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.

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.

Eliud Kipchoge defended his Olympic marathon title in sensational fashion before telling those at home to "be inspired" and expressing his belief Tokyo 2020 has shown there is "hope" towards a return to normality.

The Kenyan legend became just the third person to successfully defend an Olympic marathon title and the first athlete to do so since 1980.

Kipchoge's time of 2:08:38 was 1.20 faster than Abdi Nageeye and was a sensational result considering the searing heat in Sapporo. It also marked the largest margin of victory since Frank Shorter's win in 1972.

Afterwards, Kipchoge – who now has four Olympic medals to his name – used his platform to deliver an inspirational message about how the Games have provided a sense of normality amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to BBC Sport, he said: "Firstly I want to say thank you to everyone for the support and to those that made the Olympics, Tokyo 2020 happen.

"I am happy to defend my title and to show the next generation, if you respect the sport and be disciplined you can accomplish your assignment.

"It was not easy, but it was really hard for everybody if you consider the weather. I am happy to cross the finishing line as the fastest.

"Tokyo 2020 has happened, it means a lot, it means there is hope. It means we are on the right track to a normal life. So we are on the track to our normal lives that is the meaning of the Olympics.

"Thank you to all fans, to all the people in the whole world who were watching, be inspired."

The men's marathon was the last athletics event of Tokyo 2020 ahead of Sunday's closing ceremony, which is due to start at 8pm local time.

Grenadian 400m bronze medallist, Kirani James, has expressed gratitude to be back on the Olympic podium, after a difficult four years, which included being diagnosed with a debilitating disease and the passing of his mother.

As a 19-year-old James, was the toast of the Caribbean after claiming 400m gold at the 2012 London Games, four years later he battled to silver behind South African Wayde van Niekerk who won the event in a blistering world record time.

Shortly after, however, the athlete’s fortunes took a drastic turn for the worst, and, in an event as brutal and as grueling as the 400m, the odds were stacked against the athlete getting a third Olympic medal in Tokyo.  He defied them anyway.

In 2017, James had found himself struggling with fatigue and weight loss.  He dropped around 20 pounds before being diagnosed with the thyroid condition known as Graves’ disease.  Just two years later, he faced perhaps even more difficult circumstances after his mother Pamela James passed away following a lengthy battle with a terminal disease.

At the 2019 World Championship James had fought his way back to competition weight but finished fifth in the final leaving many to wonder if he would ever be back amongst the elite.  Just a year later the James had to deal with the cancelation of the Olympic Games and the disruption and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.

After clocking a time of 43.88 in the semi-finals, his fastest since 2012, the athlete showed that he was doubtlessly back to his best, and, despite not crossing the line first in the final, after four years of tribulation, the bronze medal was a sweet reward for the Grenadian.

“It’s always great.  You have to give credit to all eight guys in the race, they are so, so good, so it's tough to race against them.  I’m just happy to compete against those guys and get a medal,” James said.

“I had an illness.  It’s still going on, I have to be on medication for the rest of my life.  2019 I lost my mother who was the matriarch of our family,” James added.

“I’ve had to deal with Covid, the quarantines and the lockdowns and not having a place to train and trying to figure things out.  So, it’s been a whirlwind, a roller coaster.”

James became the first man in Olympic history to win a medal in the event at three different Games.

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

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

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

JAPAN JOY AGAIN AGAINST USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA DOMINATE BUT DALEY DELIGHTED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HASSAN 'NEEDED' BRONZE HEARTBREAK

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

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

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

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

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

BOWING OUT ON A HIGH

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

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

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

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

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

BOOMERS BREAK THE BARRIER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Women’s 4x400 Metres Relay

 Jamaica secured a bronze medal in the women’s 4x400 metres relay as the track and field portion of the Tokyo Olympics ended today.

The team of Roniesha McGregor, Janieve Russell, Shericka Jackson and Candice McLeod combined to run 3:21.24 to finish 3rd behind the USA and Poland.

Sydney McLaughlin, Allyson Felix, Dalilah Muhammad and Athing Mu came together to win gold for the US in 3:16.85 and Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek, Iga Baumgart-Wittan, Malgorzata Holub-Kowalik and Justyna Swiety-Ersetic won silver in a national record 3:20.53.

 

Men’s 4x400 Metres Relay

 Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago both failed to secure medals in the men’s 4x400 metres relay.

The Jamaican team of Demish Gaye, Christopher Taylor, Jaheel Hyde and Nathon Allen ran 2:58.76 to finish 6th while the Trinidadian team of Deon Lendore, Jereem Richards, Dwight St. Hillaire and Machel Cedenio finished 8th in 3:00.85.

 Michael Cherry, Michael Norman, Bryce Deadmon and Rai Benjamin combined to win gold for the USA in 2:55.70.

The silver medal went to the Dutch quartet of Liemarvin Bonevacia, Terrence Agard, Tony van Diepen and Ramsey Angela who ran 2:57.18, a national record.

The Botswana team of Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe, Zibane Ngozi and Bayapo Ndori combined to run 2:57.27 for bronze, breaking their own African record in the process.

Sifan Hassan doubled up, Jakob Ingebrigtsen broke an Olympic record and Neeraj Chopra made history for India on the final Saturday at Tokyo 2020.

On the last night of athletics inside the Olympic Stadium there was plenty of reason to celebrate with the United States rounding out the track events in the Japanese capital in style in the 4x400m relays.

Here's a round-up from all the action.

HASSAN AT THE DOUBLE

Hassan came into these Games attempting an unprecedented 1500, 5000 and 10,000m treble.

Ultimately, she fell narrowly short after taking bronze in the shortest distance on Friday but the Dutchwoman doubled up with a fantastic win in the 10,000m.

Letesenbet Gidey led for much of the race, with Hassan and Kalkidan Gezahegne making it a three-way tussle. The former fell away on the final bend as Hassan – who is the second woman to win three medals in individual distance events at a single Games – sprinted to the line to come home in a time of 29:55.32.

In the women's marathon Peres Jepchirchir led home a Kenya one-two, a first for the women's event in Olympic competition, in stifling morning conditions. World record holder Brigid Kosgei had to settle for silver and Molly Seidel of the United States completed the podium.

THERE'S NOR-WAY TO BEAT NEW OLYMPIC-RECORD HOLDER JAKOB

In a thrilling men's 1500m race, Ingebrigtsen finally defeated Timothy Cheruiyot in their 13th career competitive meeting.

To do so, the Norwegian had to run a European and Olympic record time of 3:28.32, with Cheruiyot just holding off Josh Kerr to take silver.

Kerr and the three athletes to follow him all ran PBs, while the first seven men all finished inside the pre-2021 Olympic record time of 3:32.07.

CHOPRA BREAKS NEW GROUND FOR INDIA

Prior to this final evening of competition in the Olympic Stadium, India had never won an athletics gold.

All that changed thanks to Chopra, who took out the men's javelin thanks to a second-round throw of 87.58m.

In a huge shock, overwhelming favourite Johannes Vetter did not even make the cut for the final three throws and finished ninth.

Czech duo Jakub Vadlejch (86.67m) and Vitezslav Vesely rounded out the podium.

Mariya Lasitskene of the Russian Olympic Committee won a thriller in the women's high jump, clearing 2.04m on her second attempt.

Nicola McDermott, with a new PB and Oceanic record of 2.02m claimed silver, and Ukraine's Yaroslava Mahuchikh cleared the same height but took bronze having dislodged the bar first time around.

USA DOMINATE 4x400m RELAYS

As is tradition at an Olympics, the 4x400m relays closed the show. First up were the woman and the United States quartet wowed with a 3:16.85 – the fifth fastest in history and quickest since 1993.

Sydney McLaughlin and Athing Mu consequently won second golds of the Games, while Allyson Felix extended her record of most track and field medals for a female athlete to 11. The teams from Poland and Jamaica were second and third.

The men were just as dominant in the final track event of the night as the quartet of Michael Cherry, Michael Norman, Bryce Deadmon and Rai Benjamin ran home in 2:55.70 to beat the Netherlands and Botswana.

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.

Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei set the pace for most of Saturday's women's marathon, and the only question entering the final five kilometres was which Kenyan would cross the line first. 

Jepchirchir finally broke from her countrywoman with a little over two kilometres to go and pulled away to win by 16 seconds.

Kosgei's second-place finish made Kenya the first nation to claim gold and silver in the event at the same Olympic Games.

“I pushed on the pace [and when I opened the gap] it was like, 'Wow, I’m going to make it. I’m going to win,'" Jepchirchir said. 

"It feels good. I’m so, so happy because we win as Kenya. First and second. I thank my god so much. I'm happy for my family. I'm happy for my country, Kenya."

Ten seconds behind Kosgei, Molly Seidel of the USA shouted "Yes! Yes!" as she crossed the line for a stunning bronze medal in only her third competitive marathon.

Seidel is the third US woman to medal in the marathon, following Joan Benoit Samuelson's gold at the inaugural women's race in Los Angeles in 1984 and Deena Kastor's bronze at Athens 2004.

She said she took inspiration from her friend Courtney Frerichs' aggressive approach that led to a silver medal in the 3,000m steeplechase this week.

"Seeing her do that and race aggressively was truthfully what gave me the strength to not be afraid to stick my nose in it," Seidel said.

"It is just to go out, stick your nose where it doesn’t belong and try and make some people angry. My goal today was just to go in and for people to think, 'Who the hell is this girl?'."

ANOTHER GOLD FOR MCGEE FAMILY

JaVale McGee was a late addition to the USA basketball squad, but Saturday's victory over France made him a part of history.

McGee's mother Pam won gold with the USA in basketball at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, and she and JaVale are now the first American mother-son combo to win gold in any sport.

“It's an amazing feeling man," McGee said. "I got a gold medal, my mother's got a gold medal. You can't really explain it, just knowing you're the best in the world.

“If that don't add to the resume, I don't know what will. It's a family resume. That's what it’s all about, in the end, is family.”

YAFAI WINS BOXING GOLD FOR BRITAIN

Galal Yafai became the first British man to win boxing gold since London 2012, defeating Carlo Paalam of the Philippines for the flyweight title Saturday.

Yafai knocked down Paalam in the opening round and never looked back, winning 4-1.

The 28-year-old Birmingham native competed in Rio as a light flyweight but lost in the second round.

He is the first Brit to medal in the men's fly since 1956.

Paalam is the first man from the Philippines to medal in any sport since boxer Mansueto Velasco took silver in the light fly at Atlanta 1996.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL NEWCOMERS TAKE MEDALS

A sport traditionally dominated by Brazil and the USA saw three newcomers on the podium on Saturday.

The Norway duo of Anders Mol and Christian Sorum defeated Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy, representing the Russian Olympic Committee, to take home the gold medal.

In the bronze-medal match, Ahmed Tijan and Cherif Younousse of Qatar downed Edgar Tocs and 2012 bronze medallist Martins Plavins of Latvia.

None of the podium nations had won a medal of any kind in men's or women's beach volleyball before, though the winners do have an Olympic legacy of sorts.

Mol's mother, Merita Berntsen, placed ninth with partner Ragni Hestad in the first beach volleyball competition at the 1996 Atlanta Games, then retired when Anders was born the next year.

"My mum thought it was going to be really hard to travel around with two kids, because my brother was born in 1994. She had me and then quit," Mol said. "I always dreamed of beating my mum in the Olympics. She got a ninth [place[. I was actually really happy when we made it to the quarter-finals because we became historical by achieving [at least] a fifth place.

"It has been a journey for a long time and our parents and families are very proud of us right now."

SIXTH KAYAK GOLD FOR HUNGARY'S KOZAK

Danuta Kozak claimed her sixth Olympic gold medal as Hungary won the women's sprint kayak four 500 metres.

The 34-year-old teamed with Tamara Csipes, Anna Karasz and Dora Bodonyi to hold off Belarus and Poland.

It was Kozak's third consecutive gold in the fours after taking silver in the event in her Olympic debut in Beijing.

She also won gold in the K1 500m in London and Rio, and in the K2 in Rio. She took bronze in the K2 earlier this week, so Saturday's win gives her eight Olympic medals overall.

In other sprint kayak finals, Germany won the men's kayak four 500m, China took the women's canoe double 500m and Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos of Brazil won the canoe single 1000m.

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.

 

Men’s 4x400 Metres Relay

Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago both advanced to the final.

The Trinidadian team consisting of Deon Lendore, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio and Dwight St. Hillaire ran a season’s best of 2:58.60 to finish 3rd in heat 1 and progress.

Jamaica fielded a team of Demish Gaye, Jaheel Hyde, Karayme Bartley and Nathon Allen to finish 2nd in heat 2 with a season’s best time of 2:59.29 to advance.

 

Women’s 400 Metres

The Caribbean secured two medals in the women’s 400 metres.

Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas successfully defended her title from the 2016 Games by winning gold in a personal best 48.36, the 6th fastest time ever in the event.

 

She was followed by Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic who took silver in a national record 49.20.

Allyson Felix of the USA became the most decorated female track athlete in Olympic history by finishing 3rd and securing her 10th Olympic medal, one more than Jamaican legend Merlene Ottey.

Jamaicans Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Candice McLeod finished 4th and 5th in 49.61 and 49.87 respectively.

Cuba’s Roxana Gomez started the final but unfortunately failed to finish, pulling up injured about 100 metres into the race.

 

Women’s 4x100 Metres

The Jamaican quartet of Briana Williams, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson celebrated Jamaica’s Independence Day by running a national record of 41.02 to secure the gold medal.

This marks Jamaica’s first time winning Olympic gold in women’s 4x100 metres relay since Athens 2004.

Javianne Oliver, Teahna Daniels, Jenna Prandini and Gabby Thomas combined to run 41.45 to secure the silver medal for the USA, while Great Britain with Asha Phillip, Imani Lansiquot, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita ran 41.88 for bronze.

 

Men’s 4x100 Metres

Jamaica finished 5th in the final of the men’s 4x100 metres relay.

Jevaughn Minzie, Julian Forte, Yohan Blake and Oblique Seville combined to run 37.84 to finish behind Italy, Great Britain, Canada and China.

 

The Italian team of Lorenzo Patta, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Fostine Desalu and Filippo Tortu ran a national record 37.50 to secure gold and continue the country’s impressive track & field showing in Tokyo.

The British team comprising of CJ Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake ran 37.51 to finish just behind the Italians in 2nd.

Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse combined to run 37.70 and secure the bronze for Canada.

 Decorated Jamaica female sprinter, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, has called for an end to berating the country’s male sprinters in light of several disappointments at the Tokyo Games.

The post-Usain Bolt Olympic era begun in difficult fashion for the Jamaica men’s team, with the dizzying heights of world record times and podium topping finishes seemingly, for now, well and truly in the past.

In the 100m, an event dominated by Bolt for the past three Olympics, no Jamaican was able to advance to the final for the first time in over two decades.  Over double the distance, where Bolt also dominated for the last three editions, one Jamaican, Rasheed Dwyer, made it to the final but finished in 7th place.

In the 4x100m, where the country has won for the last two Olympics, after being stripped of a gold medal in 2008, the team finished fifth in the final.  Despite the rapid descent being too much for some fans, who have made their grouses know via various social media platforms in recent weeks, Fraser-Pryce has called for an end to the criticism.

Having been part of the teams that dominated along with Bolt, the athlete has called for patience and appreciation.

“All the Jamaicans that are beating the men and cursing and leaving all the negative comments, you need to stop it,” Fraser-Pryce said, in the aftermath of being part of a gold-medal-winning 4x100m relay team.

“It takes a lot of guts and hard work year to year to compete, to come out here and to represent.  A lot of persons are competing at these championships, some of them are going away without making the finals.  We were in the finals, so we need to start celebrating the men because their time is coming.”  

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.

Jamaica Women’s 4x100m relay team admits it was a disappointment to miss out on breaking the event’s world record but were nonetheless happy to give their nation a gift on its Independence Day.

The quartet of Briana Williams, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson captured the gold medal with a new national record of 41.02.  The time narrowly eclipsed the previous mark of 41.07, set at the 2008 Beijing Games, but was some way short of the 40.82 set by the USA in 2012.  The time was, however, the third-fastest ever run over the distance.

Even with the threat of the US, the quartet used safe changes for most of the race, with the bigger target clearly being the gold medal.  Despite, dominating the 100m sprints for over a decade, the gold medal was the first for the Jamaica women’s team since Athens 2004.

“It wasn’t perfect, but we did manage to get the stick around.  We didn’t get the world record, but we got a national record on Independence Day, what more could you ask for,” Thompson-Herah, who added a third gold medal for the Games, said following the event.

Fraser-Pryce, the 100m silver medallist, backed up the notion.

“It was good, as an elite athlete or a senior athlete, I was just ready to make sure we took the opportunity and took the stick around and we got a national record.  We wanted a world record, but we also wanted Elaine to get the three gold medals because the last Olympics she missed it and now we have it,” Fraser-Pryce said.

The Jamaicans had taken silver behind the USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the last time Thompson had been in a position to claim three gold medals after winning the 100m and 200m.

The relay gold was, however, also the first for Fraser-Pryce, who saw the team she was part of at the 2008 Olympics fail to get the baton around the track and also being a part of quartets that finished second in both 2012 and 2016.

Williams was participating in her first Olympics, while Jackson who got a 4x400m silver in 2016 has only just started to take part in the sprints.

 

 

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