Schoolgirl scoops gold as Japan top medals table

Published July 27, 2021
GOLD medal winners Britain’s Thomas Daley (L) and Matty Lee compete in the synchronised 10-metre platform diving final on Monday.—AP
GOLD medal winners Britain’s Thomas Daley (L) and Matty Lee compete in the synchronised 10-metre platform diving final on Monday.—AP

TOKYO: Japan struck more gold on Monday to lead the medals table as sentiment towards the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olym­pics appeared to shift, and local fans defied organisers to grab a glimpse of the Games.

The hosts now have eight golds, one more than the US and two ahead of third-placed China.

Pint-sized 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya took gold in street skateboarding — new to the Olympics in Tokyo — while in one of the Games’ staple sports a “Terminator” hunted down a dominator to set the swimming pool alight.

Love and laughter filled the fencing venue where a marriage proposal was accepted a decade after an original rebuffal, but smiles were thin on the ground for boxing refugee Eldric Sella who, having dreamt for years of competing in the Olympic Games, lasted 67 seconds.

Britain’s four-times Olym­pian Tom Daley finally won a long-yearned-for gold when, together with new diving partner Matty Lee, he pulled off a stunning victory in the mens 10 metre synchronised platform, ending China’s stranglehold on the event.

Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz won her country’s first ever gold medal, triumphing in the weightlifting 55kg category and winning praise from her country’s presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

“Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you,” he wrote in a statement.

In the pool, Ariarne Titmus lived up to her “Terminator” moniker by clawing back American Katie Ledecky’s early lead to win the 400m freestyle final and pour petrol on the fierce Australia-US pool rivalry.

“I can’t believe it, I’m trying to contain my emotions,” said Titmus.

Team USA got their victory in the 4x100m men’s relay, while Adam Peaty roared with pride after becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title with gold in the 100m breaststroke.

The high-stakes swimming finals, staged in the morning in Tokyo to reach prime time American television viewers, were held in a nearly empty aquatic centre with spectators banned because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The loud cheers of one fan, however, were heard across the world when video footage of Titmus’ coach Dean Boxall headbanging and dancing in the stands became a focus for NBC commentators and went viral, making him an instant Games meme.

Titmus trailed by nearly a full body-length at the halfway mark of the eight-lap race before erasing the gap and finishing in 3 minutes, 56.69 seconds. It was the second-fastest time in history, surpassed only by Ledecky’s world record of 3:56.46 from the 2016 Rio Games.

“It’s probably the biggest thing you could pull off in your sporting career,” Titmus said, “so I’m over the moon.”

The other winner in the pool on Monday was Canada’s Maggie MacNeil in the women’s 100m butterfly.

Locals defied organisers and gathered along the route of the triathlon, grabbing a rare opportunity to see live competition at the pandemic-hit Games. Norwegian Kristian Blum­menfelt took gold at the open air triathlon route on the island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay.

Tom Pidcock won the mountain bike cross-country title for Britain’s third gold of the day.

GYMNASTICS GOLD

Nikita Nagornyy nailed his floor routine with the entire gym watching, and the Russian men completed their long climb back to the top of the gymnastics world by edging Japan and China in the team final.

It’s the first Olympic title for the Russians since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Nagornyy needed a score of 14.564 to deliver gold, and the reigning world champion came through with a 14.600.

The team representing the Russian Olympic Committee finished with 262.500 points, just good enough to hold off the sports other two superpowers. Japan used a brilliant high bar routine by Daiki Hashimoto in the final rotation to surge past China for second with a score of 262.397.

The Chinese were undone by a fall from Lin Chaopan on floor exercise during the first rotation.

Organisers reported 16 new Olympics-related coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total number to 148.

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga slid nine points to 34%, its lowest since he took office, a survey showed on Monday, as worries about Covid-19 clouded his hopes the Tokyo Olympics would boost his ratings ahead of an election this year.

But Japanese media was full of Olympic success.

The Yomiuri Shimbun broadsheet, one of the world’s largest newspapers by circulation, splashed photos of the judo gold medal-winning Abe siblings, swimmer Yui Ohashi and skateboarder Yuto Horigome with the word “Gold” beneath each of their names.

Schoolgirl skateboarder Nishiya is sure to lead bulletins and adorn front pages now.

“I welled up in tears because I was beyond happy,” Nishiya said, des­cribing the moment when she realised she had won gold.

Shohei Ono, one of Japan’s biggest judo stars, won his second straight Olympic title with a tense victory over Georgian world champion Lasha Shavdatuashvili at the Nippon Budokan, the spiritual home of the sport.

Japan’s third gold of the day came in a table tennis shock as mixed doubles pair Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito claimed their country’s first ever Olympic title in the sport.

China had won every Olympic table tennis gold medal since the 2004 Athens Games, but Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen blew a two-game lead in a thrilling final.

Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito put Japan top of the table late on Monday when they beat China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen to win gold in the table tennis mixed doubles.

Naomi Osaka looked good to add to the local haul later in the Games when she sailed into the third round of the tennis competition, sweeping past Swiss Viktorija Golubic 6-3, 6-2.

“Definitely it would mean a lot for me to win gold here but I know it’s a process,” she said.

In the men’s event, world number one Novak Djokovic beat Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-4, 6-3 to move one step closer to claiming the fourth title of a Golden Slam victories in all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.

TOKYO: Japan struck more gold on Monday to lead the medals table as sentiment towards the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olym­pics appeared to shift, and local fans defied organisers to grab a glimpse of the Games.

The hosts now have eight golds, one more than the US and two ahead of third-placed China.

Pint-sized 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya took gold in street skateboarding — new to the Olympics in Tokyo — while in one of the Games’ staple sports a “Terminator” hunted down a dominator to set the swimming pool alight.

Love and laughter filled the fencing venue where a marriage proposal was accepted a decade after an original rebuffal, but smiles were thin on the ground for boxing refugee Eldric Sella who, having dreamt for years of competing in the Olympic Games, lasted 67 seconds.

Britain’s four-times Olym­pian Tom Daley finally won a long-yearned-for gold when, together with new diving partner Matty Lee, he pulled off a stunning victory in the mens 10 metre synchronised platform, ending China’s stranglehold on the event.

Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz won her country’s first ever gold medal, triumphing in the weightlifting 55kg category and winning praise from her country’s presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

“Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you,” he wrote in a statement.

In the pool, Ariarne Titmus lived up to her “Terminator” moniker by clawing back American Katie Ledecky’s early lead to win the 400m freestyle final and pour petrol on the fierce Australia-US pool rivalry.

“I can’t believe it, I’m trying to contain my emotions,” said Titmus.

Team USA got their victory in the 4x100m men’s relay, while Adam Peaty roared with pride after becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title with gold in the 100m breaststroke.

The high-stakes swimming finals, staged in the morning in Tokyo to reach prime time American television viewers, were held in a nearly empty aquatic centre with spectators banned because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The loud cheers of one fan, however, were heard across the world when video footage of Titmus’ coach Dean Boxall headbanging and dancing in the stands became a focus for NBC commentators and went viral, making him an instant Games meme.

Titmus trailed by nearly a full body-length at the halfway mark of the eight-lap race before erasing the gap and finishing in 3 minutes, 56.69 seconds. It was the second-fastest time in history, surpassed only by Ledecky’s world record of 3:56.46 from the 2016 Rio Games.

“It’s probably the biggest thing you could pull off in your sporting career,” Titmus said, “so I’m over the moon.”

The other winner in the pool on Monday was Canada’s Maggie MacNeil in the women’s 100m butterfly.

Locals defied organisers and gathered along the route of the triathlon, grabbing a rare opportunity to see live competition at the pandemic-hit Games. Norwegian Kristian Blum­menfelt took gold at the open air triathlon route on the island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay.

Tom Pidcock won the mountain bike cross-country title for Britain’s third gold of the day.

GYMNASTICS GOLD

Nikita Nagornyy nailed his floor routine with the entire gym watching, and the Russian men completed their long climb back to the top of the gymnastics world by edging Japan and China in the team final.

It’s the first Olympic title for the Russians since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Nagornyy needed a score of 14.564 to deliver gold, and the reigning world champion came through with a 14.600.

The team representing the Russian Olympic Committee finished with 262.500 points, just good enough to hold off the sports other two superpowers. Japan used a brilliant high bar routine by Daiki Hashimoto in the final rotation to surge past China for second with a score of 262.397.

The Chinese were undone by a fall from Lin Chaopan on floor exercise during the first rotation.

Organisers reported 16 new Olympics-related coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total number to 148.

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga slid nine points to 34%, its lowest since he took office, a survey showed on Monday, as worries about Covid-19 clouded his hopes the Tokyo Olympics would boost his ratings ahead of an election this year.

But Japanese media was full of Olympic success.

The Yomiuri Shimbun broadsheet, one of the world’s largest newspapers by circulation, splashed photos of the judo gold medal-winning Abe siblings, swimmer Yui Ohashi and skateboarder Yuto Horigome with the word “Gold” beneath each of their names.

Schoolgirl skateboarder Nishiya is sure to lead bulletins and adorn front pages now.

“I welled up in tears because I was beyond happy,” Nishiya said, des­cribing the moment when she realised she had won gold.

Shohei Ono, one of Japan’s biggest judo stars, won his second straight Olympic title with a tense victory over Georgian world champion Lasha Shavdatuashvili at the Nippon Budokan, the spiritual home of the sport.

Japan’s third gold of the day came in a table tennis shock as mixed doubles pair Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito claimed their country’s first ever Olympic title in the sport.

China had won every Olympic table tennis gold medal since the 2004 Athens Games, but Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen blew a two-game lead in a thrilling final.

Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito put Japan top of the table late on Monday when they beat China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen to win gold in the table tennis mixed doubles.

Naomi Osaka looked good to add to the local haul later in the Games when she sailed into the third round of the tennis competition, sweeping past Swiss Viktorija Golubic 6-3, 6-2.

“Definitely it would mean a lot for me to win gold here but I know it’s a process,” she said.

In the men’s event, world number one Novak Djokovic beat Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-4, 6-3 to move one step closer to claiming the fourth title of a Golden Slam victories in all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.

Medals Table

After Monday’s events

(Tabulated under gold, silver, bronze, total):

Japan 8 2 3 13

United States 7 3 4 14

China 6 5 7 18

Russian OC 4 5 3 12

Great Britain 3 3 1 7

South Korea 3 0 4 7

Australia 2 1 3 6

Kosovo 2 0 0 2

Italy 1 4 4 9

France 1 2 2 5

Canada 1 2 1 4

Hungary 1 1 0 2

Tunisia 1 1 0 2

Croatia 1 0 1 2

Slovenia 1 0 1 2

Austria 1 0 0 1

Ecuador 1 0 0 1

Hong Kong 1 0 0 1

Iran 1 0 0 1

Norway 1 0 0 1

Philippines 1 0 0 1

Thailand 1 0 0 1

Uzbekistan 1 0 0 1

Netherlands 0 3 0 3

Taiwan 0 2 2 4

Brazil 0 2 1 3

Georgia 0 2 0 2

Czech Republic 0 1 1 2

Indonesia 0 1 1 2

Serbia 0 1 1 2

Spain 0 1 1 2

Switzerland 0 1 1 2

Belgium 0 1 0 1

Bulgaria 0 1 0 1

Colombia 0 1 0 1

Denmark 0 1 0 1

India 0 1 0 1

Jordan 0 1 0 1

Romania 0 1 0 1

Germany 0 0 3 3

Kazakhstan 0 0 3 3

Egypt 0 0 2 2

Mongolia 0 0 2 2

Turkey 0 0 2 2

Ukraine 0 0 2 2

Estonia 0 0 1 1

Israel 0 0 1 1

Ivory Coast 0 0 1 1

Kuwait 0 0 1 1

Mexico 0 0 1 1

New Zealand 0 0 1 1

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2021

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