Tokyo Olympics Recap: Japan get breakthrough baseball gold, Cao and Yang complete Chinese diving dominance

By Sports Desk August 07, 2021

There was home joy at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on Saturday as Japan beat the United States to the baseball gold medal.

Elsewhere, the diving board brought further Chinese success, and Sifan Hassan was among the familiar winners on the track.

Stats Perform breaks down the best of the action from Tokyo.

JAPAN JOY AGAIN AGAINST USA

Japan's women had beaten the United States 2-0 in the softball final and it was the turn of the men to achieve an identical result against the same opposition in the baseball.

The sport will not return for the 2024 Games, but the hosts seized their opportunity.

Japan stopped their major league season to make a number of leading players available and were rewarded with a first baseball gold medal.

Munetaka Murakami's third-inning home run put the hosts in control, before Tetsuto Yamada profited on an error in the eighth to complete the win.

USA manager Mike Scioscia said: "This tournament has been as intense as anything I've been a part of.

"Nineteen years managing the [Anaheim/Los Angeles] Angels, World Series and I don't know how many playoff games with the [Los Angeles] Dodgers. There's an intensity here. There's a focus."

CHINA DOMINATE BUT DALEY DELIGHTED

Cao Yuan's gold and Yang Jian's silver in the men's individual 10m platform completed a remarkable Games in the diving for China.

Cao became the first Olympic diver to win gold in three different disciplines (3m, 10m synchronised and 10m individual), while the one-two incredibly meant China won both gold and silver in every individual diving event.

Yang joined his team-mate on the podium after registering the highest score in Olympic history, with a forward four and a half somersaults in a pike position earning 112.75 points.

That performance left Tom Daley in third, but he was in awe of the dive.

"Honestly, Yang Jian is almost superhuman; he does the hardest dives in the world," Daley said. "I think if lots of other people tried to do that dive, you'd see quite a few catastrophes, so it's very impressive to see him do that dive."

Daley, who took gold in the 10m synchronised, was delighted all the same, telling BBC Sport: "I am so happy this Olympics has gone the way it has.

"I feel I am a different athlete and to finally get here... I always dreamed I would but if someone told me I was going to win a gold and a bronze I would have laughed in their faces."

HASSAN 'NEEDED' BRONZE HEARTBREAK

Hassan was going for an outstanding hat-trick at these Games, aiming to triumph in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m.

The Dutchwoman made a fine start in the 5000 but then had to settle for bronze in the 1500 on Friday, meaning she was determined to top the charts in her last outing.

A time of 29:55.32 ensured Hassan did just that, and she said: "Today I'm grateful for [the bronze], because yesterday I was number three. That was not what I wanted, but what I needed.

"If I had won yesterday – if I raced smart and won the race – today I [could not have finished]. It was so hot. From the beginning I was really tired. I felt like I was sprinting.

"I was thinking about yesterday the whole race, and I've never gone deep like I did today."

BOWING OUT ON A HIGH

Allyson Felix was asked whether she had passed the torch after her Olympic career wound down in typical fashion with victory as part of a star-studded United States 4x400m team, their time of 3:16.85 the quickest since 1993.

"I just came out really at peace and wanting to soak it all in," she said after a record-extending 11th medal. "Obviously, I had complete confidence in the team.

"I think that is a really special team because we're not 400-metre runners – I don't see myself as a 400-metre specialist.

"We all do different things and it was really cool to come together, to get to close out the Olympic Games and, for me, my Olympic career."

Sydney McLaughlin added: "I think we were excited. An amazing group of women right here, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I think we all just knew going in it's going to be fast and just have fun."

BOOMERS BREAK THE BARRIER

After the United States won yet another gold earlier in the day, it was time for a new medallist in the men's basketball.

Olympic debutants Slovenia, led by Luka Doncic (22 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, eight turnovers), went down 107-93 to Australia, who have had far more experience of this stage.

The Boomers reached the semi-finals for the fifth time in Tokyo but only now collected a medal.

Dante Exum said: "We're just ecstatic to get that one out of the way. Getting on the podium is not only huge for us as a team but for Australian basketball.

"We're definitely going to set this standard, that that's where we've got to be, and we're expected to be there every time."

Patty Mills contributed an outstanding 42 points to conclude his fourth Games, and Exum added: "Patty, I mean what do you say about Patty Mills?

"It's unbelievable what he brings on the court, off the court, to the culture of the Boomers. I hope that I can just carry that on when he steps down."

Related items

  • MLB: Red Sox's Devers extends home run streak MLB: Red Sox's Devers extends home run streak

    Rafael Devers set a Red Sox record by homering in his sixth consecutive game, and Tanner Houck threw seven dominant innings as Boston cruised to a 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Monday's opener of a three-game series between American League East rivals.

    Devers cracked a two-run shot off Taj Bradley in the fourth inning to become the first player in franchise history to put together six straight games with at least one home run. The star third baseman had shared the record with six other players, including Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx. 

    Houck (4-5) lowered his season ERA to 1.94 by limiting the Rays to two hits and a walk. The right-hander halted a personal three-start losing streak in which he received a combined three runs of support.

    He got more help in this one as the Red Sox broke out for three runs in the fourth, which Jarren Duran opened with a triple in front of Wilyer Abreu's double that staked Boston to a 1-0 lead.

    Two batters later, Devers launched an 0-1 pitch into the seats in left field for his historic homer.

    Boston extended the margin on Ceddanne Rafaela's two-run homer in the fifth.

    Bradley (1-2) fanned eight of the first nine Red Sox hitters and finished with 10 strikeouts in seven innings, but allowed all five runs to take the loss.

    The Rays mustered just three hits for the game and were dealt a second straight loss following a four-game winning streak.

     

    Mariners score four in ninth inning to end Yankees' streak

    Ty France knocked in the go-ahead run with a single as the Seattle Mariners scored four times in the ninth inning to halt the New York Yankees' seven-game winning streak with a stunning 5-4 win.

    Seattle's offence managed just three hits through eight innings before coming to life against New York closer Clay Holmes while down 4-1 in the ninth. 

    Julio Rodriguez began the rally with a one-out single and Cal Raleigh drew a walk before Luke Raley reached on an infield hit, in which Yankees' second baseman Gleyber Torres threw wildly to first to allow Rodriguez to score on the error.

    After Mitch Haniger followed with a single that plated Raleigh, Raley crossed the plate on Dominic Canzone's sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4. France then shot a single to right that brought home Haniger to put Seattle ahead.

    Andres Munoz then struck out two in the bottom of the ninth to earn his ninth save as the Mariners took the opener of this four-game series.

    Holmes' struggles ruined a terrific outing from New York starter Marcus Stroman, who yielded just one run on three hits while striking out six over 7 1/3 innings.

    Alex Verdugo went 3 for 5 for the Yankees and had three RBIs, two of which came on a first-inning double that opened the scoring. New York had put two aboard on a hit batter and Aaron Judge's one-out double. 

    Verdugo struck again in the fifth by following back-to-back singles from Juan Soto and Judge with a base hit of his own that increased the lead to 3-0. 

    Stroman took a shutout into the eighth that was broken up by Canzone's solo homer with one out. The Yankees countered in their half of the inning, however, when Torres drew a walk and later scored on Jon Berti's single.

    Seattle starter Logan Gilbert worked six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits.

     

    Guardians down Mets in Lindor's return to Cleveland

    Ben Lively allowed one run over 5 2/3 sharp innings as the Cleveland Guardians remained hot with a 3-1 win over the New York Mets in Francisco Lindor's return to Progressive Field.

    Lindor was playing in Cleveland for the first time since the Guardians traded the four-time All-Star shortstop to New York in January 2021. Lindor spent his first six MLB seasons with the Guardians and was an integral part of four play-off teams during his tenure.

    The former fan favourite went 0 for 4 in his return as the Mets got little going against Lively (3-2), who struck out seven and scattered six hits to help the AL Central leaders win for the seventh time in eight games. 

    Lively got all the support he would need via David Fry's two-run single in the first inning off Tylor Megill. The hit brought in Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor, both of whom singled and advanced a base on a fielding error by New York left fielder Brandon Nimmo.

    Tomas Nido brought the Mets within 2-1 with a solo homer off Lively in the third inning, though Cleveland restored its two-run advantage in the fourth when Fry drew a walk and later scored on Kyle Manzardo's double.

    Lively and the Cleveland bullpen successfully protected the lead as four relievers combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Emmanuel Clase retired the side in order in the ninth to register his 14th save, tied with St. Louis' Ryan Helsley for the major league lead.

    Megill (0-2), activated from the injured list prior to the game, struck out seven over five innings while giving up three runs, two of which were earned. 

    Pete Alonso had two of the Mets' six hits as New York lost for the eighth time in 11 games. 

     

     

  • NBA All-Rookie team headlined by Wembanyama, Holmgren NBA All-Rookie team headlined by Wembanyama, Holmgren

    San Antonio Spurs star Victor Wembanyama was unanimously selected to the NBA's All-Rookie first team.

    The NBA revealed its All-Rookie teams on Monday, and Wembanyama's inclusion was hardly a surprise, considering he was unanimously named the league's Rooke of the Year two weeks ago.

    Oklahoma City Thunder big man Chet Holgmren, who finished second to Wembanyama in rookie of the year voting, was also a unanimous selection to the NBA's All-rookie first team, appearing on all 99 ballots.

    Joining Wembanyama and Holmgren on the first team are Charlotte Hornets guard-forward Brandon Miller, Miami Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Golden State Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski.

    Jaquez, who also appeared on all 99 ballots, finished fourth in All-rookie team voting with Miller finishing third and Podziemski in fifth. 

    The NBA All-Rookie second team includes Derek Lively II of the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets' Amen Thompson, the Memphis Grizzlies' GG Jackson II, the Thunder's Cason Wallace and Keyonte George of the Utah Jazz.

    Wembanyama, who became the first player to unanimously win NBA Rookie of the Year honours since Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015-16, averaged 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and a league-leading 3.6 blocks in 71 games in 2023-24.

    After finishing second to Minnesota's Rudy Gobert in voting for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award two weeks ago, Wembanyama seems like a lock to be named to this season's All-Defensive team, which will be revealed Tuesday.

    If he is named to either the All-Defensive team or All-NBA team, which is announced Wednesday, he'll be the first rookie to do so since fellow Spurs star Tim Duncan in 1998.

  • A blessing: “Cousin” Asher-Smith thrilled to finally compete in front of Jamaican crowd A blessing: “Cousin” Asher-Smith thrilled to finally compete in front of Jamaican crowd

    Jamaican track & field fans have earned a reputation as some of the most passionate and supportive people you will ever come across and, for British sprint superstar Dina Asher-Smith, seeing it up close and personal at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational on May 11 was a riveting experience.

    Asher-Smith, a proud member of the Jamaican diaspora herself through her father Winston, ran her second-fastest time of the young season, 22.59, to take top spot in the Women’s 200m at the inaugural edition of the meet held at the National Stadium in Kingston.

    The 28-year-old, in a post-race interview, said that, regardless of the result, she felt “blessed” to finally compete in Jamaica.

    “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do forever and ever. I am a part of the Jamaican diaspora around the world,” she said before pointing out that her parents flew in from London to see her compete.

    “I’m just so proud to have come here and, however today would’ve gone, it’s just a blessing to come here and race in Jamaica,” she added.

    The 2019 World 200m champion, in another interview after her race with The Inside Lane, expounded on her experience competing in Jamaica.

    “I’m just so blessed to be in this country and blessed that they support me on that level,” she said.

    “I don’t think I can quite articulate what it means to come to another country and they want you to do well and they’re so happy that you’re here. I think, as an athlete, we all want the medals, we all want the titles, we all want the records but at the same time, it means a lot that people want to see you do well,” she added.

    The British record holder in both the 100m and 200m said the support from fans even extended to off the track, mentioning that Jamaican guests at the hotel she stayed at often referred to her as “cousin” based on her Jamaican heritage.

    “It’s been amazing. I’ve always known that the Jamaican fans are so supportive but being here and seeing it up close like when you’re in the hotel and people also staying there are like ‘cousin, cousin!’ It means so much because when you’ve got your actual roots celebrating you and they like you for who you are, I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s so amazing.”

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.