Tokyo Olympics: What to look out for on Wednesday

By Sports Desk July 27, 2021

There was plenty of drama in Tokyo on Tuesday and that is set to continue as the Olympic Games ramps up further on Wednesday.

A titanic tussle in the swimming pool should be well worth watching, but action on the bikes and in the basketball court will also draw plenty of eyes.

Stats Perform guides you through the events not to be missed.

TITMUS OUT TO TOP LEDECKY AGAIN

Katie Ledecky is one of the dominant forces in the pool, taking gold in each of her prior four individual Games finals since her 2012 debut as she headed to Tokyo, but she was upset in the 2020 opener.

Ariarne Titmus, the 20-year-old Australian, beat the United States' world record holder by more than half a second in the 400m freestyle final.

Now, Titmus is coming for Ledecky's crown again as the pair do battle in the 200m freestyle, where another victory would send a significant message.

TOUR STARS TAKE ON TIME TRIAL

There are no shortage of big names in the men's time trial, with a number of Grand Tour winners involved – including Geraint Thomas, no doubt determined to put on a show after his fall in the road race.

The last two men to head out perhaps represent the most likely Olympic champions, though, as Wout van Aert and Filippo Ganna go for gold.

Van Aert won the final two stages of the Tour de France, including a time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

FOCUS ON THE FOUR

The first rowing medals of the Games are to be handed out on Wednesday, and the women's four – back in the Olympics for the first time in 30 years – should provide plenty of intrigue.

World champions Australia changed their line-up for the Olympics, having not competed internationally since taking their title in 2019. Meanwhile, the Netherlands, world silver medallists and back-to-back European champions, have been dominant.

The two teams won their respective heats, but Australia's time of six minutes and 28.76 seconds was an Olympic best and almost five seconds quicker than the Dutch. Whether that chasm will remain when the boats are side by side is another matter.

TWO-WAY TUSSLE IN THE GYM

There is more gymnastics action to look forward, with the men's individual final taking place.

Home hope Daiki Hashimoto qualified with the best score and was outstanding for Japan in the team event, yet could only take silver as the hosts were pipped by the Russian Olympic Committee.

It was Nikita Nagornyy's floor routine which sealed that Russian success and he will be bidding for another gold, having trailed Hashimoto in second in qualification.

CAN DREAM TEAM RECOVER FROM NIGHTMARE START?

The United States' latest men's basketball title defence started in miserable fashion with a defeat to France, the team who eliminated them at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

It was Team USA's first Olympics loss since 2004, but it is highly unlikely a second will follow as they face Iran. A big performance is needed regardless to calm the critics.

While France delivered the upset in the basketball, they face their own humiliation in the football. Only a two-goal win against hosts Japan, themselves needing a point, will secure progress through Group A for Les Bleus.

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    Los Angeles Clippers coach Ty Lue branded his side's stunning comeback win over the Washington Wizards as "crazy".

    The Clippers roared back from 66-31 down in the second quarter to claim a thrilling 116-115 triumph at Capital One Arena.

    In doing so, they became the first team in NBA history to score under 40 points in the first half of a game and follow up by posting 40 or more points in both the third and fourth quarters.

    And Lue, who was without injured leading duo Kawhi Leonard (ACL) and Paul George (elbow), was delighted by the Clippers' astonishing feat.

    "It's crazy," he said. "Because when I looked at the score in the first half, I thought we were down 19. And I looked again, I said, 'We're down 29!' I said, 'Oh s***!' It happened so quick.

    "We kept chipping away. I know when it was like 17 going into the fourth, and I think when we got to 10, I was like, okay, we got a real shot."

    Luke Kennard landed a three-point pullup jump shot with 1.9 seconds remaining, tying the game.

    He was fouled in the process, earning a free throw, and made no mistake from that opportunity as he landed the game-winning point.

    Amir Coffey was one of the players who came in for the second half to help instigate the fightback, adding 29 points, and he echoed his coach's sentiments regarding the mad nature of the contest.

    "Probably the craziest game I've ever been a part of," he said. "January's been wild.

    "You never know when the game is over. Play through the buzzer.

    "Like tonight, anything can happen."

    On the losing side, the Wizards' Bradley Beal was left humiliated.

    "I have no words, besides 'embarrassing'," he said, having put up 23 points. 

    "I was frustrated when I had to go back in. This should have been a game where the starters get their rest. Plain and simple."

  • I was more worried about LeBron than my knee! – Returning Lakers star Davis talks James celebration I was more worried about LeBron than my knee! – Returning Lakers star Davis talks James celebration

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    Superstar James put up 33 points as the Lakers moved to 24-24 in an inconsistent season, but it was the return of Davis after a 17-game absence with a sprained knee that will have been a particularly pleasing sight.

    Davis contributed eight points to go with two assists and two rebounds from 25 minutes on court and the Lakers will hope his return can help spark a strong run in the latter half of the season.

    There was one moment of concern for Davis, though, who knocked James off balance after his illustrious team-mate managed a couple of steals and dunks in quick succession during the fourth quarter.

    "Can't think about it. When I’m on the floor I try not to think about it," Davis said about his knee and the celebrations. 

    "I was what, a month, five weeks, doing a lot of weightlifting. So, I hit him, he kind of like fell over. I was more worried for him than my knee!"

    Davis took little time getting back up to speed and blocked three shots in a first quarter that saw the Lakers leading 33-25.

    James was delighted to have his team-mate back on court.

    "Obviously right away you see what he's capable of," James said. 

    "We draw a play right to start the game, I was able to turn the corner and threw a late lob that he was still able to throw home. So very exciting to have him back."

    The Nets were still without Kevin Durant (knee), while Kyrie Irving was again unavailable. Irving is unvaccinated against COVID-19 and therefore is not eligible to play in matches in New York under the city's health protocols.

    James Harden had 33 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but was later asked about reports he is frustrated at the Nets.

    "Listen, I don't know about any reports," Harden said. "Of course I'm frustrated because we're not healthy, there's a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason. 

    "Injuries, COVID, whatever you want to call it, so yeah, it is frustrating. I think everyone in this organisation is frustrated because we are better than our record is and we should be on the way up. So that's all it is."

    The reports suggested Harden is frustrated by Irving's mixed availability and the rotations of head coach Steve Nash, who said he cannot imagine his player making such comments.

    "So I'm not sure what to believe," Nash said. 

    "James and I speak all the time and I think we have a great relationship, so I'm not sure the validity of these comments to be honest with you."

  • LeBron stars on Davis return as Lakers defeat Nets, Curry and Co. down Doncic's Mavs LeBron stars on Davis return as Lakers defeat Nets, Curry and Co. down Doncic's Mavs

    LeBron James starred and Anthony Davis made a successful return to action as the Los Angeles Lakers earned a convincing 106-96 win at the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

    Superstar James clocked up 33 points to go alongside seven rebounds and six assists as the Lakers moved to 24-24 in an uneven season.

    James Harden had 33 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds for a Nets side still without the injured Kevin Durant (knee), while Kyrie Irving – who is unvaccinated against COVID-19 – is again absent with the Nets back on home court as he does not meet the required protocols to play games in New York.

    Malik Monk (22 points) and Carmelo Anthony (13 points) made valuable contributions off the bench for the Lakers but it was the return of Davis, who missed 17 games with a sprained left knee that was the most welcome sight of the night.

    Davis managed 25 minutes, scoring eight points and providing two assists and two rebounds. He showed he is feeling healthy again by jumping into, and knocking back, James when he made two steals and dunks in quick succession during the fourth quarter.


    History for the rallying Clippers

    Trailing 66-31 during the second quarter of their contest with the Washington Wizards, no one could have predicted the Los Angeles Clippers running out 116-115 victors.

    Still behind 66-36 at half-time, the Clippers became the first team in NBA history to score under 40 points in the first half of a game and follow up by posting 40 or more points in both the third and fourth quarters.

    The visitors had closed to 93-76 adrift by the end of the third quarter, before bossing the fourth 40-22 against flagging opposition.

    Amir Coffey finished with 29 points and Luke Kennard contributing 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists against a Wizards team who had seven players in double figures.


    Curry and Co. down Doncic and the Mavs

    The Golden States Warriors had an inconsistent 3-6 stretch over nine games but have now chalked up three straight wins as Stephen Curry led the way in a balanced attack as the Dallas Mavericks were routed 130-92.

    Curry had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Jonathan Kuminga (22 points, five rebounds), Klay Thompson (15 points, six assists, two rebounds), and Jordan Poole (17 points, three assists and two rebounds) all contributed heavily.

    The Warriors managed just 82 points in a losing effort the last time these teams met on January 5, but it was a different story here as the Mavericks were soundly beaten despite Luka Doncic's best efforts.

    Doncic put up 25 points, eight rebounds and three assists for a Mavs side who are fifth in the West (27-21), three places and eight games back of the second-place Warriors (35-13).

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