Nelly Korda is attempting to banish thoughts of an Olympic gold medal even as she closes in on winning the women's golf tournament.

The 23-year-old American will carry a three-shot lead into the final round at Kasumigaseki Country Club after shooting a two-under 69 on Friday to reach 15 under par.

She had to scramble at times after a bright start and made 10 consecutive pars following a bogey six at the eighth hole, with Korda relieved to stay firmly in control through 54 holes.

Aditi Ashok of India sits second after a 68 moved her to 12 under, with third place at 10 under shared by New Zealand's Lydia Ko, Australia's Hannah Green, Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark and Japan's Mone Inami.

Asked what pleased her most about her round, Korda said: "Probably my fight. I didn't really have a good back nine. I was kind of spraying it all over the place.

"I made all pars and fought really hard to stay in it really, or ahead of it. If I was sloppy and didn't fight the way I did, I could definitely have shot a couple over par on the back nine easily. I had a couple of testy par putts but I never give up."

As for imagining a gold medal around her neck, Korda said it was only natural to let that thought cross her mind.

"I feel like everyone does it, but that's when you need to take a step back," she said. "There's still 18 more holes to go, there's still a lot that can happen.

"I try to remind myself even though I think about it – I quickly shake my head and I'm like, 'No, no, no, no, it's not there yet, we're not there, we still have a long way to go'."

The weather forecast for the weekend suggests it may be a struggle to fit in a fourth round, with storms expected to brush the east coast of Japan.

Therefore Korda will have already done enough if the tournament is reduced to a three-round event, but she is putting that thought to one side.

An early start has been scheduled for Saturday, with the first groups out at 06:30 local time. Korda, Ashok and Ko will be the last trio out starting from the first, weather permitting, at 08:18.

"My mindset is 72 holes, so I'm sticking to that and trying to give myself opportunities and make them," Korda said. "I'm trying to stay as present as possible and see how it goes.

"I've been really calm the last three days. I haven't really gotten nervous."

Nine-time Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis did not hold back in his criticism of the United States' performance in the men's 4x100 metres relay at Tokyo 2020.

Team USA have not won the event in 21 years and though they entered Thursday's heat as one of the favourites, they failed to qualify for the final.

It is the first time Team USA have failed to reach the Olympic final since 2008, though they have hardly had much fortune in the event since their success in Sydney.

Indeed, they have only once made it to the finish line cleanly, without any mistakes, when they claimed silver at London 2012. That medal, however, was conceded in the wake of Tyson Gay's doping ban.

This time around, a team including three of the fastest men in the world over 100m in 2021, fared little better.

Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker and Cravon Gillespie finished sixth in the heat with a time of 38.10 seconds.

"We just didn't get the job done today," Kerley said. "That's all."

Sprinting great Lewis, who won two golds in the 4x100m relay, hit out at what he labelled a "clown show".

"The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay," Lewis wrote on Twitter. "The passing system is wrong, athletes running the wrong legs, and it was clear that there was no leadership. It was a total embarrassment, and completely unacceptable for a USA team to look worse than the AAU kids I saw."

He then expanded on his criticism in an interview with USA Today.

"This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared," Lewis said.

"It's unacceptable. It's so disheartening to see this because it’s people's lives. We're just playing games with people's lives. That's why I’m so upset. It's totally avoidable.

"America is sitting there rooting for the United States and then they have this clown show. I can't take it anymore. It's just unacceptable. It is not hard to do the relay."

HISTORY MADE BY SPAIN

Sport climbing and karate were two of the sports introduced for the Tokyo Games, and the first medals in each were won by Spanish athletes.

At the age of 39 years and 323 days, Sandra Sanchez became Spain's oldest Olympic champion as she triumphed in the women's kata, breaking the record set by Joan Llaneras in the velodrome in 2008.

Sanchez also became the first Spanish woman to clinch gold in martial arts since judoka Isabel Fernandez did so in 2000.

Her triumph was followed up by golds for France's Steven da Costa and Bulgaria's Ivet Goranova in the men's and women's kumite respectively.

At the opposite end of the spectrum to Sanchez, 18-year-old Alberto Gines Lopez became the youngest male Spanish athlete to strike gold at the Games as he pipped Nathaniel Coleman and Jakob Schubert in the sport climbing men's combined final.

"I think it will help the sport to grow, and for it to get more support. We need good installations in order to help the sport, and I think this will bring more support to the sport," the teenager said, before revealing his plans of celebration: "I'm going to break my diet. And then call my family and friends."

FOURNIER PREPPED FOR 'THE MOST COMPLICATED MATCH'

Team USA and France will meet in the final of the men's basketball competition, as the two favourites go head-to-head for gold.

Luka Doncic's shooting was off as Slovenia fell to an agonising 90-89 defeat to France, who beat the USA in the pool stage.

The European Champions, who also defeated the USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, now face a rematch against a side that has scored over 90 points in the last four games.

Evan Fournier, whose 23 points was second behind only team-mate Nando de Colo, knows what is in store.

"It represents a real step towards a dream, and the dream is to win the Olympics against the United States," said Fournier, who has just swapped the Boston Celtics for the New York Knicks.

"We have to rest and not let our minds wander, and prepare as much as possible, because there's a team waiting for us. They've prepared for us for two years, apparently, and because we beat them in the pool it will be worse, so it will be the most complicated match of the competition for us without any doubt."

SHOOT-OUT GLORY FOR BELGIUM

Beaten finalists in 2016, Belgium claimed their first hockey gold, and only their second in an Olympic team sport, after their men beat Australia 3-2 in a shoot-out.

Goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch was the hero in dramatic circumstances.

He made two saves before then denying Jacob Whetton, only for Belgium's celebrations to be cut short by a referral. However, Vanasch stood firm for a second time.

The shoot-out drama followed a 1-1 draw, with Tom Wickham having cancelled out Florent van Aubel's opener.

"What a feeling. You become Olympic champion, but twice [because of the referral] It's unusual," Vanasch said. "We had to calm down and go again. We knew that.

"I'm like a musician, it's a rehearsal and then you come to the concert and it comes naturally. That's how I come on the pitch. I'm composed, but also I trust myself, I trust my reflexes."

Australia have now won seven men's hockey medals across the last eight Games, while Belgium won their first gold in a team event since the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, when their men's football team triumphed.

Nelly Korda narrowly missed out on a 59 in the second round as the world number one took a firm grip on a women's Olympics golf tournament that could be cut to 54 holes.

American star Korda was 11 under on the par-71 course heading to the 18th hole, knowing another birdie would take her below 60.

Such a score would have been the first sub-60 round at the Olympics, but a double bogey scotched that prospect.

It was Korda's only misstep of the day, with the 23-year-old settling for a 62 that moved her four shots clear of the field through 36 holes, on 13-under-par 129.

It remains to be seen whether all four rounds can be played, with a forecast for stormy weather at the weekend casting some doubt on the prospects for play.

High temperatures have been a troubling factor so far this week at Kasumigaseki Country Club, and Games organisers have moved tee times forward for Friday, with every player due to be out by 09:23 local time, to avoid as much of the intense heat as possible. Players carried umbrellas on Thursday, to keep the sun off.

Korda parred holes one to four on Thursday before hitting a hot streak, picking up six shots by the turn and making five further birdies on the back nine, only to make six at the last.

Asked if she had a 59 on her mind going to the 18th tee, Korda said: "No, not really. I wasn't thinking about it at all. I was like, 'Oh, I've a pretty good lead going into 18'. It's unfortunate with that double on 18, but that's golf. That's just how it goes sometimes."

She found rough and then a bunker on that final hole, and her verdict that "golf humbles you" spoke volumes of her measured attitude.

Korda, daughter of former tennis star Petr Korda, landed her maiden major title at the Women's PGA Championship in June and now is the front-runner for Olympic gold.

One more solid round may be all it takes if the course cannot be played over the weekend.

Event organisers have said Sunday is a possible back-up day if Saturday, when the fourth round is due to be played, is hit by the weather.

"I'm going to have the mindset that it's going to be a 72-hole golf tournament," said Korda, "and whatever happens, happens."

A group of three players share second on nine-under 133, with India's Aditi Ashok there after a 66, joined by Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Emily Kristine Pedersen, who had rounds of 64 and 63 respectively.

Maha Haddioui will not be a factor in the medals shake-up, but the Moroccan had a moment to savour in a round of 74 that put her in a tie for 49th.

She made a hole in one at the 163-yard seventh hole but gave back those shots at the ninth before, like Korda, she too double-bogeyed the 18th hole.

Kevin Durant admitted Team USA were caught with "a nice haymaker" from Australia before clambering to their feet and reaching another Olympic final.

The Americans scored a 97-78 victory at the Saitama Super Arena, putting a fourth successive gold medal at the Games within reach.

But at one stage in the second quarter Durant and co trailed 41-26, with the Australian Boomers making a fast and purposeful start to the semi-final that they could not maintain.

It was at the point the USA side fell 15 points behind that they took a timeout, and from that stage onwards they dominated, Durant leading the team with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Australia shot just 25 of 61 – 41 per cent – from the field, whereas USA managed 38 of 74 and dominated the boards 44-29 in what became a convincing victory.

"We've been down 15 in games before and came back," Durant said. "It doesn't matter what level it was at, or where it's at. A lot of guys have been in that position before. We know how to handle ourselves.

"We kept our composure and we knew that we could get back into the game pretty fast, if we got stops and got out and ran. So we've got to give credit to Australia because they came out and hit us with a nice haymaker, but we were able to get back up and get that lead back."

 

It came as no surprise to Durant that Australia began as they did.

"We knew Australia would come out fast and hit us with a nice punch. We know that teams want to get us down early, see how we respond," said the Brooklyn Nets star.

"A lot of these guys got continuity for years and years, so they know how to play with each other. I feel like a lot of teams are expecting us to fold early.

"We stuck with it, stuck with our principles, made a couple of switches on defence, and we were able to get some momentum going into the half. Guys came out with that intensity, making shots as well."

The 32-year-old Durant is chasing a third gold medal of his Olympic career, having played on the London 2012 and Rio 2016 teams.

For Jrue Holiday, who is coming off an NBA championship-winning season with the Milwaukee Bucks, this is a first Olympic experience.

Like Durant, he saw no need for panic after Australia began Thursday's semi-final so strongly.

By half-time, Australia's lead had been cut to just 45-42, and a 32-10 third quarter for the USA showed their firepower.

"I think we played the game long enough to know that there's always a chance," Holiday said. "So we took that six minutes in the second quarter and kind of ramped it up, and went into half-time in the position that we liked."

Australia have finished fourth in Olympic men's basketball four times, never going further and claiming a medal.

They will have a bronze-medal game to come in Tokyo and must pick themselves up to go again.

Jock Landale scored 11 points against the USA, and the Melbourne United star accepted it was tough for Australia to keep up their early high level.

"It's hard. It's really hard. They're great basketball players, they're smart basketball players," Landale said.

"They figure out what you're doing and they just find ways to exploit it. I think we started turning the ball over in that third quarter and they were just living in transition, and that's tough to beat. They're the most athletic guys in the world, so I think that's probably where we lost them."

Team USA shook off a slow start to overwhelm Australia 97-78 and reach the gold medal game as Gregg Popovich saw the best and worst of his team in Thursday's semi-final.

A fourth successive men's basketball title for the US is now within sight, but coach Popovich will know another shaky opening might be asking for trouble.

Here, as in the quarter-final against Spain, the American team went through the gears and eventually piled on the points.

They had trailed 41-26 with 5:23 to go in the second quarter, which was when Popovich called a timeout, having seen enough of his team being pulled this way and that by Patty Mills and the lively Boomers.

Dante Exum's dunk from Jock Landale's delicious assist gave Australia that 15-point cushion, but that was as good as it got for them.

From that point on, the game flipped, the US team going on a 48-14 run through to the end of the third quarter as they built a 74-55 lead, with Australia unable to get close enough to worry their opponents.

Kevin Durant led the USA with 23 points and nine rebounds, albeit making just one of seven three-point shots, while Devin Booker backed him up with a 20-point game.

The clash of France and Slovenia in the second semi-final later on Thursday would dictate whom Popovich must prepare his side to face next.

As well as four in a row, the USA are targeting a seventh men's basketball gold medal in the last eight Olympic Games, going back to the 1992 'Dream Team' triumph in Barcelona.

Japan squeezed through to the women's basketball semi-finals following a dramatic 86-85 victory over Belgium at the Tokyo Olympics.

Targeting a first medal in the event, the host nation almost suffered last-gasp heartbreak after recovering from 70-61 behind in the final quarter.

Saki Hayashi’s three-pointer put them in front by one with 16 seconds remaining, but there was still time for Belgium’s Kim Mestdagh to take aim right at the death.

However, her last-second jump shot bounced off the rim, meaning Japan go through to a last-four clash with France.

"There were so many peaks and valleys. We were hanging on to the cliff by a fingernail in the fourth quarter," coach Tom Hovasse said.

"We just came up with plays and towards the middle of the fourth quarter, we ramped up our defence and that took them out of their comfort zone.

"We believe in ourselves, and I am hoping more people outside our locker room believe in us.

"I think it is safe to say it is the biggest win in Japan basketball history."

 

FRANCE FEND OFF SPAIN FIGHTBACK

Japan's next opponents are France, who beat Spain 67-64 after another epic encounter.

Despite dominating most of the contest – Marine Johannes leading the way with 18 points – France appeared in danger of throwing it all away as they fell 61-60 behind.

However, they recovered to snatch victory and secure a third consecutive appearance in the last four.

Astou Ndour had 16 points in a losing cause for Spain, runners up from the Rio Games who will not be taking home a medal this time around.

 

SERBIA STUN CHINA

Serbia were another team to produce an inspired turnaround as they defeated China 77-70.

Bronze medallists on their debut in Rio, the European champions recovered from 58-50 down to reach their second successive semi-final at the Games.

"How many times have we done this, 20, 30 times?" said shooting guard Ana Dabovic, who claimed six assists during the game to go alongside her 13 points.

"We never quit, and we play the hardest when we are down. We showed today we can find energy.

"This is a great success for a small country. Second time at the Olympics for Serbia; second time in the semi-finals. This is great."

Jelena Brooks top-scored with 18 points for Serbia, while Sonja Vasic had 16.


SEVEN IN A ROW STILL ON

The United States remain on course for a seventh straight Olympic gold after easing to a 79-55 win over three-time silver medallists Australia.

Breanna Stewart led the way with 20 first-half points – she would finish the contest with 23 overall - as USA ran out 79-55 winners.

"I thought we came out and played inspired basketball on both sides of the ball," said coach Dawn Staley.

"We played with an incredible desire to advance and it was just contagious.

"I thought our team was focused on keeping the heat on Australia and not let them back in the game."

Team USA have not failed to win the women’s tournament at an Olympics since Barcelona in 1992.

Kevin Durant said Team USA have "got to finish it" after battling past Spain to reach the Olympic semi-finals.

The Brooklyn Nets star poured in a team-high 29 points as the United States won 95-81 at the Saitama Super Arena, bolstering their gold medal hopes.

It was far from an easy assignment, and nor was it always entirely convincing from the US team, who trailed 39-29 with 3:25 of the second quarter remaining.

They rallied impressively, however, to draw level at 43-43 at the halfway point, and Spain never led again.

"We started making shots there in the second quarter. Once we see that ball going into the rim, that put all of us at ease," Durant said.

"Our defence was a little better, a little tighter, we rebounded better after that. And guys just got more comfortable shooting the basketball.

"We drove it to the rim at the end of that second and were able to get our rhythm back a little bit. I like how we played in that second quarter, from the end of the second quarter all the way to finish the game, and that's how we're gonna need to play going forward.

"It was a huge boost. We didn't want to go into the half down double digits. We knew we didn't want to get down big against this team."

Ricky Rubio plundered 38 points for Spain, with the Minnesota Timberwolves man shooting 13-of-20 from the field. That gave him the highest score by a Spain men's player in an Olympic game, beating the 37 points that Pau Gasol scored against China in 2004.

Rubio also drained four of his seven shots from three-point range, the same as Durant, but USA's 22-6 run at the start of the third quarter took the game away from Spain.

The Spaniards briefly got back to just four points behind, in the early moments of the fourth quarter, yet despite their overall 42-32 dominance on the boards, they were found wanting elsewhere.

USA coach Gregg Popovich said: "I feel great about the victory knowing full well there is a lot of work to be done. We played a terrific basketball team.

"To play that team and go down by nine or 10 and stay in and find a way to win is very satisfying."

Durant feels the team are ready to step up a level, now they are through to the final four.

The pre-Olympics defeats to Australia and Nigeria no longer matter, nor does the loss to France in the Tokyo 2020 group stage.

"I love how we stuck with it throughout this whole period of time and guys started figuring out what we need to do," Durant said.

"You've just got to finish it. We're supposed to be here. For us it's about getting a gold."

A decorated final day in the pool and Xander Schauffele's golfing gold saw the United States leapfrog hosts Japan and go second in the Tokyo Olympics medal table behind China.

Caeleb Dressel took his gold haul to five with victory thanks to victory in the 50 metres freestyle before swimming the butterfly leg as the USA broke the world record in the men's 4x100m medley.

Australia's Emma McKeon became the first female swimmer to win seven medals at a single Olympics, doubling her gold tally to four by matching Dressel's 50m and medley exploits.

In open water, there was further Australian success as Matt Wearn won the men's one-person laser event, while Logan Martin's victory in the inaugural BMX freestyle means his country are up to fourth in the medal table.

That's a place above the Russian Olympic Committee, who were guaranteed gold as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev overcame team-mates Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev in the tennis mixed doubles gold medal match.

The big story of Sunday came late on at the Olympic Stadium as Marcell Jacobs stunned the competition to win the men's 100m in a European record time of 9:80, a few moments after fellow Italian Gianmarco Tamberi earned a share of gold in the men's high jump.

That doubled Italy's overall golds to four and they are ninth overall, behind fellow European heavyweights France and Great Britain in seventh and sixth respectively.

Gymnast Max Whitlock retained his pommel horse title and Charlotte Worthington triumphed in the women's BMX freestyle final thanks to a ground-breaking 360-degree backflip, taking Team GB to 10 golds in total.

China's Sunday successes came courtesy of Gong Lijiao in the women's shot put, Chen Yufei in the women's badminton singles and now four-time Olympic champion Shi Tingmao in the women's three-metre springboard diving.

A'Ja Wilson led the way for the United States as they saw off host nation Japan 86-69 at the Tokyo Olympics, while China and Belgium booked their places in the quarter-finals.

Team USA are six-time defending champions, though they were made to work by their opponents in Saitama before their height proved decisive.

Now on a 51-game winning streak at the Olympics, Team USA top Group B on four points from their two games so far at the Games.

Wilson was the top scorer with 20 points, while she also contributed 10 rebounds and three assists. Support arrived from Breanna Stewart (15 points) and Brittney Griner (15 points).

It was by no means a comfortable victory, however, having edged out Nigeria 81-72 in their first match.

"Just communication. One, we're getting used to the ball. And then two, just working on making sure we're just all in for each other and understanding the personnel a little bit better," explained guard Jewell Loyd when asked how the team were looking to improve as the tournament goes on.

"Taking a breath. We've played a little fast in other games so just trying to get a rhythm for us, take it slow and play our basketball."

Only Wilson scored more points than Japan's Maki Takada, but the hosts were simply physically outmatched.

"[Team USA] are really superstars," said Evelyn Mawuli. "They know how to play and they're tall and we're small, so we have to run faster than them. So that was a bit difficult, but it was fun."

CHINA SNATCH LATE WIN TO SEAL QUARTER-FINAL SPOT

China and Belgium are sure of their places in the last eight.

That is because of a last-gasp win for China against Australia, avoiding overtime in dramatic fashion to clinch a 76-74 triumph in Group C.

China, who were led by 20-point Wang Siyu, were 11 ahead at one stage in the final quarter, but that deficit was cut down by a resurgent Australia.

However, with 0.6 seconds left, Li Yueru was fouled under the basket. She made both free throws to seal victory and progression into the quarters.

In the process, Belgium's progress was also secured. They beat Puerto Rico 87-52 in the first of Friday's matches.

GARNIER PROUD OF FRANCE REACTION

Elsewhere, France bounced back from an opening defeat to Japan with an 87-62 victory over Nigeria in Group B.

Five players made into double figures for points for the French team, with Sandrine Gruda topping the charts with 14, adding nine rebounds and three assists.

"It was necessary after the defeat against Japan to have a good reaction. I am proud of my team because they did and they all played very hard defence," France coach Valerie Garnier said.

"This is necessary against Nigeria because they fight a lot. After we did this very good job, we tried to make the biggest gap possible, so 25 points was a good result for us."

There were no excuses for Nigeria coach Otis Hughley Jr, who said: "We just got beaten really bad. Offensively we were flat and we couldn't score. You can't play that way against the number five team in the world."

Sunisa Lee was inspired by Simone Biles' presence as she claimed gold in the women's all-around gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics.

Lee is the first Hmong American to compete for the United States at the Olympics and, in Biles' absence, stepped up to deliver the nation's fifth successive gold in the event.

The 18-year-old joins Carly Patterson (2004), Nastia Liukin (2008), Gabby Douglas (2012) and Biles (2016) on that list.

Biles, a four-time gold medallist at the Rio Games, competed in only one event in Tuesday's team competition at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, registering the lowest score of the first rotation before she then left the floor with a trainer.

She then withdrew from the event, revealing she had chosen to prioritise her mental health and stating she had been "fighting demons".

Biles, 24, subsequently chose not to compete in Thursday's final, but was on hand to support her team from the sidelines.

"It sucks that I couldn’t have Simone on the floor with me, but just to have her in the arena was very helpful because she is an inspiration to me and someone I look up to," said a jubilant Lee.

Biles' absence did present its own challenges, however. 

"I just had to switch gears because we came in competing for second place. So when the opportunity was there I knew I had to do what I normally do because this whole season I was second to her [Biles]." Lee added.

"I felt there was a lot of pressure on me because I have been second to her the whole season, so I knew that people were kind of counting on me to either get second or win a gold medal.

"I tried not to focus on that because I knew I would get too nervous, and I probably would have gotten in my head."

Lee also hailed the advice she received from the more experienced members of her team, continuing: "They told me to go out there and not worry about anything else. I was starting to put a little too much pressure on myself. Knowing that Simone was gone, I was starting to put that pressure on myself that I had to come back with a medal.

"I tried not to think about it and just focus on myself. That is what they told me to do, to just do what I normally do and that is when I compete the best."

Rebeca Andrade of Brazil claimed silver, and she paid tribute to Biles' decision to withdraw to focus on her own wellbeing.

"It was different for me because Simone is incredible," she said.

"Knowing why she left the competition was very difficult. People need to understand we are not robots. We are human beings, and we have feelings like anyone else. That is the same in the competition.

"We know what it feels like to feel the pressure, but I tried to keep my cool. I tried to put into practice everything that I learned with my psychologist, and it worked. I did what I could and I could not be happier. I wish the best to everyone."

Justin Thomas described being involved at the Tokyo Olympics as "the coolest thing I've ever been a part of" as he said taking the gold medal would be "the absolute ultimate".

Golf is being staged at the Games for just the fourth time ever and the second time since 1904, having returned to the schedule in Rio five years ago.

The field is not the strongest, with Bryson DeChambeau and world number one Jon Rahm pulling out with coronavirus, while Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia opted not to play and Brooks Koepka failed to qualify.

But many other big names will take part, including ​world number four Thomas, who won his only major at the US PGA Championship in 2017 and is among those targeting a medal at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

The United States are the only nation with more than two golfers taking part in the event and Thomas says the chance to win gold for his nation is what makes this event so unique.

"It might be the coolest thing I've been a part of. It's not very often where you get so excited about being a part of a tournament," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"I really do truly think of Ryder Cups, majors, whatever it is, this is the coolest thing I've ever been a part of. It's unbelievable. Everyone is going to think differently about it.

"I know there's some people who don't think it's that big a deal and don't think it's that cool. 

"I don't know what it is but maybe it's just because being an Olympian, you're known as the best athlete in the world and it's something that golf isn't exactly always linked to."

Asked whether he would rather win a major championship or an Olympic medal, Thomas replied: "If I was going to choose, I'll take the major. 

"But this is something that would mean the absolute ultimate. It would just be the coolest thing to just be able to say not only did you play in it but that you won a gold medal.

"It's just so different. I've tried to compare it, I've tried to think about it.

"This is obviously more special because it's harder to win because you have less chances, but major championships change your life in more than one way."

Like Thomas, Ireland's Rory McIlroy will tee off at the Olympics for the first time when the delayed 2020 event gets up and running on Thursday.

Four-time major winner McIlroy sampled the the course on Tuesday and was impressed by the quality, though he is disappointed that no supporters will be in attendance this week.

"When Hideki [Matsuyama, of Japan] won the Masters, the first thing I thought of was how good is the atmosphere going to be at the Olympics," McIlroy said.

"Unfortunately, that's not the case. So yeah, it's tough.

"It's not the Olympic experience anyone dreams of having. I was even saying to Shane [Lowry] how good would it be to go and watch some of the other events this evening. 

"That's the unfortunate part about it, but there's three medals up for grabs, and we're all here trying to play for them."

McIlroy, who has been drawn with tournament favourite Collin Morikawa and South Korea's Sungjae Im, added: "The course itself is great. It's really, really nice.

"I've always been a big fan of Tom Fazio courses anyway. I'm trying to sort of think what I could compare it to back in the States, but it's a really fun golf course

"It's in great shape, obviously. It's immaculate. There's plenty of opportunities out there for birdies, but if you don't hit the fairways, the rough is pretty penal in spots."

Ireland's other representative in the men's golf tournament is Shane Lowry, who is ranked 40th in the world but is eager to challenge for a top-three finish.

"What people don't understand is we don't win too many medals," he said. "So I think it would be huge for me and huge for the country.

"Obviously it's going to take a lot of good golf. It's going to take something special this week. But it would mean an awful lot to me."

Kevin Durant feels the key to the United States' confidence-boosting win over Iran at the Tokyo Olympics was down to becoming more selfish and playing with freedom.

Team USA's 25-game winning run in the men's basketball at the Games was ended by France last week but they responded with a 120-66 victory against Iran on Wednesday.

That loss to France followed exhibition defeats to Australia and Nigeria in the build-up to the event, leading to questions over the cohesion of the record 15-time gold medallists.

But Gregg Popovich's side answered those critics against Iran with a comprehensive victory in which they played fast, aggressive basketball throughout.

Damian Lillard, one of those to come in for heavy criticism following the opening-game defeat, top-scored with 21 points, all from beyond the arc.

USA knocked down 19 3-pointers and 22 of their 37 shots (62 per cent) inside the arc as they showed signs of the quality that has taken them to three successive gold medals.

Brooklyn Nets forward Durant insists the chemistry of the side was never in question as he highlighted the changes made between matches.

"After a tough loss last game, today we came out with more freedom as individuals and took the shots that we normally like to take," Durant said.

"They went in tonight, and we guarded up, so it was a good step.

"I felt like we were in sync last game, but like I've been saying, it's a make or miss game today.

"We created good shots last game and I think today it's the continuity of what we've been doing over the last week. We finally capitalised on the stuff that we've been working on.

"Like I said, our chemistry has been great since day one. We're all excited to be here, I mean this is the Olympics, this is the national team. 

"But I think we were a bit too unselfish early on and tried not to step on toes. That bit us before.

"Tonight the guys came out there and were super aggressive to look for their shot but also keep everybody involved, and we were able to make some shots. 

"Damian came out, got it scorching for us, so we're going to need that going forward."

 

Head coach Popovich rotated his roster against Iran by bringing in Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker, who were brought off the bench against France.

"In the last game we have to play two 'bigs' and I think that might have clogged it up a bit for us all offensively," Durant added.  

"Defensively we've been solid the whole time, but offensively we were trying to find our rhythm. 

"I played the four [position], so I was able to stretch the floor a bit and give guys space and we were able to get some confidence and knock some shots down."

A victory over the Czech Republic on Saturday will guarantee the world's top-ranked side a place in the quarter-finals.

That next match will also provide Durant with his next opportunity to surpass Carmelo Anthony as USA men's basketball all-time Olympic top scorer.

Durant managed 10 points against Iran, moving him to within five of Antony's record (336).

Ash Barty has followed up her shock women's singles defeat by crashing out of the women's doubles after an epic clash with Czech pair Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

World number one Barty was stunned in the first round of the women's singles on Sunday by Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo but teamed up with Storm Sanders in the doubles, with the Australian pair reaching the quarter-finals.

However, Krejcikova and Siniakova proved too strong in a three-set thriller, winning 3-6 6-4 10-7.

"You never quite have their measure,” Barty said. "It's disappointing but there's only a couple of points in that match, here and there and it's a different result.

"We did everything right today but just weren't able to win those big points when it mattered most."

Barty's medal hopes are now entirely focused on the mixed doubles, where she has partnered with John Peers.

Andy Murray's bid to become the first male to win four Olympic tennis medals ended with defeat to Croatia's Marin Cilic and Ivan Dogic in the men's doubles.

Murray, teaming up with Joe Salisbury, went down in two hours and 18 minutes after also winning the first set. The Croatian pair won 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 10-7.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist had withdrawn from the men's singles on Sunday due to a right quad injury, preferring to focus on playing doubles. TeamGB have not fielded a mixed doubles team.

 

TITMUS DOUBLES UP, LEDECKY LIFTS FOR GOLD

Ariarne Titmus backed up her women's 400m freestyle gold medal from Monday with another triumph, getting the better of rival Katie Ledecky to win the 200m free.

The 20-year-old Australian won the final ahead of Hong Kong's Siobhan Bernadette Haughey and Canada's Penny Oleksiak, while Ledecky finished back in fifth.

Ledecky would claim her sixth Olympic gold medal, triumphing in the women's 1500m free, with the US claiming a rare one-two as Erica Sullivan grabbed the silver ahead of Germany's Sarah Kohler.

After being beaten twice by Titmus earlier in the meet, Ledecky said: "I approach each race with a belief in myself. It's the attitude I've always had that's why I've been so successful. Anything can happen, [the attitude I go in with is] I can beat the world record in this race. 

Japan's Yui Ohashi won the women's 200m individual medley, Hungarian favourite Kristof Milak powered to victory in the men's 200m butterfly and Great Britain triumphed in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay.

 

STEERING ERROR COSTS GB IN ROWING

Australia claimed two gold medals in the rowing at Sea Forest Waterway as Great Britain were left to lament a wayward finish in the men's four final.

Australian quartet Alexander Purnell, Spencer Turrin, Jack Hargreaves and Alexander Hill won in 5:42:76 ahead of Romania and Italy who claimed silver and bronze respectively.

Italy's late charge almost saw a collision with Great Britain, who finished in fourth, after veering towards the neighbouring Italian boat, narrowly avoiding a clash of oars.

GB's Oliver Cook, who steered the men's coxless four, told BBC Sport: "I do (have the steering). I need to diagnose it but I feel I screwed up a bit and as I was closing in at the end and taking big strokes at the end going for the line I forgot the steering and that’s what cost us to be honest, cost us a medal."

Australia also won the women's four narrowly ahead of the Netherlands by 0:34 seconds, with Ireland claiming the bronze more than five seconds back.

Romania secured its first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics by winning the women's double sculls final, while France triumphed in the men's equivalent.

The Netherlands and China triumphed in the men's and women's quadruple sculls finals respectively.

 

RADRADRA DREAMING OF FIJI SEVENS GOLD

New Zealand will take on 2016 gold medalists Fiji in the final of the men's rugby sevens on Wednesday evening.

Fiji went through to the gold medal match with a 26-14 triumph over Argentina, who will take on Great Britain for bronze.

New Zealand were too strong for the British, winning 29-7 in their semi-final, with two tries each to captain Scott Curry and Regan Ware.

Former NRL star Semi Radradra, who plays for Fiji after switching codes in 2017 and scored a try against Argentina, said: "Playing in the Olympics is a blessing for me. I never knew I would be here.

"I think it is everyone's highlight to win a gold medal in the Olympics. That is our aim and we try to give back to our people at home."

USA RESTORES CONFIDENCE IN BASKETBALL

Team USA restored some confidence following their first-up loss to France with a comprehensive 120-66 thrashing of Iran in men's basketball.

USA played fast throughout, wasting no time in offense, with Damian Lillard top scoring with 21 points, all from beyond the arc.

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine had eight assists along with his 13 points while Devin Booker, who played in the NBA Finals last week, scored 16 points and had five rebounds and three steals.

USA head coach Gregg Popovich rotated his roster on and off the court, sharing minutes, as hos team piled on 38 points in the last quarter to round out a comprehensive victory.

In Group B, Germany defeated Nigeria 99-92 despite Jordan Nowra's 33-point haul.

The Tokyo Olympics are now in full swing and there are another 22 gold medal events to come on an action-packed Tuesday at the Games.

Plenty of focus will be on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre once again, where four medals are on the line, while the women's triathlon will also take centre stage.

Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and Katie Ledecky are just some of the superstar names that will be in action on the fourth full day of the 2020 Games.

Stats Perform picks out of some of the standout action to look out for.

 

CAN BILES PUT BLUNDERS BEHIND HER?

Biles struggled to find top gear in her Games entrance on Sunday, albeit making it through to each of her finals, and there is no room for any slip-ups in the women's team final.

The Russian Olympic Committee finished above the United States at a major event for the first time since 2010 in qualifying, setting up an intriguing battle in the final.

The pressure is on Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum and indeed Biles, the latter of whom is aiming to add to the four golds won in Rio five years ago.

 


USA-JAPAN MEET IN SOFTBALL FINAL

Team USA's women's softball team recovered from behind to beat Japan 2-1 in their final round-robin game and finish top of the standings.

Japan finished second and the two sides are therefore set to face off in a huge gold medal match at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.

Mexico and Canada meet in the bronze medal contest earlier on Tuesday in a tasty warm-up match for the main event.


LEDECKY AND TITMUS RESUME RIVALRY

After winning four golds in Rio five years ago, Ledecky had the chance to add four more to her collection in Tokyo.

She fell short in the first of those events, however, with Australia's Ariarne Titmus taking gold in Monday's gripping 400m freestyle final.

While a medal is not on the line on Tuesday, Ledecky will be eager to lay down a faster time than her rival in the 200m freestyle heats ahead of Wednesday's showpiece.

 

OSAKA GOES AGAIN

Face of the Games Okaka followed up lighting the Olympic cauldron on Friday with victories over Zheng Saisai and Viktorija Golubic in her first two matches in the tournament.

The four-time grand slam winner has a quick turnaround in matches as world number 41 Marketa Vondrousova awaits in the third round on Tuesday.

Fellow home favourite Kei Nishikori is also in action in the men's event, with Marcos Giron standing between him and the last 16.

WOMEN'S TRIATHLON TOUGH TO CALL

There was drama before the men's triathlon had even officially got underway on Monday, with an inflatable boat carrying photographers causing a false start.

Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt won the competition and now it is over to the women, with 54 athletes in contention to claim gold.

The field is wide open this time around, though the likes of Katie Zaferes and Georgia Taylor-Brown, of Team USA and Great Britain respectively, will have their eyes on the top prize.

 

The third full day of the Tokyo Olympics sees 21 gold medals up for grabs during a packed programme.

Plenty of eyes will be on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, where four swimming golds will be on the line, while the first women's skateboarding champion will be crowned.

The rugby sevens event gets under way and the men's triathlon will also take place.

Stats Perform picks out some of the standout action.

 

LEDECKY STEPS UP GOLD QUEST

After winning four golds in Rio five years ago, Katie Ledecky has the chance to add four more to her collection in Tokyo, starting with the women's 400m freestyle.

The United States competitor set a world record time in the event in 2016, but she will face a big challenge from Australia's Ariarne Titmus this time.

Titmus was marginally faster than Ledecky in the heats, though whether that edge will count for anything on the day remains to be seen.


WILL IT BE ANOTHER PEATY BLINDER?

Great Britain's Adam Peaty is nothing short of a phenomenon in the world of swimming and will be looking to retain his 100m breaststroke title.

Peaty qualified for the final in a dominant manner, his time of 57.56s just two hundredths of a second off his own world record pace.

Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands is expected to be Peaty's biggest threat, having produced a personal best of 57.80s in the previous heat.


MORE SEVENS HEAVEN FOR FIJI?

Fiji's triumph in the men's rugby sevens was one of the more remarkable stories of the Rio Games and the islanders will now be out to retain their title in Tokyo over the coming weeks.

They begin their group campaign on Monday with games against tournament hosts Japan and then Canada later in the day.


MEN'S TRIATHLON WIDE OPEN

The men's triathlon is a tough one to call, with back-to-back champion Alistair Brownlee not taking part in this year's event.

The likes of Alex Yee, Kristian Blummenfelt, Morgan Pearson and Tyler Mislawchuk are among those to watch in one the standout events at any Games.


BILES SURVIVES, NOW MEN MUST THRIVE

After Simone Biles struggled to find top gear in her Games entrance on Sunday, albeit making it through to each of her finals, Monday's gymnastics event is the men's team final.

Japan are the defending champions and led the way in qualifying, but they are expected to face stiff competition from China and the Russian Olympic Committee team. Watch out for Russian maestro Nikita Nagornyy and Japan's Daiki Hashimoto among a star-studded cast.


OSAKA BACK IN ACTION

It is proving to be a busy Games for Naomi Osaka, who followed lighting the Olympic cauldron on Friday with a first-round tennis win on Sunday.

Japan's four-time grand slam winner is back on court on Monday, looking to inch closer to the women's singles final. Awaiting her is Swiss world number 50 Viktorija Golubic, and it will be their first match encounter. Men's title hopefuls Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are among those also due in action.


WOMEN'S SKATEBOARDING MAKES ITS DEBUT

Japan's Yuto Horigome made history on Sunday by winning the first Olympic gold in men's skateboarding. On Monday, it is the turn of the women.

Among those competing in the event are Kokona Hiraki of Japan and Team GB's Sky Brown, who are aged 12 and 13 respectively.

After plenty of falls and drama in the men's equivalent, expect more of the same in this inaugural event. 

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