Tokyo Olympics Recap: Barega claims first athletics gold, Djokovic's dreams dashed

By Sports Desk July 30, 2021

Selemon Barega took the first athletics gold of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on a day when Novak Djokovic saw his Golden Slam hopes ended.

Barega topped the podium for Ethiopia as he saw off competition from Ugandan duo Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo on Friday.

The 21-year-old ran a smart race and had the stronger finish in him to see off pre-race favourite Cheptegei, who took silver ahead of compatriot Kiplimo.

"It means a lot to me because I have been practising a lot, not only by myself but together with the Ethiopian people," said Barega, who quickly sets his sights on future success.

"As an athlete the primary target for us is to participate in the Olympics, be a champion, and also be able to break the record.

"So I'm really thinking about future opportunities for me to achieve that, and if possible I'm also communicating with my manager about that."

There was no such joy for Djokovic as his bid to become the first man to win a calendar Golden Slam was crushed by a semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic was a set and a break up but the Serbian contrived to lose eight games in a row en route to a 1-6 6-3 6-1 loss.

Germany's Zverev had sympathy for his beaten opponent, who he declared as the greatest of all time.

He said: "I know that he was chasing history, chasing the Golden Slam and chasing the Olympics, but in these kind of moments me and Novak are very close. Of course I'm happy that I've won, but at the end of the day I know how Novak feels.

"I feel sorry for Novak, but he's won 20 grand slams, 550 Masters Series or whatever, you can't have everything.

"He's the greatest player of all time, he will win the most grand slams out of anybody on tour, but I'm also happy that I'm in the final."

Defeat in the mixed doubles means the 20-time grand slam champion will face two bronze medal matches in Japan.

 

MIXED RELAY WOES FOR USA

The 4x400 metre relay mixed event made its debut in the Olympics on Friday but it did not go well for the favourites as the United States suffered disqualification.

One of the team's baton exchanges was deemed to have taken place outside the designated zone, ending their campaign and leaving the gold medal up for grabs.

Poland qualified fastest with a time of three minutes 10.44 seconds, with the Netherlands close behind and Jamaica also in the mix.

 

SCHAUFFELE LEADS THE WAY IN RAIN-AFFECTED MEN'S GOLF

Xander Schauffele fired a 63 to move top of the leaderboard at Tokyo 2020, while home favourite Hideki Matsuyama and Rory McIlroy made big moves on Friday.

The threat of serious weather caused another delay on day two, and eventually brought an early end to play with Matsuyama among those not to finish his round.

But Schauffele, who has a big following in Japan as his mother was brought up in the country, sat pretty at 11 under as the stellar names bared their teeth at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Matsuyama was six under through 16 holes of his second round and eight under overall for the tournament.

McIlroy matched Matsuyama's round-one score but shot five under in round two and is well in the mix four shots back.

 

A LONG TIME COMING

Ma Long took gold in the table tennis as he became the first man to win consecutive Olympics titles in the event.

It was an all-Chinese final and Ma roared to victory against Fan Zhendong.

China also secured a one-two in the badminton mixed doubles.

 

IGLESIAS CAN BE CUBA'S HERO

Cuban welterweight fighter Roniel Iglesias earned a third Olympic medal after sinking American Delante Johnson with a sweep of the scorecards.

After a bronze in Beijing and gold at London in 2012, Iglesias savoured another chance to target the top step of the podium.

The 32-year-old said: "It is my third medal which is very important but what I really want is to win the gold medal. It is a historic moment for me and for my country, Cuba. I am very happy at this achievement."

Light heavyweight Ben Whittaker admitted he was a blubbering mess after securing at least a bronze medal for Great Britain. He set up a semi-final against Imam Khataev – representing the Russian Olympic Committee – after scoring a majority points win over Brazilian Keno Machado.

Whittaker was overwhelmed by the result and burst into tears at the realisation he would be taking home a medal.

"That was the hard part, getting that medal," Whittaker said. "I won't relax, but I've pushed through that first door now and all I have to do is start changing that colour. Bronze is a lovely colour but everyone wants gold."

 

DRAMA APLENTY IN WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

The quarter-finals of the women's football competition delivered on drama in a big way.

Penalty shoot-outs were needed for Canada and the United States to progress to a last-four showdown, with Brazil and the Netherlands their respective victims.

Australia won a seven-goal thriller 4-3 against Great Britain after extra time and will now meet Sweden, who knocked out hosts Japan 3-1.

Related items

  • Tyson Fury vacates heavyweight belt after retirement announcement Tyson Fury vacates heavyweight belt after retirement announcement

    Tyson Fury has vacated The Ring Magazine heavyweight belt following the announcement of his retirement.

    The Gypsy King has not fought since successfully defending his belts against Dillian Whyte at Wembley in April, where he immediately expressed his intention to retire.

    Speculation continued to persist that Fury would return to the ring, with the winner of Anthony Joshua's rematch against Oleksandr Usyk touted as the likely opponent.

    On Friday, his 34th birthday, Fury again reiterated his desire to retire and has now vacated one of his heavyweight titles.

    "The Ring Magazine championship has always been the holy grail of boxing. They've been fantastic with me and I've always carried that title with pride," he told The Ring Magazine.

    "The greatest moment of my career was winning the world championship (by outpointing Wladimir Klitschko) back in 2015.

    "There's the great comeback after that with the three [Deontay] Wilder fights. There's been a lot of great highlights in my career – even the Dillian Whyte fight in front of 94,000 at Wembley. It doesn't get much bigger than that. And I went out with a bang."

    While it is not the first time that Fury has stated he would retire, he has not previously vacated any heavyweight belts and has made it clear he will not disappear entirely – hinting at a Hollywood appearance.

    "It was fun while it lasted. I had a good 14-year career. I actually boxed for 20 years, from 14 to 34 years old," he said.

    "I've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed the ups and the downs. My career was an Indian summer that just kept giving.

    "I've done well out of boxing. The world is open to so many things now. I'm doing a Netflix documentary at the moment.  I'm going to be recording an album soon. Who knows, you might even see me on the silver screen."

    Fury still holds the WBC heavyweight title and it is not known whether he will vacate that belt following his announcement.

  • Halep's 'fire back' as she topples Gauff to reach Canadian Open semi-finals, Haddad Maia extends run Halep's 'fire back' as she topples Gauff to reach Canadian Open semi-finals, Haddad Maia extends run

    Two-time major winner Simona Halep continues to find form ahead of the upcoming US Open with a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) victory over Coco Gauff clinching her spot in the Canadian Open semi-finals.

    Halep defeated 10th seed Gauff, who had beaten Naomi Osaka, Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka this week, in one hour and 47 minutes.

    The Romanian 15th seed was broken five times and sent down eight double faults, but found the edge with speed, finesse and power.

    The win means Halep has won the third most matches (36-10) on the WTA Tour this season, behind only top-ranked Iga Swiatek (49) and Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeir (37).

    Halep's improved form comes after she teamed up with Serena Williams' ex-coach Patrick Mouratoglou in April following a difficult 2021 season.

    "Before I met him I was super down with my motivation," Halep told reporters. "I couldn't really work, keep working. I was almost done with tennis. He brought this fire back and the motivation. He trusted that I still can play good tennis and he transferred this to me."

    The 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion added: "Physically I'm good. Mentally I'm good, so I think it's all positive."

    Halep, who won the Canadian Open in 2018, has reached the semi-finals for the fifth time in her career where she will take on seventh seed Jessica Pegula.

    Pegula got past Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-3 in one hour and 21 minutes. Qualifying for the last four at the Canadian Open for the second straight year.

    Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia maintained her Canadian Open run, having ousted Swiatek in the third round and local favourite Leylah Fernandez in the second, with a 2-6 6-3 6-3 victory over Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic in two hours and 11 minutes.

    Haddad Maia became the first Brazilian to reach the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 tournament. She will face Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals after the Czech 14th seed beat Qinwen Zheng 4-6 6-4 6-4.

  • Retiring Serena Williams drawn to face Raducanu in Cincinnati Masters first round blockbuster Retiring Serena Williams drawn to face Raducanu in Cincinnati Masters first round blockbuster

    Serena Williams has been drawn to face reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in a blockbuster first-round match-up at next week's Cincinnati Masters.

    Williams, who earlier this week declared her intention to retire after the upcoming US Open, will open her tournament on Monday evening against the 19-year-old Briton who is currently ranked 10th in the world.

    The 23-time Grand Slam champion recorded her first singles win in more than a year at this week's Canadian Open, defeating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz on Monday, before losing in the second round to Belinda Bencic.

    In between the matches, Williams had signaled her retirement plans in an article in Vogue magazine.

    The first-round clash is one of several intriguing matches including 14th seed Karolina Pliskova meeting Venus Williams, two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka facing Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

    In-form Simona Halep is drawn against 2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Karolina Muchova, while four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka will face Zhang Shuai.

    In the men's singles draw, 12th seed Matteo Berrettini will face Frances Tiafoe straight up, while Nick Kyrgios is scheduled to take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.