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.
With all eyes now on our track and field stars, 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.
Peter Bol’s courageous 800m
After becoming the first Aussie male to reach an Olympic 800m final in 56 years, Bol was clear with his intentions: he came to win. As the gun went, the pace dropped considerably with runners refusing to lead, but as it became bunched and scrappy, Bol showed tremendous courage and decided to take the lead and set the pace. The 27-year-old ran an incredible race, taking on Kenyans Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich. It looked like Bol could do, but in the closing 200m he was overtaken and unable to hang on to a medal finish in the final straight. Bol finished fourth, an incredible effort after doing the work for the entirety of the run.
Speaking after the race, Bol said: “I didn’t know if I was going to win, but I knew one thing for certain – that the whole of Australia was watching. That carried me on.” Having united Australians and the Sudanese community watching, Bol said, “To Australia I’m thankful. We’re just human at the end of the day. We inspired the whole nation – that’s the goal.”
Aussie sailing team take gold
Australia duo Mat Belcher and Will Ryan stormed to victory in the medal race to take gold for Australia in the men’s 470 sailing class at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. The pair performed brilliantly throughout the opening series, winning three Raes and finishing in the top five in nine of the 10 preliminaries to set themselves up for gold medal contention. They took the lead at the mid-point of the race and crossed the line first to remain the dominant force in the competition.
Moloney is one to watch in decathlon
In the men’s decathlon, Ashley Moloney has come out firing and now sits in second position going into day two. He registered strong performances across the 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m, and now has the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m to go. Moloney even managed to get a personal best of 2.11 metres in the high jump to win that section of the competition.
Andre De Grasse wins Canada’s first 200m gold in 93 years
During the reign of Usain Bolt in the 100m and 200m events, Canada’s de Grasse never quite managed to secure gold. All eyes were on him in the 200m final, and he proved that he could get the job done as he stormed to victory ahead of Kenneth Bednarek of the United States, with a national record time of 19.62 seconds. He became the first Canadian since Percy Williams in 1928 to win the men’s 200m gold. The win makes de Grasse the first man not named Usain Bolt to win the 200m title since Beijing 2008 and after battles with injury and illness, it’s been a long ride to gold for the Canadian track star. “In 2016 I was a kid and inexperienced but now I have so many expectations to come away with medals, and I wanted to show the world all my injuries are behind me and I can bring home a gold medal.”
Jess Hull sets Aussie record in 1500m semi-final
The two Australian stars that are Jessica Hull and Linden Hall stunned in their semi-final 1500m, with both qualifying for the final after strong performances in both races. Hull set a new Oceania record in the first semi-final, running a time of 3:58.81. It was an incredibly gutsy performance, that saw her attack the lead and then perform a late surge in the race. Linden Hall also led through much of her 1500m and did incredibly well to finish within the top.
Australia and Belgium will battle it out in the hockey final for gold. Australia last won in 2004, while Belgium has never won, but will be aiming to go one step better than their silver in Rio. The marathon 10km swimming event is underway today, along with day two of the women’s golf competition. The women’s beach volleyball semi-finals are on, while in athletics the main attraction include men’s triple jump and shot put final, men’s 110m hurdles final, women’s pole vault final, men’s 400m final, women’s 800m heats and men’s 1500m semi-finals.