Nearly four years after the infamous loss to Trinidad and Tobago that saw the United States fail to qualify for Russia 2018, a young USA side opened the final round of 2022 World Cup qualifying with a 0-0 draw at El Salvador on Thursday. 

USA head coach Gregg Berhalter's inexperienced team, missing star Christian Pulisic and goalkeeper Zack Steffen, managed to take a point before a raucous crowd in San Salvador following their CONCACAF Gold Cup success last month.

It might not have been a scintillating performance for a side coming off Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League triumphs, but the USA will take it after opening their 2018 qualifying campaign with successive losses. 

Nine players in the USA starting line-up were making their first appearance in a World Cup qualifier, with DeAndre Yedlin and Tim Ream the only exceptions, but the group did not appear rattled on the road. 

USA had a tantalising chance after eight minutes when Miles Robinson got free behind the El Salvador defence on a Gio Reyna free-kick, but saw his header sail over the goal. 

El Salvador's best opportunity of the first half came in the 33rd minute when California-born Alex Roldan cut in from the left after a short corner and curled a ball over USA goalkeeper Matt Turner that grazed the top of the crossbar. 

The home side had a chance to take the lead in the 57th minute, as Turner had to dive to his left to save a header from Eriq Zavaleta off a corner from Marvin Monterroza, the first and only shot on target for El Salvador. 

Weston McKennie had a clear header in the 72nd minute, however the USA and Juventus midfielder could not put home Reyna's cross, one of several missed opportunities for the visitors.

The result snapped the USA's nine-match winning streak, but they still have suffered only one defeat in their last 20 games dating to November 2019, a 2-1 friendly loss at Switzerland in May. 

 

Jamaica sprint king Usain Bolt has voiced a modicum of support for mercurial United States sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, admitting he is a fan of the energy the young athlete brings to the sport.

Earlier this summer, the 21-year-old was expected to be one of the headliners at the Olympic Games, but things did not go to plan as she missed the event after being suspended for a month after testing positive for marijuana.

Nor did her match-up with the medal-winning Jamaica trio from the Olympics, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson.  Despite plenty of pre-race hype, the American finished last in the event.  The result divided social media users with many still offering support for Richardson, while many others ridiculed her.

Recently the sprinter also drew heat for what many construed to be disrespect shown to legendary American sprinter Alyson Felix who called for patience and support for the young runner.  Bolt, however, believes the athlete’s personality draws more people to the sport.

“I like her energy because I think she’s good for the sport because her energy is different. It’s spicy, it’s a vibe,” Bolt told hip hop magazine Revolt Tv.

“Everybody is different. But, I think she brings a different spice to track and field. And sometimes sports need somebody like that to give the energy, to get people talking about it,” he added.

The double world record holder also offered some kind words of advice to the young American.

“You will have failures throughout your career, it’s just one of those things. In my first Olympics in Athens, I didn’t make it outside the first round. So, it’s just about being determined and pushing yourself, and just believing that you can do it, and just go and do your best.”

  

Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples have been named vice-captains for the 2020 Ryder Cup by United States captain Steve Stricker. 

Stricker's other vice-captains are Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Love, meaning there is no place in the leadership team for Tiger Woods. 

Mickelson will not be a playing member of the team for the first time after 12 consecutive appearances – a record for Team USA – dating back to 1995. He also holds the national record for four-ball points won (nine) and matches played (47). 

Although the 51-year-old became the oldest player in history to win a major at the US PGA Championship back in May, it was his only top-10 finish this year. 

Couples served as a vice-captain to Davis Love III in 2012 and made five appearances as a player, the last of which came in 1997. 

"I've been staying in close contact with both Freddie and Phil, talking about all things Ryder Cup, for a while now," Stricker said in a statement. 

"They provide honest and impactful feedback, and both have such a passion for the Ryder Cup. I'm honoured that they were willing to join our team and help put us in the best position to win in a few weeks at Whistling Straits."

The tournament, which was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is due to be played at Whistling Straits from September 24-26. 

"I'm humbled and honoured to be a part of this year's Ryder Cup as an assistant captain," Mickelson wrote on Twitter. 

"Thank you captain Stricker for including me and I hope to help in any way possible."

USA football star Megan Rapinoe got to see her fiancee Sue Bird complete a stellar Olympic career with a fifth basketball gold medal - despite all crowds being banned in Tokyo.

Bird, 40, signed off her Games career in the United States' 90-75 win over Japan on Sunday.

At courtside was Rapinoe, who won a bronze on Thursday when she scored twice as the USA beat Australia 4-3 in the football third-place match.

Rapinoe, who won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the 2019 World Cup, first met Bird in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

They became a couple later that year and announced their engagement in October 2020.

When the USA clinched the basketball gold medal, Bird went to the side of the court and kissed Rapinoe, later revealing how her 36-year-old partner managed to gain access to the Saitama Super Arena.

"I'm very lucky," Bird said. "Obviously when your partner or your fiancee is also in the Olympics you would love to be able to go and support them, be around them, to give any kind of support possible.

"Megan somehow finagled a media credential and got herself in this arena today. We didn't really know it was going to happen until two days ago, it got confirmed. So I do I feel very lucky she was here to witness it, to share it with me."

Spectators have been blocked from attending venues at the Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with families of overseas athletes unable to travel to Japan for the Games, meaning Rapinoe was among the fortunate few to be in the arena.

"I just went over and obviously told her I loved her and told her I was tired," said Bird. "That was pretty much the extent of the conversation, and she told me she was happy and proud of me.

"Of course I'm so proud of her and her team for winning that bronze medal. The Olympics is hard. It's really hard. There's so much pressure involved and so to have both of us medal is something that I know we'll take that memory with us forever."

Rapinoe wrote on Instagram: "I am so proud of you @sbird10. As if I could love you any more. Congrats baby!"

Bird has ruled out playing on to Paris 2024, happy to settle for five gold medals, the first of which came in Athens at the 2004 Games.

"It really is hard to wrap your head around it, to grasp what it is," said the Seattle Storm star.

"Twenty years of staying true to the game, making sure you're at the top of your game, so much sacrifice.

"The only thing about getting older, you know all the bad stuff that can happen. We lost in 2006 [to Russia at the World Championship]. 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."

Sue Bird signed off her Olympic career with a fifth gold medal as Team USA landed a seventh successive women's basketball title, scuppering the hopes of hosts Japan in the final.

At the age of 40, Bird has declared Tokyo 2020 will be her final Games, and she helped the latest incarnation of the mighty United States team to a 90-75 win in the Saitama Super Arena.

Brittney Griner set a new USA record of 30 points in a women's Olympic final, while Diana Taurasi joined Bird in landing a fifth gold, the two longest-serving members of the team each finishing the game with seven points. Taurasi, 39, could yet play on until the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

A'ja Wilson scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field in Sunday's final, while Breanna Stewart added 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Maki Takada led Japan with 17 points. Her team-mate Nako Motohashi drained four of five three-point shots but was far less clinical when nearer the net.

Japan made just 36 per cent of their field-goal attempts (28 of 77) and the 54 per cent success rate of the US team (37 of 69) proved a decisive factor.

The home team never led and trailed 50-39 at half-time, then 75-56 after the third quarter, and by that point the contest was all but over.

Taurasi said of her fifth gold: "It's 20 years of sacrifice, of putting everything aside and just wanting to win. It's never easy playing on this team [with] the pressure, but this group found a way to win and I'm just happy this group got to enjoy it."

Griner, who was also on the Rio 2016 team, recalled the efforts of the triumphant teams of years gone by, with this winning streak having begun at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"Seven in a row, I mean that's just amazing. That just goes to show everything USA basketball's about," Griner said.

"Japan's hard to guard. They can shoot it anywhere on the court. They're a tough guard, they're a really good team. I'm just glad we've got this gold."

Draymond Green turned on Team USA's critics after landing another basketball gold medal at the Olympic Games, saying: "Somebody needs to teach these people some loyalty."

A sketchy start to the Tokyo 2020 mission was followed by steady improvement from Gregg Popovich's team, and an 87-82 win over France in Saturday's final tied up a fourth successive gold-winning campaign.

Pre-tournament losses to Australia and Nigeria hinted at teething problems in fusing together a new-look squad, and an early-group stage loss to France only fuelled doubts that this side might come up short.

But the United States team came good when it mattered, fending off a France side who kept coming back for more in the gold game. 

Golden State Warriors power forward Green has now played on two of the Americans' triumphant men's basketball Olympic teams, and he was keen to hit out at what he called "a lot of doubters".

"You turn on American sports talk, TV, or whatever, and you got guys like Kendrick Perkins doubting us," Green said.

Perkins, 36, is a former NBA championship winner with the Boston Celtics who now works as a television game analyst and commentator.

"Somebody needs to teach these people some loyalty. How about you cheer for your country?" Green said.

"When a guy doesn't play they say, 'Oh you need to represent your country', and then you lose, hit a little bump in the road, and everybody is mad in America. You are an American too, act like it.

"Do your job. I do some media stuff, I understand doing your job, but when you talk about a special group, you better be sure you are right, and a lot of people got it wrong.

"And trust me, I will be posting those guys, I'll be posting everyone I find who said something. No one holds anyone accountable any more, but I will."

 

Kevin Durant was the driving force behind the USA's success, scoring a game-high 29 points in the final and being a powerful presence during the tournament.

Like others, Green said that Durant "carried" the team, but he also pointed to the efforts of Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday as being significant.

"It's a challenge to do special things," Green said. "I know it seems as if it has come easy for so long, but I played in 2016. It wasn’t easy then, it wasn’t easy this year.

"If it's worth having, you have to fight for it. We fought, they fought, I think the better team came out with the gold medal."

With families unable to join the team in Tokyo, and the Games coming on the back of a taxing NBA season, Green suggested this was a win to savour perhaps more than the Rio success, where there were no issues as imposing as the ongoing COVID restrictions.

"Don't get me wrong, I don't take either one for granted, but this one feels sweet," Green said. "It feels a lot sweeter."

Kevin Durant said it felt "incredible" after he won a third gold medal and helped Team USA reach four in a row at the Olympics.

The men's basketball tournament looked primed for a potential shock when the United States team lost to France in their opening group game at Tokyo 2020, yet it came full circle as victory over the same opposition in Saturday's final tied up another success at the Games.

The USA won 87-82 against a French side who gave them trouble all game long, but a game-high 29 points from Durant carried Gregg Popovich's team to top spot on the podium.

"I'm so proud of this team," Durant said. "The coaching staff prepared us so well every single day, even some days when we didn't feel like practising but it was worth it at the end. I’m so glad. I’m ready to go home and celebrate.

"I love our country and this team is just amazing, it’s just incredible.

"How we came together. The adversity that we went through, so many people doubting us early on too. We get that support from our families, our friends, you know it’s bigger than us. We wanted to come here finish it and look alive."

Pre-Olympics defeats to Australia and Nigeria, followed by the France loss when competition began, hinted at major shortcomings in Popovich's ranks.

A host of withdrawals from the planned original roster meant this was a depleted team, but Durant proved to be a driving force throughout the tournament.

"This one feels good because we went through a lot," said the Brooklyn Nets superstar.

"We had a lot of first-time guys on the team, new experience for everyone on the team, COVID, the kind of bubble we were in, no fans, no one expecting us to lose.

"We heard it all over the past few weeks about our team. To fight through this adversity against a great team like these guys ... to come together so fast – it was beautiful to see, it was beautiful to be a part of."

There was widespread acclaim for Durant's on-court leadership.

Draymond Green earned a second Olympic gold and said Durant had "carried" the USA to gold, rating the 32-year-old as the greatest player in the history of the team.

"He's been special," Green said. "He is one of the best players to ever play this game, one of the most special guys you have ever seen lace their shoes and take the basketball court.

"He carried this team like we needed him to, like he was supposed to. Coming back for his third Olympics, all-time USA scorer, there's been a lot of great players to don this jersey – he is number one. That’s a special thing."

Jrue Holiday, who added the gold medal to his NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks, also raved about Durant.

Holiday said: "Doing it on the world stage and doing it against different countries and actually being on his team now has been pretty cool to see – how he carries the game, carries his teammates and takes over a game.”

Bam Adebayo said Durant had been "phenomenal", adding: "The thing I like about Kevin the most, he's one of the greatest scorers in our league but also he's a genuine person. People try to bash him in the media but he's one of those guys that got your back 24/7. Being around him, being around this group of guys, we created a brotherhood."

Kevin Durant dazzled as Team USA won a fourth successive Olympic men's basketball gold medal, edging out France 87-82 in Saturday's final.

A game-high haul of 29 points from Brooklyn Nets superstar Durant saw the United States to a victory that avenged their opening group-stage loss to France.

It meant the USA kept up their strong recent record on the Olympic stage, with Durant securing a third gold medal of his career.

Jayson Tatum weighed in with 19 points, while France had five players in double figures but nobody in their ranks scored more than the 16 points managed by both Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier.

The USA led by 11 points at 71-57 in the third quarter, but an impressive France cut that advantage to three points at 73-70 with 5:42 remaining of the fourth after Frank Ntilikina drained a three-pointer

France again reined in a double-digit lead to get back to 85-82 in arrears with 10 seconds remaining, but a foul by Gobert on Durant gave the USA's star man the chance to put the game away, which he seized by making both his free throws.

Breanna Stewart said it would be an "insane" achievement for Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi to reach five Olympic gold medals after Team USA reached the Tokyo 2020 basketball final.

A comfortable 79-59 win over Serbia carried coach Dawn Staley's team through to Sunday's title match.

The USA will be chasing a seventh consecutive gold and a 55th successive Olympic game win, with Bird and Taurasi the longest serving players on the current roster.

Bird and Taurasi have been on the team since the Athens Games in 2004, with Stewart a relative newcomer after first being called up for Rio 2016.

"Sue and D, what they've done for USA basketball is extremely special," Stewart said.

"The fact that they're going for five straight golds is insane and I think for the rest of us as players, we want to make sure we put them in the best possible position to get that gold."

There could be a basketball double for the USA in Japan, with the men through to a title game against France on Saturday.

The women's team have surpassed the Olympic achievements of their male counterparts in this century.

The men managed only bronze in Athens but have won the three Olympic tournaments since, while the women last failed to gain gold in 1992 at Barcelona.

Bird, 40, and Taurasi, 39, might not have long left as active Olympians, but they are passing their knowledge on to the younger generation.

Yet for everyone representing the US, this is a stressful time, given that anything less than the gold medal would be written off by many as failure.

Stewart said: "I think that right now there's so much pressure that it's seven straight overall that you get lost in what's actually happening and enjoying being at the Olympics, being on the court and competing every single day.

"This is exactly where we want to be, so now everything is on the line. We're going to do what we can to make sure that we come home with a gold."

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.

Kevin Durant believes the United States are starting to become more comfortable as a team with the Olympic gold medal in their sights after surviving a stern test from Spain.

Durant was instrumental for Team USA, scoring 29 points as they claimed a 95-81 quarter-final victory at Tokyo 2020.

Gregg Popovich's team trailed narrowly after the first quarter and were then 10 points down in the second before finding their rhythm to go into the half tied.

They pulled away in the final two quarters to set up a last-four meeting with Australia, with Durant seemingly growing more confident Team USA will live up to expectations and seal the gold medal.


"WE'RE IN A GOOD SPOT"

Team USA were in a 39-29 hole with under three and a half minutes left in the second quarter, but then went on a 14-4 run to level matters at 43-43.

Durant felt avoiding going into the second half with a big deficit was critical and, according to the two-time NBA Finals MVP, a roster stacked with elite talent is gelling at the right time.

"We didn't want to go into the half down double digits. This team [Spain] runs their sets with precision, they run it with pace and then on the defensive side of the ball they do a good job of running and jumping and playing together on the defence," said Durant.

"So we knew we didn't want to get down big against this team.

"We're in a good spot right now. Guys are starting to understand their roles and just get more comfortable within the team.

"In this setting, it's always hard to get your footing as an individual player because you don't want to step on toes.

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

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

 

BOOMERS TO SPOIL THE PARTY?

An uneven exhibition schedule prior to the Games saw the USA lose to both Nigeria and Australia.

Australia were 91-83 victors last month and they have continued to impress since getting to Tokyo.

The Boomers set up a rematch with the gold medal favourites in fine style on Tuesday, sweeping aside Argentina 97-59 to secure their place in the semis.

Five Australia players reached double figures, Patty Mills leading the way with 18 points as he went three of four from beyond the arc.

SLOVENIA'S 'UNBELIEVABLE' ACHIEVEMENT

Slovenia were similarly dominant in seeing off Germany in their last-eight clash, easing to a 94-70 victory.

It means a battle between Durant and Co. and Slovenia superstar Luka Doncic for the gold medal is still very much a possibility.

Zoran Dragic was the star of the show against Germany, top-scoring with 27 points on 11 of 13 shooting, while Doncic added 20 of his own.

"It's unbelievable, a country of two million being top four in the world," Doncic said of Slovenia reaching the semis. "We already achieved a lot by just going to the Olympics, it was our first time in history."

Slovenia have never lost a competitive game in which Doncic has featured, if that run continues for two more games, they will be Olympic champions.

"It's going to be very, very hard," he added. "We've got some tough opponents but we're going to be ready, we've got nothing to lose and I hope we win two more."

France stand between Slovenia and a place in the final, having overcome Italy 84-75.

Rudy Gobert tallied 22 points and nine rebounds for France and Evan Fournier put up 21 to keep their hopes of repeating their preliminary round win over the USA in the final intact.

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."

Norway's Karsten Warholm smashed the world record in the men's Olympic 400 metres hurdles final, breaking the 46-second barrier on the way to gold medal glory.

Warholm finished in 45.94 seconds, well ahead of his own previous record mark of 46.70. USA's Rai Benjamin claimed silver in 46.17, also beating the old world record, with Alison dos Santos taking bronze in 46.72.

"It's by far the biggest moment of my life," Warholm said. "It defines everything, all the hours I put in, everything that my coach has been working for.

"With all the respect for all the athletes, there are athletes that were not good that will get an Olympic gold. Rai running 46.17 would deserve a gold medal. It is crazy, it is just an honour to be a part of it. I never thought in my wildest imagination that this would be possible."

Asked about his dash to the line in the closing metres, Warholm added: "I couldn't even feel my legs. I knew I had a crazy American trying to catch me, so I ran for my life."

Germany's Malaika Mihambo admitted she could not watch the finale to the women's long jump as she won gold.

Mihambo took the lead with a jump of 7.00m with her final attempt before USA's Brittney Reese and Nigeria's Ese Brume had their last jumps.

Neither could better the leading mark, with Reese settling for silver with 6.97 metres on countback ahead of Brume.

"It was really hard to watch, so I tried to just have a sneak peek on the display and see how far it was," Mihambo said.

"I really don't like this position where you cannot do anything about it, and you just have to let the girls do what they're able to do. You have to wait, so it was a horrible moment, but at least it was short.

“I feel overwhelmed. It was, I think, the most exciting women’s long jump competition in history."

DURANT DOMINATES AS USA SURVIVE SCARE

The United States did not have it all their way but triumphed 95-81 over Spain to seal a spot in the men's basketball semi-finals.

Spain led by as much as 10 points in the second quarter before USA drew level by half-time and accelerated in the second half. Spain again closed within four points of the gold medal favourites in the final quarter, inspired by Ricky Rubio's 38 points.

Kevin Durant excelled for Team USA, with 29 points and four assists, while Jrue Holiday contributed 12 points and five assists as they capitalised on a 17-9 turnover differential.

USA lost to Australia and Nigeria in exhibition games prior to Tokyo 2020 before losing their Olympics opener to France but have since steadied.

The winner of Australia-Argentina will play USA in the semi-finals on Thursday.

NBA duo Zoran Dragic (27 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Luka Doncic (20 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists) starred as Slovenia also progressed to the semi-finals with a 94-70 win over Germany.

CARRINGTON'S GOLD KAYAKING DOUBLE

New Zealand's Lisa Carrington had a golden day in the kayaking, remarkably winning two gold medals within an hour.

Carrington won her third straight gold in the women's kayak single 200m with an Olympic best time of 38.12 seconds, ahead of Spain's Teresa Portela and Denmark's Emma Jorgensen.

The New Zealander backed up alongside Caitlin Regal to win the women's kayak double 500m final with a world best time of 1:35.785.

Carrington joined fellow kayakers Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald and equestrian great Sir Mark Todd as the only New Zealanders to have won five medals at the Olympic Games.

The 32-year-old may win more medals too, competing in the K1 500 event which starts on Wednesday.

“Today was about taking just one race at a time," Carrington said. "There's a plan, and it was just about executing it. For me, it was just trying to stay in the moment and doing the best I can. We've worked really hard and knew today was going to be a big day.”

HENDRICKX POWERS BELGIUM INTO HOCKEY FINAL

World champions Belgium qualified for the gold medal match of the men's hockey after a commanding final quarter sealed a 5-2 win over India.

Belgium piled on three fourth-quarter goals to guarantee a medal in the decider where they will face either Australia or Germany.

Alexander Hendrickx scored a hat-trick including two of the Red Lions' goals in the final quarter after India had fought back from an early deficit to lead 2-1 at quarter-time.

Drag flick expert Hendrickx has scored an unrivalled 14 goals during Belgium's Tokyo 2020 campaign, eight clear of the next best, Australia's Blake Govers.

Hendrickx said: "It's really a team job that comes together. It's my name on the scoresheet, but it's a team job."

World number one Australia and sixth-ranked Germany meet later on Tuesday to determine the other gold medal match finalist.

The United States are showing no complacency despite maintaining a sensational streak en route to a last-eight clash with 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup final opponents Australia at the 2020 Olympics.

Team USA are the clear favourites for the women's basketball title after extending their winning run at the Games to 52 matches, going back to 1992.

They could tie the record of seven consecutive gold medals in a team event – set by the men's basketball team between 1936 and 1968 – by triumphing again in Tokyo.

But the United States survived a scare in their final Group B outing on Monday.

France, needing merely to lose by 14 points or fewer to advance, led with under nine minutes of the fourth quarter remaining before going down 93-82 – 11 points being Team USA's largest lead.

Sue Bird, aiming alongside Diana Taurasi to become the first athlete to win five Olympic golds in team sports, feels her team must heed their warning.

"There are a lot of areas that we need to improve on in the next 48 hours, I guess," she said, with Australia later confirmed as the United States' last-eight opponents.

"I said this the other day: these teams in the Olympics, these teams have trained and they have waited four years and they play like it is their last game.

"It is a desperation that we have not risen to just yet and we need to get there quick."

'A WORK IN PROGRESS'

Team USA had 22 points on nine-for-12 shooting and seven rebounds from A'ja Wilson and 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from Breanna Stewart, who played 38 minutes, but coach Dawn Staley agreed with Bird's assessment.

"[France] played with extra effort, they hit some incredible shots and they put us back on our heels," Staley said.

"I thought we made some adjustments and I thought we did what we needed to do to win a basketball game.

"We had great contributions from a lot of different people, but we're still a work in progress and hopefully we can continue to clean up some things and some areas out on the floor."

Stewart will have fond memories of facing Australia after the 73-56 final win at the World Cup, where she was named MVP.

After beating France, she said: "This is where we start to peak."

OPALS LEAVE IT LATE

Australia had a tough task in reaching the last eight. They needed to beat Puerto Rico by 25 or more points to pip Canada to the last quarter-final spot.

The Opals entered the final two minutes 19 points ahead, but five from Leilani Mitchell in the closing stages – boosting her tally to 19 – helped secure a precious 96-69 success.

Australia have already taken on one of the top teams in China, who ended the preliminary stage as the first seeds after a 74-62 success against Belgium. They face Serbia next.

FRANCE PUT UP A FIGHT

Meanwhile, a quarter-final against Spain was the consolation in defeat for France, whose desire impressed Staley.

"The countries here at the Olympic Games, they pour into their women's teams, and now you're seeing the effects of it," the United States coach said. "And that is great women's basketball play.

"We know we're in a dogfight every time we step on the floor.

"It's great for those who just put the television on and sit down and watch players that they haven't seen before, countries that they haven't seen before, and see them play a great game."

France's Nevada-born forward Gabby Williams added: "It was 10 minutes by 10 minutes and [we were] just trying to focus on staying with them."

In the same pool, Japan – led by Saki Hayashi's 23 points and seven made threes, along with Rui Machida's record-equalling 15 assists – beat Nigeria 102-83 and will face Belgium next in the quarters.

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