Tokyo 2020 Olympics Briefing: Victory For Australia’s Owen Wright - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Tokyo 2020 Olympics Briefing: Victory For Australia’s Owen Wright

Wright has made history, taking out the bronze medal in the sport’s Olympic debut.

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.

The Games may have only just started, but already Australia’s athletes are proving that they are a force 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 Tokyo 2020. 

Owen Wright makes history

31-year-old Owen Wright won the first ever Olympic medal award in the history of surfing, taking bronze after defeating two-time World Surf League champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil in stormy seas at Tsurigasaki beach. For many, it was a heart-warming moment, particularly given the struggles Wright has endured in recent years. In 2015, while surfing a pipeline, Wright came crashing down and suffered a traumatic brain injury, with bleeding and concussion. He had to learnt to walk and surf all over again. It took him four months to return to a surf board and to see him reign victorious at the Olympics is simply remarkable. 

“I’ve been through some bloody battles, and all my close friends and family stood beside me,” said Wright after winning bronze. “Coming from that, I had this goal to stand here with a medal around my neck and I didn’t know what colour it was gonna be and it definitely pushed me through those hard times a few years ago now.”

Moroccan boxer has Mike Tyson moment

In some wild scenes from the Olympics, Moroccan boxer Youness Baalla attempted to bite New Zealand’s David Nyika’s ear. Nyika thankfully came away with a 5-0 victory, but the scenes shocked the world. After Nyika won the first two rounds with ease, 22-year-old Baalla lost his cool and attempted to bite his opponent’s ear during a hold in round three. Shocked, Nyika managed to pull out in time. Speaking about the incident, Nyika said: “He didn’t get a full mouthful. Luckily he had his mouthguard in and I was a bit sweaty. I don’t remember what I said to him but I gave him a little bit of a cheek. I have been bitten once on the chest before at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But c’mon man, this is the Olympics.”

Naomi Osaka’s shock exit

Osaka suffered a shock third-round loss at the Olympics, seeing her gold medal hopes crushed when she was defeated by Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-4. In just her second match since withdrawing from the French Open due to mental health issues, the Japanese star made numerous errors throughout her performance. Osaka spoke about the immense pressure on her, particularly as she’s the face of the Games. “I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this,” she said. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year [it] was a bit much.”

Simone Biles withdraws for mental health reasons

Audiences around the world were shocked after Biles performed her vault at the team gymnastics competition, only to walk off the floor and announce she would be withdrawing from the team competition. It was only at a press conference that it was revealed the star athlete – and for many, the highlight of the Games – made the decision based on her mental health. It’s no secret that Biles has been put under enormous pressure, with the media calling her the greatest athlete of all time and already putting impossible standards of perfection on her performance. In a press conference, Biles admitted: “Today has been really stressful. We had a workout this morning. It went OK. And then just the five-and-a-half hour wait, I was just like, shaking. I could barely nap. I’ve just never felt like this going into a competition before. And I tried to go out here and have fun and warm up in the back when a little bit better. But then once I came out here, I was like, no, [the] mental is not there.”

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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