Tokyo Olympics: Team USA win basketball gold, Japan win baseball & Nelly Korda triumphs in golf

 Tokyo Olympics: Team USA win basketball gold, Japan win baseball & Nelly Korda triumphs in golf

The USA won a fourth successive Olympic men’s basketball title and hosts Japan celebrated a coveted baseball gold on the penultimate day of a Tokyo Games that also threw up some shocks.

India claimed a first ever athletics gold with victory for Neeraj Chopra in the men’s javelin, unheralded Brazilian middleweight boxer Hebert Sousa pulled off an unlikely win and a tropical storm caused a suspension in the women’s golf.

American Nelly Korda held her nerve to claim a one-shot victory after that weather interruption, while Sifan Hassan defied the heat and humidity in Tokyo once again to win a remarkable third medal of the Games with gold in the 10,000m.

There was no storm in the northern city of Sapporo, where the women’s marathon was taking place early in the morning to avoid the worst of the heat but the temperature still reached 28C.

Peres Jepchirchir won gold ahead of fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei, with American Molly Seidel taking a surprise bronze in what was only her third marathon.

Meanwhile, Allyson Felix overtook Carl Lewis as the most decorated American track and field athlete by helping Team USA to gold in the women’s 4x400m relay as she brought down the curtain on a glittering Olympic career at her fifth Games.

And the USA men finally won a gold on the track with an emphatic victory in the 4x400m after an otherwise underwhelming campaign.

Durant shines as Team USA win basketball gold

Team USA’s preparations for the Olympics had been far from ideal with surprising losses to Nigeria and Australia in warm-up matches.

Their Tokyo campaign got off to a bad start when they lost their opening game to France as their 25-game winning streak in Olympic basketball came to an end.

But against the same opponents in Saturday’s final they got their revenge with an 87-82 win to claim a seventh gold medal out of the past eight on offer.

This team may not have lived up to USA outfits of the past but one player who consistently shone was Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, who was again the standout player with 29 points.

The 32-year-old led by example throughout the tournament, becoming Team USA’s all-time leading scorer during the Games.

Having averaged 27 points per game in the knockout phase Durant sealed a third personal gold medal after being part of triumphs in 2012 and 2016.

Japan win baseball gold

Japan's baseball team
Japan are likely to be celebrating this victory for a long time

Baseball-mad Japan returned the sport to the Olympics schedule for the first time since 2008 and they got the result they had long craved.

Their 2-0 win over the United States gave them a first baseball gold medal and denied their rivals a second title.

Covid restrictions meant there were only a smattering of officials in the stands to witness the celebrations as Japan’s players jumped up and down on the mound in joy.

The victory followed a similar success for Japan’s softball team, who also beat the United States earlier in the Games to claim gold.

Hassan seals hat-trick as India make history

Dutchwoman Hassan had arrived in Tokyo chasing an unprecedented golden treble on the athletics track.

Although she missed out on that feat because of a bronze in the 1500m, she nevertheless leaves these Games with a hat-trick of medals after adding the 10,000m title on Saturday to her 5,000m gold.

Despite running three races in the past few days, Hassan found an extra gear to race past world record holder Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia to cross the line in 29 minutes 55.32 seconds.

While she racked up the medals, India were busy winning their first ever athletics gold courtesy of Chopra, who threw his javelin 87.58m while his thrilled team-mates and coaches watched from the stands.

Korda wins on dramatic final day in golf

World number one Korda led the golf by three shots overnight but her lead had been reduced to a single shot when play was suspended because of a tropical storm that had been threatening to cut short the competition.

The 23-year-old returned after the 49-minute delay to par the 18th for a two-under 69 and a 17-under total that held off Japan’s Mone Inami and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko.

Inami then beat Ko on the first hole of a play-off to secure the silver medal.

With her bronze, Ko became the first golfer to win two Olympic medals having also picked up silver in Rio 2016 when the sport made its first appearance at a Games since 1904.

Victory capped an incredible six weeks for Korda, who rose to the top of the world rankings after winning her maiden major at the Women’s PGA Championship in June.

It also sealed a golfing double with Korda’s one-shot victory coming after compatriot Xander Schauffele won the men’s event last weekend.

Kenyan one-two in the marathon

Peres Jepchirchir
Jepchirchir said she was happy for her family and country after the race.

Kenya took gold and silver in sweltering Sapporo with 27-year-old Jepchirchir claiming the top step of the podium for the women’s marathon.

She beat world record holder Kosgei with a late surge as the pair were matched for pace going into the final mile.

American Seidel took bronze in a distance she has only contested on two previous occasions.

The heat and humidity proved a challenge for many athletes in Sapporo, despite all of the long distance events (20 and 50km race walks and marathons) being moved to the city, which is 500 miles north of Japan’s capital.

Fourteen athletes failed to complete the full 26.2 miles, but 74 finished the course.

Those finishers included Sinead Diver, who was making her Olympic debut at the age of 44 having only taken up running 11 years ago, with the Australian finishing 10th.

Norway win maiden beach volleyball gold & boxing joy for Brazil

Christian Sorum and Anders Mol won gold in the men’s beach volleyball to give Norway their maiden Olympic medal in the sport.

The Norwegians beat Russians Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy 21-17 21-18 in the final, while Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan finished third to take the bronze.

There was a surprise win in the boxing where unheralded Brazilian Sousa took the middleweight gold after a remarkable turnaround against Ukrainian world champion Oleksandr Khyzhniak.

With about 90 seconds left, Sousa, who had only just kept himself in the fight until that point, launched a powerful left that sent his opponent to the floor and sparked wild Brazilian celebrations.

Meanwhile, there was an upset in the rhythmic gymnastics where Israel’s Linoy Ashram won the individual all-around gold medal to break a Russian stranglehold on the title that stretched back to 2000.

Russian twins Dina and Arina Averina had been hot favourites for gold and silver, with Dina disappointed to miss out on top spot.

A gold medal for me – a handbag for my mum!

Gable Dan Stevenson
Steveson is a student at the University of Minnesota, and was named the 2021 co-winner of the Dan Hodge Trophy, awarded to the top college wrestler of the year

American youngster Gable Dan Steveson says he is going to treat his mother to a new designer handbag after he won gold in the freestyle wrestling (125kg).

The 21-year-old scrambled the victory in the final seconds of the match, with a frantic takedown of his Georgian opponent Geno Petriashvili.

“I knew I could fire that last shot off and give him that last trick, and he bit it,” he said.

USA Wrestling awards its wrestlers $250,000 (about £180,000) for winning Olympic gold.

“I’ll probably take my family out to eat – we’ve all got to eat steaks back home. I’ll buy my mom a Louis Vuitton purse. She’s back at home breaking a sweat watching me wrestle, so she deserves something nice.”

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