Sunisa Lee was inspired by Simone Biles' presence as she claimed gold in the women's all-around gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics.

Lee is the first Hmong American to compete for the United States at the Olympics and, in Biles' absence, stepped up to deliver the nation's fifth successive gold in the event.

The 18-year-old joins Carly Patterson (2004), Nastia Liukin (2008), Gabby Douglas (2012) and Biles (2016) on that list.

Biles, a four-time gold medallist at the Rio Games, competed in only one event in Tuesday's team competition at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, registering the lowest score of the first rotation before she then left the floor with a trainer.

She then withdrew from the event, revealing she had chosen to prioritise her mental health and stating she had been "fighting demons".

Biles, 24, subsequently chose not to compete in Thursday's final, but was on hand to support her team from the sidelines.

"It sucks that I couldn’t have Simone on the floor with me, but just to have her in the arena was very helpful because she is an inspiration to me and someone I look up to," said a jubilant Lee.

Biles' absence did present its own challenges, however. 

"I just had to switch gears because we came in competing for second place. So when the opportunity was there I knew I had to do what I normally do because this whole season I was second to her [Biles]." Lee added.

"I felt there was a lot of pressure on me because I have been second to her the whole season, so I knew that people were kind of counting on me to either get second or win a gold medal.

"I tried not to focus on that because I knew I would get too nervous, and I probably would have gotten in my head."

Lee also hailed the advice she received from the more experienced members of her team, continuing: "They told me to go out there and not worry about anything else. I was starting to put a little too much pressure on myself. Knowing that Simone was gone, I was starting to put that pressure on myself that I had to come back with a medal.

"I tried not to think about it and just focus on myself. That is what they told me to do, to just do what I normally do and that is when I compete the best."

Rebeca Andrade of Brazil claimed silver, and she paid tribute to Biles' decision to withdraw to focus on her own wellbeing.

"It was different for me because Simone is incredible," she said.

"Knowing why she left the competition was very difficult. People need to understand we are not robots. We are human beings, and we have feelings like anyone else. That is the same in the competition.

"We know what it feels like to feel the pressure, but I tried to keep my cool. I tried to put into practice everything that I learned with my psychologist, and it worked. I did what I could and I could not be happier. I wish the best to everyone."

World champions Spain and Luka Doncic's Slovenia are set for a top-of-the-table shoot-out in Group C at Tokyo 2020 after both teams were victorious on Thursday.

In a tough preliminary round pool, both Spain and Slovenia have two wins from two to reach the quarter-finals heading into an intriguing match-up.

With perennial Olympic champions the United States looking a little ordinary, the two nations will fancy their chances of breakthrough golds.

Their latest exploits ensured Sunday's game will attract plenty of attention, considering it could open the door to a potentially easier route through the knockout rounds.

RUBIO INSPIRES SPAIN AGAIN

Spain reinforced their status as the team to beat as they eased past Argentina, the opponents they also defeated in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup final.

Ricky Rubio was the MVP at that event, leading the champions with 20 points in the final, and he was highly influential once more in Tokyo on Thursday.

The Minnesota Timberwolves guard had 26 points – 13 in each half – with 83 per cent three-point shooting in an 81-71 success.

It was all painfully familiar for Argentina, as Nicolas Laprovittola explained: "We know Spain, we know how they play, we know Ricky Rubio is the key."

With Doncic up next, Spain coach Sergio Scariolo added: "We are 2-0. We beat a very strong team, so we take it and we move forward." Doncic is 15-0 in Slovenia colours in all competitions.

'IT'S NOT ONLY LUKA... THAT TEAM CAN HOOP!'

Doncic is undoubtedly Slovenia's player to watch, having added to his 48-point Olympic debut against Argentina with 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals in a 116-81 demolition of hosts Japan.

But Slovenia – described by Japan coach Julio Lamas as "a very complete team with one amazing player" – have more to them than the 22-year-old alone.

Zoran Dragic weighed in with 24 points, while Vlatko Cancar shot five of five from the field – including three of three from deep – for 16. Klemen Prepelic added 12 in 20 minutes off the bench.

"It's not only Luka," said the Washington Wizards' Rui Hachimura, whose 34 points were in vain. "That team has guys who can actually hoop. There's a lot of guys who can score."

Turning their focus towards the Spain game, Slovenia coach Aleksander Sekulic said: "We want to play our game and we're going to prepare and we're going to be ready for them.

"We have a great coaching staff; they're really doing an amazing job. We want to play our style, our game, and also make Spain think about us."

ROJA REVENGE AS WOMEN SINK SERBIA

It was double delight for Spain on Thursday as their women claimed an eye-catching win over Serbia, the new European champions.

Spain had won back-to-back EuroBasket Women titles prior to co-hosting this year's event, where they were beaten by Serbia in the quarter-finals.

Serbia went on to take the championship and named a strong team again for the Games, but Spain fought back in Group A.

Alba Torrens put up 25 points and Astou Ndour added 20 along with nine rebounds in an 85-70 win that puts them top of the pool.

"We know they badly wanted this revenge from Valencia," said Serbia coach Marina Maljkovic, while Jelena Brooks added: "Knowing Spain and what they came here to do because of the Eurobasket, we knew they were going to punish our mistakes twice as bad as Canada did [in the opening game]."

Canada, meanwhile, recorded a 74-53 triumph over South Korea early in the day.

Mary Kom does not appear ready to throw in the towel on her dreams of an Olympic boxing gold medal despite defeat at Tokyo 2020.

The 38-year-old from India lost a split decision (3-2) to flyweight rival Ingrit Lorena Valencia Victoria of Colombia in the round of 16 at the Kokugikan Arena on Thursday.

Haiti's Darrelle Valsaint Jr is out to make history, while fellow victorious middleweight Eumir Marcial of the Philippines hopes a boxing legend can inspire him to glory.

We take a look at the pick of the action in the ring.

 

KOM REFUSES TO GIVE UP ON GOLDEN DREAM

Kom, a mother of four, has not ruled out an appearance at Paris 2024 at the age of 41 if she meets the age qualification in force at that time.

Her career has yielded six world titles and Olympic bronze from London 2012m which she desperately hoped to turn into gold in Tokyo.

"There is an age limit of 40 but maybe it will change,” said Kom.

"I'm still strong enough. It’s what's in your heart and your mind. It's about if you have the will power, a strong mentality.

"Being focused, disciplined. For 20 years all my focus has been on fighting and I know all my country is with me. 

"When I look at my memories, it’s been incredible. It’s very easy to say I’m a one, two-time world champion, but in reality, doing that is not easy. You have to have a unique personality."


MARCIAL HOPES ROACH'S INFLUENCE HAS RUBBED OFF

Marcial of the Philippines hopes time spent with legendary coach Freddie Roach at his gym in Los Angeles can fire his bid for Olympic glory.

Roach, one of the best boxing trainers of all time, is the coach of Marcial's compatriot and eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.

Marcial progressed to the last 16 of the men's middleweight after the referee stopped his bout against Algerian Younes Nemouchi after two minutes and 41 seconds.

"I learnt a lot of tactics from coach Freddie and his other trainers and I can use that experience in my competition here," Marcia said.

"I have been training for this since I didn’t make Rio 2016. I’ve worked hard for four years for this moment so I will be ready.

"But I am very grateful to my national team coaches as for the last month before we came here they have given me all the support I needed."

 

VALSAINT JR BIDDING TO END HAITI'S LONG WAIT

Not since Silvio Cator's silver in the long jump in 1928 have Haiti won a medal at the Olympic Games, but Darrelle Valsaint Jr is out to end that long wait.

Orlando-born Valsaint Jr is into the quarter-finals after a points victory over Democratic Republic of Congo fighter David Tshama Mwenekabwe.

"My mum and dad were born in Haiti. I still feel a proud Haitian," he said.

"It’s an honour to represent Haiti in the Olympics and I am on the verge of making history for Haiti as the last time Haiti had a medal was 1928. I believe in myself and I know I can make history.

"I’ve visited Haiti twice and both times I went there were no riots or anything, just peace and love.

"As of right now I know it is kind of crazy down there, it like a war zone. Hopefully when I win the gold medal it will calm things down, that’s what I’m hoping for.

"To get to go back to Haiti with the gold medal would be another dream come true."

Novak Djokovic is growing in confidence after his bid to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games stayed on track on his "best day" of Tokyo 2020.

The Serbian cruised into the semi-finals of the singles tournament with an emphatic 6-2 6-0 win over home favourite Kei Nishikori of Japan, then teamed up with Nina Stojanovic to beat German pair Laura Siegemund and Kevin Krawietz in the mixed doubles quarter-finals.

World number one Djokovic, 34, is attempting to become the first man to win all four tennis singles grand slam titles and an Olympic gold in the same year.

He has already triumphed at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, leaving just Tokyo and the US Open to conquer.

Asked after his doubles win if this was the best year of his career, Djokovic replied: "I don't know. Today was the best day of this tournament because I've played my best tennis so far."

Those comments echoed his assessment of the Nishikori match, after which he said: "I'm very happy – my best performance in the tournament."

Djokovic said he "had an answer for everything [Nishikori] had" and now he will face Alexander Zverev.

Asked how confident he felt heading into the last four, the 20-time grand slam champion replied: "Very."

 

Djokovic was boosted by the later start times for his matches after the International Tennis Federation bowed to pressure from players complaining of the extreme heat and humidity at Ariake Tennis Park.

"It's great that we're playing in the afternoon hours, so we don't experience too much heat," Djokovic said.

"Although it's still very, very humid. It's a bit easier, more pleasant to play in the afternoon. It was fantastic. 

"Playing after 5[pm] is completely different.  Obviously, there is a little bit of a breeze, but still very, very humid, you sweat a lot, but you don't have the heat, you don't have the sun that, in combination with the humidity, is just brutal."

Novak Djokovic cruised through to the men's singles semi-finals after a commanding straight-sets victory over Kei Nishikori at the Ariake Tennis Park.

The world number one is yet to drop a set at the Tokyo Games after running out a 6-2 6-0 winner against home favourite Nishikori, who claimed bronze in Rio five years ago.

Having already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year, Djokovic is aiming to become the first male player of the Open era to complete the Golden Grand Slam.

Should he claim gold in Tokyo and go on to triumph at the US Open, he would become only the second player overall to achieve the feat, after Steffi Graf in 1988.

However, the Serbian has never reached an Olympic final – his best result coming in for the form of a bronze medal in Beijing.

"Matches are not getting easier, but my level of tennis is getting better and better," Djokovic told reporters after setting up a last-four tie with Alexander Zverev.

"I've done that many, many times in my career. I know that I'm the kind of player that the further the tournament goes, the better I'm feeling on the court.

"That's the case here, [it was] my best performance of the tournament tonight against a very good opponent."

 

DANIIL DUMPED OUT

Standing in the way of Djokovic and a shot at the gold medal is fourth seed Zverev.

The big-serving German saw off Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-1 and like Djokovic is yet to drop a set at the tournament.

World number five Zverev, who hit 11 aces during the contest, broke early on the way to edging a closely fought opening set. The US Open finalist then went into overdrive with three breaks on the way to sealing the deal.

There was, however, no joy for second seed Daniil Medvedev, as he went down 2-6 6-7 (5-7) against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta, who is looking to replicated Rafael Nadal's effort from 2008.

"Today, he could win a Masters easily, and yet he's never been in any final of those," the Russian said of his opponent.

"With the level he showed here today, he can get to the final of a Grand Slam easily. I couldn't play better than what I did today. It was not easy to play and I'm really disappointed with myself and for my country to lose in the quarters."

 

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Despite Medvedev's exit, Russia – or, at least, the Russian Olympic Committee – will be represented in the semi-finals by Karen Khachanov.

A quarter-finalist at Wimbledon earlier this month, the 12th seed built on his momentum by overcoming Ugo Humbert in three sets.

Khachanov took the opener on a tie-break but was pegged back by the Frenchman in the second as the contest went to a decider.

But he established early control by breaking to love in game four before holding out to prevail 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-3.

Marketa Vondrousova landed another huge scalp in the form of Elina Svitolina to book her place in the gold medal match at Tokyo 2020 against Belinda Bencic.

It has been a memorable week for Vondrousova, who knocked out cauldron-lighter and "face of the games" Naomi Osaka in round three.

One more hurdle still stands in her way in the form of ninth seed Bencic, who fought hard for a three-set triumph over Elena Rybakina.

VONDROUSOVA MARVELS AGAIN

Vondrousova has had a Games to remember and she was a 6-3 6-1 winner against heavily fancied fourth seed Svitolina, becoming the first female Czech to reach an Olympic singles final in the process.

It means the Czech Republic will have a women's singles competitor on the podium for the second straight Games after Petra Kvitova finished with bronze at Rio 2016.

Incredibly, Vondrousova did not even automatically qualify for these Games with Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Krejcikova, Kvitova and Karolina Muchova ahead of her in the qualifying pecking order.

Vondrousova opted to use her protected ranking, dating back to a wrist injury prior to the pandemic, meaning Muchova missed out. Though criticised at the time, she is the last of the four remaining.

TEARS FOR BENCIC

Switzerland has a proud history of tennis stars but neither the legendary Roger Federer nor the great Martina Hingis have won Olympic gold in a singles event. Bencic has the chance to do that, though.

She had to go the distance against Rybakina in a 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-3 victory, with Bencic fighting back from 5-2 down in the first set.

Eventually Bencic came through in two hours and 44 minutes and the tears poured as she made the final.

"My emotions right now... it's too high," Bencic told the ITF website. "To have a medal, it's the greatest thing. Even to be here as an athlete, in the Olympics, it's amazing."

It means Switzerland will medal for the fourth straight Games with Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Hingis and the recently retired Timea Bacsinszky all having medalled.

The last Swiss gold medallist was at Barcelona 1992 where Marc Rosset won the men's singles.

Elsewhere, singles world number one Ash Barty remains in the hunt for mixed doubles gold. She and partner John Peers defeated Greek pair Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari – winning on a 10-point tie-break after the first two sets were shared.

Sepp Straka was the surprise leader of the golf competition after round one at Tokyo 2020 thanks to a dazzling and record-equalling eight-under 63 at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

The 161st-ranked Austrian sat one stroke clear of Jazz Janewattananond, with Thomas Pieters and Carlos Ortiz only two strokes back.

Play was delayed for around two hours on Thursday due to dangerous weather conditions and a host of star names were off the pace after the first 18 holes.

STRAKA SURPRISES TO EARN SHARE OF HISTORY

The unheralded Straka, whose twin brother is on his bag this weekend, tied the record for the lowest single-round score at an Olympics with his 63.

"It was just a steady round. I really hit the ball well and I didn't put myself into trouble. I took advantage with the putter," Straka said.

"I got hot with my irons, especially my short irons, my wedges. I was really knocking down the flagstick and really tried to stay aggressive."

He made four gains on the way out and as many on the way home in a fine bogey-free round, and this round came despite him missing six of his past seven cuts.

HIDEKI, MCILROY AND CO HAVE WORK TO DO

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama is carrying the home hopes in Tokyo this week and was six shots back.

He was four under through eight but gave one back before the turn and dropped another shot at 11.

Rory McIlroy and Open victor Collin Morikawa are also at two under, with Patrick Reed five back and Justin Thomas at evens after making 18 pars.

New Zealand's transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has demonstrated "courage and tenacity" on her Tokyo 2020 mission, Olympics medical chief Richard Budgett said.

Hubbard's case has triggered controversy as critics believe she has an unfair advantage over her rivals, having been assigned male at birth and competed in men's weightlifting during her teens and early twenties.

Now 43, Hubbard is set for her Games bow on Monday in the +87kg category, having previously won two silver medals at the World Championships.

"Laurel Hubbard is a woman and is competing under the rules of her federation. We have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games," said Richard Budgett.

Budgett, who is the medical and scientific director of Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee, was an Olympic rowing gold medallist for Great Britain at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Looking at Hubbard's case, Budgett said: "When it comes to the advantages and disadvantages, there's always more to learn, there's always more science, and there's quite a large amount of research being done at the moment to ascertain the residual advantage after going through male puberty.

"But you have to weigh that against all the other disadvantages of going through transition. It's not something any individual would ever take lightly.

"So there are lots of aspects of physiology and anatomy and the mental side that contribute to an elite performance and it's very difficult to say she's got an advantage because she went through male puberty when there's so many other factors to take into account.

"Each sport has to make its own assessment depending on the physiology of that sport, so that they can ensure there is fair competition but also inclusion of everyone whether they're male or female, able to take part in the sport that they so love."

Hubbard's case has drawn widespread attention, from within sport and beyond. The actor John Cleese last year said it was "an example of great unfairness to women who have never had a man's body".

Former American football quarterback Brett Favre described the scenario on his podcast as "a man competing as a woman" and added: "If I was a true female – I can't believe I'm saying that – and I was competing in weightlifting and lost to this person, I would be beside myself."

According to Budgett, sports are continuing to analyse cases such as Hubbard's.

"There is lots of disagreement across the whole world of sport," he said. "It really has to be sport specific and up to each sport, and even each discipline, as to what the rules are.

"It would have been inappropriate to come out with a new framework or guidelines just before the Olympics. There will be a new framework, with the help of international federations, but it is not published yet."

Canadian footballer Quinn became the first openly trans athlete to compete in the Olympic Games when they played for Canada against Japan in the women's tournament last week.

Australia's track and field athletes endured a two-hour wait on Thursday before fears their Tokyo Olympics hopes might be in jeopardy were allayed.

A link was established to United States pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and been ruled out of the Games, and Australia's team were sent into isolation.

However, checks returned all-clear results, with only three athletics team members required to remain isolated.

Kendricks had reportedly been training this week alongside Australian Kurtis Marschall, and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) stated that three members of their squad had "brief casual contact" with a US athlete who had tested positive.

The upheaval came on the eve of the athletics programme getting under way at Tokyo 2020 and saw 57 Australian athletes and officials briefly in limbo.

In a statement, the AOC said: "Members of the Australian track and field team in the Tokyo Olympic Village have been cleared to return to their regular routines after earlier isolating in their rooms as a precautionary measure.

"The all-clear comes after three members of the team underwent PCR testing following a brief casual contact with a US track and field athlete who had tested positive to COVID-19.

"All three tested negative after undergoing a PCR test this afternoon, while team-mates remained in their rooms in line with AOC COVID protocols.

"The three, who are all vaccinated, self-reported once they heard news of the US athlete testing positive late this morning. All daily tests of the trio in the Village had also returned negative results."

 

The AOC said the three individuals who were tested would remain isolated for now but would be allowed to resume training on the proviso their contact with others is limited.

"At this stage all athletes are expected to compete as planned," the AOC said.

While those three athletes must follow the strict guidance, the AOC said 41 athletes and 13 officials had been given permission to leave their rooms after "a little over two hours" spent cooped up.

Australia chef de mission Ian Chesterman said: "Once again, abundant caution and our strict protocols continue to keep the team safe. We want every Australian athlete to be in a position to have their Olympic moment."

Luka Doncic is breaking new ground with his performances for Slovenia at the Olympic Games, according to Japan coach Julio Lamas.

Slovenia have two wins from two in Pool C, with Doncic dominating against both Argentina and, on Thursday, hosts Japan.

The Dallas Mavericks superstar had 48 points on his Games debut and added 25 more in the 116-81 defeat of Japan, as well as seven rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals.

These performances follow on from another outstanding NBA season, in which Doncic scored 27.7 points per game in the regular season – sixth-most in the league – and improved further in the playoffs.

Doncic's only two postseason series to date have been defeats to the Los Angeles Clippers, but he has now averaged 33.5 points in 13 games – no player in the history of the NBA has scored more per game in 13 career playoff games or more.

The 22-year-old's immense talent has translated superbly to the international stage, too, with Lamas describing Slovenia as "a very complete team with one amazing player". They have won all 15 games he has played for his country in all competitions.

"Doncic is one of the best four or five players in the world right now, even in the NBA," Lamas said.

"But he plays very comfortable in FIBA with the spaces and the rules – he dominates, too. Some other NBA players feel uncomfortable sometimes in FIBA. He is not.

"It's not easy to have a plan [against Doncic] because he is excellent in all the game situations. He can score driving, shooting or post-up and he creates the game for all the other players.

"I don't see in the last 30 years one player dominate the game like he has in this tournament.

"It's not nice [to face Doncic]. When you lose, you're never happy. But I think it's a good experience to play one time against him. I will remember."

Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez, the last man to attempt to halt Doncic, described him as "the best player in the world", and his Slovenia team-mates agreed after another show of strength.

"He's our leader," said Jaka Blazic. "For me, he's the best player at the Olympics and also in the world. We just follow him, everybody knows his role and that's important in a winning team."

Zoran Dragic, who played with Doncic's father Sasa for Slovan, added: "It's crazy, because when I was playing I was playing with his father, too, he was like six, seven years old, and now he's one of the best players in the world.

"I'm happy that I can witness and play with him. He's such an awesome guy and, especially, it's so easy to play with him because he is just an unbelievable person and basketball player. We can be all happy that he's Slovenian."

International Olympic Committee officials have hit back at claims the Tokyo Games have put significant added pressure on Japan's coronavirus-hit medical system.

Host city Tokyo had 3,865 new cases on Thursday, up from 3,177 on Wednesday, as it set a record high for a third straight day.

The surge in COVID-19 cases has added to concerns about the decision to stage the Games and its impact upon on Japan's health infrastructure.

Tokyo 2020 is taking place under unprecedented conditions, with fans unable to attend while athletes are subjected to strict testing to identify and isolate positive cases.

And IOC medical and scientific director Richard Budgett insisted these regulations inside the Olympic bubble had negated any significant impact.

"This is the most tested community anywhere in the world. The athletes in the Olympic Village really are living in a parallel world," Budgett said.

"As far as I’m aware, there has not been a single instance of an athlete case spreading to the local population, and not a single severe case has occurred among our stakeholders.

"There are two positive cases who are in hospital, but no severe cases at this stage. 

"It is challenging for any country when there are rising cases, but I am confident the Olympics are being run without affecting that secondary care in hospital provision."

Kirsty Coventry, chair of the IOC athletes' commission, has responded to complaints from Dutch skateboarder Candy Jacobs that conditions at quarantine hotels are "inhuman".

Jacobs tested positive for COVID-19 and posted on Instagram about initially not being permitted to get fresh air during isolation because her hotel window did not open.

Coventry said: "We have been working very closely with TOCOG [the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games] about improving all those experiences [at] the quarantine centres and hotels.

"Candy and others have raised similar points. We have reached out to them and are working with them to make sure conditions are improved."

Caeleb Dressel makes no apologies for being "a little bit of a weirdo", with the American swimming sensation determined to tackle his Olympic mountain on his own terms.

A first individual gold for Dressel arrived on Thursday when he edged out Australian rival Kyle Chalmers in a rollicking final of the 100 metres freestyle.

After the race, Dressel was left tearful when he was connected to family at home on a video link provided by a US broadcaster, with his parents and wife Meghan back in Florida celebrating the victory.

Dressel believes he has to cut down such contact to a minimum in Games time. He is a four-time gold medallist now, after two relay triumphs in Rio five years ago and another in Tokyo preceded his solo swim to glory.

For the 24-year-old, what matters most at these times is finding and maintaining race focus.

 

"I don't talk to many people at these meets. I'm kind of a loner, a little bit of a weirdo," Dressel said.

And that's why Meghan has to get by without a guaranteed daily call home from Japan.

"You have to manage your emotions. I can't be calling them every night because I cry a lot," Dressel said. "I'm an emotional person. I can't be calling them and exerting that energy. It's got to be put into my swimming."

It seems to be so far, so good on that front, with an Olympic record of 47.02 seconds bagged on Thursday and the prospect of more medals to come.

Dressel was widely expected to be a major star of Tokyo 2020 and is handling the stress of that situation, albeit if beneath the surface there is a constant battle to direct his energy.

"I'm pretty good at putting a face on," Dressel said. "Pressure's fine; it's when you turn it into stress, that's when it becomes a problem.

"My first couple of swims, I was turning the pressure into stress. I feel like the semi-final of the 100m free and that final there, I was starting to find my groove a little bit, and it's about time to be honest.

"I know my name's thrown out there and i understand it. I could care less about it, it's just something that comes with the sport when you're on top of the podium."

Dressel has gone silent on Instagram, deliberately staying away from social media, again saying that is "energy I don't need to be exerting".

And he was thrilled by how he swam against Chalmers, saying he "wouldn't have changed a thing about that race", even though it was practically a photo finish.

Chalmers, sharing a news conference podium with Dressel, said: "There's nothing I could have done more.

"It's been talked up as more than a swimming race for a while now. Caeleb and I have a fairly fierce rivalry.

"We do enjoy racing against each other and bring the best out in each other, so it's almost a relief to get it done now."

Australian track and field athletes at the Tokyo Olympics are isolating after a link was established to US pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Kendricks has been ruled out of the Games, and he has reportedly been training this week alongside Australian Kurtis Marschall.

The Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement: "Members of Australia's track and field team at the Tokyo Olympic Games are isolating in their rooms as a precautionary measure following news of a COVID positive finding with a member of the US track and field team.

"Members of the Australian track and field team are now undergoing testing procedures in line with Australian Olympic team protocols."

The news comes on the eve of the athletics programme getting under way at Tokyo 2020, potentially putting some members of the team at risk of missing out.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported 63 Australian athletes were isolating, some of whom immediately took COVID tests.

News of Kendricks' positive test was a jolt to the American team, with the world champion having been a likely medal contender.

USA Track and Field said in a statement: "US pole vaulter Sam Kendricks has tested positive for COVID-19 and is therefore ineligible to compete at the Tokyo Games. He and his close contacts were immediately notified and protocols were activated to isolate the athlete."

Argentine pole vaulter German Chiaraviglio also announced he has tested positive, stating on Instagram: "It is very hard to process something like that, it will surely take me a long time. We knew this Olympic Games was different and with different rules, and here I am, it's my turn.

"I am isolated in a hotel where I will spend several days, and where the main objective is to take care of my health."

Everyone expected Caeleb Dressel to be one of the swimming stars of the Tokyo Games, and the American lived up to the hype on Thursday. 

Dressel started strongly and held off rival Kyle Chalmers of Australia at the end to win the 100m freestyle, the 24-year-old's first individual Olympic gold after taking two relay wins in Rio and one earlier this week.

The Floridian swam the 100m free three times in Rio and his time got worse from the preliminaries to the semi-finals to the final, ultimately leaving him sixth overall at 48.02 while Chalmers won gold with a 47.58.

This time, Dressel was at his best when it mattered most, posting a 47.02 to break an Olympic record that had stood since Beijing 2008.

Afterward, he described winning his first individual gold as a weight off his shoulders.

"It is different," Dressel said. "I didn't want to admit it but now that I did it, I can.

"It's a lot different – you can't rely on anyone else. It's just you and the water, there's no one there to bail you out. It's tough."

Winning the gold in a head-to-head showdown with the reigning champion made victory even sweeter.

"It's so fun going with Kyle – I mean, every time we make it good," Dressel said. "It's really fun to watch when we go head-to-head.

"I've got nothing but respect for him."

CROATIA'S ROWING BROTHERS GOLDEN AGAIN

Brothers Valent and Martin Sinkovic have teamed up to win a rowing medal for the third consecutive Olympics. 

The Croatians took gold in the men's coxless pair event at Sea Forest Waterway, leading throughout the race and winning by 1.29 seconds over Romania's Marius Cozmiuc and Ciprian Tudosa.

The Sinkovic siblings won gold in the double sculls five years ago in Rio after making up half of Croatia's quadruple sculls team that took the silver medal in London in 2012.

They are the first rowers to win gold in both the pair and double sculls since Canada's Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean did it in 1992 and 1996.

"It's an unbelievable feeling, hard to describe," said Valent, the older of the pair at 32. "This is like a new gold medal for us because it's in a second discipline, so we celebrate it like it's the first one for us.

"We couldn't be happier. Everything went as planned, we executed the race perfectly."

As for looking toward a potential fourth medal at Paris 2024, Martin Sinkovic said the brothers were done with pairs competitions but might look to row the four in three years' time. 

RIO POLE VAULT BRONZE MEDALLIST OUT WITH COVID

Sam Kendricks of the USA, the 2016 bronze medallist and 2017 world champion in the pole vault, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not compete in Tokyo, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced.

The USOPC said Kendricks has been transferred to a hotel and been placed in isolation in accordance with protocols.

"Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed," the USOPC said. "Out of respect for his privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time."

Earlier on Thursday in its daily media briefing, the International Olympic Committee said three athletes were among the 24 people who had come back positive for COVID-19 in the most recent round of testing.

STRAKA HAS CLUBHOUSE LEAD AS GOLF GETS UNDER WAY

Austria's Sepp Straka went out with the first grouping in the opening round of the men's golf tournament and set the pace for everyone who teed off behind him, taking the clubhouse lead with a 63 on Thursday morning.

Ranked 161st in the world this week after missing the cut at six of his last seven PGA Tour events, Straka turned in a bogey-free round at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, carding four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back.

Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico finished with six-under-par 65s among the early starters to sit two back of the lead.

Several major winners including Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Collin Morikawa were still on the course.

AUSTRALIA OPEN RUGBY SEVENS DEFENCE WITH ROUT

Defending women's rugby sevens gold medallists Australia made a statement as they opened pool play with a crushing 48-0 defeat of hosts Japan after leading 24-0 at half-time.

Emma Tonegato got three tries while Demi Hayes and debutant Maddison Levi had two each for Australia, who face China later on Thursday.

"I definitely was concerned about this game," said Australia's head coach John Manenti. "Japan, playing at home, it would be very emotional for them and the pressures and expectations could have built on us.

"But I was really pleased with that clinical first half. We could relax at the end of the game and give a few of the girls debuts."

New Zealand, beaten finalists at Rio 2016, began their Tokyo campaign with a 29-7 win over Kenya.

REIGNING BMX GOLD MEDALLISTS ADVANCE TO SEMIS

BMX racers opened competition at Ariake Urban Sports Park, with defending gold medallist Connor Fields of the USA and current world number one Sylvain Andre of France among those booking their spots in the semi-finals.

Andre's countryman Joris Daudet had the top time of the day in his last run to make Friday's semis along with Rio 2016 bronze medallist Carlos Ramirez of Colombia.

On the women's side, world number one and Rio 2016 gold medallist Mariana Pajon of Colombia won all three of her preliminary races to advance, along with 2016 silver medallist Alise Willoughby of the USA.

Willoughby's team-mate Felecia Stancil turned in the best overall time of the day on her first run and also is one of the 16 semi-finalists.

Caeleb Dressel triumphed over rival Kyle Chalmers in one of the best races of Tokyo 2020, while China pulled off an upset to win an incredible women's 4x200m freestyle race in a world-record time.

Dressel was one of three competitors to set new Olympic benchmarks in the individual races at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Thursday, with Zhang Yufei and Zac Stubblety-Cook also doing so en route to winning gold.

There was glory for Dressel's United States team-mate in the men's 800m freestyle, too, where Bobby Finke topped the podium.

Here is a recap of all the goings-on from another enthralling session at the pool.

DRESSEL EDGES CHALMERS IN THRILLERS

Earlier this week, it was Australia beating the US in one of the races of the meet when Ariarne Titmus held off Katie Ledecky in the 400m free. 

This time it was glory for Team USA as Dressel won his second gold of the Games in an awesome 100m free final, with Australia's defending champion Chalmers just 0.10 seconds behind.

These two had battled before, with Chalmers entering the Games with two victories to one over the past five years, and the duo delivered an enthralling battle down the stretch.

But it was Dressel, part of the US team that won the 4x100m free relay earlier this week, who touched home in an Olympic record of 47.02 seconds.


TITMUS, LEDECKY BEATEN AS CHINA PULL OFF WR

Titmus has been one of the stars of these Games, pulling off a 200m and 400m free double. She and her previous record-holding Australia team-mates were favourites for gold in the 4x200m relay but had to settle for third in a race where each of the top three went under the previous world record time.

It was the foursome from China that pulled off the big win, leading from the first leg and holding on despite a frantic finish in which Ledecky so nearly anchored the United States to first place.

Ledecky fell narrowly short, though, as the US quartet took silver.


FINKE'S FINAL FLURRY

The opening race of the day produced a thrilling finish in the first men's 800m freestyle Olympics final, with Finke taking gold after turning on the jets late on.

Finke was seemingly not in contention after turning for the final 100m down in fifth and was still behind Germany's Florian Wellbrock, Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri and Ukraine's Mykhailo Romanchuk on the turn for home.

But a sensational 26.39 split down the final stretch completed a stunning comeback to take gold for the United States ahead of Paltrinieri and Romanchuk.


NEW OLYMPIC RECORDS FOR ZHANG AND STUBBLETY-COOK

China's Zhang swam the third fastest time ever to take a dominant gold for China in the women's 200m butterfly.

Zhang hit the front early and never looked troubled en route to touching home first in a time of 2:03.86, a new Olympic record.

American duo Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger were second and third. Since 2012, the United States had landed a medal in every pool event bar the women's 200m butterfly, with this ending the longest medal drought in US swimming.

Stubblety-Cook took out the men's 200m breaststroke final thanks to a barnstorming last 50m.

The Australian moved into the top three at the 150m mark and powered home in a time of 2:06.38, beating Arno Kamminga and Matti Mattsson to top spot.

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