Ryan emails in and he’s unhappy with suggestions that changing Australia’s 4x200m relay line-up negatively affected their performance. He has added some extra exclamation marks for emphasis.
“They swam a solid three seconds faster than the four in the heat, AND they broke Australia’s own world record!! Only Mollie O’Callaghan of the heat swimmers swam a time faster than any of the finalist swimmers and even then, she wouldn’t have made up the difference to the Chinese swimmers [assuming she swam the same time again, which was itself a junior Oceania record].
“Not to mention that the Australians could have been DQ’d had they not swam all the swimmers named for the event. The Chinese made two changes as well, and quite simply swam superbly [as did Ledecky]. There was no kind of “backfiring” whatsoever.”
This could potentially be catastrophic news for the Australian team, with all 63 track and field athletes being tested and nervously awaiting results. To recap, the athletics starts in less than 24 hours so there is not much time. Imagine Marschall in particular will be worried given the Australian pole vault champion was training with Kendricks.
It comes at a time when Australia’s athletics contingent look strong, with a number of genuine medal hopes.
Our reporter on the ground in Tokyo, Kieran Pender, wrote this before the Australian titles.
Confirmation from the AOC that its athletics team is in isolation
“Members of Australia’s track and field team at the Tokyo Olympic Games are isolating in their rooms as a precautionary measure following news of a Covid positive finding with a member of the US track and field Team.
“Members of the Australian track and field team are now undergoing testing procedures in line with Australian Olympic Team protocols.”
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Some more Covid-related breaking news in. Seven is reporting that Australia’s entire athletics team are in isolation after Kendricks, the American two-time reigning world champion, tested positive.
It’s believed Australian vaulter Kurtis Marschall is the only close contact due to his having trained with Hendricks. The Guardian has contacted the Australian Olympic Committee and Athletics Australia for comment so I will bring you further news when it comes in.
The timing is not ideal given the athletics is due to start Friday and the men’s pole vault heats on Saturday.
Kurtis Marschall in action at the Australian championships in April. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP
The reactions of China’s 4x200m relay team after winning gold in world-record time are something to behold.
China’s Yang Junxuan, Tang Muhan, Zhang Yufei and Li Bingjie. Photograph: Marko Đurica/Reuters
Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images
Titmus spoke to Seven about Australia’s performance:
“It was really fast we were under our previous world record, so it was still a good swim from us. I would have liked to have done a bit more for the team. I feel like I should have been better nut it’s what you can do on the day and it’s been a big couple of days, so I’m happy to come away on the podium.”
Between a LOT of swimming and quite a few other sports I took a peek at the BMX, which really looked a lot of fun (if you are more proficient on a bike than I). Australians Saya Sakakibara and Lauren Reynolds are through to the semi-finals.
It was a turbulent opening day, with Lauren Reynolds also qualifying for Friday’s semis but Anthony Dean crashing early and then finishing last overall in his quarter-final heat to drop out of contention.
Sakakibara and Reynolds were in the same heat on Thursday at Ariake Urban Sports Park, where competitors were divided into heats of six riders and had three rounds of races.
While Reynolds cruised through the three rounds with a third, a second and a fourth placing, Sakakibara went off course and finished last in race one. She led early in race two, but faded to fourth and that left her equal-last on points with two other riders.
The BMX quarter-finals. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP
Kendricks won the world title in 2017 and 2019 and Olympic bronze in Rio 2016. His battle with world record holder Mondo Duplantis of Sweden was expected to have been one of the highlights of the athletics program, which begins on Friday.
His father and coach posted the news to Instagram before it was confirmed by officials, though appears to have taken the post down.
Pole Vault Power
Breaking news: Sam Kendricks’ dad/coach is reporting that Sam has tested positive for COVID and will not be able to compete in the #Olympics pic.twitter.com/YSDJMFUEA6
July 29, 2021
Probably also a good time to relive this moment from Rio when Kendricks stopped mid-vault because he heard the US national anthem.
Sam Kendricks tests positive for Covid-19
The American world pole vault champion has withdrawn from the Olympics after testing positive for Covid, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has confirmed.
“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority,” the USOPC said in a statement. “We are saddened to confirm that Sam Kendricks tested positive for Covid-19 and will not compete in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“In alignment with local rules and protocols, he has been transferred to a hotel to be placed in isolation and is being supported by the USATF and USOPC staff. Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed. Out of respect for his privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time.”
The Australians lost their world record and an expected gold medal following a dominant performance from China. Katie Ledecky anchored the United States to silver, with Australia’s quartet settling for bronze.
In the relay final, having qualified fastest on Wednesday, the reigning world champions Australia underscored their formidable depth by sending out an entirely different team for the final.
But the change backfired when the Chinese and American teams overhauled a strong Australian start from Ariarne Titmus and Emma McKeon. The gold medal for China is the first time since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing that the Americans have lost the women’s 4x200m race – but a disappointing result for the Australians, who had been predicted to comfortably win the relay.
The last change has just happened and Neale has work to do. She and Li are under world record time but the latter is in front. Ledecky is making some serious ground on the pair. Tick over 100m to go.
Tell you what, this isn’t exactly a walkover. China continue to push, briefly take the lead again before Australia return to the fore. Wilson is in the water and has half a body on Zhang.
McKeon has half a body length on her own team’s world record right now. Tang is cominf for her and Madden is third but well back.
Canada are in third, a smidge in front of the US. But Emma McKeon has just dived in and has passed China’s Tang to put Australia in the lead for the first time.
And they’re off! Titmus looks comfortable as she hovers off the shoulder of Yang at the 100m mark.
I’ll hop to other sports as soon as the last swimming final is done. It’ll be worth it, though, I promise. Relays are always fun to watch, and the women’s 4x200m freestyle is as entertaining as they come. The world record-holding Australians qualified fastest by three seconds ahead of the US team. The Aussie line-up is 200m and 400m champion Ariarne Titmus, 100m fly bronze medallist Emma McKeon, and Madi Wilson and Leah Neale, and they hold the world record.It is a bit of a different quartet to the 4x100m relay one comprised of Cate and Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon and Meg Harris who smashed their own world record in that event a few days ago.
The US challenge in lane five with Allison Schmitt, Paige Madden and the two Katies – Mclaughlin and Ledecky. And China’s Yand Junxuan, Tand Muhan, Zhang Yufei and Li Bingjie are in lane three.
Allison Schmidt of the United States swims the first leg of the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay. Photograph: Morry Gash/AP
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The women’s 200m breaststroke semi-finals are done and dusted. South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker was the fastest qualifier in 2:19.33 followed by Russia’s Evgeniia Chikunova (2:20.57) and American Annie Lazor (2:21.94). Lilly King is also in along with Team GB’s Abbie Wood and Molly Renshaw, but Australia’s Jenna Strauch has missed out by one spot after swimming significantly slower than in her heat and placing sixth in her semi.
I’m questioning whether Phelps has his eyes on the pool. Perhaps he has a sneaky second screen somewhere.
Love to see our man @MichaelPhelps cheering on the boys! pic.twitter.com/nRSkT8zymz
July 29, 2021
For a golf update, Austrian world No 161 Sepp Straka has carded an eight-under 63 and is leader from Belgium’s Thomas Pieters (65). American Xander Schauffele and Brit Paul Casey are hanging around the top end of the leaderboard at four-under on the back nine.
Chalmers had this to say to the Seven Network.
“It’s half a second faster than I was in Rio. If it [the Games] went ahead last year I wouldn’t have been here swimming. So to be back swimming, and back swimming fast, the shoulder’s feeling good.
“I qualified in lane seven, it’s kind of a bit more challenging being on the outside – I have to swim my own race from start to finish and be breathing the other way on the way home. But I left everything in the pool, I gave everything I could. But to win gold in 2016, come back and win silver, it’s great.
“I did everything in my absolute power to win. Obviously life’s not always about winning, but it is nice.”
Bryan Armen Graham
The legendary list of US men to win Olympic gold in the 100m free:
Caeleb DresselNathan AdrianMatt BiondiRowdy GainesJim MontgomeryMark SpitzDon SchollanderClarke ScholesWally RisJohnny WeissmullerDuke KahanamokuCharlie Daniels
There is a reason Dressel is being called the new Michael Phelps. He was basically unbeatable, even though Chalmers came so, so close to doing so. Chalmers started a little back, made the turn in third and it was only in the final 20m or so that he overtook Kolesnikov and was stroke for stroke with Dressel. He touched the wall 0.06 seconds after the American and that time, 47.08, is actually equal to Chalmers’s personal best, so it’s hard to argue he could have swum faster.
Dressel and Chalmers hug it out. Photograph: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Dressel wins men’s 100m freestyle gold
1 Dressel – 47.02 (Olympic record)2 Chalmers – 47.083 Kolesnikov – 47.44
USA’s Caeleb Dressel celebrates winning the Men’s 100m Freestyle final. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
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It’s time for the blue riband event. It’s time for the men’s 100m free! It’s the two-lap dash, it’s the one where Aussies are watching defending champion Kyle Chalmers. But it’s also the one where Americans are watching rival Caeleb Dressell. They will both try to beat Russian Kliment Kolesnikov, who qualified fastest.
While the Aquatics Centre is, of course, largely empty, it’s far from quiet, with a few hundred officials and team members from various countries cheering on the swimmers from the stands. The US contingent is one of the biggest, most animated and loudest, with some of them banging noise-sticks and chanting U-S-A! U-S-A!Even before Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky dive in later in the session the Americans have had some medal success to shout about, with Bobby Finke winning gold in the men’s 800m freestyle and Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger taking silver and bronze respectively in the women’s 200m butterfly.
Zhang had that well in hand for the entire race but interesting stat on the US, which had won at least one medal in every Olympic swimming pool event since 2012 except the women’s 200m fly, in which it won a whole lot of nothing since Misty Hyman’s gold in 2000. And thus! Smith and Flickinger go silver-bronze to end the longest medal drought in US swimming.
Zhang (CHN) wins gold in women’s 200m butterfly
1 Zhang – 2:03.86 (Olympic record)2 Smith – 2:05.303 Flickinger – 2:05.65
Zhang Yufei of China. Photograph: Matthias Schräder/AP
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Zhang has her hands in front of that world record line. She has a body on the US pair, with Smith the closest but not close enough on the final turn.
Right, there are more medals up for grabs at the pool, specifically in the women’s 200m butterfly final. China and the US are the ones to watch here, with Zhang Yufei and Yu Liyan facing off against Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger.
Quick hop back to the sevens because Team GB have narrowly accounted for Russia 14-12. It was a hard-fought victory led by captain and double try-scorer Abbie Brown, who was responsible for 10 of her country’s points.
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Simon Biles has tweeted for the first time since making the difficult decision not to defend her individual all-around gymnastics title.
the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before. 🤍
July 29, 2021
The US star also retweeted this.
From a gymnast friend regarding Simone Biles 🐐❤️ pic.twitter.com/4eWPIgi4yf
July 27, 2021
Meanwhile, in the men’s 200m backstroke semi-finals, GB’s Luke Greenbank didn’t wait around, winning his race in 1:54.98 ahead of American Rio 2016 gold medallist Ryan Murphy (1:55.38). Only Russian Evgeny Rylov qualified quicker with a first-semi time of 1:54.45.
Well Emma McKeon has nailed her semi-final, warding off world record holder Sarah Sjöström to qualify fastest for the final with 52.32, which was 0.08 faster than Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey who won the first semi ahead of Cate Campbell, who placed second with 52.71 and qualified third-fastest for the final.
Australia’s Emma McKeon. Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images
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Here is Kieran Pender’s first report from the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.
Australia’s rugby sevens Rio 2016 gold medal defence has begun in head-turning fashion with a 48-0 win over Japan. Emma Tonegato scored three tries and Demi Hayes and Maddison Levi two apiece, in a statement of intent that will have put world No 1 New Zealand on notice.
Demi Hayes is tackled by Marin Kajiki and Miyu Shirako. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
“Unbelievable. Lost for words, really,” Stubblety-Cook tells Seven. “Without [my family’s] support I couldn’t be here. But it’s been a tough five years, and I’m lost for words, to be honest.”
And on his fast finish.
“Made it entertaining, right? But, you know, that’s the way I train and that’s the way I race all the time. So at these Games I won’t try to change strength, not going to strange my strengths. It’s too late for that. I’m definitely just happy that the process pulled off.”
Stubblety-Cook celebrates. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images
He was the youngest. But he was the fastest. On Thursday, 22-year-old Zac Stubblety-Cook won the first gold medal for Australia’s men at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, beating home a more experienced field to break the Olympic record in the 200m breaststroke final.
Stubblety-Cook started slowly, touching the wall in sixth at the first turn. But the Australian slowly reeled back fast-starting Dutchman Arno Kamminga, touching third at the final turn before a stunning last lap lifted Stubblety-Cook to the top step of the podium.
His win adds another gold to Australia’s burgeoning medal tally in Tokyo – with the potential for more to come later in the morning on Thursday.
Stubblety-Cook (AUS) wins men’s 200m breaststroke gold
1 Stubblety-Cook – 2:06.38 (Olympic record)2 Kamminga – 2:07.013 Mattsson – 2:07.13
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Nic Fink got away to an excellent start and was in front by the 25m mark. Soon, though, he is overtaken by Arno Kamminga. Half of this field are under world pace. Stubblety-Cook has surged into third.
Finke is also the first US man to win an Olympic distance freestyle since 1984.
No time to blink, because it’s time for the men’s 200m breaststroke final. An open field and a tricky race. Australia’s Zac Stubblety-Cook qualified fastest and holds the second-fastest time in history; but will face competition from Arno Kamminga (Netherlands), James Wilby (Team GB) and Nic Fink (USA).
Tremendous race management from Finke. He sat back, he waited. He was in fourth until the final 50m, then it was go time. His arms are in the air in ecstasy, and so they should be.
Bobby Finke (USA) wins men’s 800m gold
1 Bobby Finke – 7:41.872 Gregorio Paltrinieri – 7:42.113 Mykhailo Romanchuk – 7:42.33
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McLoughlin has fallen back by about a body length of Romanchuk and Germany’s Florian Wellbrock.
Paltrinieri is employing some sort of tactic here. When he’s coming down one side of the pool he is swimming right up against the outside lane rope. Perhaps it’s to avoid allowing McLoughlin to drag off him. 500 down, and Paltrinieri’s lead isn’t quite as dominant as it was but he is still well in front. The chasing pack is relatively even, with only two seconds separating them from the leader.
Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk has qualified fastest. He finished eighth at the most recent world championships behind McLoughlin. After 100m the Australian is in second, but it’s Gregorio Paltrinieri who has had a blinder of a start and already has half a body on the rest of the field. The Italian is under world record pace.
At the Tokyo Aquatic Centre, Jack McLoughlin is about to contest the men’s 800m freestyle final. He is coming off the back of a silver medal in the 400m freestyle, which he lost to Tunisian youngster Ahmed Hafnaoui. His story is also cool, having come very close to retiring not too long ago.
Some serious swimming is about to happen … but first! France have beaten Fiji 12-5 in the women’s rugby sevens and Canada have wiped the floor with Brazil, who found themselves on the wrong end of a 33-0 scoreline. Canada are top of Pool B.
Australia are about to open their title defence against host nation Japan in Pool C. The US have already defeated China 28-14 in the same pool.
Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
Italy win lightweight women’s double sculls
Valentina Rodini and Federica Cesarini have done it. Their first medal in this event and the best one on offer. The end of this final is edge-of-your-seat stuff.
The Dutch girls, still in front, look as if they are smiling behind their orange sunnies, though I feel sure it is a grimace as they pull away by half a boat. France and Great Britain and fatiguing and they are overtaken by France in the final 100m. But one of the Dutch catch an oar in the water. Wow! I didn’t see this coming. Italy have pulled something incredible out of their back pocket and pipped all rivals at the post. France take silver and the Dutch drop back into third position to claim bronze. Still, it was almost a photo finish, with only 0.14 seconds in it.
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