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 over the weekend at Tokyo 2020.
Logan Martin wins BMX gold
There was a lot of pressure on Martin going into the Olympics, with many touting him as the favourite to win the event. Logan managed to handle it well, becoming the inaugural men’s gold medal champion after training in an arena he built in his own backyard. “I saw that the level of BMX – since it got into the Olympics – was rising fast,” he told reporters earlier this year. “I didn’t have a training facility around me, I was just riding local concrete skate parks. I figured if I wanted to get to the Olympics, I needed my own training facility – so I built one.”
That dedication paid off. Martin’s $70,000 investment and years of training saw him seal the gold medal with death-defying flips and tricks. His first run included tricks like a double tail-whip transfer, and a reverse triple tail-whip into an orthodox triple tail-whip. After the first run, it was clear the gold was his.
Rohan Browning makes 100m history
Australians watching from home were up in their living rooms, barely able to contain their excitement during scenes of the 100m heats. That was all thanks to this man: Rohan Browning. The man nicknamed “flying mullet” stormed to victory in his heat, even finishing ahead of Jamaican sprint legend Yohan Blake. With the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, Browning unfortunately fell short of making it to the finals. In the semi-finals on Sunday, he had a slow start out of the blocks and struggled to make up the ground, despite a late surge. Still, he became the first Aussie man in almost 70 years to win an Olympic 100m heat and at only 23-years-old, his future looks bright.
“It’s been really nice to get all the words of support,” said Browning in a post-race interview. “It’s been very genuine. I’m sorry I couldn’t get it done today. I just want to thank everyone for their support.”
Peter Bol’s incredible 800m run
In the semi-finals of the 800m, Bol lined up alongside an incredible field of athletes to put on a display of strength and perseverance. Just when it looked like he might have gone too early, he managed to qualify first in the heat with a time of 1 minute 44.11 seconds, a new national record. In doing so, Bol becomes the first Australian since 1968 to race for an 800m medal. “How good is that?” he exclaimed after the race. “I’m just so happy right now.”
The 27-year-old, who was born in Sudan and moved to Australia as a child, now keeps Australia’s hopes for an 800m medal alive. After the incredible run, Bol goes into the final with the second-fastest qualifying time and is eyeing a medal.
Patrick Tiernan becomes an Olympic hero
It’s no secret that the conditions for athletes in Tokyo are incredible tough. With soaring temperatures and insufferable humidity, track athletes are having to prepare for a gruelling battle in their races. For Australian distance runner Patrick Tiernan, that became evident in the men’s 10,000m final. In heartbreaking scenes, Tiernan kept up with the best athletes in the world until the very final lap of the event. Hitting a wall, his body exhausted and pleading for him to stop, he collapsed to the floor. Still, Tiernan managed to pick himself up and drag himself over the finishing line.
Following medical attention, he told reporters, “It’s the Olympics and I’ve been waiting for five years for it. It was about 180 to go that I collapsed for the first time. You don’t stop when you’ve got 180 metres to go. I didn’t think I was completely done at that point, so I got up. It happened again and I knew I was in trouble. I was so close that you have to will yourself across the line and finish that race. I knew it was something I could do and also needed to do.”
His act of finishing is being heralded as a true testament to the Aussie fighting spirit and being emblematic of what the Olympics is all about: giving it your absolute all and never giving up.
Brandon Starc dazzles in high jump
All eyes were glued to the screen Sunday night for the high jump final. Despite making some incredible jumps, Brandon Starc fell agonisingly short of a medal, recording a season-best jump of 2.35m to finish fifth. He did attempted one jump at 2.37m and another two at 2.39m, but failed to clear the bar.
Golden double for Italy
It was an incredible night of athletics for Italy, with Marcell Jacobs winning the men’s 100m in a time of 9.80 seconds, just minutes after Gianmarco Tamberi won a sensational high jump gold which he shared with Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar. The high jumping last night was incredible, almost proving more riveting than the 100m final. After the pair flawlessly made their way to the height of 2.39m, they failed to clear it. As they couldn’t be separated at 2.37m and the possibility of a jump-off was processed, they instead agreed to have two golds instead.
Texas-born Jacobs took gold in the 100m ahead of Fred Kerley of the US in second and Andre De Grasse of Canada in third. It was an emotional night of racing, with a number of false starts leading to disqualifications in the event. In the final, Britain’s Zharnel Hughes was disqualified for a false start. It marks a historic moment, with Jacobs becoming the first person who isn’t Usain Bolt to win 100m gold since 2004.
Cycling movings indoors to the Izu Velodrome and opens with the women’s team sprint competition. It’s also another big day on the track, with medals from the women’s 100m hurdles, women’s discus, men’s 3,000m steeplechase, and women’s 5,000m final. Badminton and artistic gymnastics will also be taking place today, along with the women’s semi-finals in the football with Australia playing Sweden in Yokohama.