Ash Barty has conceded her dramatic Olympics mixed doubles defeat will be tough to take.

The world number one saw her hopes of winning a gold medal for Australia at Tokyo 2020 brought to an end on Friday.

Barty and partner John Peers won the first set against Russian Olympic Committee duo Andrey Rublev and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

But Rublev and Pavlyuchenkova turned it around to win an epic clash 5-7 6-4 13-11 and reach the final.

With Barty already eliminated in the singles and women's doubles competitions, the best she can now hope for is a bronze medal alongside Peers.

They will meet Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Nina Stojanovic for the last spot on the podium.

"It is a tough one to swallow," said Barty. "I think those tie-breaks at times, they go either way and we just didn't quite have the run of the grain. 

"We put ourselves in a position to win the match, we just weren't able to close it out. It was a good level, no doubt disappointing."

Another chance at a medal means Wimbledon champion Barty will try to get over her loss swiftly.

She added: "But we get to fight for a medal - this one hurts but we still have an opportunity to play another match and try to win a medal for Australia. 

"We pick ourselves up pretty quickly, move on and know that we will give it our all and keep fighting right until the end.

"It's been quite a while since we've had an Australian medallist here [in tennis] at the Olympics so we're looking forward to that challenge."

In the men's doubles, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are Olympic champions after they beat fellow Croatia representatives Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in the final.

Alexander Zverev apologised to Novak Djokovic after ending the Serbian superstar's hopes of a glorious Golden Slam – but joked it was about time someone else landed a major tennis title.

In their Olympic Games semi-final, it seemed Djokovic was cruising through to the gold medal match when he surged a set and a break of serve ahead.

Incredibly, though, Zverev won 10 of 11 games from 3-2 behind in the second set to take the match 1-6 6-3 6-1 and set up a shot at Karen Khachanov in Sunday's final.

Djokovic swept to Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon trophy success before heading to Japan for the Olympics, the fourth leg of a potential sweep of each of the year's majors and the Tokyo 2020 singles title.

He had spoken of it becoming closer to a reality, as he attempted to match Steffi Graf's achievement from 1988, when she followed triumphs at each of the slams by winning in the October 1 final at the Olympics, held in Seoul that year. Graf remains the only player to have pulled off the feat in the same year.

Zverev had other ideas, but he also had sympathy for Djokovic when they exchanged words at the net.

"I told him that he's the greatest of all time, and he will be," Zverev said.

"I know that he was chasing history, chasing the Golden Slam and chasing the Olympics, but in these kind of moments me and Novak are very close. Of course I'm happy that I've won, but at the end of the day I know how Novak feels.

"I feel sorry for Novak, but he's won 20 grand slams, 550 Masters Series or whatever, you can't have everything.

"He's the greatest player of all time, he will win the most grand slams out of anybody on tour, but I'm also happy that I'm in the final."

 

Victory at Wimbledon earlier in July took 34-year-old Djokovic to 20 grand slam titles, level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most by a man in the history of tennis, and Zverev was lurching towards becoming his latest victim when their Tokyo tussle began in a one-sided manner.

"I was down a set and a break, so I needed to change something. I started playing much more aggressive," Zverev said. "I started to swing through the ball a little bit more, and I tried to dominate that way."

Zverev is assured of at least a silver medal now, while Djokovic faces a bronze medal play-off against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.

"It's an amazing feeling knowing that you're going to bring the medal back to your house, back home to Germany," Zverev said.

"It's incredible beating the best player in the world undoubtedly right now and in this season. It seemed it was impossible to beat him at this event, so I’m very happy right now. But yet there's still one match to go."

Novak Djokovic's hopes of becoming the first man to win a calendar Golden Slam were crushed by a semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics.

From a set and a break up, Djokovic dropped a staggering eight games in a row on his way to a 1-6 6-3 6-1 loss.

The 34-year-old Serbian had been unsure about coming to the Games but was swayed by the pride he takes in representing his country and the tantalising opportunity to add a gold medal to a potential clean sweep of the grand slams.

He has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and will head to the US Open in August as a heavy favourite regardless of this setback.

But this was just not Djokovic's day, despite him making a whirlwind start and dominating until the point he broke to lead 3-2 in the second set. From there, Zverev seized control. 

When Djokovic volleyed into the net to make it 3-3, dropping serve for the first time in the match, it looked like just a minor stumble.

Yet suddenly he was struggling for form and did not win another game until he was already 4-0 behind in the deciding set.

Zverev was playing blindingly brilliant tennis and was proving obdurate too, saving four break points in the second game of the third set.

He clinched victory with a blazing backhand winner, and goes on to face Russian Karen Khachanov in the final.

The result means Djokovic, like Roger Federer, seems fated never to win the Olympic singles gold medal. And it leaves Steffi Graf as the only player to ever win a calendar Golden Slam, having done so in 1988 when she added the Seoul Olympics title to her haul of majors.

Russian Olympic Committee's Khachanov fended off Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta with some ease in the first semi-final, with the world number 25 sweeping to a 6-3 6-3 victory in an hour and 19 minutes.

He won 26 of 28 points on first serve to freeze out Carreno Busta, who had only one break point all match and could not take that opportunity.

"It's just a pure happiness, a pleasure to be here to live those moments, these kind of memories will stay forever," Khachanov said.

Khachanov delivered a rock solid display, with his serve and forehand at their best, barely giving his opponent a sniff of an opportunity as the Moscow-born 25-year-old established a firm grip.

"That's the way I prepared, against every opponent you play a little bit differently," Khachanov said. "The final will be another story, another match, another day. I hope it will be the same."

Carreno Busta, who will face Djokovic for the bronze medal, said: "It was not the best match I have played, but Karen was unbelievable today, playing very aggressive and serving really good."

Russia came out firing on Friday as they condemned any suggestion of drug cheats within their ranks at the Olympic Games, saying God would be the judge of critics.

Competing as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in Tokyo, due to recent state-sponsored doping scandals that mean their national flag and anthem are absent from the Games, the team comprising Russian athletes are flying high in the medals table.

They believe insinuation of cheating continues to plague their competitors, who they are adamant are clean.

A post on the ROC Twitter page read: "How unnerving our victories are for some of our colleagues. Yes, we are here at the Olympics. Absolutely rightfully. Whether someone likes it or not. But you have to be able to lose.

"The old hurdy-gurdy again started the song about Russian doping. Someone is turning the handle diligently.

"English-language propaganda, oozing verbal sweat in the Tokyo heat. Through the mouths of athletes offended by defeats. We will not console you.

"Forgive those who are weaker. God is their judge. And for us – an assistant."

That was posted alongside photographs of two swimmers – American Ryan Murphy and Great Britain's Luke Greenbank – plus United States rower Megan Kalmoe.

Murphy and Greenbank both questioned whether their race was clean after taking silver and bronze respectively in the 200 metres backstroke final, which was won by Russian Evgeny Rylov.

"I've got about 15 thoughts, 13 of them would get me into a lot of trouble," Murphy said in a news conference when asked if he felt the race was fair.

"I try not to get caught up in that. It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year that I'm swimming in a race that's probably not clean, and that is what it is."

Greenbank joined in, adding: "It's obviously a very difficult situation, not knowing who you race against is clean."

Rylov, who has also won the 100m at the Games, insisted he does not dope, telling the same news conference: "I have always been for clean competition, I am always tested, I also fill out all the forms so from the bottom of my heart I'm for clean sports."

Kalmoe said on Thursday it had been "a nasty feeling" to see the Russian Olympic Committee win silver in the women's pair rowing event.

The World Anti-Doping Agency's then-president Craig Reedie declared in December 2019 that "for too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport", condemning a "stance of deception and denial" within the country's anti-doping authorities.

An independent Compliance Review Committee said at the time that Russian athletes who could demonstrate a commitment to clean sport would continue to be allowed to compete at the highest level, electing not to impose a blanket ban on competitors from the country.

That has allowed the Russian Olympic Committee to bring over 300 athletes to Tokyo.

Reigning champion Connor Fields is "awake and awaiting further medical evaluation" after a sickening crash in the semi-finals of the men's BMX racing at the Tokyo Olympics.

The American 2016 gold medallist was stretchered off the course and taken to hospital after the major crash with Twan van Gendt of the Netherlands and Sylvain Andre of France in the third run of the semi-final heats.

"We can confirm that Connor Fields is awake and awaiting further medical evaluation. We will share additional updates as they become available," a USA team doctor said.

Fields, appearing in his third Olympics, had already qualified for the final but was unable to take his place, given the injuries sustained, with Niek Kimmann from the Netherlands taking out the gold.

Great Britain's Kye Whyte claimed silver with Colombia's Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes winning the bronze.

Another gold medal contender, Australia's Saya Sakakibara, also crashed out in the women's BMX racing.

Sakakibara, whose brother Kai suffered life-changing head injuries from a crash in the sport 15 months ago, was carried off the course on a stretcher but later able to perform media interviews.

The Australian had been leading the pack ahead of the last turn in the third run of the semi-finals, before a clash of wheels with USA's Alise Willoughby brought the pair down.

Australia's Olympic team tweeted that Sakakibara had "sustained a few bumps and bruises and will continue to be monitored over the next 24 hours as a precaution".

Sakakibara told Channel 7: "This is so disappointing. I feel like I have let everyone down. I let everyone down, especially my brother."

Great Britain's Bethany Shriever went on to win the gold medal, ahead of Colombia's Mariana Pajon and the Netherlands' Merel Smulders.

 

SCHOENMAKER SMASHES WORLD RECORD

South African Tatjana Schoenmaker improved on her 100 metres women's breaststroke silver medal with a gold in Friday's 200m, as well as smashing the world record.

Schoenmaker finished in two minutes and 18.95 seconds, breaking Rikke Moller Pedersen's pre-existing mark of 2:19.11, as she beat USA pair Lilly King and Annie Lazor.

"I wasn't expecting that at all," Schoenmaker said about her world record, having appeared visibly stunned upon realising her time. "I was really trying to focus on my own race. [King] definitely pushed me, knowing that her first 100 is so good."

Russia Olympic Committee's Evgeny Rylov swam an Olympic record time to win the men's 200m backstroke, having won gold in the 100m earlier this week.

Rylov, who swam 1:53:27, beat USA's Ryan Murphy and Great Britain's Luke Greenbank.

Australian Emma McKeon also marked an Olympic record as she won gold in the women's 100m freestyle ahead of Hong Kong's Siobhan Haughey and countrywoman Cate Campbell.

China's Wang Shun won the men's 200m individual medley from Britain's Duncan Scott and Switzerland's Jeremy Desplanches.

 

KIWIS DOMINATE THE ROWING

New Zealand picked up a handsome share of the rowing medals at the Sea Forest Waterway, with two golds and a silver from the four events on Friday.

Emma Twigg triumphed with an Olympic-best time of 7:13.97 in the women's single sculls, finishing ahead of Russia Olympic Committee's Hanna Prakatsen and Austria's Magdalena Lobnig.

New Zealand also won in a thrilling finish from Germany and Great Britain in the men's eight final, edging out the Germans by less than a second.

Hamish Bond was part of the New Zealand eight, having won golds in 2012 and 2016 in the coxless pair, before focusing on cycling in 2017, only to revert back to rowing for Tokyo.

Bond said: "The thing about an eight is it doesn't matter what you do as individuals, it's how you can collectively harness that potential."

Canada won the women's equivalent, pipping New Zealand across the line by 0.91 seconds, with China in third.

Greece won their first medal of the Games in style, with Stefanos Ntouskos claiming gold in the men's single sculls from Norway's Kjetil Borch and Croatia's Damir Martin.

 

WOMEN'S 100M HEATS UP

The track events got under way, with the women's 100m heats the main attraction at the Olympic Stadium, headlined by Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou with the joint fourth quickest legal time ever seen at the Games.

Two-time World Championship silver medallist Ta Lou ran a personal best time of 10.78 seconds.

Jamaican duo Elaine Thompson-Herah – the reigning Olympic champion – and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were the next fastest, with 10:82 and 10:84 respectively.

With the field stacked with quality, Fraser-Pryce said: "There's rivalry with everybody. All female athletes are showing up and you're competing so I don't focus on just one individual."

Marie-Josee Ta Lou produced one of the fastest women's 100 metres in Olympic Games history as the sprint heats showcased a string of stunning displays on day one of the athletics.

The 32-year-old from Ivory Coast posted a personal best of 10.78 seconds, the joint fourth quickest legal 100m ever seen at the Games, excluding those that have exceeded wind assistance limits or been wiped from the record books because of doping.

Two-time World Championship silver medallist Ta Lou delivered her standout display in the fourth heat and said: "Surprise, surprise. I'm in shock actually. I know I'm ready. I will be re-focusing on my run because I really didn't expect to run as fast as I just did. And 10.78, it's great."

Asked whether advancing spike technology had helped, Ta Lou said: "No, I don't think so because I feel the same way when I wear other shoes. This one was not making me run really fast. It's only the colours."

She was joined in producing an early statement of intent by Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah – the defending champion – with the women's 100m shaping up to be more tantalising a race than the men's equivalent.

 

Fraser-Pryce is the fastest woman in the world this year, having run a 10.63 in June – the quickest legal 100m since Florence Griffith-Joyner's still-startling 1988 hot streak.

The 34-year-old ran 10.84 to win heat five, and when asked if there was rivalry in the Jamaican ranks she said: "Oh, there's rivalry with everybody. All female athletes are showing up and you're competing so I don't focus on just one individual.

"If you notice the heat, that's some really quick running, so you just have to make sure that you're ready. And I think it's good for females sprinting. It's long overdue and I'm hoping that it definitely is up to the expectation."

Thompson-Herah did the 100m and 200m sprint double in Rio five years ago and is chasing more gold medal success in Japan, with her first outing showing she is in great shape to contend, the 28-year-old closing 10.82 in the second heat.

"These are some of the quickest fields in the history of the event," she said.

Britain's Dina Asher-Smith was a comfortable second in the first heat, clocking 11.07 as Teahna Daniels crossed first in 11.04, and was asked whether this might be a fast track.

"I think so, but I really wasn't thinking about things like that. It might be," Asher-Smith said. "But today was just about making it through to the next round safely at the same time as knowing I've got another level to give tomorrow. And I do have another level, of course I do. It's an Olympics."

It's already been a week since Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron.

The Games like no other, the Games that no one wanted, the pandemic Games... whatever you want to call them, the Games began and Friday now brings the first day of athletics to Tokyo 2020.

So, what's the state of play out in Tokyo?

Stats Perform journalist Peter Hanson has been out in the Japanese capital and answers some of the big questions to give us an overview.


Where were we prior to the Games?

The perception from afar of the public attitude in Tokyo, and indeed all around Japan, was one of fear, mistrust and indeed anger that the Games would take place despite being in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

Back in January, a survey by Kyodo News Agency found approximately 80 per cent of people did not want the Games to take place as scheduled. As recently as April a different poll by consultancy firm Kekst CNC suggested 56 per cent did not want them to go ahead. 

By June, there was an indication that public angst was softening a little when the conservative newspaper Yomiuri found 50 per cent of its responders wanted the event to go ahead, up from 39 the month before, while those thinking it should be cancelled dropped from 59 to 48.

Still, there was a very real reminder that significant opposition remained when protestors could be heard outside the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony.

There were other PR difficulties to contend with, too. Leading Japanese brand Toyota – which has a lengthy Olympics association – pulled all advertisement relating to the Games on Japanese TV.

On the eve of the opening ceremony, its director resigned over comments made about the holocaust, while a composer stepped away amid allegations of bullying. A few months earlier, the creative director resigned following derogatory remarks about women.

So, yeah, it wasn't exactly the normal pre-Olympics buzz.


Has there been a shift in mood among the residents of Tokyo?

My own personal experience of the locals here has admittedly been restricted to those working at the Games – even my hotel is on a designated list of accommodation facilities the media have to stay at – due to the agreement made in my activity plan for the Japanese government to only visit Games-specific venues.

But there has been overriding enthusiasm from those involved. Everyone working at the venues, at the media centre, at the transport mall, on the shuttle buses, goes above and beyond to help solve issues or direct you to the right destination – all with big smiles and a customary bow, even when standing for hours in the searing 30-degrees temperatures or the tropical downpours.

Koki Horada is a local freelance video journalist working alongside me for Stats Perform at these Games. Koki spent over 20 years living and working in the UK and he thinks there has been a shift in the perception of the Olympics in Tokyo.

"Before the opening ceremony many people protested against the Olympic Games but once it started the mood changed," he told me.

"I think the opening ceremony helped and also the judo where the Japanese men got a gold medal.

"Now the Japan team has a lot of gold medals. And there's people with a kind of nationalism or love for Japan or for the Olympic Games [as a result of that]."

Japan has had a fair bit of home success so far – is that helping to change the mood?

The best way for any host nation to capture the imagination of the public has always been to rack up the gold medals – I remember for example being completely enthralled in 2012 by the success of Team GB in London.

It feels particularly important that Japan do well in these Games and, so far at least, the home favourites have been pretty impressive.

There have been some disappointments. Daiya Seto failing to even get out of the heats when favourite in the men's 400m individual medley on the first night of swimming being one. The significantly more damaging one, of course, being cauldron-lighter Osaka's third-round exit to Marketa Vondrousova in the women's tennis.

But there has been plenty to celebrate, too. Yui Ohashi grabbed a medley double in the pool, Chizuru Arai and Takanori Nagase earned judo golds, and earlier this week Japan actually led in the medal table.

So, even the sceptics may have been swayed by watching the Japanese favourites succeed at these Games.

Koki tells me that actually plenty were already in support of the Olympics but perhaps did not feel as though they could make such an opinion heard.

"I think the media reported that more than half of the people were against the Olympics but it's not true, I think," he said.

"I think it's just Japanese culture, always Japanese people want to join the majority opinion. That's just culture, it's the difference between say European and American people. 

"The people who wanted to support or wanted to enjoy the Olympic Games couldn't say so or they couldn't show the attitude beforehand, but now things started changing more."


Is COVID still causing concern?

I mean, where isn't it?

By Wednesday, the capital recorded over 3,000 cases in a single day for the first time during the pandemic. 

Thursday's numbers showed there were 3,865 in Tokyo, 10,000 in Japan in total (the first time they had ever exceeded 10,000), and 193 Olympics-related coronavirus infections had been recorded.

It's impossible not to feel slightly apprehensive at times, it was certainly a factor I myself battled with before deciding to fly out here.

The thing is, though, that – certainly within the infrastructure of the Games – every step has been taken to reduce infections. There are temperature checks to get in every venue, testing every four days (it's more regular for athletes), hand sanitiser everywhere you turn, mandatory face masks and social distancing observed.

The Tokyo locals had come to expect some rise in cases. When it comes to COVID and infection numbers, though, what do you ever call an acceptable level?


Are the Games a success or will they be?

Truthfully, it's a hard question to answer. It just feels like the measures for "success" are too arbitrary.

And it really does depend on whose viewpoint you're looking at.

For the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers, the fact we are even here at all is probably a cause for celebration. Getting through to August 8 without major incident is now the real target for the bigwigs in charge.

Inside Tokyo, there probably will be a collective sigh of relief when hordes of athletes, officials and the world's media pack up their cases and return home.

Those watching around the world seem split firmly down the middle. For some, the Games offer a little escapism and the true moments of magic that only an Olympics can bring still resonate. For others, the empty stadiums and the COVID-related uncertainty over all events make it a poor experience.

Personally, I've always been somewhere down the middle on it.

I love sports, I love the Olympics, and the privilege I have to be out here when others can't be is absolutely not lost.

But it can be pretty surreal watching moments that should be playing out in front of raucous crowds occur to just the ripples of noise from their supporting team-mates.

And, truthfully, the further I get towards the end point and flying home, the more that nagging voice in the back of my head saying "please don't get COVID, please don't get COVID" edges forward and becomes less of a whisper and more a constant scream.

Men's 200m backstroke gold medalist Evgeny Rylov says he is committed to clean competition after comments from silver medalist Ryan Murphy that the race "was probably not clean".

The Russia Olympic Committee's Rylov edged out American Murphy for the gold medal by 0.88 seconds in a new Olympic record time in Friday's men's 200m backstroke final, with Great Britain's Luke Greenbank taking bronze.

In the men's 100m backstroke final on Tuesday, Rylov had also beaten Murphy, who had won both the 100m and 200m in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

"I’ve got about 15 thoughts, 13 of them would get me into a lot of trouble," Murphy said when asked if he felt the race was fair.

"I try not to get caught up in that. It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year that I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean, and that is what it is."

Murphy reiterated he was not identifying anyone specifically or making an allegations about any national team.

"To be clear, my intention is not to make any allegations here," he said. "Congratulations to Evgeny and congratulations to Luke, I think they did an incredible job. They're both incredible swimmers. At the end of the day, I do believe there's doping in swimming."

Rylov was asked directly about the allegations and whether he swims clean.

"I have always been for clean competition, I am always tested, I also fill out all the forms so from the bottom of my heart I'm for clean sports," Rylov said.

"I am devoting my whole life to this sport, right, so I don't even know how to react to that. Ryan didn't accuse me of anything, therefore I'd rather not react."

He added: "Honestly, I'm not aware of these comments so I cannot react to something I have not heard, so let me refrain from commenting on this, thank you. I'm not in a position to comment because I didn't hear that."

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Murphy revealed he had met with new FINA Executive Director Brent Nowicki where they had discussed doping in the sport but was told it would be a long battle.

"When you hear that from the top, it's tough to hear," Murphy said.

"I think the thing that's frustrating is you can't answer that question with 100 per cent certainty [that the race was clean].

"I think over the years, that's going to come out. I can't answer that question. I don’t know if it was 100 per cent clean and that's because of things that have happened over the past."

American Connor Fields was carried off the Tokyo 2020 BMX course on a stretcher and taken to a waiting ambulance after a shocking crash in the men's semi-finals.

The 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist went down before the first bend amid a tightly bunched pack of riders, two of whom hit the deck with him – Dutchman Twan van Gendt and France's Sylvain Andre..

Van Gendt said of the incident: "I landed the jump and there was two guys crashing in front of me and there was nowhere to go, that's it.

"I've been racing with those guys all my life, almost. It's a tough competition. We race hard, as you see. We're all on the limit and this is what can happen. I'm happy I'm quite OK. We'll see what the damage is."

There was no official word of 28-year-old Fields' condition and the injuries he may have sustained.

Gold in the later final went to the Netherlands' Niek Kimmann, with Britain's Kye White taking silver and Colombia's Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes coming away with bronze.

Australian Saya Sakakibara suffered a heavy crash in the women's semi-finals and was also carried off, but she was able to give media interviews afterwards.

Tatjana Schoenmaker broke the 200m women's breaststroke Olympic record on Wednesday but says she never expected to topple the world record in her gold medal swim on Friday.

The South African swimmer won the gold medal ahead of USA's Lilly King and Annie Lazor in the final, setting a world record 2:18:95 in the process.

King went out fast, but at the final turn Schoenmaker was marginally ahead before motoring clear.

Schoenmaker had broken the Olympic record on Wednesday with a time of 2:19:16 in her heat before surpassing the mark held by Denmark's Rikke Moller Pedersen of 2:19:11 from August 2013 in Barcelona.

"It'll kick in when I get home probably," Schoenmaker said. "I wasn’t expecting that at all.

"I was really trying to focus on my own race. [King] definitely pushed me, knowing that her first 100 is so good.

"It was so amazing to be able to race today. It was such a tough race. We were all racing to do well. It just still hasn’t sunk in, maybe one day."

Schoenmaker was visibly emotional post race, celebrating with shock after realizing she had broken the world record, with Lazor embracing her in the pool as the South African came to tears.

"I feel like it really hasn’t sunk in yet," Schoenmaker. "The whole process went really quick. I feel I was very excited to also finish my individual races.

"I was excited to go home and see my family. I don’t know if it should be kicking in now. If I was crying that much then, I can't imagine."

Schoenmaker becomes the third woman to win an Olympic gold medal for South Africa in swimming, after Penelope Heyns (two in 1996) and Joan Harrison (1952).

She also becomes the fourth South Africa woman to swim a world record, behind Ann Fairlie (100m backstroke), Karen Muir (100m and 200m backstroke) ad Heyns (50m, 100m, 200m backstroke).

"Penny [Heyns] was amazing on her own," Schoenmaker said. "She's created such an amazing name in the swimming environment. To even be close to her is so amazing."

Tatjana Schoenmaker smashed the world record to win gold in the women's 200m breaststroke, while Emma McKeon and Evgeny Rylov were top of the podium in Friday's action in the pool.

There was also glory for Wang Shun in a closely fought men's 200m individual medley at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Here's a round-up of the best action from another action-packed session at Tokyo 2020.

SIZZLING SCHOENMAKER TAKES OUT WR

Schoenmaker lived up to her billing as the favourite in the women's 200m breaststroke, winning South Africa's first gold medal of the Games in sensational style.

The 24-year-old, who took silver in the 100m, shattered the world record in a time of 2:18.95 with Lilly King of the United States in second.

After touching the wall, Schoenmaker screamed in delight at seeing her time before sobbing in the pool as the emotion of her achievement hit home.

OLYMPIC BESTS FROM MCKEON AND RYLOV

McKeon won Australia's ninth gold medal of the Games and sixth of a memorable week in the pool for the nation by dominating the women's 100m freestyle.

The 27-year-old led from start to finish and stormed home in a time of 51.96, a new Olympic benchmark. Team-mate Cate Campbell was third behind Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong.

"Honestly, my emotions are a bit all over the place right now," McKeon told Channel 7. "I know all of my family back home are watching and I felt them with me in my race. 

"I know all the support they've given me over all the years of me swimming. They're part of it all."

Another Olympic record was broken in a men's 200m backstroke event won by Rylov, who doubled up with the gold he won in the 100m race for the Russian Olympic Committee.

Having won that shorter race, Rylov was fancied as somewhat of a shoo-in over his favoured four-lap distance and so it proved as he set a time of 1:53.27.

SCOTT PIPPED AGAIN AS WANG HOLDS FIRM

Duncan Scott brought home gold as part of TeamGB's 4x200m freestyle relay team – but he was just edged in the 200m individual free by team-mate Tom Dean and was beaten in the 200m individual medley by a narrow margin too.

This time it was China's Wang Shun who came out on top, the Rio 2016 bronze medallist produced a fine performance to win in a time of 1:55.00, just 0.28 seconds faster than Scott.

Australia's men's basketball medal hopes have been dealt a blow with Toronto Raptors center Aron Baynes ruled out of the remainder of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a neck injury.

Baynes sustained the injury in Wednesday's 86-83 win over Italy, where he was monitored in a local hospital afterwards.

The 34-year-old, who had scored 14 points from 14 minutes against Italy, is expected to recover in the coming weeks but will not play any further part in this Olympic competition.

“I am really disappointed that I can’t continue in the Olympics,” Baynes said. “I along with the rest of the team have been working so hard in our quest for an historic Olympic medal and I am gutted that I can’t complete the journey with the boys, but I have every confidence that they will get the job done."

Australia head coach Brian Goorjian added: “Aron is a big part of our team and we are all hurting for him, but we have great depth in our squad and I have every confidence in the 11 remaining players.

"We will all stay focused on the task ahead. Unfortunately, injuries can happen but this team is resilient and we will adapt."

Australia's men's basketball team, the Boomers, have never won an Olympic medal but are considered a strong chance at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Boomers are four-time Olympic semi-finalists but have lost all four bronze medal matches.

China returned to the top of the medal table thanks to swimming and table tennis success at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

Host nation Japan slipped into second place on another successful day for China, who have racked up 31 medals in total so far at these Games.

Zhang Yufei won the women's 200m butterfly title ahead of American duo Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

The women's 4x200m freestyle relay team also struck gold for China in the pool.

There was table tennis glory for China too, with Chen Meng beating compatriot Sun Yingsha 4-2 in the final at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

China and Japan both have 15 golds so far, the host nation sitting second as they have 25 medals in total.

The United States have the most medals with a haul of 38, as well as sitting just one adrift of China and Japan's tally of golds.

The Russian Olympic Committee and Australia both have eight apiece, the latter benefiting from success for Jessica Fox in the women's C-1 canoe slalom, plus Izaac Stubblety-Cook winning the 200m breaststroke title.

 

Friday sees the start of the Olympic athletics schedule and the first tennis medals will be won in Tokyo.

The men's 10,000 metres final will be staged on the first day of track and field action at the Olympic Stadium.

There will be an all-Croatia men's doubles gold medal match at the Ariake Tennis Park, plus no doubt more drama to come in the pool.

Stats Perform picks out some of the standout events to look forward to.


CHEPTEGEI FAVOURITE FOR FIRST TRACK GOLD

Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo both have the chance to become the first athlete from Uganda to win an Olympic gold medal in the men's 10,000m final.

Cheptegei, the 2019 world champion, is well fancied in the last event on the track on Friday, while his compatriot Kiplimo could become the youngest man to be crowned champion at the distance at the age of 20 years and 258 days.

Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia and Canadian Mohammed Ahmed also have high hopes of making it onto the podium. 

Other events to look out for are the start of the women's 100m, men's 400m hurdles and men's high jump, along with the women's 800m and women's triple jump.

CROATIA GUARANTEED DOUBLES GOLD

One guarantee on Friday is that Croatia will add a gold and silver medal to their tally at the Tokyo Games.

Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig will face compatriots Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the gold medal match in the men's doubles final.

The men's singles semi-finals will also take place, with Novak Djokovic, chasing a Golden Slam this year, up against Germany's Alexander Zverev.

Karen Khachanov of the Russian Olympic Committee will do battle with Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta to find out who will make it through from the other half of the draw.


HIGH HOPES FOR AUSTRALIAN DUO

Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell could make it an Australia one-two in the women's 100m freestyle final.

McKeon set a new Olympic record of 52.13 seconds on Wednesday and will go out in lane four next to her dangerous compatriot Campbell.

That is one of four finals on Friday, with Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa expected to take some stopping in the 200m breaststroke final after clocking an Olympic record time of 2:19.16 this week.

Medals will also be up for grabs in the men's 200m backstroke final and the men's 200m individual medley.

Sunisa Lee stepped up in the absence of Simone Biles to claim gold and maintain Team USA’s dominance in the women's gymnastics all-around event.

The 18-year-old became the sixth American woman to take the title – and fifth in a row – after beating Brazil's Rebeca Andrade and Angelina Melnikova to gold.

Despite withdrawing from the final to focus on her mental health, Biles was cheering on from the stands as her team-mate aimed to capitalise.

Lee was looking to continue her nation's impressive record in this event, which has seen triumph concurrently at both the Olympic Games and World Championships since 2010.

The teenager admitted she came close to quitting gymnastics following a difficult two years – both in and out of the gym.

Nevertheless, she duly delivered the goods by totalling 57.433 to take gold and edge out Andrade, who became the first Brazilian woman to claim an Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics.

"It feels crazy, it is so surreal. It's a dream come true," Lee said. "I don't even know what to say. It hasn't even sunk in. The past two years with COVID have been crazy. There was one point I wanted to quit. 

"To be here and to be an Olympic gold medallist is just crazy."

 

PATIENT FOX COMES GOOD

Australia's Jess Fox became the first women's canoe slalom (C1) Olympic gold medallist.

A multiple World champion, Olympic gold has eluded Fox over the years. She was a silver medallist at London in 2012, while she took home a bronze from Rio four years later.

However, her persistence finally paid off after posting a time of 105.04 seconds in the final, while Great Britain's Mallory Franklin and Andrea Herzog of Germany completed the podium.

"I can't believe it," said Fox, who also won bronze in the women's kayak earlier this week.

"I was dreaming of [a gold medal] and I really believed it was within me, but you never know what is going to happen at the Olympics.

"It is about holding your nerve and I probably didn't do that very well in the kayak a couple of days before, so it was hard to get to this point. But it has been incredible to do what I did today."

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