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.
World records fall in 400m hurdles
It’s been called the race of the Games, up there with the likes of Bolt’s golden double in Beijing and the blistering 800m world record set by David Rudisha. In the men’s 400m hurdles, audiences around the world watched stunned as Norwegian Karsten Warholm stormed to victory, breaking the world record as he became the first man to go under 46 seconds with a time of 45.94. Driven largely by second-place finisher Rai Benjamin of the United States who was pushing up on Warholm, even Benjamin recorded a time of 46.17 that was under the record 46.7 that Warholm set last month. Alison dos Santos of Brazil finished third in 46.72, as six of the eight runners broke either a world, continent, or national record.
“You know the cliche that it hasn’t sunk in yet? I don’t think it has, but I feel ecstatic,” Warholm told reporters after the race. “I can’t believe the time, it’s so fast. A lot of the time I am asked about the perfect race. I said it didn’t exist, but this is the closest I’ve ever come. I told myself going into the race, remember all the work you have put in. It was the only thing missing from my (medal) collection. I can’t describe how important this is for me. This is what I do morning until night. It’s huge.”
Mondo Duplantis attempts pole vaulting world record
21-year-old Mondo Duplantis had audiences on the edge of their seats in the men’s pole vault final. It comes after a shock exit earlier in the athletics competition, when the favourite Sam Kendrick of the USA was forced to leave the Olympics after testing positive to Covid. Duplantis managed to make the heights with ease, winning gold with a vault of 6.02m. Duplantis then asked officials to put the bar up to 6.19m, one centimetre beyond the world record he set in Glasgow last year. He came agonisingly close to making it, but unfortunately clipped the bar. Still, the win was an emotional one for Duplantis.
Men’s basketball team sets up semi-final with US
With an impressive and committed team, the Australian men’s basketball team knows that if ever there were a shot at Olympic glory, it’s this one. Despite having some of the world’s best talent, they have been unsuccessful in their campaign for an Olympic medal since Melbourne in 1956. Now, just the USA stands in their way of seeing medal dreams come alive. After beating Argentina 97-59, Australia will take on the US in a semi-final. “For us to be the best, we have to beat the best,” Patty Mills said after the game. “There’s only one thing that we’re focused on, and we have to get it done. Tonight’s performance was a result of the belief in each individual on this team.”
Kookaburras book a spot in Thursday’s final
The Australian men’s hockey team continues to show their dominance in the sport, having now book a spot in the final for the first time in 17 years. After defeating Germany 3-1, the Kookaburras will not battle Belgium for a gold medal in Tokyo. It means Australia will contest a first Games final since 2004 in Athens, the only time they won Olympic gold.
The women’s hockey competition reaches the semi-final stage, semi-final bouts also take place in boxing and the women’s skateboarding park event also commences. In athletics, there are semi-finals in the men’s 110m hurdles, women’s 400m and 1500m. Medals will also be awarded in the women’s 400m hurdles final, women’s 3000m steeplechase, men’s hammer throw and men’s 800m final. All eyes will be on Peter Bol tonight, the first Australian man in 53 years to make an 800m final.