Current time in Tokyo: July 30, 5:54 p.m.
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TOKYO — American dominance in the Olympic pool is an old story at this point, a snowball forever rolling downhill, even if the pitch of the slope varies slightly from year to year.
The United States team’s grinding success continued Friday, with American swimmers adding two silvers and a bronze to their growing haul at the Tokyo Games. The medals widened the U.S. advantage on its rivals in the pool but fell short of the golds they covet most of all, a development that had one American claiming his race was tainted by doping.
Ryan Murphy won a silver in the men’s 200-meter backstroke and then caused some fireworks in his news conference when he questioned whether his race, won by a Russian, was drug-free, given Russia’s history of doping in sports.
“I don’t know if it was 100 percent clean,” Murphy said, “and that’s because of things that have happened in the past.”
Earlier, Lilly King and Annie Lazor earned silver and bronze in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke, beaten to the wall by a South African, Tatjana Schoenmaker, who set a world record in the event and then burst into tears.
Americans now have captured 24 swimming medals overall heading into the final two days of competition, compared with 14 for their biggest rival, swimming-mad Australia. The United States most likely will not match its high-water mark of 2016, when the team won 34 medals, 16 of them gold, but it should get within spitting distance of that total.
Friday morning’s finals brought three more.
In the 200-meter breaststroke, Schoenmaker, racing as the favorite, lived up to expectations by beating King and Lazor and claiming both a world record (2 minutes 18.95 seconds) but also South Africa’s first gold of the Games.
Schoenmaker, the silver medalist in the 100-meter event, methodically reeled in King in the final, coming off the turn flying and nudging ahead of King on the strength of a relentless kick. She beat King to the wall by nearly a second.
Lazor, whose father died earlier this year, took the bronze by four-hundredths of a second. After the race, she and King swam over to congratulate Schoenmaker, who did not initially realize she had broken the world record. When she did, she gasped, and Lazor raised her rival’s arm in triumph.
In the 200-meter backstroke, Evgeny Rylov of Russia won a two-man duel with Murphy of the United States and won in an Olympic record of 1 minute 53.27 seconds. Rylov took control of the race on the second turn, stretching his lead to a half-second at the halfway mark and finishing about a half-body ahead of Murphy, who was the defending Olympic champion in the event.
Rylov won by 0.88 of a second, but after the race, Murphy dove into the fray of whether Russian athletes should be allowed to compete at the Games, given the country’s history of state-sponsored doping. Russia’s athletes are competing as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo, and all who were cleared to race had to go through a rigorous clearing process before being allowed to participate.
Still, Murphy directly questioned whether his race was free of doping. He took care not to directly accuse Rylov, who was seated four feet to his left, of cheating, but referred more generally to Russia’s doping history.
Rylov chose not to address Murphy’s comments, saying only that he was a supporter of clean sports and that he had followed all the procedures that were required for him to swim at the Olympics. Murphy then clarified that he was not making a direct accusation but did not back away from his statements.
“I do believe there is doping in swimming,” he said. “It is what it is.”
Earlier, Australia had its own chance to shine in the 100 freestyle final. With Cate Campbell and Emma McKeon swimming next to one another in lanes 3 and 4, and a crowd of their green-and-yellow-clad teammates and coaches packing one section of the empty arena, the race quickly turned into an Aussie celebration.
McKeon won easily, setting an Olympic record of 51.96 seconds and becoming only the second woman ever to break 52 seconds in the event. She finished more than a quarter of a second faster than Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong. Campbell took the bronze, just ahead of Canada’s Penny Oleksiak.
The last final of the morning was the men’s 200-meter individual medley, which gave the Americans yet another medal chance in the form of Michael Andrew.
Andrew, 22, turned professional at 14 and was home-schooled, in part, to maximize his training opportunities, and he was right on the pace for the first three-quarters of the race.
He led after the butterfly leg, gave up the lead to Shun Wang of China on the backstroke leg, then reclaimed it by the end of the breaststroke. But Andrew appeared to run out of gas coming out of the final turn, and Wang proved too much, steaming past him with a water-churning freestyle leg. So did Duncan Scott of Britain, who took the silver, and Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland, who captured the bronze. Andrew finished fifth, behind Daiya Seto of Japan.
Andrew said he missed the roar of the crowd he had experienced at the U.S. trials last month, a cacophony that he said had powered him through the final push. His meet is not over, though. He has another chance to win a medal on Sunday, when he is expected to swim in both an individual final and a relay.
“I’ve got the 50 and the relay, and I’m feeling fast,” Andrew said.
King, too, predicted more American medals were on the way. She had said before the Games that the U.S. had a chance to sweep the women’s individual swim races, and on Friday she struck a positive tone about the team’s performances so far, which have included double-medalists in multiple events.
Australia will not catch the U.S. in overall medals, but the country has already achieved a big improvement over 2016, when it won only three gold medals and 10 overall. McKeon’s gold was Australia’s sixth in swimming in Tokyo — the same number won by American swimmers — and the weekend holds the promise of more for both countries.
McKeon said Australian women had raised the standard for one another, helping to produce the improvement. “We’ve got so many of the girls lifting each other, racing from month to month,” she said. “That has really helped us.”
TOKYO — With only two days left until the gymnastics apparatus finals begin at the Tokyo Games, Simone Biles still hasn’t announced whether she will compete in them. But she said on Instagram on Friday that she was still struggling with a mental block that gymnasts call “the twisties” that in part prompted her to withdraw from the team final and the all-around.
“Literally can not tell up from down,” she wrote in an Instagram story. “It’s the craziest feeling ever. Not having an inch of control over your body.”
Biles, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, wrote that she “seriously cannot comprehend how to twist,” and noted that this disconnect between her mind and body is scary and has happened before, but only on the vault and floor exercise. “This time it’s literally on every event,” she wrote.
Since backing out of the all-around that teammate Sunisa Lee ended up winning on Thursday, Biles has left the Olympic training venue for a gym in Tokyo that has soft landings, including a foam pit. Taking it easy with training and progressing in little steps as she tries to regain her twisting skills and confidence will be key to her bouncing back to normal, coaches say.
“It’s kind of like going into a slump where you can’t hit the curveball,” said Jess Graba, Lee’s coach. “Sometimes your brain just doesn’t fire right, so it takes time to get back to normal.”
Biles might be running out of time. Her next events are the uneven bars and vault on Sunday, the floor exercise on Monday and the balance beam on Tuesday.
On Instagram, she said there was no telling how soon she could overcome the mental block so that she could regain her ability to sense her body position midair in relation to the ground. She said that she would evaluate herself “day by day, turn by turn,” but that in the past it has taken her two or more weeks to recover.
She said she would not be performing any twisting skills during her post-Olympic gymnastics tour, called the Gold Over America Tour.
Her mental block began, Biles said, on the morning after qualifying — Monday in Tokyo, one day before the team final. The problem became clear during team finals, when the U.S. team was on the vault, its first apparatus of the night, and Biles lost herself in the air, high above the competition floor. She backed out of performing 2½ twists and ended up doing 1½ twists, bounding forward on the floor after her landing.
Afterward, she consulted with her coach and team doctor before removing herself from the finals, leaving her teammates to compete on their own. They won the silver medal, and it was the first time the U.S. team hadn’t won the team event in an Olympics or a world championships since 2010.
Addressing why this phenomenon happens to gymnasts, Biles wrote in a postscript in tiny letters on Instagram that it “could be triggered by stress I hear but I’m also not sure how true that is.”
The numbers, if you are the United States women’s soccer team, do not tell the story you were hoping to write at the Tokyo Olympics: three games, one win, countless questions.
But that is all in the past now, defender Crystal Dunn said Thursday. Yes, the Americans were shut out twice in their first three games. Yes, they have struggled to turn their chances into goals. Yes, they could have been better in many areas.
But the only game that matters now, Dunn said, is Friday’s quarterfinal against the Netherlands in Yokohama, a match she described as “all or nothing.”
The quarterfinals will be an unwelcome memory for many of the United States players; this was the stage at which they exited the Olympic tournament at the Rio Games in 2016, the first time the United States women had ever failed to win a medal at the Olympics.
That night in Brasília was a look-in-the-mirror moment, a crossroads game from which the Americans’ next steps could have led to disaster. Instead, the defeat became a milepost on the road to the 2019 Women’s World Cup championship, a title claimed by many of the same players on the team now and in a final against many of the same Netherlands players they will face on Friday.
The problem, at least for the Americans, is that the current Netherlands team might be better than the one they beat, 2-0, two years ago. The Dutch, the reigning European champions, have been devastating offensively here: They scored 21 goals in their first three games and have two players — Vivianne Miedema (eight) and Lieke Martens (six) — with as many goals as the entire United States squad has produced.
And they may be looking to rewrite some recent history of their own. But the Americans will be looking to prove a point, too, after some frustrating performances in the first round. First up will be avoiding another early Olympic exit.
“I think that the team is really hungry,” U.S. forward Christen Press said. “The group stage has left us feeling like we have more to give. And I think that’s a great thing, it’s a powerful thing and it’s intimidating.”
Fifty-seven years ago, when the Summer Games were last held in Tokyo, the average high temperature was about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and the warmest day was 74.
But the 1964 Olympics were held in the cooler, drier month of October. This time around, the nightly lows in Tokyo are hotter than that previous high of 74. The calendar change is the main culprit, of course.
The International Olympic Committee required that cities bidding for the 2020 Games hold the event between July 15 and Aug. 31, barring “exceptional circumstances.”
It has been more than 20 years since the Olympics have been held outside that time frame. The 2000 Sydney Olympics, held in late September to adjust to weather in the Southern Hemisphere, have been the least-viewed Summer Games in the United States over the past several decades. (Mexico City in 1968 and Seoul in 1988 held the Summer Games in October, too.)
For the time period that Tokyo officials chose to stage the competition, the average high over the past two decades has been 90 degrees Fahrenheit, according to data collected by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The agency’s data also shows the effect of climate change on summertime temperatures in Tokyo. The average daily high was 79.9 degrees Fahrenheit for the 10 Augusts before the 1964 Summer Games. For the 10 Augusts before the 2021 Games, it was 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Haruo Ozaki, the chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, said this month that holding the Games in July and August was a serious issue because of the “high risks of heatstroke,” and not just because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Olympic officials have put in place several heat-countering measures across events. At Shiokaze Park on Tokyo Bay, where beach volleyball is being held, organizers cooled off the sand with water from firefighter-grade hoses and rolled out canopies to shade players on the sidelines. Among other measures, organizers also installed electric fans and large-scale misting towers, and a special coating of reflective material that reduces the surface temperature over 85 miles of roads in the city’s center.
No event has felt the heat as intensely as tennis. This year shaped up to be one of the hottest and most uncomfortable tennis tournaments many athletes will ever play. Temperatures reached 90 degrees in the shade when play got underway on Saturday, and they haven’t let up since.
On Wednesday, Paula Badosa of Spain suffered from heatstroke during her quarterfinal match against Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic and had to leave the match early in a wheelchair. Daniil Medvedev of the Russian Olympic Committee struggled to breathe through the hot and humid conditions during a match against Fabio Fognini of Italy on Wednesday. He told the chair umpire, “I can finish the match, but I can die.” (He did finish.)
Medvedev still managed to win and advanced to the quarterfinals, but he lost to Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain on Thursday.
In response to the conditions, the International Tennis Federation announced that beginning Thursday, tennis matches at the Tokyo Games would start at 3 p.m. local time instead of 11 a.m.
Olympic officials have had an extreme-weather policy in place for tennis, which provides for modifications of play and 10-minute breaks because of temperatures. The policy kicks in once the wet-bulb globe temperature — an index that measures heat stress on the human body — reaches 30.1 degrees Celsius, or about 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
But the heat this year was not unexpected. In 2019, the International Olympic Committee moved the marathon about 500 miles north of Tokyo to the city of Sapporo because of concerns about the heat. (Most competitors in sprinting, however, will embrace the hot weather when those events begin Friday.)
TOKYO — The light red flag with the five-petaled bauhinia flower does not represent a country. But Hong Kong, the Chinese territory where political and civil rights have been battered in recent months, is enjoying its strongest-ever showing at the Tokyo Olympics, capturing gold in fencing and two silvers in swimming.
The three-medal haul is the first time that Hong Kong, which was returned to Chinese rule by the British in 1997, captured more than a single medal at the Olympics. On Friday, the swimmer Siobhan Haughey won her second silver of the Games, in the women’s 100-meter freestyle, following a victory in the 200-meter freestyle event on Wednesday.
But out of the pool and off the fencing piste, Hong Kong’s fortunes have not been as bright. The territory was promised significant political freedoms for the 50 years after its handover to China, but Beijing has clamped down. Most of Hong Kong’s top opposition politicians are in prison or in exile. Last month, the biggest pro-democracy newspaper was forced to shutter.
On Tuesday, the first person to be tried under a tough new national security law was found guilty of terrorism and inciting secession. He was sentenced on Friday to nine years in prison for driving a motorcycle into police officers while carrying a protest flag.
Beijing’s crackdown has targeted contemporary art, civics lessons in high schools and children’s books featuring a dozen fluffy sheep.
“Currently, many Hong Kong people probably feel unhappy and full of negative emotions,” said Tse Ying-suet, who played in the bronze medal match in badminton mixed doubles on Friday. “I think athletes winning Olympic medals brings Hong Kong people some hope and joy.”
Tse and her partner, Tang Chun-man, went on to lose against a Japanese pair, but she thanked people in Hong Kong who had flocked to malls and other public spaces to watch the badminton contest live.
“I feel very happy that so many people got together to support Hong Kong athletes,” Tse said.
The Hong Kong police said on Thursday that they were investigating whether people who had gathered to watch Cheung Ka-long’s fencing final at a mall had breached the national security law and another law when they booed as the Chinese national anthem played at his victory ceremony.
Joy Dong contributed research from Hong Kong.
TOKYO — There can be a grim randomness to a BMX race, even at the Olympics. No matter how well a cyclist rides, a crash, a bump or even a small skid can kill the chance for a medal.
Connor Fields of the United States, the defending gold medalist, was in excellent position after finishing third and first in his first two semifinal heats. But near the lead again in the third heat, he clipped the wheel of the rider in front and went down in a nasty three-bike crash.
Medical personnel attended to Fields for several minutes before he was carried from the track on a stretcher and taken to a hospital. A U.S. Olympic official said Fields was “awake and awaiting further medical evaluation.” Even though he didn’t finish the heat, he would have had enough points to race in the final had he been fit to.
The men’s winner was Niek Kimmann of the Netherlands, the world champion in 2015 who finished a disappointing seventh at the Rio Games a year later. Kimmann made headlines this week after crashing into an official who had wandered onto the course during a training run.
“The last weeks, I’ve felt in the best shape ever,” Kimmann said. “Of course, there was a lot of pressure, but I was confident. And then I hit that official, and I felt like my dream was over. But luckily, with painkillers, that dream was still alive.”
Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes
On the women’s side, Bethany Shriever of Britain managed to transcend the randomness, winning all three of her heats and then the final. As she completed her 44-second run, her countryman Kye Whyte, fresh off a silver medal in the men’s race, vociferously cheered for her, then lifted her off the ground in a bear hug as she put her hands to her face in disbelief.
Shriever, who was not even a projected finalist, had turned to crowdfunding to support her career in 2019 after the British sports authorities decided to focus their financing on male BMX riders because their results had been better.
“I kept my cool today, kept it simple, and it worked,” she said.
Crashes in both the first and third women’s heats ended the hopes of Alise Willoughby of the United States, the reigning silver medalist; her third-place finish in the second heat was in vain.
The races were delayed for 45 minutes after a downpour soaked the track. A dozen workers valiantly used industrial blow dryers and squeegees to sop up some of the moisture. But riders said they did not think the wetness contributed to the crashes.
Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage on Friday morning. All times are Eastern.
SOCCER Women’s teams are getting closer to medal contention as they move into the quarterfinals. Matches start at 4 a.m. with Canada vs. Brazil on NBC Sports. Britain plays Australia at 5 a.m. on NBCOlympics.com. It’s Sweden vs. Japan at 6 a.m. on Universo. The United States takes on the Netherlands at 7 a.m. on NBC Sports. The Americans must win to maintain their medal hopes.
RUGBY The women’s quarterfinal matches are live from Tokyo Stadium at 4:30 a.m. on USA Network.
SWIMMING Simone Manuel swims the 50-meter freestyle in a series of heats that includes the men’s 1,500-meter freestyle, starting at 6 a.m. on USA Network.
CANOE/KAYAK NBC Sports airs the slalom finals in men’s kayaking at 6 a.m.
BASEBALL The United States plays Israel at 6 a.m. on NBCOlympics.com. NBC Sports airs a replay at 10:30 a.m.
TABLE TENNIS At 7 a.m., Yun-Ju Lin of Taipei and Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany play in the bronze medal match on NBCOlympics.com. At 8:15 a.m., teammates Zhendong Fan and Long Ma, both of China, play for the gold medal on USA Network.
FENCING The men’s team épée final airs on NBCOlympics.com at 5:30 a.m. for bronze and 6:30 a.m. for gold.
The United States rowing team had two final chances on Friday to win a medal in rowing at the Tokyo Games, but both of its boats came up short, ending an era of success at the Olympics that has lasted for more than a century.
The last time the United States failed to make the podium in rowing in an Olympics was in 1908.
The U.S. team’s men’s and women’s eight-oared boats raced in the finals on Friday at Sea Forest Waterway, with the American women hoping to extend their phenomenal Olympic gold medal streak that began at the 2008 Beijing Games. But that three-time Olympic champion boat, which for years was so strong that it could win with different combinations of rowers filling the seats, finished fourth, more than 3½ seconds behind the winning Canadian team.
The New Zealand eight won the silver medal, and the Chinese boat won the bronze. Both of those rowing teams are on the rise, with Friday’s medals their first in the women’s eight.
“The young group of girls who have been coming though had just added so much new life to our boat,” Kelsey Bevan, the four-set for New Zealand, said at a news conference. “Yeah, I think this is only the start of the program.”
New Zealand’s women finished their race, put away their boats and returned to the racecourse to see the men’s eights competition, which was the final rowing event of the Games. It would be a great day for New Zealand rowing: their men’s team was rocketing down the course and won the gold medal. And earlier in the day, Emma Twigg, the single sculler from New Zealand, also finished first. These were her fourth Olympics, and she finished fourth in the past two Games. She said rowers who get the results they are looking for should not be discouraged and should keep trying. She’s a perfect example of how that persistence can pay off.
“If you believe in yourself and keep going and dreaming, this can be the result,” she said.
TOKYO — Teddy Riner, perhaps the world’s most famous judoka, fell short in his pursuit of a third straight Olympic gold medal when he lost his third match on Friday morning.
Riner, 32, won gold medals in the over 100-kilogram category in London and Rio de Janeiro (he also won a bronze medal at the Beijing Games). The 10-time world champion had his 152-match winning streak, which spanned nearly a decade, snapped in February 2020.
Riner dispelled any questions about whether he was sharp after fighting only sparingly since the start of the pandemic. He won his first two matches with relative ease, beating Austrian Stephan Hegyi with an ippon and Or Sasson of Israel with a waza-ari.
But in his quarterfinal match, Riner and Tamerlan Bashaev of Russia battled to a stalemate through the first four minute. About half a minute into the Golden Score period, Bashaev threw down Riner with a corner drop move. The fighters waited for some time as the judges reviewed the move, apparently because Riner landed out of bounds.
Riner shook his head when decision was announced and the referee pointed to Bashaev to confirm his victory.
Riner left without speaking to the media.
Riner, who was unseeded in the tournament, was aiming to win to share the record for most consecutive gold medals with Tadahiro Nomura of Japan, who won in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
After the pandemic began, Riner lost more than 50 pounds and focused on stretching to improve his recovery.
With the loss on Friday, Riner will face fresh questions about whether he will retire. Along with Thierry Henry and Tony Parker, he is one of the most famous athletes in France. At 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, Riner cut a striking pose. Known as “Teddy Bear” and “Big Ted,” he is a celebrity and has been the subject of a documentary.
With all his success in the sport already, his legacy as one of the best judoka ever is assured.
TOKYO — It never quite feels like the Olympics until track and field starts. The meet begins Friday morning in Tokyo with preliminary heats in the women’s 100 meters, and continues all day until a lone final, the men’s 10,000, in the evening.
After a loss, a win and a draw, the U.S. women’s soccer team faces a do-or-die quarterfinal against an impressive Netherlands team that outscored its opponents by 21-8 in the preliminary round. Expect goals in this one, too. It’s at 8 p.m. Tokyo time, 7 a.m. Eastern.
The marquee events of any rowing regatta are the eights, and the men’s and women’s races will be contested on Friday morning (Thursday evening in the United States). On the women’s side, the U.S. team will be going for a fourth straight Olympic gold, but they may be underdogs to New Zealand.
Four more swimming finals begin at 10:41 a.m. in Tokyo, 9:41 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. Michael Andrew of the United States is a strong contender for gold in the 200-meter individual medley. Lilly King of the United States will be swimming for a gold medal in the 200 women’s breaststroke. She won an individual gold and a relay gold at the 2016 Games.
And it’s time to bounce. The women’s trampoline competition gets underway.
TOKYO — Athletes in track and field spent the first half of the year taking aim at — and shattering — a smorgasbord of world records. No one should be surprised to see more of those records fall in the coming days, when runners and jumpers take center stage at the Games. Despite the absence of fans, the Olympic Stadium has not been short on drama.
In these uncertain times, reaching the starting line could be considered an achievement. But many of the athletes have come to Tokyo with ambitious goals.
There are 10 consecutive days of track and field, beginning on Friday in Tokyo (Thursday evening in the U.S.) with the first rounds of the men’s 400-meter hurdles, the women’s 800 and 100 meters and more before concluding with the men’s 10,000-meter final. The competition runs through Aug. 8, when the men’s marathon will punctuate the festivities in Sapporo, about 500 miles north of Tokyo, where organizers expect cooler weather.
Allyson Felix, 35, the grande dame of U.S. track and field and a six-time gold medalist, is set to compete next week in the 400 meters in her fifth and final Olympics.
In the women’s 100 meters, Sha’Carri Richardson, the American star whose positive marijuana test cost her a spot in the Tokyo Olympics, would have been a favorite. But though Richardson will be absent, the event remains a draw with sprinters like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, 34, who is already a two-time Olympic champion in the event.
Here’s our complete guide to track and field at the Games, including a breakdown of the rules of competition, a list of the sport’s star Olympians, and the more intriguing events to watch for.
Olympic organizers on Friday reported 27 new coronavirus infections among people connected to the Games, the highest daily count reported so far. A total of 225 people with Olympic credentials have tested positive since July 1.
Among them are 26 athletes, including six from the United States, which is fielding the largest Olympic delegation in Tokyo and also has the most members who have tested positive.
Outside the Olympic bubble, the coronavirus situation in Japan has never been worse. Both the city and the country reported record numbers of new infections on Thursday as the Delta variant outpaced vaccinations and strained the health care system. Tokyo recorded 3,865 new infections, the second day in a row the city had tallied a new high, despite being under a state of emergency that includes some social restrictions.
Across Japan, the average number of daily cases is up by 163 percent from two weeks ago, according to New York Times data. Olympic organizers insisted there was no connection between the Games and the rising numbers. But experts suggested that the presence of the Games in Tokyo was having the psychological effect of making the public believe they could relax, even if under an emergency declaration.
Twelve more medals will be draped around swimmers’ necks in the Friday morning session at the Tokyo Aquatics Center. The finals of the women’s 200-meter breaststroke, the men’s 200-meter backstroke, the women’s 100-meter freestyle and the men’s 200-meter individual medley also give viewers the chance to see a familiar image of athletes looking as if they are taking a bite out of their prize.
Why do they bite medals?
This isn’t a practice that’s exclusive to swimmers, of course. The short answer is that the cameras simply love the pose. Photographers and videographers are after what they consider to be a quintessential shot from the Olympics.
It can be risky, though. David Moeller, a German luger who won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, famously chipped his tooth in his display for the cameras.
“The photographers wanted a picture of me holding the medal just with my teeth,” he told the German newspaper Bild. “Later at dinner, I noticed a bit of one of my teeth was missing.”
There’s a longer tradition behind that practice as well. It started during the California gold rush in 1849, when many people bit down on parts of the rocks they had just panned to test whether they were the real thing. Chomping on gold, a soft metal, will leave a mark. But that’s not what the athletes could be doing, right?
So, what are the medals made of anyway?
As you probably guessed from the last answer, gold medals are not made of pure gold. Remarkably, the 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals for the Summer Games were made from metals extracted from electronic devices recycled by people across Japan, the Tokyo Organizing Committee says.
The gold medals are about 99 percent silver and 1 percent gold. Silver medals are 100 percent silver, while bronze medals are 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.
Why do swimmers wear two caps?
It creates less drag. To achieve that effect, they pair an inner latex cap with an outer silicone one. The first one is used to cover their hair, as latex clings to the head better. The second silicone one doesn’t crinkle as much as latex, so it smooths any lingering bumpiness on the head. Without the second cap, there is more drag in the water because the first one could wrinkle. This all could add up to a loss of valuable split seconds in a world-class race.
At the 2012 Games in London, the American swimmer Dana Vollmer’s outer silicone cap slipped off during the 100-meter butterfly final, but she still managed to win gold and set a world record.
Twin caps are also used for insurance on goggles. Putting the goggle straps between the first and second caps is as close as possible to sealing them in place.
Why do swimmers splash themselves?
It helps lessen that first shock on the body when the swimmer hits the cool water. Shocking the body just before mounting the blocks can provide an adrenaline boost. It also helps the swimsuit cling to the body. And swimmers are obsessed with reducing drag. Rightfully so, when hundredths of a second often determine the winner.
TOKYO — For years, Sunisa Lee, a teenager from Minnesota who became the Olympic all-around gymnastics champion on Thursday night, wasn’t training just for herself.
Lee, a Hmong American, went to the gym every day for all the first-generation Americans who wanted to achieve success when their parents had come to the United States with nothing. And she trained through grueling practices and painful injuries for her father, John, who sustained a spinal cord injury in 2019 and now uses a wheelchair.
Lee, 18, came into the Olympics wanting to win a gold medal for her father, who is her biggest fan, and for all the Hmong Americans who she feels are unseen in the United States. But she had publicly stated that her goal was to win silver in the all-around because her teammate Simone Biles, the four-time Olympic medalist, had been considered a lock to win that title.
But after a lifetime of chasing Biles in the all-around because Biles hasn’t lost that marquee event since 2013, Lee took advantage of her shot to do so in Tokyo. Biles, considered the best gymnast of all time, withdrew from the team event and the all-around because of mental stress, leaving Lee in position to win it all.
“I didn’t even think I’d ever get here,” Lee said. “It doesn’t even feel like I’m in real life.”
On Thursday, Lee hit routine after routine, often as if she were at practice, not at the most important competition of her life. She even nailed the floor exercise in her last rotation of the night, with new choreography and elements that had been changed by her coach, Jess Graba, that morning.
The change worked. Lee had her best floor exercise score of these Olympics.
Rebeca Andrade of Brazil won silver and Angelina Melnikova of Russia won the bronze.
As Sunisa Lee won gold in the women’s all-around gymnastics final on Thursday, cheers erupted halfway around the world, where her family and friends — including her father in a Team Suni shirt — were celebrating her victory at a watch party in the St. Paul suburb of Oakdale, Minn.
In March, Olympic organizers announced that overseas spectators would be barred from the Games. Then just weeks before the Games were set to open, organizers announced that even domestic spectators would be prohibited from attending most of the events.
That left athletes to compete in extraordinarily daunting and unusual circumstances: at largely empty venues, devoid of raucous fans and family members, the familiar faces who know more intimately than most all that it took to arrive at that moment.
“These are the people I do it all for,” Lee tweeted after the competition, sharing a video of her family’s watch party. “I LOVE YOU ALL!” Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota was among the Olympics fans watching Lee’s win. On Thursday, he issued a state proclamation designating Friday, July 30 as Sunisa Lee Day.
Athletes’ closest supporters have gotten creative and found ways to celebrate, holding watch parties that commence at dawn or go late into the night to follow events live.
And at least one athlete didn’t have to wait long to share her excitement. The U.S. swimmer Brooke Forde’s father, Pat Forde, is a writer at Sports Illustrated and is covering his ninth Olympics.
In the end, the midsleeved, long-legged unitard didn’t make it to the gymnastics team final at the Olympics. The German women who wore it to combat the “sexualization” of their sport were eliminated during the qualifying rounds.
The earlier shock over the Norwegian female beach handball players being fined for daring to declare that they felt better in tiny spandex shorts rather than tinier bikini bottoms was not revisited because handball is only an Olympics Youth sport, and none of the beach volleyball players lodged a similar protest.
Yet, in many ways these Olympic Games have been shaped as much by what is not there as by what is.
Like the questions about the ban on marijuana — now legal in many states — spurred by the absence of the sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, or about what makes a woman, raised by the decision of the middle-distance champion Caster Semenya not to compete rather than forcibly lower her natural levels of testosterone, the controversies over clothing have triggered a re-examination of the status quo.
They have cast a spotlight on issues of sexism, the objectification of the female body and who gets to decide what kind of dress is considered “appropriate” when it comes to athletic performance.
For as long as there have been women in competitive sports, it often seems, there have been attempts to police what they wear. This is especially clear in tennis. In 1919, Suzanne Lenglen shocked Wimbledon by wearing a calf-length skirt with no petticoat and corset; she was called “indecent.” It happened again 30 years later, when the American player Gertrude Moran wore a tennis dress that hit midthigh and again the Wimbledon powers that were declared she had brought “vulgarity and sin into tennis.”
At this point, an alien landing on Earth could be forgiven for being confused about the so-called skirts worn by women in tennis, field hockey, squash and lacrosse, since they resemble the vestige of a skirt more than an actual garment.
Likewise, it would make no sense that men and women wear such strikingly different amounts of clothing in, say, track and field, whereas in sports like rowing, basketball and softball they wear close to the same thing.
The answer, when sought, is usually “it’s the culture of the sport.” Culture, in this sense, being synonymous with history and legacy; with what got athletes involved in their sports in the first place; and with the symbols of what connects extraordinary players of today to those who came before.
“Culture is maybe used as a reason and an excuse, but that doesn’t make it right,” said Cassidy Krug, a member of the 2012 Olympic diving team.
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