They were a long time coming, but in n 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.
As the swimming comes to an end and track and field gets underway, Australia’s athletes are proving that they are a forced to be reckoned with. 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 the key Olympic moments from the last 24 hours at Tokyo 2020.
Andrew Hoy becomes Australia’s oldest medallist
If you thought sport favoured the young, think again. Andrew Hoy became Australia’s oldest Olympic medallist at age 62 after winning a silver and bronze in the equestrian competition in his eighth Olympic Games appearance. He made his Olympic debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, but at Tokyo it was Hoy who helped teammates Kevin McNab and Shane Rose finish second to Great Britain in the team competition. Hoy now has four Olympic medals in the team event, having won gold with Australia at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics. The bronze medal he won in the individual competition adds to his silver from the same event at Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Steve Solomon lights up 400m
In the first 400m round, Solomon ran a stunning time of 44.94. In the semi-finals last night, he just came up short of making the final after tightening up in the final straight. Still, the veteran of the track is ever the inspirational athlete to look up to. Speaking after his run, he said: “It’s just beautiful to be back at an Olympic Games. Rio was such a hard experience for me, coming back from hamstring surgery, every weekend for six months missing the qualifier by 0.04, 0.10, 0.11, 0.15.”
Solomon added, “Personal bests don’t come every week – I had to wait nine years for my personal best last night.”
Equipment failure in track cycling
A shock equipment failure in the men’s team pursuit on the cycle track saw the handlebars of Alex Porter’s bike fall off. Porter crashed to the deck, but thankfully recovered enough for the team to continue for a rerun, however they only managed to finish fifth in the event. During the time of the crash, Porter was riding at the back of the four-man team a quarter of the way through the four kilometre race and rounding the edge of the velodrome when his handlebars fell off. Commentator Scott McGrory said, “I’ve never seen that before – a catastrophic failure of the bike.”
Matildas out of quest for gold
After a stunning Olympic campaign, the Matildas faced heartbreak on the field when they went down 1-0 to Sweden. It wasn’t without controversy however, as a controversial call from the referee disallowed a Sam Kerr goal in the closing stages of the first half. Kerr had volleyed Steph Catley’s free kick home at the near post only for the ref to rule Matilda Emily van Egmond, further down the line of players, had blocked the run of Swedish defenders. After the match. Van Egmond said: “One hundred per cent that was a fair goal. Personally I didn’t think there was much contact at all…I thought the girl ran into me and I am actually not too sure if there was anything at all in it.”
The Matildas still have a shot at the bronze medal, taking on the US team on Thursday.
Sport climbing makes its debut today, the women also run their 800m and 200m finals, and Simone Biles looks likely to return to competition in the balance beam final. The men will also compete in the 400m hurdles final, pole vault final, and 1500m heats. In the hockey, the men’s competition reaches the semi-final stage with India taking on Belgium, and Australia going up against Germany. The cycling track continues with the women’s team pursuit and the men’s team sprint today.