have averaged more than 15 million on eight of nine nights. Since the first eight nights were all 15 million or better, Saturday’s was less than that.
The average is still over 16 million a night; what we know so far:
● 23 July (Fri): 8.2 million for the Opening Ceremony
● 24 July (Sat): 15.3 million
● 25 July (Sun): 19.2 million
● 26 July (Mon): 16.8 million
● 27 July (Tue): 16.2 million
● 28 July (Wed): 15.0 million
● 29 July (Thu): 19.5 million
● 30 July (Fri): 15.2 million
● 31 July (Sat): less than 15 million
These numbers are for the “total audience” for primetime programming across NBC-NBCSN-CNBC-USA Network, but far behind the Rio 2016 numbers, in a better time zone. NBC says more than 105 million Americans have watched some part of the Games so far.
~ Rich Perelman
= RESULTS: MONDAY, 2 AUGUST =
● Athletics: Men’s 3,000 m Steeple-Long Jump
Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali was the favorite and he underscored his dominance with a 57.9 last lap to move from third to first and win in 8:08.90.
Ethiopians Lamecha Girma and Getnet Wale led a pack of seven runners through 2,000 m in 5:35.7, but this has dropped to just four by the bell, with Girma and Wale leading El Bakkali and Benjamin Kigen (KEN). El Bakkali waited, then took off with a half-lap to go, over the final water jump and had the lead into the straightway and won going away.
Girma was second in 8:10.38, with Kigen third (8:11.45) and Wale fourth (8:14.97). American Benard Keter was 11th in 8:22.12.
This wasn’t a brilliant time, but showed El Bakkali’s experience and patience. He’s the Olympic champ and ended a streak of nine straight Olympic Steeple golds by Kenya. He did, however, keep the Steeple title in Africa for a 10th consecutive Games.
Exciting, confusing and ultimately thrilling were words to describe the wild men’s long jump final on Monday morning in Tokyo.
The party got started on the final jump of the first round, with Cuba’s Maykel Masso taking the lead at 8.21 m (26-11 1/4) and waking everyone up. He held the lead until the first jump of the third round, when teammate Juan Miguel Echevarria uncorked a strong jump that measured 8.41 m (27-7 1/4) and certainly would win a medal. Of the 36 jumps in the first three rounds, only seven reached the 8 m mark (26-3). Jamaica’s 2019 World Champion, Tajay Gayle, was not right and didn’t advance to the final three jumps. Masso was injured after his second jump and retired.
Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou, the world leader at 8.60 m (28-2 3/4) in May, was standing third at 8.11 m (26-7 1/4) from the first round, and added an 8.10 m (26-7) to his ledger in the fourth round. Echavarria got hurt – a hamstring or ankle injury – on his fourth jump and passed his fifth attempt.
Then American JuVaughn Harrison, having problems with his steps all day, finally hit the board in round five, passing Tentoglou for third at 8.15 m (26-9)! But Tentoglou came back to match him and took third based on his better second jump.
In the final round, Spain’s Eusebio Caceres launched out to a season’s best of 8.18 n (26-10) and shocked both Tentoglou and Harrison, now fourth and fifth. Harrison missed his steps again and reached only 7.49 m (24-7) and finished fifth. Tentoglou was next and hit the board well and got excellent extension in the air, landing about where Echevarria had been … in fact, exactly the same: 8.41 m, taking the lead since his second jump was better!
Hurt, Echavarria tried to make a final jump, but could not run at all and stopped at the board, kneeling and pounding the runway in frustration at winning a silver medal when he had more to give.
Tentoglou wasn’t actually sure he had won, but was finally happy to wrap himself in the Greek flag, even if he hadn’t jumped as well as he would have liked. But what was lacking in the performances was more than made up for in drama.
● Athletics: Women’s 5,000 m-100 m hurdles-Discus
In the morning heats of the women’s 1,500 m, Dutch star Sifan Hassan fell just after the start of the final lap, got up, caught the back of the pack on the back straight and sprinted home to win the race in 4:05.17. She covered the final 200 m in 29.6.
In the evening, speed was the key once again. Rio silver medalist and two-time World Champion Hellen Obiri (KEN) was at or near the front of the race almost from the start and was towing a pack of 11 runners through 4,000 m, with Hassan in seventh.
Seven were still in contention with two laps to go, with Hassan sixth. At the bell, she was fifth, but unleashed that same sprint on the backstraight to take the lead from Obiri. There was no let-up and Hassan could not be stopped, winning in 14:36.79, with a final lap of 57.1 and a final 200 m of 27.7.
Obiri was second for the second consecutive Games in 14:38.36, with world leader Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia third in 14:38.87. Hassan is trying for an unprecedented 1,500-5,000-10,000 m triple and this might have been her hardest test. Tsegay’s world-leading time is 14:13.32 and the race was not nearly fast enough to blunt Hassan’s closing speed. Kenya’s defending 1,500 m champion Faith Kipyegon was watching carefully.
Americans Karissa Schweizer and Elise Cranny finished 11th and 13th in 14:55.80 and 14:55.98.
After Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn set an Olympic Record of 12.26 – equal-fourth on the all-time list – in the semis, the only way she was going to lose was if she fell.
In the final, she got a good start and she and American Keni Harrison – the world-record holder – ran together for the first five hurdles, but Camacho-Quinn pulled away with a surge so powerful that she could have tripped on the tenth flight. But she held her balance and won in dominating fashion in 12.37 (wind: -0.3 m/s). How dominant is she? She owns the top five times in 2021 and eight of the top 10.
Harrison got the silver in 12.52, clearly ahead of Jamaica’s Megan Tapper (12.55) and Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan (12.60). American Gabbi Cunningham was seventh in 13.01.
American Valarie Allman was thinking about quitting the sport a couple of years ago, before she found a new technique that made her a star.
She set a staggering American Record at 70.15 m (230-2) in 2020 and had the longest throw in the world for 2021 at 70.01 m (229-8).
When she got into the ring for her first throw, the leader was Cuba’s Yaime Perez, the reigning World Champion, at 65.72 m (215-7). Allman spun and sent the disc much further, landing at 68.58 m (225-0), a distance which only Perez had exceeded all year among the field.
That big first throw had mammoth consequences, as a hard rain came and caused a delay in the event. The slippery conditions made it even harder to catch Allman, and no one did.
She fouled her next two throws, but Perez did not improve either. Two-time defending champion Sandra Perkovic (CRO) got out to 65.01 m (213-3) in the third round, but could do no better. The surprise came from Germany’s Kristin Pudenz in round five, who got a lifetime best of 66.86 m (219-4) and pushed Perez to bronze and Perkovic out of the medals.
Allman put an exclamation point on her win with a fifth-round throw – in a light rain – of 66.78 m (219-1) that only Pudenz bettered all day.
Allman’s win was reminiscent of Stephanie Brown-Trafton’s shock victory in 2008, when her first-round throw of 64.74 m (212-5) was never approached. Allman’s big first throw and the rain combined to give her a win she could not have contemplated a couple of years ago.
● Badminton: Men’s Singles
Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen was the 2017 World Champion and has been ranked no. 1 several times since 2017. But he has played mostly in the shadow of China’s great players. No more.
Axelsen, 27, won the Olympic singles title on Monday with a 21-15, 21-12 win over defending Olympic champion Long Chen of China, reversing a defeat in the Rio semifinals.
Axelsen was perfect in the tournament, winning his six matches by 12 sets to none and defeating both Chen and China’s other entry, Yuqi Shi, in the quarterfinals. By moving up from the bronze medal in Rio, he is Denmark’s second winner in this event, as Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen won in Atlanta in 1992; he ended a streak of three straight Chinese wins in men’s Singles.
Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting won the bronze over Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon, 21-11, 21-13. It’s Indonesia’s first medal in this event since 2000.
● Badminton: Women’s Doubles
Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu (INA) were clearly underdogs in their Olympic final against second-seeded Qingchen Chen and Yifan Jia, but scored a 21-19, 21-15 win in 57 minutes to win Indonesia’s first medal in the event and first win in women’s Badminton since 1996.
China had won five of the seven Olympic golds in this event coming in, but fell this time.
The all-Korean bronze-medal match was won by Soyeong Kim and Heeyong Kong over Sohee Lee and Seungchan Shin, 21-10, 21-17.
● Cycling: Track Women’s Team Sprint
China won this event in 2016 with Tianshi Zhong and Jinjie Gong and Zhong was back with Shanju Bao for more. They made it clear what the outcome would be with a world-record win in their heat in 31.804, also bettering their Olympic Record of 31.928 from Rio.
In the final, Bao and Zhong defeated Germany’s Emma Hinze and Lea Sophie Friedrich, 31.895-31.980.
Russia’s Rio silver medalists Daria Shmeleva and Anastasiia Voinova won the bronze medal over the Netherlands, 32.252-32.504.
● Equestrian: Team Eventing-Individual Eventing
Great Britain came in as the World Equestrian Games champions from 2018 and were runaway runners in the Team Eventing with 86.30 points to 100.20 for Australia and 101.50 for France.
The leaders after the Dressage and Cross Country segments, Oliver Townend, Laura Collett and Tom McEwen had only eight penalty points in Jumping and posted Great Britain’s first win in this event since 1972.
In the Individual Eventing, Germany won for the fourth Games in a row, with Julia Krajewski moving from second to first with no penalties in Jumping. Britain’s Oliver Townend suffered on penalty in the Jumping phase and ended up with silver, 25.60-27.60. Britain’s Tom McEwen and Australia’s Andrew Hoy also had clean Jumping cards and ended up 3-4 at 28.90-29.60.
The top U.S. finisher was 15th-place Boyd Martin at 38.70; Rio bronze medalist Philip Dutton was 19th at 43.30.
● Gymnastics: Men’s Rings-Vault
China’s Yang Liu was fourth in Rio and second in the qualifying at 15.300, but he saved his best for last and won the Rings event at 15.500. He added the Olympic gold to his 2014 World Championship victory.
He led teammates Hao You to a 1-2, as You scored 15.300 to edge defending champion Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece (15.200). France’s Samir Ait Said was well back in fourth at 14.900. It’s the first 1-2 in the event from the same country since China did it back in 2008.
Korea’s Jean-Wan Shin was the co-leader in qualifying at 14.866 and then he and Russian Denis Ablyazin both scored 14.783 in the final, but Shin was awarded the gold for a higher degree of difficulty on his first vault.
This is an amazing story, as Shin, 23, is a relative unknown, with a couple of 2020 wins in the FIG World Cup series and no World Championships experience. But that’s the beauty of sport: pedigree means nothing, it’s performance that counts. That’s an underrated lesson sport can teach the world.
Ablyazin continued a remarkable streak of his own, winning the silver medal in this event for the third Games in a row! Armenia’s Artur Davtyan, the qualifying co-leader, was third at 14.733, moving up from 11th in Rio and winning a medal in his third Games.
● Gymnastics: Women’s Floor Exercise
American Jade Carey followed an odd path created by the international federation for gymnastics (FIG) that allowed individual qualification in specific events for Tokyo, rather than through the team program. She qualified for Vault and Floor and made the finals in both.
In the finals, she was up against All-Around silver winner Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, a familiar competitor on the World Cup circuit and Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari, the qualifying leader at 14.166.
Carey’s routine offered higher rewards for higher risk and she took full advantage. With a degree of difficulty of 6.300, she scored 8.066 on execution for a total score of 14.366, better than Ferrari’s qualifying score.
Ferrari, Japan’s Mai Kurakmai and Russian Angelina Melnikova and Andrade all offered routines with difficulty levels of 5.900, meaning they would have to significantly out-perform Carey to win. None did.
Ferrari was the best, scoring 8.300 on execution but 14.200 overall; Murakami and Melnikova scored 8,266 and ended up sharing the bronze at 14.166 and Andrade scored 8.233, but had a 0.1-point penalty to finish fifth at 14.033.
It was the first-ever Floor Exercise medal for Italy, while Carey gave the U.S. its third straight title after Aly Raisman in 2012 and Simone Biles in 2016.
● Sailing: Men’s 49er-Women’s 49er FX
Rough weather has forced a one-day postponement of these events to 3 August (weather permitting). Our previews have been carried over to the next section.
● Shooting: Men’s 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol-50 m Rifle/3 Positions
France’s Juan Quiquampoix has been near the top of the podium, winning silver in Rio and a bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships in the 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol event. In Tokyo, he claimed the gold.
Quiquampoix shot 5-4-4-5-4 in the final, five-shot elimination stage, losing only one round and winning 4-2 in the final against Cuba’s 2012 Olympic Champion Leuris Pupo. Qiaquampoix’s total of 34 equaled Pupo’s Olympic Record. Chuna’s Yuehong Li collected his second straight bronze in the event; defending champ Christian Reitz (GER) was fifth.
The 50 m Rifle/3 Positions final offered one of the most stunning results of the Games. China’s Changhong Zhang, 21, a virtual unknown with little international experience, didn’t simply win, but destroyed a world-class field, shooting a world-record total of 466.0. He was the leader in all three phases and finished with 10.3, 10.6, 10.9, 10.3 and 10.3 in the elimination round to finish off Russia’s Sergey Kamenskiy, the Rio silver medalist (464.2).
Serbia’s Milenko Sebic was third at 448.2. Zhang won China’s third gold in this event in the last five Games.
● Weightlifting: Women’s 87 kg-+87 kg
China’s Zhouyu Wang was the obvious favorite as the 2019 World Champion and won comfortably, making four of her six lifts and totaling 270 kg.
Ecuador’s Worlds bronze medalist Tamara Salazar improved from 252 kg in 2019 to 263 kg, making all six of her lifts and taking the silver medal. Crismary Santana of the Dominican Republic made only three of her lifts, but that was good enough for a 256 kg total and the bronze medal, equaling her performance at the 2018 Worlds.
American Mattie Rogers, the 2019 Worlds silver medalist at 71 kg, moved up to this weight and was able to make one Snatch lift and one Clean & Jerk lift for a total of 246 kg, good for sixth.
At +87 kg, China’s Wenwen Li, the 2019 World Champion, lifted a total of 320 kg and set Olympic Records for all three lifts on the way to the gold medal.
Behind her was a tight race for the silver, with Britain’s Emily Campbell lifting 161 kg in the Clean & Jerk to pass American Sarah Robles, 283-282 kg.
Robles made all three of her Snatch lifts and was second only to Li at 128 kg. She made her Clean & Jerk tries at 150 kg and 154 kg, but failed on her final try at 157 kg, which would have given her the silver medal.
Said Robles, 33, who won her second Olympic medal – bronze also in 2016 – and became the first American woman to win two career Olympic medals:
“It’s a really big deal. I’ve struggled a lot throughout my career, it almost feels like I’ve been going uphill both ways with the wind against me. Going from the bottom in the sport, to the top in the sport, to making history in this sport means a lot to me.
“This past quad and even further back than that, we’ve had a complete overhaul of our leadership and policies. The programs that have been implemented for quality of lifting, mental health, funding for the athletes is all stuff that never existed before.
“It’s for the better, we’ll continue to improve. The improvement has to come from the athletes, you invest in us and we’ll show you that your investment is worthwhile. That reciprocity will continue.”
Transgender New Zealand lifter Laurel Hubbard failed on her three Snatch attempts and did not place.
● Wrestling: Greco-Roman 60 kg-130 kg
At 60 kg, Cuba’s Luis Orta culminated a surprise run from 16th at the 2019 World Championships to Olympic Champion by defeating Japan’s two-time World Champion Kenichiro Fumita, 5-1 in the gold-medal final. It’s Cuba’s second straight gold in this class.
China’s Sailike Walihan won a bronze medal over Lenur Temirov (UKR) on criteria after a 1-1 tie. Russia’s 2-18 World Champion Sergey Emelin crushed Victor Ciobanu (ROU) , 12-1, for the other bronze.
At 130 kg, Mijain Lopez of Cuba – at 38 – won a historic fourth consecutive Olympic gold in this class by defeating Iakobi Kajaia of Georgia, 5-0. Lopez was up 3-0 at the break and added two more points to finish not only unbeaten, but unscored upon in the tournament: 24-0. Fantastic.
The bronze medals went to Turkey’s 2019 World Champion Riza Kayaalp – defeating Amin Mirzazadeh (IRI), 7-2 – and Sergei Semenov of Russia, who won on criteria over Yasmani Acosta (CHI) after a 1-1 score.
● Wrestling: Women’s Freestyle 76 kg
In a battle of champions, Germany’s 2014 World Champion Aline Rotter Focken out-pointed American Adeline Gray by 7-3 to win the women’s gold at 76 kg.
Rotter Focken took a 3-0 lead after one period and was up 7-0 before two late scores by Gray ended the bout at 7-3. Rotter Focken won Germany’s first Olympic medal in women’s freestyle, while Gray earned her first Olympic medal to go with her five World Championships golds.
Turkey’s Yasemin Adar and China’s Qian Zhou won the bronze medals.
● Athletics: A busy morning of qualifying started with the men’s hammer and Rio bronze medalist Wojciech Nowicki (POL) led five automatic qualifiers at 79.78 m (261-9), with American Rudy Winkler second at 78.81 m (258-6) on his second try.
The four-time World Champion Pawel Fajdek (POL) qualified ninth at 7646 m (250-10) and American Daniel Haugh was the final qualifier at 75.73 m (248-5). The third U.S. thrower, Alex Young, was 16th at 75.09 m (246-4).
The women’s 200 m heats had some surprises. Marie-Josee Ta Lou (CIV) won the first heat in a strong 22.30, beating favorite Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH: 22.40). Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce sailed through heat two in 22.22, and Swiss Mujinga Kambundji won heat three in 22.26, a national record!
Then came a head-turner in heat four, as U.S. star Gabby Thomas stormed the turn and was striding to an easy win when a sudden burst from Namibian teen Christine Mboma pushed her into the lead and surprised Thomas, who tried to get in gear again, but eased up in second, 22.11-22.20. It’s a World Junior Record for Mboma, who was removed from the 400 m due to high testosterone levels, but suddenly looks like a medal theat in the 200 m. In heat five, Anthonique Strachan (BAH) won in a modest 22.76, but 100 m bronze winner Shericka Jackson (JAM) slowed at the finish and faded to fourth in 23.26; she did not advance.
Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel won heat six in 22.74, but Elaine Thompson-Herah looked slow down the straight and finished only third in 22.86. Tired? Uninterested? American Jenna Prandini won heat seven in 22.56; the third U.S. entry, Anavia Battle also advanced to the semis.
The women’s 1,500 m heats also had some strange incidents. Heat one saw Canada’s Gabriela Debues-Stafford edge Laura Muir (GBR), 4:03.70-4:03.89; American Cory McGee was eighth in 4:05.15 and did not advance.
Heat two was really wild, as World Champion Sifan Hassan got caught in a pile-up at the back of the pack at the bell and fell to the track. She got up immediately, got running and then on a sprint on the backstraight that got her within striking distance of the second group of runners. On the turn, she caught the lead pack and then surged the rest of the way to win the heat in 4:05.17! That’s the kind of speed she has.
Jessica Hull (AUS) and American Elle Purrier St. Pierre were at the front of the race and finished 2-3 without incident in 4:05.28 and 4:05.34. Heat three was a clinic put on by defending Olympic champ Faith Kipyegon (KEN), who ran from the front most of the way and won in 4:01.40! Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo was second in 4:02.24 and American Heather MacLean qualified in fifth at 4:02.40.
The evening qualifying included the 400 m semis for men and 400 m hurdles semis for women. In the men’s 400 m, 2012 Olympic champ, Kirani James of Grenada impressed with a 43.88 win in semi one, ahead of Colombia’s dangerous Anthony Zambrano (43.93), a South American record. American Michael Cherry won semi two at 44.44 and Steven Gardiner (BAH) took heat three over Michael Norman of the U.S., 44.14-44.52 with Isaac Makwala (BOT) third in 44.59. James is obviously ready to run, but what do Gardiner, Cherry and Norman have in the tank?
The U.S. star duo of world-record holder Sydney McLaughlin and Rio gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad were 1-2 in the women’s 400 m hurdles semis. Muhammad won the first semi in 53.30, ahead of Janieve Russell (JAM: 54.10); McLaughlin won semi two in 53.03 and Dutch star Femke Bol won semi three in 53.91, with Anna Cockrell of the U.S. second at 54.17. No surprises here.
In the women’s vault qualifying, 4.55 m (14-11) was the required height and all of the medal contenders were over except Rio silver winner Sandi Morris of the U.S. After a rain delay, she took a practice jump and broke her pole and crashed into the pit at a bad angle, injuring her hip. She missed her three attempts and did not qualify, a rough end to her hopes of moving up on the podium.
● Team/Baseball: The U.S. lost to Japan, 7-6, in 10 innings in a battle of 2-0 teams. The U.S. had a 6-3 lead after scoring three runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, but Japan scored two in the bottom of the fifth to close to 6-5 and then got a run in the ninth to tie it.
In the 10th, runners were placed at first and second and with Edwin Jackson pitching, Takuya Kai singled and scored Yuki Yanagita for the victory.
Japan moves on to the semifinals vs. Korea, while the U.S. will play the winner of Israel-Dominican Republic for the right to get to the other semifinal (against the loser of Japan-Korea).
● Team/Basketball: The U.S. women extended their Olympic unbeaten streak to 52 in a row with a 92-83 win over France in their final group game. A’ja Wilson had 22 points for the U.S., Breanna Stewart had 17 and Tina Charles had 15. The U.S. women will face Australia – 1-2 in Group C – in the quarters.
● Team/Beach Volleyball: The U.S. men’s team of Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne was eliminated in the round of 16 by Germans Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler, 21-17, 15-21, 11-15. The tournament is now in the quarterfinals with Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum the favorites.
The top-seeded U.S. women’s duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman moved on to the quarters with a 21-17, 21-15 win over Cubans Lidy Echevarria and Leila Martinez. They will play Germany’s Maggie Kozuch and and Laura Ludwig, who eliminated Brazil’s highly-regarded Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa in three closely-contested sets: 21-19, 19-21, 16-14.
● Team/Football: Coming into Tokyo, no team had ever held the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Olympic title at the same time. That is still the case after Canada shocked the U.S. women, 1-0, in the semifinal of the Olympic tournament in Tokyo.
Star U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher had to leave the game in the 30th minute due to a right leg injury and was replaced by Adrianna Franch.
The game was scoreless, with the U.S. controlling possession and Canada looking for openings. In the 76th minute, Deanne Rose of Canada tripped while running with American defender Tierna Davidson and fell. The referee waived it off at first, but was signaled to check the play again on video review. The call was reversed and Canada was awarded a penalty shot.
Jesse Fleming took the shot and scored inside the right post for a 1-0 lead and that’s how it ended. Canada was out-shot, 13-3, and out-possessed, 40-60, but is on to the Olympic final against Sweden, a 1-0 win vs. Australia.
The American women are now 51-4-7 vs. Canada all-time and hadn’t lost since 2001, going 30-0-7 in that time. The U.S. will play Australia for the bronze, while Sweden and Canada play for the gold.
● Team/Volleyball: The U.S. women improved to 4-1 and won Pool B with a tight 3-2 win over Italy: 21-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-16, 15-12. Andrea Drews led the U.S. with 22 points. The Americans now move to the elimination round to face the Dominican Republic (2-3) in the quarterfinals; a win will advance them to play the winner of Serbia-Italy (!) in the semis.
= PREVIEWS: TUESDAY, 3 AUGUST =
(28 events across nine sports)
● Athletics: Men’s 400 m hurdles-Pole Vault
One of the most-anticipated showdowns of the Tokyo Games is the men’s 400 m hurdles with world-record setter Karsten Warholm (NOR) facing off with American Rai Benjamin.
Warholm has taken over the event since Rio, winning the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, the latter over Benjamin, 47.42-47.66. In 2021, Benjamin ran a stunning 46.83 at the U.S. Trials, the no. 2 mark of all-time, only to have Warholm set the world record in his season opener (!) at 46.70 on 1 July. Warholm broke the 1992 Olympic winning mark of American Kevin Young (46.78).
Since then, Warholm ran 47.08 on 9 July and beat Benjamin in the Tokyo semis, 47.30-47.37. The problem for Warholm is that the lane draw favors Benjamin! The American will be in lane five, with Warholm directly in front of him in six, then the bronze-medal threats Alison dos Santos (BRA) in seven and Abderrahman Samba (QAT) in eight.
Warholm will strike early and hard, while Benjamin will try to stay close and use his superior sprint speed to close on the final straight. Another world record is a distinct possibility.
Dos Santos at 47.37 and Samba at 47.47 are the likely contestants for bronze, although the inconsistent Kyron McMaster (IVB) has run 47.50 this year and could upset both.
The men’s vault had some of its excitement ebb when World Champion Sam Kendricks of the U.S. was declared out with the coronavirus. That leaves world-record holder Mondo Duplantis (SWE) with a clear lane to the top of the podium … barring a disaster.
There is no one in his class and everyone knows it. The next best contenders will start with the 2012 Olympic champ Renaud Lavillenie (FRA), which has cleared 6.06 m (19-10 1/2) this season. Americans K.C. Lightfoot (6.00 m/19-8 1/4 this year) and Chris Nilsen (5.93 m/19-5 1/2) are in the hunt for medals, with Poland’s Piotr Lisek (5.82 m/19-1) and new Dutch star Menno Vloon (5.96 m/19-6 1/2).
Duplantis is not invincible; no one is. Brazil’s Thiago Braz had the meet of his life in Rio to defeat Lavillenie and Kendricks; it could happen again, maybe for someone like Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines (5.87 m/19-3)?
The most likely outcome is Duplantis winning at 6.00 m or thereabouts and then trying to raise his world record from 6.18 m (20-3 1/4) …
● Athletics: Women’s 200 m-800 m-Long Jump-Hammer
Many questions were raised by the 200 m heats in the morning. There were answers in the semis in the evening.
First of all, Elaine Thompson-Herah is fine. The defending gold medalist from Rio won semi two in the fastest time of the round and a lifetime best of 21.66, the no. 2 time in the world for 2021. She beat Namibian teen Christine Mboma, who continued to amaze with a 21.97 second-place finish, a World U-20 Record. American Gabby Thomas, the world leader at 21.61, was third in 22.01 and qualified only on time.
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the first heat in 22.13, ahead of the other Namibian teen star, Beatrice Masilingi (22.40); American Jenna Prandini was fifth (22.57) and did not advance. Marie-Josee Ta Lou (CIV) won semi three in 22.11, ahead of Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH), who was supposed to be the favorite in this event; American Anavia Battle was sixth in 23.02 and did not advance.
The final will have Thomas in lane two – at least she can see everyone in front of her – Fraser-Pryce in three, then Mboma, Ta Lou, Thompson-Herah, Maslingi and Miller-Uibo. Right now, Thompon-Herah looks ready to double (again) … if she can hold off Mboma. Thomas will have to run the curve of her life to get into contention for a medal on the straightaway.
The women’s 800 m final is about the unknown. The contenders include Jamaica’s veteran Natoya Goule, a cagey tactician with excellent speed (1:56.44 this season). There’s Britain’s Jemma Reekie (1:56.96) and Keely Hodgkinson (1:57.51). Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemuhas run 1:57.71 this season, but has run a full second faster.
Then there is American Raevyn Rogers, with tremendous closing speed and a 1:57.66 best in 2021.
But all eyes will be on American teen Athing Mu, who leads the world at 1:56.07 from the U.S. Olympic Trials and won her semifinal in Tokyo in 1:58.07 … and appeared not to break a sweat.
Is she the golden girl of the 800? Will she take to the front and simply run away from this world-class field? Measuring sticks: the fastest time in this century is Pamela Jelimo’s 1:54.01 in 2008, and Caster Semenya (RSA) won the last two OG 800s in 1:56.19 (2012) and 1:55.28 (2016).
What will Mu do?
A clash of generations is on in the women’s long jump, with 2012 London champion Brittney Reese trying for a third Olympic medal, after her silver in Rio in 2016. Four times the World Champion in 2009-11-13-17, she upped her season’s best four times, up to 7.13 m (23-4 3/4) at the U.S. Olympic Trials and stands no. 3 on the world list for 2021. There is no better big-meet jumper.
But she’s not the current World Champion. That’s Malaika Mihambo (GER), who jumped 7.30 m (23-11 1/2) to win in 2019 in Doha. And there’s the Rio bronze medalist, Serbian Ivana Spanovic, who led the Tokyo qualifying at 7.00 m (22-11 3/4).
The runners-up to Mihambo in Doha in 2019 are here: Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk and Nigeria’s Ese Brume; Brume has the longest jump in the world this year at 7.17 m (23-6 1/4) in May.
But the most intriguing jumpers are the newcomers: American Tara Davis and Kyra Gittens from Trinidad & Tobago. Davis excited the track world with a 7.14 m (23-5 1/4) win at the Texas Relays and went on to take the NCAA title and was second to Reese at the U.S. Trials. She has speed and style and the personality of a champion.
Gittens competed for Texas A&M and won the NCAA heptathlon, and also competed in the high jump (3rd) and long jump (2nd)! She’s reached 6.96 m (22-10) this year, but with one event to concentrate on, what can she do?
There are other contenders, such as Chantal Malone (IVB), a strong jumper in the spring, but not lately, and Australian vet Brooke Stratton, who has a lifetime best of 7.05 m (23-1 3/4). But Reese and Davis will be looking to put on a show for the Europeans, who have their own ideas of how to entertain themselves during the final.
American DeAnna Price broke through with a world title in 2019, winning in Doha, and is the world leader at 80.31 m (263-6) in 2021.
Anita Wlodarczyk (POL), now 35, was out with injuries in 2019, but is the two-time defending Olympic Champion and owns world titles in 2009-13-15-17. The world-record holder at 82.98 m (272-3) from 2016, she led the qualifying at 76.99 m (252-7).
Can Price – eighth in Rio – produce the same big throws she has all year? If so, she can win. But Wlodarczyk on the field creates pressure she has not felt for a while. Price will not be alone, however, as the U.S. stands 1-3-4 on the year list, with Brooke Andersen at 78.18 m (256-6) and 2019 Pan American Games winner Gwen Berry – she of the raised fist – at 76.79 m (251-11).
Those four will be challenged for medal positions by Canada’s Camryn Rogers and China’s Zheng Wang, the Doha third-placer. The latter got a season’s best in qualifying at 74.29 m (243-8) for second and Rogers is no. 5 on the year list with 75.52 m (247-9) throwing for Cal. Poland’s Joanna Fidorow was second at the 2019 Worlds, but only 10th in the qualifying in Tokyo.
Price got off to a big start in Doha in 2019, opening with 76.87 m (252-2), a mark no one else touched all day. She doesn’t have to win it on her first throw – she improved in Doha to eventually reach 77.54 m (254-5) – but a big early mark will tell Wlodarczyk that she’s in a fight.
● Boxing: Men’s 57 kg-69 kg-91 kg
The first medals in boxing are getting unboxed as four classes will be settled on Tuesday: three men’s weights and one for women. Even with all of the tumult surrounding this tournament, one thing has remained constant: Cuban excellence.
In the men’s 57 kg (Featherweight) class, the semifinals have been set with Duke Ragan (USA) vs. Samuel Takyi (GHA) and Lazaro Alvarez (CUB) against Albert Batyrgaziev (ROC).
Ragan was not supposed to be on the U.S. team as he had already turned pro and has a 4-0 record through April of 2021. But with nearly the entire Olympic qualifying program cancelled due to the coronavirus, the IOC Boxing Task Force mandated selections based on fighter rankings from 2017-19. Ragan was the 2017 Worlds silver medalist at 56 kg (Bantamweight) and qualified as the U.S. fighter in this class.
Takhi, 20, is new to a medal round in a major tournament, having won his two fights by a 5:0 decision in the first round and 3:2 in the quarterfinals.
Alvarez, 30, is highly decorated, with Olympic bronzes in the last two Games, at Bantam and Lightweight. He’s won three Worlds titles in 2011-13-15, but silvers at Lightweight in 2017 and Featherweight in 2019. Batyrgaziev was decisioned by Alvarez (4:1) in the 2019 Worlds quarterfinals, but is 3-0 as a professional.
A Ragan-Alvarez final would be epic.
In the 69 kg Welterweight class, the 2019 Worlds silver medalist Pat McCormack (GBR) will face Cuban star Roniel Iglesias.
McCormick, 26, has European Championships medals at Light Welterweight (2015) and Welterweight (2017), while Iglesias has now 32, and was the 2012 Olympic Champion at Lightweight (63 kg) and won a bronze in that class in 2008. He moved up to 69 kg for the 2016 Olympic Games, but lost in the round of 16; he rebounded at the 2017 Worlds and finished second.
Is younger better? Iglesias has not been as successful at 69 kg as he was at 63.
At 91 kg (Heavyweight), Russian Muslim Gadzhimagomedov comes in as the reigning World Champion from 2019 and was the 2017 European Champion at Light Heavyweight. David Myika (NZL) won the Commonwealth Games title in 2018, but gained some unwanted notoriety for a bite attempt by Morocco’s Youness Baalla in the round-of-16 match; Myika won the match by a 5:0 decision.
The other semi has Abner Teixeira (BRA), the 2019 Pan America Games bronze medalist, against legendary Julio Cesar la Cruz (CUB), 31. La Cruz won the Rio gold in the Light Heavyweight class and owns four world titles from 2011-13-15-17 at Light Heavyweight, but slipped to bronze in 2019.
La Cruz decisioned former Cuban Emmanuel Reyes in the quarterfinals in a match that received a lot of attention.
Gadzhimagomedov is 24 vs. 31 for the Cuban star, but it’s hard not to see La Cruz working his magic again.
● Boxing: Women’s 57 kg
The Featherweight final will pit reigning World Champion Nesthy Petecio (PHI) against Japan’s Sena Irie.
Petecio pulled through the rounds with wins by decision of 5:0, 3:2, 5:0 and 4:1 in the semis against Irma Testa of Italy. She moved to the top of the podium in 2019 after finishing second in the 2014 Worlds. Irie has no major international credentials; after all, she’s just 20! She won her first two bouts by 5:0, then two by 3:2; she overcame Karriss Artingstall (GBR) in the semifinals.
Petecio has faced Irie before in international competition, defeating her in the 2019 Worlds quarterfinal, 4:1. She will be favored to do again.
● Canoe-Kayak: Sprint-Men’s K-1 1,000 m-C-2 1,000 m
In the K-1 1,000 m, the heat winners included Czech Josef Dostal, Hungary’s Adam Varga, Fernando Pimenta (POR), Aleh Yurenia (BLR) and Germany’s Jacob Schopf.
Dostal returns as the Olympic silver medalist from Rio; Russian Roman Anoshkin is also back and in the semifinals.
The 2019 World Champion, Balint Kopasz has also advanced to the semis; the 2019 runner-up was Dostal and Portugal’s Pimenta won the silver. Both Dostal and Pimenta have won world titles in this class. The 2019 Worlds fourth-placer – Peter Gelle (SVK) – is also into the semifinal round.
Dostal and Pimenta have been consistent placers and should be considered favorites.
In the C-2 1,000 m, Germany has won the last two Olympic golds, in Rio with Sebastian Brendel and Jan Vandrey. Brendel is back and has three Olympic golds: two in the C-1 1,000 m and the C-2 1,000 m race in Rio. He’s partnered this time with Tim Hecker and won heat two on Monday.
However, the 2019 World Champions ere from China – Hao Liu and Hao Wang – and Liu is back, this time with Pengfei Zheng. They impressively won heat one in 3:37.783, fastest of the day. But they will have competition from Cuba’s 2019 Worlds silver winners Serguey Torres and Fernando Jorge, Brazil’s bronze medalist (and Rio silver winner) Isaquias Querioz (this time with Jacky Nascimento) and Ukraine’s returning Rio bronze medalist Dmytro Ianchuk (this time with Pavlo Altukhov).
● Canoe-Kayak: Sprint-Women’s K-1 200 m-K-2 500 m
The K-1 200 m is about New Zealand star and seven-time World Champion in this event, Lisa Carrington. Winner at London and Rio, she led all of the qualifiers on Monday at 40.715 seconds, with only Spain’s Teresa Portela really close at 40.812.
Poland’s Marta Walczykiewicz won the Rio silver and was runner-up to Carrington at the 2019 World Championships as well, with Portela and Denmark’s Emma Jorgensen third. They are definitely in the fight for medals, along with both Hungarian entries, Anna Karasz and Dora Lucz and the 2018 Worlds silver medalist, Linnea Stensils.
But Carrington is the star of the event, and at 32, a win could line her up for a try at four straight Olympic golds in the same event in Paris.
The women’s K-2 500 m race has been dominated by Hungary in recent Games, winning three of four golds from 2004-16. Danuta Kozak is back from the 2016 team, now paired with Dora Bodonyi and they and teammates Tamara Csipes and Erika Medveczky both won their heats impressively on Monday.
Germany’s Tina Dietze won gold n 2012 and the 2016 silver and is now paddling with Sabrina Hering-Pradler; they are also into the semifinals. Poland’s Karolina Naja won bronzes in 2012 and 2016 and is now with Anna Pulawska; they won silver at the 2019 Worlds. The 2019 Worlds bronze medalists from Slovenia – Anja Osterman and Spela Ponomarenko Janic are also safely through to the semis.
But the big challengers will be 2019 World Champions Volha Khudenska and Maryna Litvinchuk (BLR) and the New Zealand pair of Carrington and Caitlin Regal, the 2018 Worlds silver medalists. New Zealand has never won a medal in this event.
● Cycling: Track-Men’s Team Sprint
The Netherlands comes in as the reigning World Champions from 2019, winning the final from France, with Russia defeating Germany for bronze. Roy van den Berg, Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen are all back and ready to claim this event.
However, Great Britain has owned the men’s Team Sprint for the last three Games, although only Jason Kenny is back from the Rio champions. Ryan Owens and Jack Carlin are certainly competent teammates.
France, with Sebastien Vigier back from the 2019 Worlds bronze medalists, will be a contender, as will Germany (two of three members back from 2019), but the Russians are a prime choice, with Denis Dmitriev and Pavel Yakushevskiy back and adding Ivan Gladishev.
New Zealand won silver in Rio in 2016 and Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster are back from that team. Only sixth-fastest in 2019, they have to improve significantly.
● Cycling: Track-Women’s Team Pursuit
The U.S. women won this race at the 2016-17-18-20 World Championships and Jennifer Valente, Chloe Dygert, Emma White and Lily Williams – the winning 2020 team – are all back and start as favorites.
Great Britain has owned this race at the Games, winning both times it has been held – in 2012 and 2016 – with the U.S. second and Canada third both times. Kate Archibald and Elinor Barker are back from the Rio 2016 winners and those two and Neah Evans were members of the 2020 Worlds silver medalists behind the U.S.
Germany won bronze in 2020, and has three members of its team and Canada has all four of its Worlds fourth-place team back from 2019 and 2020. Also in contention: Australia, which has three (of four) of its 2019 Worlds gold medalists back, with Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Georgia Baker and figure to challenge for a medal as well.
● Diving: Men’s 3 m Springboard
Familiar faces in this event, as China’s Siyi Xie and Zongyuan Wang won the 3 m Synchro and American Andrew Capobianco was a silver medalist and Patrick Hausding (GER) a bronze medalist in that event.
Xie is the favorite, having won the world title in 2017 and 2019. Wang is also a World Champion, winning the 1 m Springboard title in 2019. They’re the favorites, no doubt. China has won this event in five of the last six Games.
Two medal winners are back from Rio: silver winner Jack Laugher (GBR) – also the 2015 and 2019 Worlds bronze winner – and Hausding, who was third.
Korea’s Ha-Ram Woo was fourth at the 2019 Worlds and is a clear medal contender. Mexico’s Rommel Pacheco was eighth in 2019 and Russia’s Nikita Shleikher and Evgeny Kuznetsov were 9-10 in 2019. Ukraine’s Oleh Kolodiy won the 2017 Worlds bronze. Lot of candidates for bronze, after the two Chinese stars.
● Gymnastics: Men’s Parallel Bars-Horizontal Bar
In the Parallel Bars, China’s Jingyuan Zou led the qualifying with a big score of 16.166 and is the clear favorite. He’s the two-time World Champion from 2017 and 2018, but somehow missed qualifying in 2019. He’s the one to beat.
All of the qualifiers scored 15.325 or better; Lukas Dauser (GER) was second at 15.733 and Hao You (CHN) and Turk Ferhat Arican were 3-4, scoring 15.666 and 15.566. American Sam Mikulak was fifth at 15.433.
Joe Fraser (GBR) qualified only seventh, but won the 2019 world title, with Arican fifth and Dauser eighth. David Belyavskiy, the final qualifier, was the Rio bronze medalist and also won the 2017 Worlds bronze. Mikulak was fourth at the 2018 Worlds. Plenty of choices for silver and bronze, but not for gold.
In the Horizontal Bar, Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto – the All-Around winner – had the only score over 15 points at 15.033 in the qualifying, followed by Milad Karimi (KAZ: 14.766), Tin Srbic (CRO: 14.633), American Brody Malone (14.533) and Nikita Nagornyy (RUS: 14.466).
Hashimoto was fourth in this event at the 2019 Worlds, but is riding the momentum of his All-Around win. Srbic has been a star in this event during this quadrennial, winning the 2017 world title and grabbing the silver in 2019. This isn’t Nagornyy’s best event, but he is a capable performer in all circumstances.
The surprise in qualifying was Karimi, who was 54th and 24th in the Worlds in 2018 and 2019. Can he duplicate his first-day performance?
● Gymnastics: Women’s Balance Beam
The qualifying was led by China’s Chenchen Guan (14.933) and Xijing Tang (14.333), followed by American Suni Lee (14.200) and Romania’s Larisa Iordache (14.133). U.S. star Simone Biles was seventh in the qualifying, but has declared she will compete in this event final.
Let’s remember that Biles was the World Champion on Beam in 2014-15-19, and if right, will be the definite favorite. She certainly will be highly motivated after missing the All-Around and the three prior apparatus finals.
Iordache was European Championship in 2013 and 2020. Also worth noting: Russia’s Vladislava Urazova had the best Beam score in the All-Around competition – 14.200 – with Lee second (13.833) and Tang only ninth.
It’s all about Simone.
● Sailing: Men’s 49er-Women’s 49er FX
(postponed from 2 August due to weather)
The men’s 49er medal race will be needed to untangle as many as seven candidates for the medals, spread out from 52 to 75 net points.
The leaders and real contenders for the gold medal are Peter Burling and Blair Tuke from New Zealand (52), Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell (GBR: 56) and Diego Botin le Chever and Iago Lopez from Spain (52).
Burley and Tuke won silver in London and gold in Rio, and have six placements in the top three in the first 12 races. Fletcher and Bithell won the 2017 Worlds and Botin and Lopez were ninth in Rio. Any of the three could end up on top of the podium.
Further back at 66 net points are Germany’s Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel – the 2016 bronze medalists – and Danes Jonas Warrier and Jakob Jensen, with an outside chance to get to the medals if one of the three falters in the medal race.
The women’s 49er FX race is even closer than the men’s! Defending Olympic champs Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) are locked up with 2018 Worlds gold medalists Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz of the Netherlands, at 70 points each.
Germany’s Tina Lutz and Susann Beuke are third at 73, Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo (ESP: 77) are fourth and Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey (GBR: 81) are fifth and there are five more under 100 net points.
Echegoyen was fourth in Rio with a different partner; Dobson was eighth, also with a different partner, so both have plenty of experience.
In Tokyo, both the Brazilians and Dutch have two wins apiece and three top-3 finishes. Lutz and Beucke have been very consistent: four third places, but no finish worse than 13th. Dobson and Tidey have six top-5 finishes, but had a bad patch in the middle, with finishes of 16-13-14-15 to put them outside the medals for now.
Too close to call.
● Sailing: Men’s Finn
This is likely the last time the Finn Class will be seen at the Games, as it will be removed from the program for Paris in 2024, after having been part of the Games since 1952.
The medal race will see if Britain’s Giles Scott can hold onto a 28-37-39 net points lead over Zsombor Berecz (HUN) and Joan Cardona of Spain. Scott was the Rio 2016 gold medalist and is trying to extend a five-Games win streak for British Finn sailors. He’s also the 2011-14-15-16 World Champion in Finn and has won six of the 10 races so far. He will be tough to beat.
Berecz won this class at the 2018 World Sailing Championships and has been in the top five in seven of 10 races, just ahead of Cardona, who also has been top-5 in seven of 10.
Behind them are New Zealand’s Josh Junior, with 47 and two wins (!) and Nicolas Heiner (NED) and Facundo Olezza Bazan (ARG), both at 52. They could attack the medals if any of the top three falter badly in the Medal Race.
● Sailing: Mixed Nacra 17
This race was changed from an open division to a mixed-gender multihull race in 2016, with Argentina’s Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli winning the gold in Rio, followed by Australia’s Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin. They’re both in the regatta this time, with Langa and Carranza sitting seventh (75 net points), but Waterhouse and Darmanin fourth at 54.
The leaders are 2018 World Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti (ITA), with eight top-two finishes in the first 12 races and just 23 net points. They are being chased by John Gimson and Anna Burnet (GBR: 35, with three wins and three seconds) and Paul Kohlhoff and Alica Stuhlemmer (GER: 47). Gimson and Burnet won the 2020 Nacra 17 World Chaampionship, and Kohlhoff and Stuhlemmer have moved up nicely from their 14th-place finish at the 2018 Worlds.
Only a catastrophe in the Medal Race will move the medalists around, but as these Games have shown, anything is possible.
● Weightlifting: Men’s 109 kg
Armenia’s Simon Martirosyan won the 2019 World Championships and owns the world record at 435 kg. He’s the favorite.
The 2019 Worlds fourth-placer, Uzbek Akbar Djuraev is also in, along with Russian Timur Naniev (6th), Iran’s Ali Hashemi (7th) and Arkadiusz Michalski of Poland (8th, but the 2018 bronze medalist). American Wesley Kitts, 14th in 2019, is also entered.
Djuraev, just 21, was fourth at the 2018 Worlds also won the World Junior Championship in 2019 and bears close attention. Hashemi is a proven competitor, winning world titles at 105 kg in 2017 and 102 kg in 2018, but he’s in a heavier class now. Can Michalski find his 2018 magic?
● Wrestling: Greco-Roman 77 kg-97 kg
The Greco 77 kg class final will gave 2012 Olympic 66 kg Champion and 2019 World Champion Tomas Lorincz of Hungary back for another gold, this time against emerging star Akzhol Makhmudov (KGZ).
Lorincz, 34, in his fourth Games, won medals at the 2017 (silver), 2018 (silver) and 2019 (gold) World Championships. Makhmudov won an Asian Games silver in this class in 2018, but will be in his first major worldwide final in Tokyo.
The bronze medal matches will include Shohei Yabiku (JPN) vs. Mohammad Ali Gerei of Iran and Karapet Chalyan (ARM) against the winner of the last repechage round.
At 97 kg, Armenia’s Artur Aleksanyan will try to continue his medal collection tour with a gold in the final against Russia’s Musa Evloev of Russia. Aleksanyan is the defending champion from Rio, won a bronze in this class in Londonand owns three world titles from 2014-15-17.
But he was defeated in the 2019 Worlds final by Evloev, who also won the 2018 world title and lost to Aleksanyan in the 2017 Worlds final. This should be a classic.
The bronze-medal matches will have Tadeusz Michalik (POL) and Mohammad Hadi Saravi (IRI) against winners of the repechage round.
● Wrestling: Women’s Freestyle 68 kg
American hopes are high for World Champion Tamyra Mensah-Stock, who stormed her way into the final with technical fall wins over Rio gold medalist Sara Dosho (JPN) and Feng Zhou (CHN) and a 10-4 semifinal win over Ukraine’s Alla Cherkasova.
Mensah-Stock will face Blessing Oborududu (NGR), who has won her three matches by a combined total of 23-6. She was the 2021 Worlds silver medalist.
Cherkasova and Feng will wrestle for bronze medals against opponents coming from the repechage round, including Dosho and Feng.
= INTEL REPORT =
Good news for Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who is reported to be seeking political asylum in Poland after refusing to return to Belarus and likely punishment for criticizing her coaches.
She obtained police protection at the Haneda Airport in Tokyo from Japanese authorities and was assisted by the International Olympic Committee. She went to the Polish Embassy on Monday and will reportedly receive a humanitarian visa, with a promise to help her continue her track & field career.
Tsimanouskaya also received an offer of support from the Czech Republic. A lot of tumult in the life of a 24-year-old.
The Tokyo 2020 organizers reported 17 positive coronavirus tests related to the Games for Monday, with nine from contractors and six from “Games-concerned personnel.”
This brings the total number of positives to 276, of which 144 (52%) are contractors, 83 are “Games-concerned personnel” (30%), 24 are athletes, 13 media and 12 are Tokyo 2020 staff and volunteers.
The testing report by stakeholder group through 31 July:
● Athletes and team officials: 30 positives in 207,366 tests (0.01%).
● Media/Tokyo 2020 staff: 60 positives in 241,449 tests (0.02%).
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee reported no positives among 1,088 U.S. personnel in Tokyo on 1 August.
Prior results: 1 in 1,038 athletes and officials on 24 July; 0 of 1,144 on 25 July, 0 of 1,172 delegates on 26 July, 0 of 1,175 on 27 July, 0 of 1,214 for 28 July, 1 in 1,174 on 29 July, 0 of 1,174 on 30 July and 0 for 1,148 on 31 July.
Outside the Games, the final of the 16th CONCACAF Gold Cup was played in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, with the U.S. and Mexico going scoreless in regulation, through the first extra-time period and finally settled in the 117th minute on a header by U.S. defender Miles Robinson for a 1-0 win.
A free kick by Kellyn Acosta found Robinson for the goal, finishing a game in which there were lots of chances, but no scoring.
Mexico had 64% of the possession and 22 shots, but the U.S. had 14 shots of its own and each side had only five on target. As usual, the game was physical, with 51 total fouls called and four yellow cards distributed (three to Mexico).
It was the seventh Gold Cup title for the U.S., one short of Mexico’s total of eight, and the U.S. won its second final against El Tri, in seven tries.
The U.S. won its quarterfinal, semifinal and championship matches by 1-0.
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