Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah defended her Olympic title in emphatic fashion, as the country made a clean sweep of the medals in the Women’s 100m on Saturday.

In a superb display of sprinting, the Jamaican powered to the line in a time of 10.61, the fastest in the world this year, and now the second-fastest in history.  Fraser-Pryce, the world champion, who had gone into the event as favourite, was second with a time of 10.74, with Jackson, previously a 400m athlete who stepped down to the sprints earlier this year, third in 10.76.

Heading into the Games, it was Fraser-Pryce who had received all of the headlines, as the 34-year-old looked to be in prime position to secure a historic third Olympic gold medal in the event.  She had run the fastest time in the world at 10.63 and netted a win over both her compatriots at the Jamaica National Championships.

Thompson-Herah had, however, looked in superb form since and sent warning signs when she effortlessly coasted to win in 10.82 to open the competition.  She then followed that up with another fast 10.76 clocking, in the semi-final, run in a manner that suggested she plenty left in the tank.  She clearly did.

Thompson-Herah’s time also broke the Olympic record set by American Florence Griffith Joyner at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Dina Asher-Smith has withdrawn from the 200-metre race at Tokyo 2020 after struggling in the 100m semi-finals having torn her hamstring shortly before the Games.

A tearful Asher-Smith revealed the decision to pull out of an event where she is the reigning world champion as she reflected on a tough 100m outing.

The Briton, who took silver in the 100m at Doha 2019 and gold in the 200m, missed out on the final over the shorter distance with a semi time of 11.05 seconds, good enough for only third in her heat.

"Obviously I'm so disappointed to not make the final – it's Tokyo 2020, everything I've trained for for the last two years – but the last few weeks of my athletic life have been absolutely insane," Asher-Smith told BBC Sport.

She explained she had suffered a hamstring injury in the British Olympic trials final last month, prompting her withdrawal from events in Stockholm and Gateshead.

Asher-Smith expected she would not be able to travel to Tokyo.

"I was actually initially told it was a rupture and I'd need surgery and three to four months to get back," she said. "It's been a lot to deal with.

"Quite frankly, with that diagnosis, I couldn't have come to Tokyo. We had a statement ready to go.

"Thankfully, I went and got a second opinion and it was a misdiagnosis; it wasn't a rupture, it was a tear, but it was still attached, so we turned over every single stone to make sure I could stand on the line."

The 25-year-old still was not herself in the 100m, though, and was subsequently forced to make a call on Tuesday's 200m.

Asher-Smith had been the foremost British hope for a first athletics gold medal in an individual event since Jessica Ennis-Hill's 2012 heptathlon triumph.

"I am going to pull out of the 200m," she continued as the tears began. "As reigning world champion, I was in such good shape – you know that the Olympic champion is not much of a further step.

"Because of having three weeks off running, a week running slowly, I'm really proud to have been able to execute today and proud of doing everything I've done to this point.

"But when you're talking about the standard I know I'm capable of, there's plenty more championships for me to come and kill. We're in the middle of a four-to-five-year cycle.

"Yes, I've got a hamstring tear at the most inconvenient time but it doesn't change the calibre of athlete that I actually am.

"I know if I want to come and showcase that I need a few more weeks of power training to fill that gap that we had when I was trying to walk again, stretch my knee and trying to load my hamstring.

"John [Blackie, her coach] told me it's a no [for the 200m]. I would do it, because that's the kind of athlete that I am, but he's wiser than me. It's the Olympics, but there's another one."

Of her failure to make the 100m final, Asher-Smith said: "The most frustrating thing for me is that I was in really good shape. I was in the shape of my life.

"If you asked me six weeks ago, I was very confident I was going to win this because, being completely frank, every part of my race – my start, my transition and my finish – was better than some of the fastest women in the world.

"But when you have a hurdle like that, it's really hard to have a rejig."

Asher-Smith was part of a British team that took the bronze medal in the 4x100m at Rio 2016, also finishing fifth in the 200m.

“Disappointed, hurt, and entirely confused”. That is how Jamaican national champion Tyquendo Tracey described his emotions following the first round of the men’s 100 metres on Saturday.

Tracey did not start in heat 1 of the event, this morning, leaving many fans to wonder why.

  The 28-year-old took to his personal Instagram page to provide some clarity on the situation.

 “A few days ago, while training, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my leg while running from the blocks," Tracey explained.

“The pain was enough for me to have to stop training for the evening," he said.

  After doing an ultrasound, Tracey was under the impression that the injury was not serious. However, whilst getting ready for this morning’s heat, the sprinter said that the pain worsened. His injury was kept quiet in hopes that he would be ready to compete in round 1 but he did not recover in time.

Heat 1 was eventually won by the USA’s Ronnie Baker in a time of 10.03 seconds. It is not yet known whether he will be fit in time for the men’s 4x100 metre relay.

 He ended his Instagram post by saying, “To everyone who supported me, just want to say thanks and I will make it up to everyone including myself. Nuff love and respect!”

 Dominica’s Thea LaFond set a new national record, in the Women’s Triple Jump, to lead four of the region’s women into the final as session 2 and more Caribbean athletes beginning their quest for success.

Lafond jumped a national record of 14.60 to advance, the second-longest jump of the qualifying round behind the 14.77 done by Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela who is the gold medal favourite.

Liadagmis Povea of Cuba qualified in 5th with a jump of 14.50.  Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts, a silver medalist at the 2019 Doha World Championships, needed only one jump to qualify in 6th place.

To qualify for the final automatically an athlete needs to jump 14.40 and Ricketts did 14.43 on her 1st attempt.

Kimberley Williams of Jamaica was the last Caribbean athlete to qualify for the final, jumping 14.30 to finish 9th.

 

Women’s Shot Put – Trinidad and Tobago’s Warren claims spot in final

 The women’s shot put only saw one Caribbean athlete advance to the final, Trinidad & Tobago’s Portious Warren.  Warren threw a personal best 18.75 to finish 9th and advance to the 12-competitor final.

Jamaicans Danniel Thomas-Dodd and Lloydrica Cameron both missed out on a place in the final.

Thomas-Dodd, a silver medalist at the 2019 World Championships, finished 13th with a distance of 18.37, one spot outside a place in the final.

Cameron finished 21st in qualifying with a distance of 17.43.

Caribbean teams were also involved in the heats of the mixed 4x400m relay.

The Dominican Republic qualified for the final after finishing 2nd in heat 1 with a time of 3:12.74.

The 2nd heat saw the Jamaican team qualify for the final after a 3rd place finish.

The team comprising of Sean Bailey, Junelle Bromfield, Stacey Ann Williams, and Karayme Bartley ran 3:11.76.

 

Women’s 400mh – Jamaica’s Russell advances but mishaps for Nugent, Whyte

 The women’s 400 Hurdles saw four Caribbean women advance to the semi-finals and two suffering unfortunate mishaps.

Jamaica’s Janieve Russell advanced to the semi-finals after finishing second in heat 2 with a composed 54.81 clocking.

Russell’s Jamaican teammate, Leah Nugent, originally finished second in heat 3 but was later disqualified due to lane infringement.

  Gianna Woodruff of Panama originally finished third in heat 3 but was upgraded to second after Nugent’s disqualification and subsequently advanced to the semis.

Ronda Whyte of Jamaica lined up in heat four and was expected to comfortably advance but it was not to be as she, unfortunately, committed a false start.

Tia-Adana Belle of Barbados finished second in heat 4 with a time of 55.69 to advance.

Zurian Hechavarria of Cuba finished fifth in heat 5 and advanced to the semi-finals as one of the fastest losers.

 

Women’s discus – Jamaica’s Lawrence, Cuba’s Perez advance to final

 The women’s discus saw Shadae Lawrence of Jamaica and Yaime Perez of Cuba advance to the final.

Lawrence threw 62.27 to finish 11th in qualifying.  Perez, the gold medalist at the 2019 Doha World Championships, threw 63.18 to finish seventh in qualifying.

Denia Caballero of Cuba was the only other Caribbean woman in qualifying, throwing 57.96 to finish 23rd overall in qualifying.

No Caribbean men advanced past the heats in the men’s 800 metres.

 

Women’s sprint hurdles – Jamaica’s Tapper runs personal best

 The women’s sprint hurdles heats were largely successful for Caribbean athletes.

Haiti’s Mulern Jean was the only Caribbean woman that failed to advance past the first round after finishing fifth in heat 2 in 12.99.

  Heat 3 saw both Yanique Thompson of Jamaica and Devynne Charlton of the Bahamas advancing to the semi-finals, with Thompson running 12.74 to finish second and Charlton finishing fourth in 12.84.

Heat 4 also saw two Caribbean women advance as Brittany Anderson ran 12.67 to win and Pedrya Seymour of the Bahamas ran 13.04 to finish fourth.

Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn ran 12.41, the fastest time in the heats, to win heat 5 ahead of Megan Tapper of Jamaica, who ran a personal best 12.53 for 2nd.

 

 

 

 

Blessing Okagbare is out of the women's 100 metre competition at Tokyo 2020 after being provisionally suspended for a failed drugs test.

The Nigerian sprinter came through Friday's heats in a time of 11.05 seconds and was due to go up against Dina Asher-Smith and Elaine Thompson-Herah in the semi-finals on Saturday.

However, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) informed Okagbare she had tested positive for a human growth hormone following an out-of-competition test on July 19.

The AIU added that a provisional suspension is mandatory for an adverse analytical finding for such a substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules.

It said no further comment would be made at this stage.

Okagbare was competing in her fourth Games and won a silver medal in the long jump at Beijing in 2008.

She was a strong medal hope and her provisional suspension follows the news 10 Nigerian athletes were declared ineligible for Tokyo 2020 due to non-compliance with out-of-competition drug testing requirements in the run-up to the Games.

Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare has been provisionally suspended after a positive test for human growth hormone. She was due to run in the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters at the Olympics on Saturday.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said Okagbare tested positive in an out-of-competition test on July 19. The AIU says it was only informed of the finding on Friday, after Okagbare had already run in the 100-meter heats at the Tokyo Games.

The AIU informed Okagbare of the finding and her provisional suspension on Saturday morning.

Okagbare won her heat in 11.05 seconds at the Olympic Stadium to progress to the semis.

China bounced clear of Japan at the top of the medal table at the Tokyo Olympics thanks in part to a gold medal in trampolining.

Xueying Zhu edged out compatriot Lingling Liu to win the women’s final, maintaining the country's dominance in the event. Only at the Sydney Games in 2000 has China ever failed to have a competitor make it onto the podium.

There was also an all-China final in table tennis, Ma Long defeating compatriot Fan Zhendong in the men's singles final.

Add in further success in the mixed doubles final in badminton and China now has 19 golds at these Games, two more than the host nation.

The United States sit third in the standings with 14 golds, while Great Britain remain in sixth place thanks to Beth Schriever riding away with a gold in the women’s BMX final.

New Zealand improved on their previous solitary gold with not one but two victories in the water on Friday. Emma Twigg's win in the women's single sculls final was followed by glory for the men's eight. The women's team in the same discipline claimed silver, finishing second to Canada.

Ethiopia celebrated a first medal of any colour on Japanese soil, Selemon Barega triumphant in the men's 10,000 metres final as the athletics began, a fast finish seeing him cross the line ahead of Ugandan duo Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MIXED RELAY WOES FOR USA

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A LONG TIME COMING

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

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

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

 

IGLESIAS CAN BE CUBA'S HERO

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DRAMA APLENTY IN WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

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

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

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

Ethiopia's Selemon Barega secured gold in the men's 10,000 metres final as the athletics got underway at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

Barega surged clear of Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo, who were each denied a first Olympic gold for Uganda, as he clocked 27 minutes 43.22 seconds in the Japanese capital.

Cheptegei, the 2019 world champion, was highly fancied to win, while compatriot Kiplimo would have become the youngest man to be crowned champion at the distance at the age of 20 years and 258 days.

But Barega, himself only 21, claimed the honour of the maiden athletics gold at this year's event after timing his kick for the line to perfection.

USA SUFFER MIXED RELAY DQ

It was a disappointing outing for the United States' mixed 4x400m relay team as the favourites were disqualified.

The event is making its debut in the Olympics but the landmark will not be fondly remembered by USA's foursome after one of their baton exchanges was deemed to have taken place outside the designated zone.

That has left the gold medal well and truly up for grabs, with Belgium, Ireland and Germany the automatic qualifiers from heat one, while in heat two it was Poland, Netherlands and Jamaica.

Great Britain and Spain round off the final eight, having gained the two next best times.

 

HASSAN SETS THE STANDARD

Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan laid down a marker in the heats for the 5,000m.

The first heat was much quicker than the second, with Hassan's 14:47.89 leading the way.

She is chasing a first Olympic medal and will face stiff competition from the likes of Kenya's Hellen Obiri.

Obiri won silver in Rio and qualified second fastest in the second heat with a time of 14:55.77.

 

HAVING A FIELD DAY

In two of the field events to begin on Friday, women's world number one triple jumper Yulimar Rojas recorded the longest leap of the heats at 14.77m.

The Venezuelan, a two-time world champion, had to settle for silver in Rio behind Colombia's Caterina Ibarguen, who will be eyeing a repeat in Tokyo.

Ibarguen's qualifying jump was a season's best 14.37m.

China led the way in the women's shot put, Gong Lijiao staking her claim with a throw of 19.46m, putting her ahead of compatriot Song Jiayun (19.23).

Reigning champion Connor Fields is "awake and awaiting further medical evaluation" after a sickening crash in the semi-finals of the men's BMX racing at the Tokyo Olympics.

The American 2016 gold medallist was stretchered off the course and taken to hospital after the major crash with Twan van Gendt of the Netherlands and Sylvain Andre of France in the third run of the semi-final heats.

"We can confirm that Connor Fields is awake and awaiting further medical evaluation. We will share additional updates as they become available," a USA team doctor said.

Fields, appearing in his third Olympics, had already qualified for the final but was unable to take his place, given the injuries sustained, with Niek Kimmann from the Netherlands taking out the gold.

Great Britain's Kye Whyte claimed silver with Colombia's Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes winning the bronze.

Another gold medal contender, Australia's Saya Sakakibara, also crashed out in the women's BMX racing.

Sakakibara, whose brother Kai suffered life-changing head injuries from a crash in the sport 15 months ago, was carried off the course on a stretcher but later able to perform media interviews.

The Australian had been leading the pack ahead of the last turn in the third run of the semi-finals, before a clash of wheels with USA's Alise Willoughby brought the pair down.

Australia's Olympic team tweeted that Sakakibara had "sustained a few bumps and bruises and will continue to be monitored over the next 24 hours as a precaution".

Sakakibara told Channel 7: "This is so disappointing. I feel like I have let everyone down. I let everyone down, especially my brother."

Great Britain's Bethany Shriever went on to win the gold medal, ahead of Colombia's Mariana Pajon and the Netherlands' Merel Smulders.

 

SCHOENMAKER SMASHES WORLD RECORD

South African Tatjana Schoenmaker improved on her 100 metres women's breaststroke silver medal with a gold in Friday's 200m, as well as smashing the world record.

Schoenmaker finished in two minutes and 18.95 seconds, breaking Rikke Moller Pedersen's pre-existing mark of 2:19.11, as she beat USA pair Lilly King and Annie Lazor.

"I wasn't expecting that at all," Schoenmaker said about her world record, having appeared visibly stunned upon realising her time. "I was really trying to focus on my own race. [King] definitely pushed me, knowing that her first 100 is so good."

Russia Olympic Committee's Evgeny Rylov swam an Olympic record time to win the men's 200m backstroke, having won gold in the 100m earlier this week.

Rylov, who swam 1:53:27, beat USA's Ryan Murphy and Great Britain's Luke Greenbank.

Australian Emma McKeon also marked an Olympic record as she won gold in the women's 100m freestyle ahead of Hong Kong's Siobhan Haughey and countrywoman Cate Campbell.

China's Wang Shun won the men's 200m individual medley from Britain's Duncan Scott and Switzerland's Jeremy Desplanches.

 

KIWIS DOMINATE THE ROWING

New Zealand picked up a handsome share of the rowing medals at the Sea Forest Waterway, with two golds and a silver from the four events on Friday.

Emma Twigg triumphed with an Olympic-best time of 7:13.97 in the women's single sculls, finishing ahead of Russia Olympic Committee's Hanna Prakatsen and Austria's Magdalena Lobnig.

New Zealand also won in a thrilling finish from Germany and Great Britain in the men's eight final, edging out the Germans by less than a second.

Hamish Bond was part of the New Zealand eight, having won golds in 2012 and 2016 in the coxless pair, before focusing on cycling in 2017, only to revert back to rowing for Tokyo.

Bond said: "The thing about an eight is it doesn't matter what you do as individuals, it's how you can collectively harness that potential."

Canada won the women's equivalent, pipping New Zealand across the line by 0.91 seconds, with China in third.

Greece won their first medal of the Games in style, with Stefanos Ntouskos claiming gold in the men's single sculls from Norway's Kjetil Borch and Croatia's Damir Martin.

 

WOMEN'S 100M HEATS UP

The track events got under way, with the women's 100m heats the main attraction at the Olympic Stadium, headlined by Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou with the joint fourth quickest legal time ever seen at the Games.

Two-time World Championship silver medallist Ta Lou ran a personal best time of 10.78 seconds.

Jamaican duo Elaine Thompson-Herah – the reigning Olympic champion – and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were the next fastest, with 10:82 and 10:84 respectively.

With the field stacked with quality, Fraser-Pryce said: "There's rivalry with everybody. All female athletes are showing up and you're competing so I don't focus on just one individual."

The opening session of the track and field portion of the Tokyo Olympics was highlighted by a trio of strong performances, with Jamaicans Natoya Goule, Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce showing impressive form.

Overall, though, there were plenty of solid performances as the event that will see the bulk of the Caribbean’s athletes, competing over the next few days, got underway.  

First up, the Jamaican trio of Fedrick Dacres, Traves Smikle and Chad Wright opened competition in the Men’s Discus.  Wright was the only one to progress to the final as the last qualifier, finishing 12th overall with a throw of 62.93 metres.

Dacres was only two centimetres behind Wright, throwing 62.91m to finish 13th overall, while Smikle could only manage a best distance of 59.04m to finish 25th overall.

Goule was the first competitor to grace the track and started things off with a bang as she ran a very impressive 1:59.83 to win heat 2 of the women’s 800 metres.

The men’s 400 meters hurdles saw four Caribbean men progress to the semi-finals. The list included Jamaicans Kemar Mowatt, Jaheel Hyde and Sean Rowe and The British Virgin Islands Kyron McMaster.

Mowatt finished 4th in heat 1 with a time of 49.06.  Hyde ran 48.54 to comfortably win heat 2.  Both McMaster and Rowe advanced from heat 4, with McMaster winning with a time of 48.79 and the Jamaican finishing 3rd with a season’s best of 49.18.

The session was capped off by the heats of one of the most highly anticipated events at the Olympics, the women’s 100 metres.

The event featured 10 athletes from the Caribbean.

 Antigua and Barbuda’s Joella Lloyd finished 7th in heat 1, in a time of 11.54.

Heat 2 was comfortably won by Jamaica’s defending double Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, who signalled her intent at these games with a smooth 10.82.

Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago also competed in heat 2 and finished 6th in 11.48.

Tristan Evelyn of Barbados ran 11.42 to finish 6th in heat 3.

Amya Clarke of St. Kitts & Nevis finished 7th in heat 4 with a time of 11.71.

Heat 5 was the turn of multiple-time Olympic and World Champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, to announce herself in Tokyo.

She didn’t disappoint, winning in a time of 10.84 to advance to the semi-finals.

 Tynia Gaither of the Bahamas was next up on the track, finishing 3rd in heat 6 to advance.

Heat 7 saw the most Caribbean representation with Shericka Jackson of Jamaica, Michelle Lee-Ahye of Trinidad & Tobago and Jasmine Abrams of Guyana all taking part.

Ahye won the heat with a time of 11.06, finishing just ahead of Jackson who ran 11.07 for 2nd while Abrams finished 7th in 11.49.

The fastest overall qualifier from the heats was Marie-Jose Talou of the Ivory Coast who ran 10.78 to win the 4th heat.

 

Marie-Josee Ta Lou produced one of the fastest women's 100 metres in Olympic Games history as the sprint heats showcased a string of stunning displays on day one of the athletics.

The 32-year-old from Ivory Coast posted a personal best of 10.78 seconds, the joint fourth quickest legal 100m ever seen at the Games, excluding those that have exceeded wind assistance limits or been wiped from the record books because of doping.

Two-time World Championship silver medallist Ta Lou delivered her standout display in the fourth heat and said: "Surprise, surprise. I'm in shock actually. I know I'm ready. I will be re-focusing on my run because I really didn't expect to run as fast as I just did. And 10.78, it's great."

Asked whether advancing spike technology had helped, Ta Lou said: "No, I don't think so because I feel the same way when I wear other shoes. This one was not making me run really fast. It's only the colours."

She was joined in producing an early statement of intent by Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah – the defending champion – with the women's 100m shaping up to be more tantalising a race than the men's equivalent.

 

Fraser-Pryce is the fastest woman in the world this year, having run a 10.63 in June – the quickest legal 100m since Florence Griffith-Joyner's still-startling 1988 hot streak.

The 34-year-old ran 10.84 to win heat five, and when asked if there was rivalry in the Jamaican ranks she said: "Oh, there's rivalry with everybody. All female athletes are showing up and you're competing so I don't focus on just one individual.

"If you notice the heat, that's some really quick running, so you just have to make sure that you're ready. And I think it's good for females sprinting. It's long overdue and I'm hoping that it definitely is up to the expectation."

Thompson-Herah did the 100m and 200m sprint double in Rio five years ago and is chasing more gold medal success in Japan, with her first outing showing she is in great shape to contend, the 28-year-old closing 10.82 in the second heat.

"These are some of the quickest fields in the history of the event," she said.

Britain's Dina Asher-Smith was a comfortable second in the first heat, clocking 11.07 as Teahna Daniels crossed first in 11.04, and was asked whether this might be a fast track.

"I think so, but I really wasn't thinking about things like that. It might be," Asher-Smith said. "But today was just about making it through to the next round safely at the same time as knowing I've got another level to give tomorrow. And I do have another level, of course I do. It's an Olympics."

It's already been a week since Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron.

The Games like no other, the Games that no one wanted, the pandemic Games... whatever you want to call them, the Games began and Friday now brings the first day of athletics to Tokyo 2020.

So, what's the state of play out in Tokyo?

Stats Perform journalist Peter Hanson has been out in the Japanese capital and answers some of the big questions to give us an overview.


Where were we prior to the Games?

The perception from afar of the public attitude in Tokyo, and indeed all around Japan, was one of fear, mistrust and indeed anger that the Games would take place despite being in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

Back in January, a survey by Kyodo News Agency found approximately 80 per cent of people did not want the Games to take place as scheduled. As recently as April a different poll by consultancy firm Kekst CNC suggested 56 per cent did not want them to go ahead. 

By June, there was an indication that public angst was softening a little when the conservative newspaper Yomiuri found 50 per cent of its responders wanted the event to go ahead, up from 39 the month before, while those thinking it should be cancelled dropped from 59 to 48.

Still, there was a very real reminder that significant opposition remained when protestors could be heard outside the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony.

There were other PR difficulties to contend with, too. Leading Japanese brand Toyota – which has a lengthy Olympics association – pulled all advertisement relating to the Games on Japanese TV.

On the eve of the opening ceremony, its director resigned over comments made about the holocaust, while a composer stepped away amid allegations of bullying. A few months earlier, the creative director resigned following derogatory remarks about women.

So, yeah, it wasn't exactly the normal pre-Olympics buzz.


Has there been a shift in mood among the residents of Tokyo?

My own personal experience of the locals here has admittedly been restricted to those working at the Games – even my hotel is on a designated list of accommodation facilities the media have to stay at – due to the agreement made in my activity plan for the Japanese government to only visit Games-specific venues.

But there has been overriding enthusiasm from those involved. Everyone working at the venues, at the media centre, at the transport mall, on the shuttle buses, goes above and beyond to help solve issues or direct you to the right destination – all with big smiles and a customary bow, even when standing for hours in the searing 30-degrees temperatures or the tropical downpours.

Koki Horada is a local freelance video journalist working alongside me for Stats Perform at these Games. Koki spent over 20 years living and working in the UK and he thinks there has been a shift in the perception of the Olympics in Tokyo.

"Before the opening ceremony many people protested against the Olympic Games but once it started the mood changed," he told me.

"I think the opening ceremony helped and also the judo where the Japanese men got a gold medal.

"Now the Japan team has a lot of gold medals. And there's people with a kind of nationalism or love for Japan or for the Olympic Games [as a result of that]."

Japan has had a fair bit of home success so far – is that helping to change the mood?

The best way for any host nation to capture the imagination of the public has always been to rack up the gold medals – I remember for example being completely enthralled in 2012 by the success of Team GB in London.

It feels particularly important that Japan do well in these Games and, so far at least, the home favourites have been pretty impressive.

There have been some disappointments. Daiya Seto failing to even get out of the heats when favourite in the men's 400m individual medley on the first night of swimming being one. The significantly more damaging one, of course, being cauldron-lighter Osaka's third-round exit to Marketa Vondrousova in the women's tennis.

But there has been plenty to celebrate, too. Yui Ohashi grabbed a medley double in the pool, Chizuru Arai and Takanori Nagase earned judo golds, and earlier this week Japan actually led in the medal table.

So, even the sceptics may have been swayed by watching the Japanese favourites succeed at these Games.

Koki tells me that actually plenty were already in support of the Olympics but perhaps did not feel as though they could make such an opinion heard.

"I think the media reported that more than half of the people were against the Olympics but it's not true, I think," he said.

"I think it's just Japanese culture, always Japanese people want to join the majority opinion. That's just culture, it's the difference between say European and American people. 

"The people who wanted to support or wanted to enjoy the Olympic Games couldn't say so or they couldn't show the attitude beforehand, but now things started changing more."


Is COVID still causing concern?

I mean, where isn't it?

By Wednesday, the capital recorded over 3,000 cases in a single day for the first time during the pandemic. 

Thursday's numbers showed there were 3,865 in Tokyo, 10,000 in Japan in total (the first time they had ever exceeded 10,000), and 193 Olympics-related coronavirus infections had been recorded.

It's impossible not to feel slightly apprehensive at times, it was certainly a factor I myself battled with before deciding to fly out here.

The thing is, though, that – certainly within the infrastructure of the Games – every step has been taken to reduce infections. There are temperature checks to get in every venue, testing every four days (it's more regular for athletes), hand sanitiser everywhere you turn, mandatory face masks and social distancing observed.

The Tokyo locals had come to expect some rise in cases. When it comes to COVID and infection numbers, though, what do you ever call an acceptable level?


Are the Games a success or will they be?

Truthfully, it's a hard question to answer. It just feels like the measures for "success" are too arbitrary.

And it really does depend on whose viewpoint you're looking at.

For the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers, the fact we are even here at all is probably a cause for celebration. Getting through to August 8 without major incident is now the real target for the bigwigs in charge.

Inside Tokyo, there probably will be a collective sigh of relief when hordes of athletes, officials and the world's media pack up their cases and return home.

Those watching around the world seem split firmly down the middle. For some, the Games offer a little escapism and the true moments of magic that only an Olympics can bring still resonate. For others, the empty stadiums and the COVID-related uncertainty over all events make it a poor experience.

Personally, I've always been somewhere down the middle on it.

I love sports, I love the Olympics, and the privilege I have to be out here when others can't be is absolutely not lost.

But it can be pretty surreal watching moments that should be playing out in front of raucous crowds occur to just the ripples of noise from their supporting team-mates.

And, truthfully, the further I get towards the end point and flying home, the more that nagging voice in the back of my head saying "please don't get COVID, please don't get COVID" edges forward and becomes less of a whisper and more a constant scream.

Friday sees the start of the Olympic athletics schedule and the first tennis medals will be won in Tokyo.

The men's 10,000 metres final will be staged on the first day of track and field action at the Olympic Stadium.

There will be an all-Croatia men's doubles gold medal match at the Ariake Tennis Park, plus no doubt more drama to come in the pool.

Stats Perform picks out some of the standout events to look forward to.


CHEPTEGEI FAVOURITE FOR FIRST TRACK GOLD

Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo both have the chance to become the first athlete from Uganda to win an Olympic gold medal in the men's 10,000m final.

Cheptegei, the 2019 world champion, is well fancied in the last event on the track on Friday, while his compatriot Kiplimo could become the youngest man to be crowned champion at the distance at the age of 20 years and 258 days.

Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia and Canadian Mohammed Ahmed also have high hopes of making it onto the podium. 

Other events to look out for are the start of the women's 100m, men's 400m hurdles and men's high jump, along with the women's 800m and women's triple jump.

CROATIA GUARANTEED DOUBLES GOLD

One guarantee on Friday is that Croatia will add a gold and silver medal to their tally at the Tokyo Games.

Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig will face compatriots Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the gold medal match in the men's doubles final.

The men's singles semi-finals will also take place, with Novak Djokovic, chasing a Golden Slam this year, up against Germany's Alexander Zverev.

Karen Khachanov of the Russian Olympic Committee will do battle with Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta to find out who will make it through from the other half of the draw.


HIGH HOPES FOR AUSTRALIAN DUO

Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell could make it an Australia one-two in the women's 100m freestyle final.

McKeon set a new Olympic record of 52.13 seconds on Wednesday and will go out in lane four next to her dangerous compatriot Campbell.

That is one of four finals on Friday, with Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa expected to take some stopping in the 200m breaststroke final after clocking an Olympic record time of 2:19.16 this week.

Medals will also be up for grabs in the men's 200m backstroke final and the men's 200m individual medley.

Australia's track and field athletes endured a two-hour wait on Thursday before fears their Tokyo Olympics hopes might be in jeopardy were allayed.

A link was established to United States pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and been ruled out of the Games, and Australia's team were sent into isolation.

However, checks returned all-clear results, with only three athletics team members required to remain isolated.

Kendricks had reportedly been training this week alongside Australian Kurtis Marschall, and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) stated that three members of their squad had "brief casual contact" with a US athlete who had tested positive.

The upheaval came on the eve of the athletics programme getting under way at Tokyo 2020 and saw 57 Australian athletes and officials briefly in limbo.

In a statement, the AOC said: "Members of the Australian track and field team in the Tokyo Olympic Village have been cleared to return to their regular routines after earlier isolating in their rooms as a precautionary measure.

"The all-clear comes after three members of the team underwent PCR testing following a brief casual contact with a US track and field athlete who had tested positive to COVID-19.

"All three tested negative after undergoing a PCR test this afternoon, while team-mates remained in their rooms in line with AOC COVID protocols.

"The three, who are all vaccinated, self-reported once they heard news of the US athlete testing positive late this morning. All daily tests of the trio in the Village had also returned negative results."

 

The AOC said the three individuals who were tested would remain isolated for now but would be allowed to resume training on the proviso their contact with others is limited.

"At this stage all athletes are expected to compete as planned," the AOC said.

While those three athletes must follow the strict guidance, the AOC said 41 athletes and 13 officials had been given permission to leave their rooms after "a little over two hours" spent cooped up.

Australia chef de mission Ian Chesterman said: "Once again, abundant caution and our strict protocols continue to keep the team safe. We want every Australian athlete to be in a position to have their Olympic moment."

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