Fabio Jakobsen timed his sprint finish to perfection to win stage two of the Vuelta a Espana.

Alpecin-Fenix rider Jakobsen edged out Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) in Burgos on Sunday at the end of a 166.7-kilometre flat stage that started in Caleruega.

Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) took third place as 23-year-old Belgian Jakobsen claimed his second Vuelta stage win after being led out brilliantly by his team-mates.

Primoz Roglic retained the red jersey with a lead of four seconds over Alex Aranburu following the defending champion's time-trial triumph on the opening stage.

Sprinter Jordi Meeus was among the Bora-Hansgrohe riders who were involved in a crash four kilometres from the end of the second day.

Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH), Sergio Martin (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi) made an early break on a hot, draining day for the riders.

Rubio looked the strongest of that breakaway trio and he tried to go solo, but was caught with a little over 20 kilometres to go to set up the sprint finish that was anticipated.

Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) hit the front with 200 metres remaining, with Matthews on his wheel, but it was Jakobsen who nipped in front to take the victory.

He said: "It's incredible. Yesterday someone put it in our team group chat [that they could win the first sprint of all three Grand Tours] and for sure it was a dream but I didn't want to think about it because the chance is always less high than it would be true.

"It just shows how everyone from team is really motivated. It was a team effort and we can be really proud. It was amazing to see all my team-mates there and everyone on the front line. I had a lot of support and this is how we can win sprints.

"Each of us can be very happy tonight and we start this Grand Tour in a good way."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 03:58:57
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange)
4. Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates)
5. Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:08:32
2. Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:04
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) +0:10

Points Classification

1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 50
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 50
3. Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech 50

King of the Mountains

1. Sepp Cuss (Jumbo-Visma) 3
2. Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation) 2
3. Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) 1

What's next?

A first high-altitude finale in Picon Blanco awaits the riders, who will start a demanding 202.8km third stage in Santo Domingo de Silos.

Primoz Roglic started the defence of his Vuelta a Espana title in style as he took the lead after a short time trial on stage one.

Fresh from claiming Slovenia's first Olympic gold medal in any cycling discipline, Roglic – who has triumphed at the Vuelta in the previous two years – was the last man out in Burgos.

The 31-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider set a blistering pace around the 7.1kilometre route, which he completed in just eight minutes and 32 seconds – six seconds clear of nearest challenger Alex Aranburu (Astana-PremierTech).

Aranburu had held top spot for much of the stage, but has to settle for second heading into stage two. Jan Tratnik, of Bahrain-Victorious, rounds out the top three, trailing Roglic by eight seconds.

Roglic was forced to abandon the Tour de France after a brutal first week but headed to Spain on a high following his success in Japan, and is aiming to become the first rider to win the Vuelta three times in a row since Roberto Heras in 2005. He is also bidding to draw level with Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador on three triumphs should he keep hold of the red jersey.

"It's a beautiful start, I'm enjoying it, and we hopefully can enjoy it as a team in the upcoming days," said Roglic.

Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal skipped the Tour and is considered Roglic's prime challenger, but the Colombian suffered on Saturday and lost 27 seconds to his rival.

Tom Piddock, who won a mountain biking gold for Great Britain in Tokyo, made his grand tour debut for INEOS Grenadiers, clocking in 36 seconds slower than Roglic.

"That was horrible. I've basically had three weeks of holidays," said Piddock.

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:08:32
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:06
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) +0:08
4. Tom Scully (EF Education-Nippo) +0:10
5. Josef Cerny (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +0:10

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:08:32
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:06
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) +0:08

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 20
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) 17
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) 15

King of the Mountains

1. Sepp Cuss (Jumbo-Visma) 3
2. Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation) 2
3. Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) 1

What's next?

The Vuelta rolls from Caleruega to Burgos, a 166.7km flat route with a sprint finish, giving the sprinters an early opportunity to shine.

Primoz Roglic will start his quest for a hat-trick of Vuelta a Espana titles when the final Grand Tour race of the year starts in Burgos on Saturday.

Team Jumbo-Visma rider Roglic has won the Vuelta in each of the peast two years and is favourite to continue his dominance of the race.

Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal will be expected to mount a strong challenge after skipping the Tour de France, while the Colombian's INEOS Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Adam Yates could have a big say.

This 76th edition of the race will have eight mountain top finishes, with 11 stages featuring mountains, including the Picon Blanco with a gradient in some sections of the climb at 17 per cent.

Stats Perform picks out the big stories and standout Opta facts ahead of a race that will finish in Santiago de Compostela on September 5.
 

OLYMPIC CHAMPION ROGLIC TARGETING RARE TREBLE

Roglic put his Tour de France woes behind him to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics last month, claiming Slovenia's first gold medal in any cycling discipline.

The 31-year-old abandoned the Tour after a brutal first week but should start the Vuelta on a high from his heroics in Japan.

Roglic will be bidding to move level with Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador on three Vuelta triumphs if he wins the red jersey – one shy of Roberto Heras' record.

He would also become the first rider to win the race three times in a row since Spaniard Heras in 2005.

 


BERNAL LEADS INEOS CHALLENGE

Bernal claimed his maiden Giro title this year after winning his first Grand Tour crown in the 2019 Tour.

The 24-year-old sat out the 2021 Tour and has been training at altitude in his homeland ahead of a bid to complete a clean sweep of Grand Tour titles.

Bernal could become only the third Colombian to win the race, with Nairo Quintana being the last in 2016.

INEOS have a strong hand as Carapaz and Yates plot a title challenge.
 

LANDA HOPEFUL OF ENDING SPANISH DROUGHT

No Spanish rider has triumphed in the previous six editions of the race on home soil. If that extends to seven, it will be an unwanted record drought.

But Mikel Landa is hopeful of topping the podium after winning the Vuelta de Burgos following his recovery from a broken collarbone and several broken ribs suffered in a Giro crash.

He told the Deia: "Winning the Vuelta de Burgos was unexpected, but it was a great morale boost after so long out injured.

"Now I am going to the Vuelta with optimism. At the end of the day, I haven't competed much this year and I have the bit between my teeth after the Giro. I know I have to be careful, because I am still lacking a bit of form, but I am very motivated."

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his men's marathon title and the United States added three more golds to their tally on the final day of Tokyo Olympics action.

Kipchoge crossed the line one minute and 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Abdi Nageeye to become the third athlete to win the event at back-to-back Games.

In doing so, the 36-year-old – who previously took 5,000 metre silver in 2008 and bronze in London four years later – believes he has inspired a generation of runners.

"It means a lot to me, especially at this hard time," he said. "Last year was postponed, and now it has happened.

"I think I fulfilled the legacy by winning the marathon for the second time. That's my total happiness, my inspiration for the next generation."

The final day of action at the 2020 Games ultimately belonged to the United States, though, as they collected three golds to finish above China at the top of the medal table.

 

USA TRUMP CHINA

Team USA trailed China by two gold medals heading into Sunday's events, but triumphs in basketball, volleyball and track cycling saw them top the standings.

USA's victory in the women's basketball would have come as little surprise given it is their seventh straight success in the competition.

Brittney Griner racked up 30 points and Breanna Stewart also impressed in the 90-75 win over Japan with 14 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi each picked up their fifth gold medals, while for Japan the silver was their first medal of any sort in the sport.

"The only thing about getting older, you know all the bad stuff that can happen," Bird said. "We lost in the 2006 World Cup. We tasted that and that's always been the driver. 

"So, when we actually have the medal around our necks, it just feels so good. It's a sense of relief in a lot of ways."

While success in the women's basketball is par for the course, overcoming Brazil in the volleyball final provided USA with their first gold medal in the event.

After finishing runners-up to Brazil in the 2008 and 2012 Games, USA exacted some revenge with a 25-21 25-20 25-14 victory in Sunday's final.

Jennifer Valente completed the hat-trick for the Americans in the women's cycling omnium, the 26-year-old delivering her country's first track cycling gold since 2000.

She led from start to finish, despite crashing in the final points race, with home favourite Yumi Kajihara taking silver.

"There were some bumps. It was actually quite a short day as far as omnium goes," Valente said. "That was something that was very much on my mind, that we played into.

"Crashing in the point races is never ideal. I was just trying to get back on my bike, make sure I was okay, and get back in the race as soon as possible."


BRITAIN RULE THE TRACK

Kelsey Mitchell won the women's sprint for Canada by beating Ukraine's Olena Starikova 2-0 in the best-of-three final.

But it was a familiar outcome in the men's keirin as Jason Kenny finished 0.763 seconds ahead of Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia to win his seventh Olympic gold medal.

That makes Kenny Great Britain's most decorated Olympian and ensured Team GB finished top of the cycling medals table with six golds, four silver and two bronze.

"It's a bit of shock, I think," Kenny said of his latest medal success. "I really wanted to cross the finish line. I am absolutely buzzing. 

"Going into the final I didn't expect anything other than a five, really. I was hoping to kind of get stuck in, and hopefully come away with some silverware. 

"To win at the corner on my own like that is absolutely buzzing."

AMERICA'S BOXING WAIT GOES ON

The final four boxing gold medals were up for grabs on Sunday and plenty of focus was on the super-heavyweight bout between Bakhodir Jalolov and the USA's Richard Torrez. 

Twenty-two-year-old Torrez started strongly with a ferocious assault in the first round, but Uzbekistani boxer Jalolov recovered and won unanimously.

Torrez's compatriot Keyshawn Davis earlier lost his men's lightweight clash with Cuba's Andy Cruz, meaning USA's wait for an Olympic men's boxing gold will reach 20 years come Paris 2024.

"I've never felt this much pressure in fights a day in my life," Davis said. "I'm glad I got to experience this because it did make me a better fighter.

"I'm not cool with winning silver, but it's something I've got to live with and I'm okay with that. I'm gonna live with it and we're just gonna take it to the next level."

In the female categories, Kellie Anne Harrington beat Brazil's Beatriz Ferreira in the lightweight final to earn Ireland their second gold of the Games, while GB's Lauren Price outclassed Li Qian to win the middleweight final on points.

The United States finished top of the Tokyo Olympics medal table after a stunning run of success from their elite women on the final day of competition.

Triumphs in basketball, volleyball and track cycling saw Team USA move to 39 gold medals for the Games, pipping China at the post.

China finished with 38 golds, meaning that for the third successive Olympics it is the United States who hold sway on the medals front.

The all-conquering women's basketball team were 90-75 winners over Japan in their final, landing gold for a seventh successive Olympics.

They last lost at the Games in 1992 at Barcelona and were never in danger of surrendering their undefeated streak since, as Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi each picked up the fifth gold medals of their remarkable careers.

Jennifer Valente emerged victorious from the multi-race omnium cycling event at the Izu Velodrome, with the 26-year-old from San Diego scooping the first Olympic gold of her career.

 

Volleyball gold medals had previously been the preserve of the men among the US ranks, but now the women have triumphed at Olympic level too.

Their first visit to the top step of the Games podium was secured by a 3-0 win over Brazil in Sunday's final.

Haleigh Washington, a 25-year-old star of the team, said: “It's a great day to have a gold-medal day. The hard work we put in, the sweat, the tears, the blood, it’s been worth it. I am so proud to have done it with this group of women. I am so honoured."

Coach Karch Kiraly added: "I am so happy for this team and these amazing women in this programme. I told them not only are they bad-asses, but they are now gold medallists."

World record holder Eliud Kipchoge vowed to enjoy the moment before setting his next goal after successfully defending his Olympic men's marathon title at Tokyo 2020 on Sunday.

The 36-year-old Kenyan won by over a minute in a time of two hours, eight minutes and 38 seconds, with Dutchman Abdi Nageeye and Belgium's Bashir Abdi taking silver and bronze respectively.

The triumph was a coronation for Kipchoge who won gold at Rio 2016, while he claimed bronze and silver Olympic medals in the 5,000m in Athens and Beijing respectively.

Kipchoge, who is widely regarded as the greatest marathon runner in the modern era, refused to look ahead after his latest win.

"I am a believer of the philosophy that you should only chase one rabbit," Kipchoge said. "If you chase two, then you cannot get all of them.

"For the last two years I have been focusing on the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, so I will only plan the next thing when there is a big job ahead of me.

"What was in my bucket list was Tokyo 2020. So I will go back now, talk to my coach, and see what the opportunities are and then I will come back to you people. But, for now, I want to enjoy winning here in Tokyo."

Nageeye and Abdi claimed second and third with an enthralling final sprint, edging out Kenyan Lawrence Cherono for the medals. The Dutchman willed on training partner Abdi in the dying stages.

"I was just telling him to stay with us, stay with us the last one (kilometre)," Nageeye said. "I felt good as that is what I was doing. I wasn't volunteering, but I knew if he stayed until the end, the last 200 metres, close your eyes and just sprint."

KENNY CLAIMS HISTORIC SEVENTH OLYMPIC GOLD

British cyclist Jason Kenny secured his seventh career Olympic gold medal, winning the men's keirin final on the final day of the Games after a remarkable race where he stormed ahead unopposed.

Kenny claimed his historic gold by 0.763 seconds from Malaysia's Mohd Azizulhasni Awang who edged Harrie Lavreysen of the Netherlands on the line to claim silver and bronze respectively.

In a bizarre race, the 33-year-old Kenny pulled clear with two laps to go, with second-placed Matthew Glaetzer not following him, powering ahead and eventually crossing the line on his own.

"It was such a long way," Kenny said. "I felt like the last lap took me about half an hour. But I got there in the end. I still can’t believe I crossed the line on my own."

He first won gold in the team sprint at Beijing 2008, following with two triumphs at London 2012 and three at Rio 2016, including the keirin title which he successfully defended.

Kenny's gold medal means he is the most successful British athlete in Olympic history, pulling clear of cyclist Chris Hoy.

Jason's wife Laura Kenny was involved in a huge crash in the opening round of the women's omnium and missed out on the medals, with gold won by USA's Jennifer Valente. Japan's Yumi Kajihara won the host country's first medal in cycling at Tokyo 2020 with silver.

Canada's Kelsey Mitchell won the gold medal from Ukraine's Olena Starikova in the women's sprint, with Hong Kong's Lee Wai Sze taking bronze.

USA CONTINUE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL DYNASTY

The United States women's basketball team claimed their seventh consecutive gold medal with a 90-75 victory over hosts Japan.

Brittney Griner top-scored with 30 points for USA, along with five rebounds and two assists.

Team USA opened up a nine-point lead at the first change and they were never headed, with a strong display headed by Griner.

USA only hit four three-pointers for the game compared to Japan's eight, but the favourites played to their strengths with strong offensive and defensive contributions from A'ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart.

Wilson added 19 points, seven rebounds, five blocks and five assists, while Stewart was exceptional with 14 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and five assists.

USA veteran Sue Bird signed off on her Olympic career with a fifth gold medal.

USA MOVE CLEAR WITH VOLLEYBALL TRIUMPH

The United States moved into the outright lead on the gold medal table after clinching their first-ever women's volleyball victory.

USA triumphed 3-0 over Brazil, winning 25-21 25-20 25-14 in a dominant final display.

The gold medal took USA's tally to 39 golds, moving ahead of China with 38 as the final day continued to unfold.

Jason Kenny took a leap of faith and saw it pay off as the British cycling great landed his seventh Olympic gold medal with an audacious keirin triumph.

The 33-year-old Kenny made an immediate break from the pack in Sunday's final as soon as the derny bike - the motorised bicycle that paces the riders in the early laps - moved aside.

It was a calculated gamble as Kenny surged the best part of half a lap clear of his rivals, who were caught by surprise and only began to seriously narrow the gap in the closing metres.

Kenny, who won his first gold in Beijing, has now been a podium topper at four consecutive Olympic Games and becomes the first athlete from Great Britain to win more than six golds in a career. He had previously been level with fellow cyclist Chris Hoy.

In total, Kenny has nine Olympic medals, with two silvers to go with his stack of gold.

"It is a bit of shock I think," Kenny said. "I really wanted to cross the finish line. Obviously, I am absolutely buzzing."

Asked about his decisive early move, he explained: "It was just too big an opportunity. I didn't really want to be on the front, I felt like I had a bit of a target on my back with these guys behind. When I looked back, I saw a gap, gave it a little squeeze and it got bigger. I just sort of went through it.

"Everyone just looked at each other and it was just enough - I was just lucky it was enough for me to slip away and get my head down.

"I kind of felt like I had nothing to lose, so I put my head down and went through it.

“It was such a long way. I felt like the last lap took me about half an hour. But I got there in the end. I still can’t believe I crossed the line on my own."

 

Silver went to Malaysian rider Mohd Azizulhasni Awang, and Dutchman Harrie Lavreysen took bronze.

Kenny earned a team sprint silver earlier in his Tokyo 2020 programme but was only eighth in the individual sprint.

To produce a gold-winning display again was a fine way to end his time in Japan's capital, but there was disappointment for his wife, Laura Kenny, whose bid for a hat-trick of omnium titles ended with a sixth-placed finish.

The London 2012 and Rio 2016 champion had a fall in the scratch race and then struggled to get in medal contention, with gold going to American Jennifer Valente, silver to Yumi Kajihara of Japan and bronze to Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands.

Laura Kenny at least enjoyed her husband's success, after privately fearing he would fall short.

"The amount of people who came up to me afterwards and were like 'I'd have counted him out of this' - and to be honest, so had I!" Kenny told BBC Sport.

"I was speaking to him last night and he was like 'I just want to go home'. Then obviously he won - just typical Jason, that."

Gold in the women's sprint went to Canada's Kelsey Mitchell, who edged out Ukraine's Olena Starikova in the final, with Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong beating Germany's Emma Hinze to bronze.

The United States cut into China's lead in the medal table, leaving them just two ahead at the end of the penultimate day of the Tokyo Olympics.

China came into Saturday with a five-gold lead but double 4x400m relay success provided the platform for USA to make up ground.

Allyson Felix became the only American athlete to win 11 track medals as the women cruised to relay gold, while the men coasted to an 18th success as they finished well ahead, the Netherlands a distant second.

Team USA recorded their fourth successive gold in the men’s basketball final, plus there was success for Nelly Korda in the women's golf.

China picked up two golds to take their tally to 38, with Cao Yuan, who became the first athlete to win three different Olympic diving events, and Yang Jian securing a Chinese one-two in the 10m platform. Their other victory came in the women's canoe double 500m sprint.

Early leaders Japan collected a trio of triumphs, the first of which came in softball, while the Russian Olympic Committee also secured three golds, Abdulrashid Sadulaev dominating the men's heavyweight freestyle wrestling.

Galal Yafai captured Great Britain's 19th gold with a 4-1 points decision in the men's flyweight boxing final before Joe Choong added another by replicating Kate French's achievement in the men's version of the modern pentathlon.

Australia, who equalled their record medal haul at the Games on Thursday, remain in sixth place, Nicola McDermott's silver making history in the women's high jump with her country's first medal in the event since 1964.

 

It was by no means certain the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics would even go ahead, such was the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But go ahead they did and now here we stand on the eve of the closing ceremony in the Japanese capital.

They have certainly been a Games like no other and we all hope future Olympics will not be held under such unusual circumstances, and judging the success of Tokyo 2020 is no easy feat given the measures to do so are too arbitrary.

Having said that, here are the highs of the Games and some of the lows, too.

The highs…

WARHOLM AND MCLAUGHLIN HAMMER THE HURDLES

Karsten Warholm revelled in bringing the "wow" factor to the men's 400m hurdles, and rightly so. The Norwegian became the first man to break the 46-second barrier – running an astonishing 45.94 seconds to smash his own world record, five weeks after breaking a benchmark held by Kevin Young for 29 years. A day later, Sydney McLaughlin battered her own world record in the women's race, clocking in at 51.46s.

VAN VLEUTEN'S HEARTWARMING TRIUMPH

Five years ago in Rio, Annemiek van Vleuten was on course for victory in the women's cycling road race until a high-speed crash left her with minor fractures to her spine. To make matters worse, the Dutchwoman made headlines for celebrating what she thought was victory in the same event here in Tokyo – only to realise she had finished second behind runaway winner Anna Kiesenhofer. But finally, her golden moment arrived in the women's time trial – at the age of 38 years and 293 days, she became the third-oldest woman to win Olympic gold for the Netherlands.

SWIMMING STARS PROVE THERE'S LIFE AFTER PHELPS

Michael Phelps is an Olympics legend and no one can lay claim to more than the 23 golds or 28 overall medals he accrued over between 2004 and 2016. But a stellar cast this year proved swimming is in a very strong position. Emma McKeon took home seven medals (including four golds) – the joint-most of any woman at a single Games – while Ariarne Titmus' 200m and 400m free double was memorable, particularly her win over the great Katie Ledecky in the latter race. Caeleb Dressel took five golds to show his potential as Phelps' heir apparent, while Adam Peaty stunned again for Great Britain. It was some week in the pool.

THOMPSON-HERAH DOES THE DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Elaine Thompson-Herah announced herself to the world stage with a 100 and 200m sprint double at Rio 2016 but injuries in the intervening years stemmed her momentum a little. However, she peaked at the perfect time in Tokyo and backed up her double from Brazil – becoming the first woman to repeat on the 100 and 200m. Indeed, only Usain Bolt had ever previously done so.

THE AZZURRI'S GOLDEN HOUR

There was a shock in the men's 100m final where the unheralded Marcell Jacobs started the post-Bolt era with gold. That followed on from countryman Gianmarco Tamberi having minutes earlier shared high jump glory with Mutaz Essa Barshim. There were hugs aplenty as Italy, surely celebrating their greatest night at an Olympics, won two athletics golds at the same Games since Athens in 2004.

NEW EVENTS CATCH THE IMAGINATION

One of the most fascinating aspects of any Olympics is the new sports and categories that get added to the programme. At Tokyo 2020, skateboarding, surfing and climbing have all attracted new and younger audiences to the Games – while the addition of mixed triathlon and the mixed 4x400m track relay have been successes.

BILES' INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE

On the one hand, the fact we saw so little of Simone Biles and some of the reprehensible bilge aimed her way over the decision to pull out of the women's team event after just one rotation and then miss four individual events can be seen as a negative. But, on the other hand, the fact that she came back to take bronze on the balance beam and use her platform to promote the importance of protecting mental health has to be seen as a high. It takes bravery and courage in her position to speak on such matters. Kudos to you, Simone.

And the lows…

EMPTY STADIUMS AN ENDURING IMAGE

Let's start with the obvious here and something that has been spoken about pretty relentlessly. The absence of fans has had a huge cost on the atmosphere at these Games. Magical moments and career peaks played out in front of huge, empty stadia has undoubtedly been a huge negative. Many will take the fact we got here and managed to hold a Games at all as a positive. And it is. But at times, the whole thing felt a bit… meh.

TENNIS' HEADLINE ACTS FAIL TO DELIVER

With so many of the top male players opting to skip Tokyo, there was a big focus on Novak Djokovic and the next checkmark on his quest for a rare Golden Slam (only Steffi Graf has ever done it). The Serbian fell short, dropping out at the semi-final stage then getting a little stroppy. Big things were also expected of Naomi Osaka – a home hope and the 'face of the Games'. She made it as far as round three before going down to Marketa Vondrousova.

THE TSIMANOUSKAYA SAGA

One of the ugliest stories to emerge from the Games was the story of Belarusian runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who refused to board a flight after allegedly being taken to the airport against her will following her public criticism of her team's organisation on social media. Tsimanouskaya competed in only one event and claimed she was entered into a 4x400m relay despite never racing in the discipline, suggesting that was a result of members of the team being considered ineligible due to not completing enough doping tests. The Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation indicated Tsimanouskaya feared for her life upon returning to Minsk. The country is under the authoritarian leadership of president Alexander Lukashenko, whose son Viktor heads the national Olympic committee (NOC). Both men were banned last December from attending Tokyo 2020. The whole thing has been really rather unsavoury.

Michael Morkov and Lasse Norman Hansen added Olympic gold to their World Championship title as Denmark were crowned kings of the Tokyo 2020 men's madison.

Great Britain took silver and France the bronze in the Izu Velodrome, but Denmark again proved they are masters of the event, with their riders adding to the silver they captured in team pursuit.

Having served as Deceuninck-QuickStep’s lead-out man in the Tour de France, helping Mark Cavendish secure the four stage wins that took him level with the great Eddy Merckx, this was another standout moment for Morkov, and it was his day to scoop big-stage glory.

He and Hansen landed the madison world title in March of last year, before lockdown hit much of Europe, and now they have gold at the Olympics to their name.

The British duo of Ethan Hayter and omnium gold medallist Matt Walls finished strongly to snatch second place by landing the double-points final sprint.

France, who had led the gold medal chase with six sprints remaining, were reeled in and forced to settle for third.

Morkov said: "I know we won the race but it's hard to believe now. We were the main favourite. Lasse and I won all the medals we ever did together internationally. We know we had a good shot at this but it came very close.

"Actually I knew it 10 laps out because we were leading with 11 points. We had the French with us and the British were off the road, they could maximum take 10 points. So it was kind of a sweet finish even though it was very, very hard because it was our chase, but still I wanted to look at the board in the end to get it confirmed.

"I had in mind all the time our Danish badminton player Viktor Axelsen, who won an amazing gold medal a week ago, and he was a big inspiration for me today."

The madison had been off the Olympic programme since 2008 until its return this year, with Morkov finishing sixth in the event in Beijing 13 years ago alongside Alex Rasmussen, when the Danes had higher ambitions.

Morkov described the move to scratch the madison from the 2012 and 2016 Olympics as "a big bummer", given his prowess in the event.

"But in 2017 when I heard it was back on the programme, I was in no doubt that this would be my shot at an Olympic medal," the 36-year-old said.

Hansen, 29, savoured the moment, saying of Morkov: "Man, he's been one of my idols since I started riding on the tracks, so it means a lot to stand here beside him."

China remain atop the Olympics Games medal table as they maintained their five-gold buffer over the United States with two on Friday in Tokyo.

The table-toppers head into the penultimate day at the Olympics with their advantage still intact, courtesy of gold in the women's javelin and the men's team table tennis.

Shiying Liu became the first Asian woman to win gold in the javelin, while China extended their perfect record in table tennis since its 2008 introduction – Ma Long becoming the most decorated table tennis Olympian with his fifth triumph.

USA matched China's gold count on day 14, collecting the top spot in the women's beach volleyball and via Gable Steveson's last-second victory in the men's superheavyweight freestyle wrestling.

Japan remain in third place and collected two golds, the first of which came in the women's featherweight freestyle wrestling from Mayu Mukaida with the second following through three-time world champion Ryo Kiyuna, who was crowned the first ever men's kata karate Olympic champion.

After falling down to sixth on Thursday, Great Britain bounced back up to fourth with a pair of golds. Laura Kenny teamed up with Katie Archibald to become the first British female Olympian to triumph at three consecutive Games – winning the women's madison comfortably.

Kate French captured Team GB's other gold in the women's pentathlon, though there could have been a third had the men's 4x100 metre relay team not been pipped at the line by Marcell Jacobs' Italy.

The Russian Olympic Committee sit in fifth on 17 golds, Zaurbek Sidakov securing their sole gold of the day in the men's welterweight freestyle wrestling.

After firing a blank on Friday, Australia – who equalled their best ever medal haul at the Games a day earlier – dropped down to sixth, level with the Russians on 17 golds.

 

Elaine Thompson-Herah completed a stunning sprint hat-trick at the Tokyo Olympics as Italy enjoyed further success on the track on Friday.

Having won both the 100m and 200m individual finals, Thompson-Herah was part of the impressive Jamaica team, alongside Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson and Briana Williams, that won the women’s 4x100m relay, finishing ahead of the United States.

No female athlete had been victorious in all three sprint events at a Games since American Florence Griffith Joyner back in 1988.

Thompson-Herah now has five Olympic golds in total, one behind Allyson Felix, who added to her collection with a bronze medal in a 400m race won convincingly by Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas.

After success in the 100m, Marcell Jacobs doubled his tally of golds from the Games as part of Italy’s 4x100m relay squad that pipped Great Britain on the line.

However, it was Filippo Tortu who ran an outstanding final leg for the Italians, seeing him edge out Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake on the line.

 

ITALIAN JOB SECURES MORE GOLD

Italy's relay triumph takes them up to five golds in athletics – they had never previously won more than three at a single Olympics. It is the first time they have made the podium in the 4x100m relay since a bronze in 1948.

"This is the year of Italy, this is our year," said a delighted Jacobs. "We won the Eurovision, we won the football European championships, we won five gold medals (in athletics)."

Also in Friday's action on the track, Joshua Cheptegei triumphed in the men's 5000m final while Faith Kipyegon claimed gold in the women's 1500m, with Sifan Hassan – who had won the 5000m – finishing third. She has a chance to claim another medal when running in the 10,000m on Saturday.

"I am very happy with my race. I tried my best, but I couldn't do more than this," Hassan said after her bid to complete an Olympic treble came to an end.

"I think, for me, the third place is good. There was a lot of wind at the stadium today and that is what made it difficult for me. I can't do anything about that, I just didn't have any more strength.

"For now, it is all about taking enough rest in order to be able to race again tomorrow."


KENNY KEEPS ADDING TO COLLECTION

Laura Kenny now has five Olympic gold medals after teaming up with Katie Archibald to win the madison for Great Britain.

The pair were dominant in the inaugural women's event, finishing up with 78 points. Denmark were a distant second on 35, with the Russian Olympic Committee taking bronze.

Kenny had already managed a silver in Tokyo in the women's pursuit, with this latest Olympic medal taking her to six. Only dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin can match that tally for a British woman.

"When I fell pregnant, there was a moment two months into the pregnancy where I woke up and said to Jason (Kenny, husband and fellow Olympian), 'I can't do this, I'm not going to be able to carry on (with cycling), there's just no way'. And here we are," said Kenny.

There was a one-two result for the Netherlands in the men's sprint, Harrie Lavreysen seeing off compatriot Jeffrey Hoogland in a tense final. Britain's Jack Carlin claimed the final spot on the podium.

 

GROSSO HITS THE SPOT

Canada held their nerve in a penalty shoot-out to become Olympic champions for the first time in women's football, overcoming Sweden in a dramatic final.

Julia Grosso slotted in the winning kick to secure a 3-2 triumph after Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe had twice made crucial saves. Sweden had the chance to win it with their fifth attempt, only for captain Caroline Seger to fire over the crossbar.

In the men's tournament, Mexico defeated Japan 3-1 in the bronze medal game.

"We wanted to win a medal at these Olympic Games, so I feel very thankful," said Mexico coach Jaime Lozano. "In football, this is the most important day in my life. What we have experienced today will be with us for the rest of our lives."
 

ANNAN ACHIEVES A FIRST

In the women's hockey final, the Netherlands claimed a record fourth title as they defeated Argentina 3-1.

The result sees Alyson Annan become the first woman to get a gold as both a player and a head coach.

"It's nice but it's not why I do this," Annan said of that achievement. "My goal as a coach is to hopefully be a part of someone's career and have them look back and say 'That was a great time and I learned a lot and I became a better player and a better person'.

"For me it's not about the gold medal. That's for them."

Great Britain took bronze with a 4-3 win over India.

Track cycling queen Laura Kenny scooped the fifth Olympic gold of her stellar career by teaming up with Katie Archibald to win the madison for Great Britain.

Kenny, who was an omnium and team pursuit champion at the 2012 and 2016 Games, became the first British woman to win gold medals at three Olympics.

Archibald was also a victorious British team pursuiter in Rio five years ago, and she and Kenny proved an irresistible partnership in Tokyo's inaugural women's Olympic madison.

They scored a staggering 78 points, with Denmark's Amalie Dideriksen and Julie Leth second on 35 points and the Russian Olympic Committee's Gulnaz Khatuntseva and Mariia Novolodskaia scoring 26 in taking bronze.

Kenny's win boosts her record tally of women's track cycling gold medals.

Of all competitors in track cycling, only her husband Jason Kenny and fellow Briton Chris Hoy have won more gold medals, with both having six to their name.

Among all female British Olympians, nobody has won more medals than Kenny, who also landed a team pursuit silver on Tuesday. The madison success meant she matched British equestrian star Charlotte Dujardin's haul of six medals (three gold, one silver, two bronze).

 

Kenny, 29, became a mother to son Albert in August 2017 and suspected at the time she had crossed the finish line in her cycling career.

She said after Friday's triumph: "When I fell pregnant, there was a moment two months into the pregnancy where I woke up and said to Jason, 'I can't do this, I'm not going to be able to carry on [with cycling], there's just no way'. And here we are."

Dutch rider Harrie Lavreysen prevailed in the men's sprint, becoming the first Olympian from the Netherlands to win two gold medals in track cycling, having landed a first in the team sprint earlier this week.

The latest triumph saw Lavreysen become the first Dutch winner of the sprint since Jacobus van Egmond in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

He led a Dutch one-two, with silver going to Jeffrey Hoogland, while Britain's Jack Carlin took bronze.

Hoogland won the first heat of the final but Lavreysen came back to level in the next before taking gold, with both riders exhausted by the gruelling decisive third sprint.

Lavreysen said: "I was really thinking confident before the races like I was going to win this. I lost the first one, but I also made a mistake. So I thought, 'Okay, just refresh and go for the second one, I can still win this'. I got my head really clear and just focused on winning the race.

"It's such an amazing feeling. When I was on the track I really wanted to cheer and put my hands in the air, but I couldn't do it, I was in so much pain."

Carlin was satisfied with his third-placed finish, saying: "The Dutch team for the last five years have been dominant and both of those boys have unbelievable talent. It was always going to be hard against them."

Germany's Olympic cycling sports director Patrick Moster has been banned for the rest of the year after making racist slurs about time-trial riders from Eritrea and Algeria.

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, announced the punishment on Friday, in the wake of Germany's national federation (BDR) doling out its own punishment.

Moster has been stripped of his duties at international level and taken an enforced pay cut. The BDR described Moster's comments as "a massive violation" of the values of the federation and cycling as a whole.

Moster urged German rider Nikias Arndt to "get the camel drivers" during the July 28 time trial at Tokyo 2020.

He has since apologised but is paying the consequences now, with the UCI taking action over comments it labelled as "discriminatory and contrary to the basic rules of decency".

The UCI said in a statement: "Mr Moster has since acknowledged before the disciplinary commission that he had committed a breach of the UCI regulations and agreed to the imposition of a suspension until 31 December 2021, during which time Mr Moster may not participate in any capacity in any competition or activity authorised or organised by the UCI, a continental confederation or a member national federation.

"The UCI underlines that the sanction imposed by the UCI disciplinary commission is in addition to the measures taken by Mr Moster's national federation, the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer.

"The UCI condemns all forms of racist and discriminatory behaviour and strives to ensure integrity, diversity and equality in cycling."

The United States cut China's lead at the top of the medal table to five as they collected four golds on day 13 of the Games.

Coming into Thursday's events, China boasted a seven-gold buffer as leaders but that was reduced by the USA's Katie Nageotte in the women's pole vault and Ryan Crouser in the men's shot put – the latter of which became a back-to-back Olympic champion.

More golds followed for the USA, with Nevin Harrison winning the women's single canoe 200m sprint – her country's first medal in either canoe or kayak sprint since 1992 – and David Taylor succeeding in the men's 86kg freestyle wrestling in the last second.

After shooting a blank the previous day, China ensured a five-gold gap going into Friday as the women's table tennis team continued their dominance, overcoming Japan to secure their fourth gold in four consecutive Games.

The table-toppers have now won all four of the women's diving events in Tokyo, too, as 14-year-old Quan Hongchan set a world record in the 10m platform, making it a China one-two with fellow teenager Chen Yuxi.

Defending Olympic champion Risako Kawai, who is also a three-time world champion, triumphed once more in the women's 57kg wrestling freestyle, meaning early leaders Japan remain in third with a gold count of 22.

Australia suffered shoot-out heartbreak in the men's hockey final but climbed up to fourth with men's kayak double 1000m sprint success and their first-ever Olympic gold medal in skateboarding, courtesy of Keegan Palmer's park win.

Their 17 gold medals at the Games with three days to go equalled Australia's best-ever haul, matching the total they collected at Athens in 2004. 

The Russian Olympic Committee leaped up a spot to fifth as Zaur Uguev was crowned champion in the men's 57kg wrestling freestyle and Albert Batyrgaziev fought to gold in the men's featherweight boxing.

Great Britain, who now boast 16 medals after winning just the one event on Thursday, slipped back down to sixth position with Matthew Walls' omnium gold ending Team GB's frustrating unsuccessful spell in the cycling track events.

 

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