The second full day of competition at the Tokyo Olympics includes a shocking loss by the U.S. men’s basketball team, which fell, 83-76 to France, in its first game in Group A play.
In the overnight hours in the United States, reigning Olympic all-around champion Simone Biles and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team highlighted the Sunday afternoon slate in Tokyo, competing in the qualification round. In the pool, five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky cruised into the final of the women’s 400-meter freestyle with the top qualifying time.
USA Basketball suffered a stunning defeat in its opener at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, falling 83-76 to France in its first game in Group A play.
The loss will sting for the Americans, who dealt with foul trouble for Kevin Durant all night and missed several go-ahead shots in the closing stretch. During a wild scramble with less than a minute remaining, the Americans improbably missed four three-pointers that could have helped them reclaim the lead. To make matters worse, Damian Lillard committed two untimely turnovers down the stretch, and he slipped to the court with 17 seconds left, squandering USA’s last hope at victory.
Evan Fournier was the hero for France, scoring a game-high 28 points on 11-for-22 shooting and hitting a crucial go-ahead three-pointer in the game’s final minute. Nando de Colo added 13 points, including a pair of clutch free throws with 21.8 seconds left.
It was an agonizing night for Durant, who finished with 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting but was forced to the bench for long stretches after picking up four first-half fouls. Durant missed a pair of three-pointers in the game’s final minute and scored only one point in the fourth quarter. The Brooklyn Nets’ star fouled out with 15.5 seconds to play after playing just 20 minutes.
Jrue Holiday’s play was a bright spot for USA. Fresh off the NBA Finals, a championship parade and a long flight from the United States, Holiday, who arrived at USA’s hotel less than 24 hours before tip-off, finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes off the bench.
With USA down by six points entering the final period, Holiday scored five quick points to narrow the lead to one. The Milwaukee Bucks’ guard was just getting started, as he grabbed several key rebounds and hit an array of fourth-quarter baskets.
The loss marked USA’s second straight to France following a defeat in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Golf got a second life in the Olympics four years ago in the Rio de Janeiro Games, and its lease was renewed for Tokyo, with the sport drawing some of its biggest names for competition that would merit prime-time coverage on the East Coast of the United States.
But Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm, two of the top six players in the world and among the most recognized athletes in the Games, were forced to withdraw Sunday because of coronavirus issues — a double whammy that took place within hours.
Rahm, the world’s top-ranked golfer, twice tested negative after finishing third in the British Open earlier this month, according to the International Golf Federation. But a third test required as he left England delivered a different finding.
For entrance to Japan and the Olympics, negative test results, but not vaccinations, are required. DeChambeau, ranked sixth in the world, was the first to hear the news Sunday. He was replaced by Patrick Reed, who joins Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffle on Team USA.
TOKYO — They look like they’d be lovely to meet for a coffee unless the caffeine emboldened you to challenge them at their sport, in which case they’d absolutely and calmly gouge out your freaking eyeballs. They might smile during competition more often than any team you ever saw, which might mislead some foes and more onlookers. They smile, destroy, smile, destroy.
They’re a dynasty among dynasties at these Olympics even in a sport requiring a merciless amount of precision. South Korean women’s team archery exceeds even U.S. women’s basketball (which lost that lousy semifinal in 1992), German dressage (which lost that lousy time in 2012) and Great Britain men’s coxless fours (a measly five gold medals in a row). It’s way up there with or near Kenyan steeplechase, Chinese women’s singles table tennis, Chinese women’s three-meter springboard diving and U.S. men’s 4x100 swimming medley relay. It exceeds even all of those in one way: No one else has ever won the event in question.
Her screams, a primal release of emotion, echo throughout the Olympics’ empty arena as she dons her helmet before each round of competition. But Anastasija Zolotic now will be noticed for something else: She is the United States’ first gold medalist in women’s taekwondo.
The 18-year-old from Largo, Fla., beat Russian athlete Tatiana Minina 25-17 for the featherweight division title Sunday, picking apart Minina in the third round with two-point body kicks after taking a one-point lead into the final round.
Zolotic was the fourth American, and second American woman, to reach an Olympic taekwondo final. Steven Lopez was the winner of the United States’ two previous taekwondo golds in the Olympics.
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Lee Kiefer of United States makes history with gold medal in individual foil
Lee Kiefer, a medical student from Lexington, Ky., won gold in individual foil Sunday, becoming the first American to medal in the event.
In her third trip to the Olympics, Kiefer beat the Russian Olympic Committee’s Inna Deriglazova, the 2016 gold medalist, 15-13 in the final. Mariel Zagunis is the only other female U.S fencer to earn gold, winning the individual saber events at the 2004 and 2008 Games.
Kiefer is a 2017 graduate of Notre Dame and attends med school at the University of Kentucky.
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The United States qualifies the maximum number of gymnasts to women’s event finals
TOKYO — The U.S. women’s gymnastics team stumbled through the qualification round, placing second behind the athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee, but the maximum number of Americans still advanced to individual finals. The top 24 all-arounders and the top eight gymnasts on each apparatus qualify, but no more than two athletes per country can advance. Scores do not carry over to the final.
Simone Biles will compete in every final. Even with a few mistakes, she earned the top all-around score with a 57.731. Biles had the best vault score and trailed only Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari on floor. She also advanced as the final qualifier on bars, the only apparatus on which she’s not pegged as a gold medal contender. At the 2016 Games, Biles didn’t qualify for the bars final.
Sunisa Lee maintained her spot as Team USA’s second-best all-around gymnast and qualified for the final in third. Rebeca Andrade of Brazil finished second with a 57.399.
Lee earned the second-best bars score of the qualification field with a 15.200, and she didn’t perform the version of her routine that has her highest potential difficulty score. Lee also edged Biles on beam, scoring a 14.200. Nina Derwael of Belgium recorded the best score on bars with a 15.366. China’s Guan Chenchen led the field on beam with an excellent routine that earned a 14.933.
Jade Carey, who’s not part of the four-member team but is eligible to earn individual medals, had a strong outing Sunday. She placed second on vault behind Biles and third on floor. She’ll be a medal contender on both apparatuses.
These are the eight teams that qualified for the final: Russian Olympic Committee, United States, China, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Italy and Japan.
TOKYO — The German women’s gymnastics team has brought unitards to the Olympic Games. The gymnasts here are wearing body suits that have long sleeves and full pants. They wore similar leotards at training before the Games began and at the European Championships this year.
The German gymnastics federation previously said the athletes wore these leotards to protest “sexualization in gymnastics,” according to the BBC. These four gymnasts — Elisabeth Seitz, Sarah Voss, Pauline Schafer and Kim Bui — have now taken that stance to the sport’s biggest stage. This style of unitard could help some gymnasts feel more comfortable in the sport and provide an option to those who adhere to religious principles of modesty.
The Code of Points outlines the required attire for women’s competitions: “They must wear a correct sportive non transparent leotard or unitard (one piece leotard with full length legs-hip to ankle), which must be of elegant design. She may wear complete leg coverings of the same color as that of the leotard; under or on top of the leotard.”
TOKYO — Naomi Osaka shied away from no one in her return to competitive tennis Sunday at Ariake Tennis Park after a nearly two-month mental health break.
Not from viewers, to whom she reintroduced herself wearing her hair in long red braids that flowed into a matching Team Japan tennis dress, accented with neon orange shoes. Not from her opponent, Zheng Saisai of China, whom she overpowered in a 6-1, 6-4 first-round win. And not from the mass of journalists waiting for her after her match, from whom she took four questions, two each from English-speaking and Japanese-speaking reporters.
“Um, for me, honestly, I don’t feel that weird about it,” Osaka said. “It might feel weird to you guys, but, I don’t know. I’m happy that I guess you guys are asking me questions. But more than anything, I was just focused on playing tennis, and I guess I feel a little bit out of my body right now.”
TOKYO — Jagger Eaton had just won the first Olympic skateboarding bronze medal in history Sunday morning, so he started running. He ran off the course at Ariake Urban Sports Park, through a tunnel under the stands and across the road outside.
Somewhere behind him was the gold medalist, Japan’s Yuto Horigome, standing with his country’s flag around his shoulders. Photographers were taking Horigome’s photo. But Eaton kept running, too happy with his new medal to stop for pictures, too.
“Yeah!” he screamed.
“Woooo!” he yelled.
“F--- yeah!” he hollered.
On the day street skateboarding debuted in the Olympics and a sport once derided as the pastime of misfits went mainstream, the 20-year-old third-place winner from Mesa, Ariz., wasn’t going to scoff at his medal with the indifference of a longtime skater too jaded to celebrate something as establishment as the Olympics.
TOKYO — In her first swim of the Tokyo Olympics, American freestyle legend Katie Ledecky on Sunday night cruised into the final of the women’s 400-meter freestyle, dashing off a 4:00.45 to top qualifying in preliminary heats at Tokyo Aquatic Centre.
Ledecky’s qualifying time out of Heat 3 was more than a second faster than the one posted one heat later by Australia’s Ariarne Titmus (4:01.66), who has emerged as a serious threat to hand Ledecky her first loss in an individual Olympic race. Titmus, 20, beat Ledecky at the 2019 world championships and owns the fastest time in the world for 2021.
TOKYO — American Ryan Murphy, a three-time gold medalist five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, qualified for the semifinals of the men’s 100-meter backstroke Sunday night during preliminary heats at Tokyo Aquatic Centre, but his time of 53.22 was tied for the seventh fastest of the night, more than a second behind top qualifier Kliment Kolesnikov of the Russian Olympic Committee.
Kolesnikov flirted with Murphy’s world record of 51.85 from the Rio Olympics but eased up toward the end and posted a 52.15.
Lilly King cruises into 100-meter breaststroke semifinals
TOKYO — American Lilly King qualified easily for the semifinals of the women’s 100-meter breaststroke Sunday night in preliminary heats at Tokyo Aquatic Center, posting a time of 1:05.55 to finish third overall. However, King saw her Olympic record fall one heat earlier, when South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker dropped a 1:04.82, just under King’s 1:04.93 from 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Schoenmaker will be the top overall seed in Monday’s semifinals, with 17-year-old American phenom Lydia Jacoby just behind her at 1:05.52. Jacoby, a breakout star at the Olympic trials in Omaha, is the first swimmer from Alaska to make the U.S. Olympic swim roster.
King’s world record of 1:04.13 from the 2017 world championships still stands, at least for now.
Women’s 100-meter backstroke Olympic record falls in three straight heats
TOKYO — The Olympic record in the women’s 100-meter backstroke was lowered in each of three consecutive preliminary heats of that event Sunday night, with Canada’s Kylie Masse, Team USA’s Regan Smith and Australia’s Kaylee McKeown taking turns recalibrating a record that had stood since 2012 — and setting up some sizzling racing in the semifinals and final later in the meet.
In the end, McKeown’s 57.88 out of Heat 6 set the mark that will carry into Monday’s semis. She went eight hundredths of a second lower than Smith in Heat 5 (57.96), who in turn went 0.21 faster than Masse (58.17) in Heat 4. The previous record belonged to Australia’s Emily Seebohm, a 58.23 at the 2012 London Olympics. McKeown owns the world record of 57.45, set last month at the Australian Olympic trials.
TOKYO — On the night of June 13, at a pool in Omaha, Simone Manuel reached what was her public nadir. By two hundredths of a second, the Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter freestyle at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics failed to make even the final of the same event at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. She was not a lock to make the Olympic team. She was, by her own admission, fragile.
Yet here she was Sunday morning, on the pool deck at the Tokyo Aquatic Center with three teammates, ready to anchor an Olympic relay.
“I’m happy to be up here with these three women,” Manuel said.