They were a long time coming but in no way has Tokyo 2020 failed to live up to the hype of an Olympic Games. Perhaps now more than ever, as many of us find ourselves in an extended lockdown, the Games provide a welcome distraction from the minutiae of everyday life. With a simple flick of the channel, we can find ourselves absorbed in the sport of canoe slalom or gymnastics, surfing and skateboarding, watching the world’s top athletes give nothing but their all as they look to be victorious and stand atop that medal podium.
The Games may only have just started, but already Australia’s athletes are proving that they are a force to be reckoned with. Some of our top athletes have taken to their events with steely-eyed focus and determination, and while not everyone walks away with a gold medal, the way they have conducted themselves is reason alone for celebration. It’s there in our Aussie athletes that we see just what it means to be compassionate, kind and loyal sportspeople. Of course, there are still the upsets that make sport the engaging theatre of triumph and loss that it is. With that in mind, here’s a round-up of key Olympic events at Tokyo 2020.
Victory for Kookaburras
The Australian men’s hockey team showed their dominance on the world stage, smashing powerhouse nation India 7-1. Though they conceded an early goal in the third quarter, their victory was stunning to watch and shows just how far the team has come in recent years. Player Tim Brand told reporters, “It’s the second game. They guys are so excited that they played really well and got a good result but it’s still only the second game in a long tournament. We’ve been there before and our aim before coming into this was to qualify for the quarter-finals and we still haven’t got enough points to do that. But there’s some very encouraging signs.”
Andy Murray pulls out of singles
Despite being the athlete many were rooting for after a huge comeback at Wimbledon following months of sustained injuries, Andy Murray’s Olympic hopes have been dashed by a quad strain. The two-time Olympic champion will continue to play in the doubles tournament, but sadly had to withdraw from the men’s singles event.
Brendon Smith wins bronze
In the men’s 400m individual medley, Australian Brendon Smith came away with a bronze medal – one of Australia’s first medals recorded at Tokyo 2020. Smith swam a gutsy race that saw him make an incredible comeback in the last 100 metres of the event. USA’s Chase Kalisz led for much of the race and won by a comfortable margin of 0.86 seconds.
The US men’s epic win streak at the Olympics came to a sudden and shocking halt, with the team going down to France. Thanks to a three-pointer from Evan Fournier, France went ahead with just under a minute left, ultimately ending the match with a score of 83-76. It’s a staggering blow to the US team, which has won 25 consecutive Olympic Games, losing only at Athens 17 years ago, when they had to settle for a bronze medal. While the US can still be in the running for medal contention, the margin for error is now incredibly slim. Still, they have time to regroup and come back from the setback, taking to the rest of the group stage with a match against the Czech Republic and Iran.
Weightlifting’s ‘flamingo’ lift
Taking out the weightlifting Olympic gold on Sunday was China’s Li Fabin, with a unique stance that not only shocked audiences around the world, but has since been dubbed the “flamingo” lift. Li stood on one leg while lifting 166kg – nearly three times his own body weight – with his right leg sticking out in his opening clean and jerk in the men’s 61kg category. Though Li warned viewers not to try it at home, he does believe that it helps him correct his balance if a lift is in danger of doing wrong.
“I have very strong core strength and muscles,” he said. “I know this move pleases the audience but I don’t suggest people make the same move. It could provoke injury.”
Following the 166kg lift, Li managed to make a successful clean and jerk of 172kg in a more conventional style. He then became the champion with a total of 313kg. In doing so, he gave China its second gold medal in weightlifting in Tokyo after Hou Zhihui won the women’s 49kg event.
Tasmanian paddler Daniel Watkins managed to nab a spot in the men’s slalom C1 semi-finals on Monday thanks to a stellar performance in his second heat. In his first heat, Watkins missed a gate and received 54 penalty seconds as a result, seeing him put up a time of 158.43. his second attempt however, was much cleaner at 103.07 seconds, seeing him come in 10th amongst the 15 competitors who moved through to the semi-finals. In order to reach the finals in his first Olympics, Watkins will need to finish in the top 10.
Today, mountain bike cycling and rugby will feature on the Olympic lineup and there are medals available in archery, artistic gymnastics, canoe slalom, diving, fencing, judo, shooting, skateboarding, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, weightlifting and the men’s triathlon.