Tokyo Olympics: Golden day for hosts Japan as USA storm up medal table

By Sports Desk July 25, 2021

China remain top of the medal table at the Tokyo Olympics after an eventful round of action on Sunday that saw the United States and hosts Japan enjoy a golden day.

Having picked up four medals on the first full day of action, China added to their haul with three more golds, one silver and three bronze.

Two of China's golds came in weightlifting, with Li Fabin and Chen Lijun coming out on top in the men's 61kg and men's 67kg, followed by success in the women's synchronised 3m springboard final.

A lot is expected of hosts Japan at these Games and they picked up four golds on Sunday, two of those in judo through Hifumi Abe and Uta Abe.

Yuto Horigome made history by winning the first gold in the men's street skateboarding, while Yui Ohashi finished first in the women's 400m individual medley swimming event.

The United States failed to pick up a medal on the opening day of the Games for the first time since Munich 1972, but they stormed back into contention with 10 medals on Sunday.

That included a gold for Lee Kiefer, who became the first American fencer to win a gold medal in individual foil.

William Shaner and Chase Kalisz prevailed in the men's 10m air rifle and 400m individual medley swimming, meanwhile, and Anastasija Zolotic took taekwondo gold in the women -57kg.

Behind China, Japan and USA in the medal table is South Korea, who doubled their tally of golds thanks to victory in the women's team archery.

Austria, France, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Australia and the Russian Olympic Committee also got off the mark with their first golds of the delayed 2020 Games on Sunday.


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  • Weightlifter Emily Campbell on changing perceptions and ‘bringing home bling’ Weightlifter Emily Campbell on changing perceptions and ‘bringing home bling’

    Emily Campbell’s rapidly-expanding medal collection bears testament to the realisation of the “crazy and bonkers” dream she once shared only with her family and a few market traders in her home town of Bulwell, who fuelled her Olympic ambitions with a regular supply of free fruit and veg.

    Handsomely repaid for their faith when Campbell returned from Tokyo with an historic silver medal and copious bottles of bubbly, the 29-year-old’s staunchest supporters are now accustomed to news of her trailblazing success in weightlifting competitions across the globe.

    Campbell was the first British woman to win an Olympic medal in the sport, an achievement that almost single-handedly shifted its perception, leading to packed stands and back-page headlines when she went on to win Commonwealth Games gold in a raucous National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham last year.

    “I always believed that I could do amazing things in the sport, even though people kept telling me that it wasn’t possible,” Campbell, whose hopes of adding another World Championship medal to her collection in Saudi Arabia last week were scuppered by a back injury, told the PA news agency.

    “The Olympic medal was me proving that I wasn’t crazy and bonkers, that I could back up the things I’d been saying, that I believed in myself and my team, and it hadn’t been just some sort of pipe dream that we’d been throwing in the air.

    “The Olympics was about saying to the world, ‘This is me and this is what I do’. The Commonwealths were about cementing it, proving it wasn’t a fluke that I’d got an Olympic medal, that I won it because I went out there and was good enough to win it.”

    Competing in the +87kg super-heavyweight category, Campbell has never sought to disguise the significance of her success in the context of ongoing body image issues among young girls, stressing its importance even before she had her silver medal wrapped around her neck in Tokyo.

    She admits she is still moved close to tears by frequent reminders from young girls and their mothers of the impact she has had on shifting those perceptions, and highlighting the opportunities for those who wish to follow less conventional paths to fitness and potential sporting glory.

    “My message has always been about changing that narrative that says as women it’s all about our appearance, and that sport and lifting can empower you and help you make decisions in life that are more important than how we look and what we wear and how our hair is and what weight we are,” added Campbell.

    “I appreciate that I can do some good in terms of using my position to inspire people to do whatever makes them happy. I am a private person and I sometimes find the whole celebrity thing a little overwhelming, but I know it is a privilege to be in the position I am in, and I feel like I am helping to make a change.”

    Campbell won a silver medal at last year’s World Championships in Colombia and, despite having made a return from planned knee surgery in January, a minor back injury prompted her decision to withdraw from Riyadh and focus on what she calls the “bigger picture” of Paris 2024.

    An upgrade to gold will almost certainly prove a lift too far for Campbell, given the dominance in the category of China’s remarkable Li Wenwen, a softly-spoken 23-year-old who routinely totals over 30kg more than her super-heavyweight rivals and is acknowledged, even by the likes of the defiant Campbell, as a class apart.

    “She (Li) has a very good aura and energy about her and we are all in awe of her because of what she has managed to achieve at her age,” admitted Campbell. “But it has always been about me and not everybody else.

    “I’ve always had a tick-list of things I wanted to do in the sport and my long-term plan was always to get a medal in Paris. I’d only been in the sport for five years when I went to Tokyo, so it did seem unrealistic to plan to win a medal at the first attempt.

    “Obviously a few things have changed. I’m accustomed to bringing home some bling now, and I’ve got a bit of a target on my back because the other girls want to beat me.

    “But when I come home I still pop down to the market to keep them updated because they were there when I really needed help and support and people to believe in me.

    “I still take my boots to the same guy to get mended, and they still look after me with the fruit and veg. (In May) I cut the ribbon to open the new bus station, where I used to get my buses to school or athletics practice. I’m just happy that I’ve helped bring something positive to the place I’m from.”

  • Rising sensation Sami DePass to take on the world at International Powerlifting World (IPF) Classic Open Powerlifting Championships in Malta Rising sensation Sami DePass to take on the world at International Powerlifting World (IPF) Classic Open Powerlifting Championships in Malta

    In a remarkable display of strength and determination, Sami DePass, the pride of Jamaica, is embarking on a monumental journey to represent the National Powerlifting Association of Jamaica Limited (NPAJ) at the highly anticipated International Powerlifting World (IPF) Classic Open Powerlifting Championships. Set in the scenic city of St. Julians, Malta, the event will be held from June 11th to June 18th, 2023, and promises to be a showcase of powerlifting excellence.

    Since joining the NPAJ on August 24th, 2021, Sami DePass has dominated the sport, leaving a trail of success in her wake. With each outing, she has consistently showcased her phenomenal talent and indomitable spirit. The upcoming championship in Malta presents another golden opportunity for Sami to further cement her status as an unstoppable force in powerlifting.

    Competing in the 76kg weight class, Sami will face off against twenty-six elite athletes from around the world. Standing at the precipice of greatness, she aims to continue her triumphant streak, having already clinched four gold medals in all her previous outings. Her impressive statistics and outstanding performances have solidified her reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the powerlifting community.

    A closer look at Sami DePass'' career reveals her extraordinary achievements and remarkable statistics that have propelled her to the forefront of powerlifting.

    In 2021, she won the gold medal and the title of NPAJ National Champion for the female 76kg category. Her incredible statistics included a squat of 181.4kg, a bench press of 90.7kg, and a deadlift of 213.1kg, totaling a staggering 485.3kg. With an outstanding 96.62 GPL score, Sami claimed the second overall position among 19 remarkable athletes.

    Continuing her ascent in the sport, she journeyed to Texas the following year, where she struck gold as a guest lifter at the 2022 Powerlifting America Classic Open Nationals in the 76kg category. Displaying unparalleled strength, she achieved a squat of 190kg, a bench press of 97.5kg, and a deadlift of 217.5kg, culminating in an impressive total of 505kg. Her remarkable 99.86 GPL score would have secured her a second-place finish out of three phenomenal athletes.

    Returning to her homeland, Sami reaffirmed her dominance by claiming her third gold medal and the title of NPAJ National Champion for the female 76kg category in 2022. Her outstanding performance included a squat of 190.5kg, a bench press of 102kg, and a deadlift of 219.9kg, resulting in a remarkable total of 512.5kg. With a resounding 101.37 GPL score, Sami secured the third overall position among twenty-two formidable athletes.

    Furthermore, Sami etched her name in the annals of powerlifting history by triumphing at the 19th edition of the NAPF Champion in Panama for the female 76kg category in 2022, claiming yet another gold medal. She demonstrated her incredible strength by achieving a squat of 185.5kg, a bench press of 92.5kg, and a deadlift of 220.5kg, resulting in an impressive total of 503.5kg. Her remarkable 99.4 GPL score placed her fifth overall out of an astonishing one hundred and seventy-six athletes.

    As Sami embarks on her journey to Malta, she carries with her the hopes and dreams of the NPAJ and the entire nation of Jamaica. She embodies the spirit of Jamaica's famous saying, "we little but we tallawah," with her unwavering determination and indomitable spirit. Sami aims to conquer the international powerlifting world and make her mark on the global stage.

    With the motto "One Team, One Dream, One Goal," the NPAJ stands firmly behind Sami DePass as she competes at the International Powerlifting World Championships in Malta. The entire nation is united in its support for this extraordinary athlete, wishing her strength, focus, and unparalleled success as she proudly represents Jamaica on the global stage.

  • Embiid MVP win shows influence of 'Dream Team' on growing basketball globally Embiid MVP win shows influence of 'Dream Team' on growing basketball globally

    Joel Embiid's 2023 MVP win shows the influence the 1992 United States men's team had on growing basketball globally, believes former coach Justin Harden.

    The Philadelphia 76ers man claimed the league's top individual honour after back-to-back finalist finishes behind Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

    Embiid, who hails from Cameroon, averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists over 66 games, becoming the third straight international player to win the award following Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jokic.

    Harden, who coached Embiid during his senior year at The Rock School in Florida, feels his success underlines how the United States team that conquered the 1992 Olympic Games helped grow the sport globally.

    Commonly referred to as the 'Dream Team', the squad was the first to feature professional NBA players, with a team including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird cruising to gold medal success in Barcelona.

    "When you think about who's in the top ten players [in the NBA], a good host of them are international players," Harden told Stats Perform.

    "From Nikola Jokic to Giannis [Antetokounmpo] to Luka Doncic, [and] then you've got a guy who is undoubtedly going to be the number one pick [in Victor] Wembanyama.

    "I can imagine he's going to be great too. I think it just is a testament to the Dream Team and their influence on what they did for international basketball playing in Barcelona.

    "There's great coaching all throughout the world. The United States is not necessarily the epicentre or the only option for great basketball to be played.

    "It's awesome to see that these guys are going to be MVP. Luka could be the next MVP, and then you have four in a row that are international guys.

    "I think it's really neat to see that our game has become such a global sport, because when Joel was here, we had 13 guys on our team, and seven of them were international players, five of them from the continent of Africa.

    "We've always cherished what international players can bring to our programme."

    Having known Embiid from such a young age, Harden is proud of both the player and the man Embiid has become, saying: "I'm super excited for him. I mean, this is like a breakthrough moment. 

    "He's had a couple of runner-up finishes, and so it's good to see him be able to break through and have another great season, I think his third in a row.

    "I think this was the best one because he withstood from being injured. I think the last two seasons were hampered by his injuries and so out of his control, but his play was certainly great.

    "I'm super excited for him. He's a good guy. I knew him when he was a boy, a young boy becoming a man.

    "Now he's a grown man. He's got a family. As much as I'm excited to see him win MVP, I'm also equally excited to see him as a father and as a husband."

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