Track records keep falling in fast Games

Published August 5, 2021
SYDNEY Mclaughlin (C) sets a new world record to win the women’s 400m hurdles final at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP
SYDNEY Mclaughlin (C) sets a new world record to win the women’s 400m hurdles final at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP

TOKYO: The Tokyo Games keep producing some of the fastest moments the world has ever seen on the track.

A day after the men’s 400m hurdles staged possibly one of the greatest races ever run, the women put on their own show as one of the Games’ most anticipated rivalries lived up to the hype.

The United States’ Sydney McLaughlin smashed the world record and Dalilah Muhammad broke it as well in a sensational American 1-2 finish in the women’s 400 hurdles.

“Iron sharpening iron,” McLaughlin said of her latest showdown with Muhammad. “Every time we step on the track, it’s always something fast.”

This race sat on the razor’s edge for sure. McLaughlin came from behind after the last hurdle to claim the gold in 51.46 seconds, quicker than the 51.90 mark she set at the Olympic trials when she was the first woman to run under 52. Muhammad’s time of 51.58 also would have been a world record.

In this race, however, it was only good enough for second.

Expect these two to set more records between now and Paris in 2024. McLaughlin, 21, and Muhammad, 31, have been trading the record for two years.

Muhammad won the race in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. McLaughlin made the US team but didn’t make the final that year.

“I made the mistake in 2016 of letting the atmosphere get to me,” McLaughlin said. “Just being able to put the pieces together, I am really grateful.”

In other action on the track at Olympic Stadium, Canadian sprinter Andre de Grasse powered to gold in the men’s 200m final, completing a long journey back from injury and illness after taking silver behind Usain Bolt in 2016.

De Grasse claimed his first major championship gold medal, racing home in 19.62sec with Kenny Bednarek of the United States second in 19.68 and reigning world champion Noah Lyles taking bronze (19.74).

“I’ve been waiting for this moment, I’ve been training hard for this moment,” said De Grasse, finally delivering on his promise after suffering hamstring problems and a bout of mononucleosis following his breakthrough in Rio.

Canada’s Damian Warner ended the first day of the decathlon in top spot, with fancied French rival Kevin Mayer in fifth after complaining of back problems.

Defending champion Nafi Thiam of Belgium tops the heptathlon standings with four events gone. British world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s medal hopes are over after she pulled up with a calf injury in the 200m.

Dutch star Sifan Hassan took the next step in her bid for an unprecedented treble, easing into the 1500m final two days after winning the 5,000 title.

Emmanuel Korir led home compatriot Ferguson Rotich for a Kenyan one-two in the men’s 800m final, ahead of Poland’s Patryk Dobek.

Rotich said: “In Kenya we are progressing despite the challenges of the pandemic. In the last year, most of us, we didn’t train well. There was the coronavirus and now we’re coming back.”

Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki bagged gold in the men’s hammer. Norway’s Eivind Henriksen claimed silver, with four-time world champion Pawel Fajdek, another Pole, taking bronze.

There was a first ever Olympic gold for a Ugandan woman as Peruth Chemutai won the 3000m steeplechase, with American Courtney Frerichs collecting silver and Kenyan Hyvin Kiyeng bronze.


Away from the athletics, Japanese teenager Sakura Yosozumi maintained the hosts’ stranglehold on the skateboarding competition.

Yosozumi won the women’s park skateboarding event to stop compatriot 12-year-old Kokona Hiraki and Britain’s Sky Brown, 13, becoming the Games’ youngest-ever gold medallists.

The 19-year-old Yosozumi carved up the Ariake Urban Sports Park with a flowing opening run in the final, and her 60.09 points proved enough for victory ahead of Hiraki and Brown.

“This medal feels unreal — it feels like a dream,” said Yosozumi, as she celebrated at a sun-baked Ariake Urban Sports Park.

“I hope skateboarding is going to be very popular in Japan because of the strong performances of the Japanese team,” she said, adding: “Now I want to go back home and eat some delicious food.”

In a sport making its Olympic debut, Japan also snapped up the men’s and women’s street titles earlier in the Games and they have now bagged five of the nine medals so far.

Athletes coped with the heat of political and diplomatic controversy as well as Tokyo’s broiling summer weather as a Belarusian athlete left for Poland three days after refusing an order to come home against her wishes and seeking diplomatic protection.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was investigating the case of sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya.

Belarus’ Tsimanouskaya, who had taken refuge in the Polish embassy, left in the morning, escorted by officials and wearing a mask, blue jeans, a blue blouse and sunglasses with “I RUN CLEAN” written on them.

The IOC said it was investigating the case, which began after the sprinter publicly criticised her coaches during the Games, which end on Sunday.

Away from politics, Italy set a second world record in as many days in the men’s pursuit, upsetting favourites Denmark at the Izu Velodrome with an electrifying finish powered by Filippo Ganna that clawed back almost a second in the closing laps.

Cuba went top of the boxing medals table as Arlen Lopez won his second Olympic title, taking the men’s light-heavyweight gold with a cool, skilful performance against the fast-punching and tenacious Ben Whittaker of Britain.

In Enoshima south of Tokyo, Matthew Belcher became Australia’s most successful Olympic sailor of all time as he and team-mate Will Ryan of Australia stormed to gold in the men’s 470 sailing class, while Britain’s Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre won the women’s competition to close the regatta.

At Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo Bay, Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil won gold in the women’s 10km marathon swimming race, edging out the pack, including 2016 Rio winner Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands.

“I didn’t plan it to happen this way, but I’m extremely happy,” said Cunha, sporting a shock of fluorescent green and yellow hair perfectly colour coordinated with her Brazilian uniform.


Russia’s Svetlana Romashina claimed her record sixth Olympic gold medal in artistic swimming, teaming with Svetlana Kolesnichenko to win the duet.

The Russians were heavy favourites in a sport they have dominated for more than two decades. Their last Olympic loss in the sport formerly known as synchronised swimming came at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Athletes not in the water or indoors continued to roast in the brutal Japanese summer.

With trackside temperatures at the athletics stadium having hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and an archer having collapsed, Sweden and Canada asked organisers to push back the start of Fridays women’s gold medal soccer match, which is now scheduled for 11 a.m. (0200 GMT).

In the first round of the women’s golf tournament, world number one Nelly Korda carded a four-under-par 67 to sit just one shot behind leader Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden.

The searing temperatures forced US star Lexi Thompson’s caddie to pull out with heatstroke and organisers said the tournament could be cut to 54 holes because of an approaching tropical storm due to hit this weekend.

On the basketball court, the US women advanced to the semi-final round with a 79-55 win over Australia behind a 23-point effort from Breanna Stewart. The Americans are now just one win away from playing in their seventh consecutive gold medal game. They will face Serbia on Friday. The Serbians, who won the bronze medal in 2016, beat China 77-70.

The US women’s volleyball team advanced to the semi-finals for the sixth time in the past eight Olympics by beating the Dominican Republic in straight sets. The Americans advanced to a matchup against Serbia in the semi-finals. The US is seeking its first gold medal in the sport after winning bronze in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and silver in 2008 and 2012.

Medals table

After Wednesday’s events

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

China 32 22 16 70

United States 25 31 23 79

Japan 21 7 12 40

Great Britain 15 18 15 48

Australia 15 4 17 36

Russian OC 14 21 18 53

Germany 8 8 16 32

France 6 10 9 25

Italy 6 9 15 30

Netherlands 6 8 9 23

South Korea 6 4 9 19

New Zealand 6 4 5 15

Cuba 5 3 4 12

Hungary 4 5 3 12

Canada 4 4 7 15

Brazil 4 3 8 15

Czech Republic 4 3 1 8

Switzerland 3 4 5 12

Poland 3 3 4 10

Croatia 3 3 2 8

Sweden 2 5 0 7

Taiwan 2 4 5 11

Georgia 2 4 1 7

Denmark 2 2 3 7

Norway 2 2 1 5

Jamaica 2 1 2 5

Iran 2 1 1 4

Slovenia 2 1 1 4

Ecuador 2 1 0 3

Greece 2 0 1 3

Uzbekistan 2 0 1 3

Kosovo 2 0 0 2

Qatar 2 0 0 2

Spain 1 4 5 10

Romania 1 3 0 4

Venezuela 1 3 0 4

Ukraine 1 2 8 11

Kenya 1 2 2 5

Hong Kong 1 2 0 3

Slovakia 1 2 0 3

South Africa 1 2 0 3

Serbia 1 1 4 6

Austria 1 1 3 5

Indonesia 1 1 3 5

Belgium 1 1 1 3

Ethiopia 1 1 1 3

Uganda 1 1 1 3

Philippines 1 1 0 2

Tunisia 1 1 0 2

Turkey 1 0 5 6

Ireland 1 0 2 3

Israel 1 0 2 3

Belarus 1 0 1 2

Estonia 1 0 1 2

Fiji 1 0 1 2 Latvia 1 0 1 2

Bermuda 1 0 0 1

Morocco 1 0 0 1

Puerto Rico 1 0 0 1

Thailand 1 0 0 1

Armenia 0 2 1 3

Colombia 0 2 1 3

Dominican Republic 0 2 1 3

Kyrgyzstan 0 2 1 3

India 0 1 2 3

Mongolia 0 1 2 3

Portugal 0 1 2 3

Bulgaria 0 1 1 2

Nigeria 0 1 1 2

San Marino 0 1 1 2

Jordan 0 1 0 1

Namibia 0 1 0 1

North Macedonia 0 1 0 1

Turkmenistan 0 1 0 1

Kazakhstan 0 0 4 4

Azerbaijan 0 0 3 3

Egypt 0 0 3 3

Mexico 0 0 3 3

Argentina 0 0 1 1

Finland 0 0 1 1

Ghana 0 0 1 1

Ivory Coast 0 0 1 1

Kuwait 0 0 1 1

Malaysia 0 0 1 1

Syria 0 0 1 1

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2021


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