Swimmer Caeleb Dressel led the way with five golds as the United States finished top of the medal table at the Olympic Games for a third successive time.

Team USA's haul of 113 medals at the Tokyo Games – comprising 39 gold, 41 silver and 33 bronze – was 25 more than second-placed China, while Japan finished third.

The 58 medals won by the hosts set a record for the most they have ever won at a single Olympics, including 27 golds – 11 more than their previous record from 1964 and 2004.

Italy (40 medals), the Netherlands (36), Brazil (21), New Zealand (20), Turkey (13) and Chinese Taipei (12) also enjoyed their best ever Games showings.

In all, 93 different competing nations claimed a medal in Tokyo, which is more than any other edition of the global showpiece, surpassing the previous record of 87 set in 2008.

That includes first ever Olympic medals for Turkmenistan, San Marino and Burkina Faso in weightlifting, shooting and athletics events respectively.

Indeed, with a population of around 34,000 people, San Marino are now the smallest nation to win an Olympic medal.

 


MCKEON IN SEVENTH HEAVEN

Twenty of Australia's 46 medals came in the pool, with swimmer Emma McKeon responsible for seven of those – at least two more medals than any other athlete in Tokyo.

In doing so, the 27-year-old became the second female athlete to claim seven or more medals at a single Olympics after Maria Gorokhovskaya in 1952.

Dressel swept up five golds in the men's swimming events, meanwhile, to become the 10th athlete to reach that tally at a single Games.

Away from the Aquatics Centre, it was an Olympics to remember for Elaine Thompson-Herah as the Jamaican became the first woman to win both the 100 metre and 200m sprint at two Games.

Further success came for Thompson-Herah in the 4x100m relay, making her only the second woman to win five athletics golds after Allyson Felix (seven).

The Netherlands' Sifan Hassan also wrote his name in the record books by becoming the first athlete to win a medal in the 1500m (bronze), 5000m (gold) and 10,000m (gold) at the same Games.

Indeed, Hassan is the first track and field athlete to claim a medal in three individual disciplines since Carl Lewis and Heike Drechsler in 1988.

 


AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

Japanese skateboarder Momiji Nishiya became the youngest Olympic gold medal winner since 1960 – and third-youngest of all time – with victory in the women's street event at the age of 13 years and 330 days.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, 62-year-old Andrew Hoy of Australia became the oldest medallist at the Olympics since 1968 with a silver and bronze in the equestrian competitions.

Judokas Hifumi Abe and Uta Abe kept it in the family by becoming the first brother and sister combo to claim gold medals at the same Olympics when winning the men's -66 kilograms and women's -52kg events respectively.

July 28 proved to be a day to remember in more ways than one for Olga Frolkina and Evgeniia Frolkina, meanwhile, as the twin sisters took silver in the 3x3 basketball on their 24th birthday.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his men's marathon title and the United States added three more golds to their tally on the final day of Tokyo Olympics action.

Kipchoge crossed the line one minute and 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Abdi Nageeye to become the third athlete to win the event at back-to-back Games.

In doing so, the 36-year-old – who previously took 5,000 metre silver in 2008 and bronze in London four years later – believes he has inspired a generation of runners.

"It means a lot to me, especially at this hard time," he said. "Last year was postponed, and now it has happened.

"I think I fulfilled the legacy by winning the marathon for the second time. That's my total happiness, my inspiration for the next generation."

The final day of action at the 2020 Games ultimately belonged to the United States, though, as they collected three golds to finish above China at the top of the medal table.

 

USA TRUMP CHINA

Team USA trailed China by two gold medals heading into Sunday's events, but triumphs in basketball, volleyball and track cycling saw them top the standings.

USA's victory in the women's basketball would have come as little surprise given it is their seventh straight success in the competition.

Brittney Griner racked up 30 points and Breanna Stewart also impressed in the 90-75 win over Japan with 14 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi each picked up their fifth gold medals, while for Japan the silver was their first medal of any sort in the sport.

"The only thing about getting older, you know all the bad stuff that can happen," Bird said. "We lost in the 2006 World Cup. We tasted that and that's always been the driver. 

"So, when we actually have the medal around our necks, it just feels so good. It's a sense of relief in a lot of ways."

While success in the women's basketball is par for the course, overcoming Brazil in the volleyball final provided USA with their first gold medal in the event.

After finishing runners-up to Brazil in the 2008 and 2012 Games, USA exacted some revenge with a 25-21 25-20 25-14 victory in Sunday's final.

Jennifer Valente completed the hat-trick for the Americans in the women's cycling omnium, the 26-year-old delivering her country's first track cycling gold since 2000.

She led from start to finish, despite crashing in the final points race, with home favourite Yumi Kajihara taking silver.

"There were some bumps. It was actually quite a short day as far as omnium goes," Valente said. "That was something that was very much on my mind, that we played into.

"Crashing in the point races is never ideal. I was just trying to get back on my bike, make sure I was okay, and get back in the race as soon as possible."


BRITAIN RULE THE TRACK

Kelsey Mitchell won the women's sprint for Canada by beating Ukraine's Olena Starikova 2-0 in the best-of-three final.

But it was a familiar outcome in the men's keirin as Jason Kenny finished 0.763 seconds ahead of Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia to win his seventh Olympic gold medal.

That makes Kenny Great Britain's most decorated Olympian and ensured Team GB finished top of the cycling medals table with six golds, four silver and two bronze.

"It's a bit of shock, I think," Kenny said of his latest medal success. "I really wanted to cross the finish line. I am absolutely buzzing. 

"Going into the final I didn't expect anything other than a five, really. I was hoping to kind of get stuck in, and hopefully come away with some silverware. 

"To win at the corner on my own like that is absolutely buzzing."

AMERICA'S BOXING WAIT GOES ON

The final four boxing gold medals were up for grabs on Sunday and plenty of focus was on the super-heavyweight bout between Bakhodir Jalolov and the USA's Richard Torrez. 

Twenty-two-year-old Torrez started strongly with a ferocious assault in the first round, but Uzbekistani boxer Jalolov recovered and won unanimously.

Torrez's compatriot Keyshawn Davis earlier lost his men's lightweight clash with Cuba's Andy Cruz, meaning USA's wait for an Olympic men's boxing gold will reach 20 years come Paris 2024.

"I've never felt this much pressure in fights a day in my life," Davis said. "I'm glad I got to experience this because it did make me a better fighter.

"I'm not cool with winning silver, but it's something I've got to live with and I'm okay with that. I'm gonna live with it and we're just gonna take it to the next level."

In the female categories, Kellie Anne Harrington beat Brazil's Beatriz Ferreira in the lightweight final to earn Ireland their second gold of the Games, while GB's Lauren Price outclassed Li Qian to win the middleweight final on points.

USA football star Megan Rapinoe got to see her fiancee Sue Bird complete a stellar Olympic career with a fifth basketball gold medal - despite all crowds being banned in Tokyo.

Bird, 40, signed off her Games career in the United States' 90-75 win over Japan on Sunday.

At courtside was Rapinoe, who won a bronze on Thursday when she scored twice as the USA beat Australia 4-3 in the football third-place match.

Rapinoe, who won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the 2019 World Cup, first met Bird in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

They became a couple later that year and announced their engagement in October 2020.

When the USA clinched the basketball gold medal, Bird went to the side of the court and kissed Rapinoe, later revealing how her 36-year-old partner managed to gain access to the Saitama Super Arena.

"I'm very lucky," Bird said. "Obviously when your partner or your fiancee is also in the Olympics you would love to be able to go and support them, be around them, to give any kind of support possible.

"Megan somehow finagled a media credential and got herself in this arena today. We didn't really know it was going to happen until two days ago, it got confirmed. So I do I feel very lucky she was here to witness it, to share it with me."

Spectators have been blocked from attending venues at the Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with families of overseas athletes unable to travel to Japan for the Games, meaning Rapinoe was among the fortunate few to be in the arena.

"I just went over and obviously told her I loved her and told her I was tired," said Bird. "That was pretty much the extent of the conversation, and she told me she was happy and proud of me.

"Of course I'm so proud of her and her team for winning that bronze medal. The Olympics is hard. It's really hard. There's so much pressure involved and so to have both of us medal is something that I know we'll take that memory with us forever."

Rapinoe wrote on Instagram: "I am so proud of you @sbird10. As if I could love you any more. Congrats baby!"

Bird has ruled out playing on to Paris 2024, happy to settle for five gold medals, the first of which came in Athens at the 2004 Games.

"It really is hard to wrap your head around it, to grasp what it is," said the Seattle Storm star.

"Twenty years of staying true to the game, making sure you're at the top of your game, so much sacrifice.

"The only thing about getting older, you know all the bad stuff that can happen. We lost in 2006 [to Russia at the World Championship]. We tasted that and that's always been the driver.

"So when we actually have the medal around our necks, it just feels so good. It's a sense of relief in a lot of ways."

Keyshawn Davis and Richard Torrez Jr could not end the USA's long wait for a men's Olympic boxing gold medallist, meaning the drought will reach 20 years by the time Paris 2024 rolls around.

On the final day of Tokyo 2020, there were high hopes that lightweight Davis and super heavyweight Torrez Jr could top the podium at the Kokugikan Arena.

Yet Davis lost on a split decision to Cuba's Andy Cruz in his final, and Torrez Jr was thwarted by Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalolov.

The two silver medals mean Andre Ward's light heavyweight gold at Athens in 2004 remains the last time an American man landed boxing glory in the Games. 

A devastated Torrez Jr said: "I feel like I had the world in my hands, and it slipped. And I watched it fall and break, and I'm trying to pick up the pieces.

"I've been on the medal podium before, and it's one of the best and worst feelings to ever feel. To not have that flag raised, to not have that anthem played, to sit there and one guy is crying tears of the joy, the other sadness. When you are in that position it's really tough. So maybe one day I'll look back and say I did a good job, because I do believe I did a good job, but it's tough.

"This is one of the most bittersweet moments I've ever felt."

The 22-year-old said the US men "fought their heart out" in Tokyo, with each man mindful and perhaps burdened by the unusually long wait for a place on the top step of the podium.

"I think overall as a team, we are putting boxing back into the USA. I do believe that we are giving it a surge again," Torrez Jr added. "I believe it's coming, I really do. I'm sorry I couldn't be the one to do it, but I have pride and I have belief in my country."

Davis was somewhat less lyrical in reflecting on his loss, saying of his experience in Japan: "It was something I never experienced before. Putting my professional career on hold to complete something, this is the hardest in the world to complete. I came up a little short, but leaving this tournament I'm a completely different fighter.

"I'm glad I got to experience what I experienced at this Olympics, and it's something I will remember for the rest of my life."


HOLMES WHERE THE HEART IS FOR PRICE

Great Britain's Lauren Price is a former international footballer and kickboxer who can now call herself an Olympic boxing champion.

The Welsh middleweight beat China's Li Qian on a unanimous verdict, even winning all three rounds with four of the five judges, and the 27-year-old revealed her inspiration came from the Athens Olympics.

British track star Kelly Holmes won 800 metres and 1,500m gold medals in the Greek capital, delivering on years of promise and effort at the highest level in athletics, and a watching Price was inspired.

"I've got to say today tops anything I've ever done in my career. It's been a dream of mine since I was eight years old watching Kelly Holmes win that gold," Price said.

"I've always said I didn't know how I was going to get here and what sport I was going to do, but the dream has always been to get to the Olympic Games.

"To win gold is just the icing on the cake and I can't really put into words what it means to me right now."


HARRINGTON CLEANS UP

Irish lightweight Kellie Anne Harrington fended off Brazilian Beatriz Ferreira to land gold in the first fight of the day, then promised she would soon be back to her cleaning job at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

The 31-year-old said: "I’m an Olympic champion but it doesn't define me as a person. At home, I'd say it will be a bit mental, but I will be going back to work in two or three weeks. I'll be back at work, back doing my normal thing, that's what keeps me grounded.

"My circle [of friends] is very small and it will be staying very small. I'm going to just keep doing what I do. Nothing will change. I won't start thinking I'm something that I'm not. This is me. I will continue to be this way - except I'll have my gold medal.

"I'll get home, have a break, eat loads of pizza. I'm sure there will be a little party in work for me and I'll be bringing my medal there."

The United States finished top of the Tokyo Olympics medal table after a stunning run of success from their elite women on the final day of competition.

Triumphs in basketball, volleyball and track cycling saw Team USA move to 39 gold medals for the Games, pipping China at the post.

China finished with 38 golds, meaning that for the third successive Olympics it is the United States who hold sway on the medals front.

The all-conquering women's basketball team were 90-75 winners over Japan in their final, landing gold for a seventh successive Olympics.

They last lost at the Games in 1992 at Barcelona and were never in danger of surrendering their undefeated streak since, as Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi each picked up the fifth gold medals of their remarkable careers.

Jennifer Valente emerged victorious from the multi-race omnium cycling event at the Izu Velodrome, with the 26-year-old from San Diego scooping the first Olympic gold of her career.

 

Volleyball gold medals had previously been the preserve of the men among the US ranks, but now the women have triumphed at Olympic level too.

Their first visit to the top step of the Games podium was secured by a 3-0 win over Brazil in Sunday's final.

Haleigh Washington, a 25-year-old star of the team, said: “It's a great day to have a gold-medal day. The hard work we put in, the sweat, the tears, the blood, it’s been worth it. I am so proud to have done it with this group of women. I am so honoured."

Coach Karch Kiraly added: "I am so happy for this team and these amazing women in this programme. I told them not only are they bad-asses, but they are now gold medallists."

Sue Bird signed off her Olympic career with a fifth gold medal as Team USA landed a seventh successive women's basketball title, scuppering the hopes of hosts Japan in the final.

At the age of 40, Bird has declared Tokyo 2020 will be her final Games, and she helped the latest incarnation of the mighty United States team to a 90-75 win in the Saitama Super Arena.

Brittney Griner set a new USA record of 30 points in a women's Olympic final, while Diana Taurasi joined Bird in landing a fifth gold, the two longest-serving members of the team each finishing the game with seven points. Taurasi, 39, could yet play on until the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

A'ja Wilson scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field in Sunday's final, while Breanna Stewart added 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Maki Takada led Japan with 17 points. Her team-mate Nako Motohashi drained four of five three-point shots but was far less clinical when nearer the net.

Japan made just 36 per cent of their field-goal attempts (28 of 77) and the 54 per cent success rate of the US team (37 of 69) proved a decisive factor.

The home team never led and trailed 50-39 at half-time, then 75-56 after the third quarter, and by that point the contest was all but over.

Taurasi said of her fifth gold: "It's 20 years of sacrifice, of putting everything aside and just wanting to win. It's never easy playing on this team [with] the pressure, but this group found a way to win and I'm just happy this group got to enjoy it."

Griner, who was also on the Rio 2016 team, recalled the efforts of the triumphant teams of years gone by, with this winning streak having begun at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"Seven in a row, I mean that's just amazing. That just goes to show everything USA basketball's about," Griner said.

"Japan's hard to guard. They can shoot it anywhere on the court. They're a tough guard, they're a really good team. I'm just glad we've got this gold."

Draymond Green turned on Team USA's critics after landing another basketball gold medal at the Olympic Games, saying: "Somebody needs to teach these people some loyalty."

A sketchy start to the Tokyo 2020 mission was followed by steady improvement from Gregg Popovich's team, and an 87-82 win over France in Saturday's final tied up a fourth successive gold-winning campaign.

Pre-tournament losses to Australia and Nigeria hinted at teething problems in fusing together a new-look squad, and an early-group stage loss to France only fuelled doubts that this side might come up short.

But the United States team came good when it mattered, fending off a France side who kept coming back for more in the gold game. 

Golden State Warriors power forward Green has now played on two of the Americans' triumphant men's basketball Olympic teams, and he was keen to hit out at what he called "a lot of doubters".

"You turn on American sports talk, TV, or whatever, and you got guys like Kendrick Perkins doubting us," Green said.

Perkins, 36, is a former NBA championship winner with the Boston Celtics who now works as a television game analyst and commentator.

"Somebody needs to teach these people some loyalty. How about you cheer for your country?" Green said.

"When a guy doesn't play they say, 'Oh you need to represent your country', and then you lose, hit a little bump in the road, and everybody is mad in America. You are an American too, act like it.

"Do your job. I do some media stuff, I understand doing your job, but when you talk about a special group, you better be sure you are right, and a lot of people got it wrong.

"And trust me, I will be posting those guys, I'll be posting everyone I find who said something. No one holds anyone accountable any more, but I will."

 

Kevin Durant was the driving force behind the USA's success, scoring a game-high 29 points in the final and being a powerful presence during the tournament.

Like others, Green said that Durant "carried" the team, but he also pointed to the efforts of Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday as being significant.

"It's a challenge to do special things," Green said. "I know it seems as if it has come easy for so long, but I played in 2016. It wasn’t easy then, it wasn’t easy this year.

"If it's worth having, you have to fight for it. We fought, they fought, I think the better team came out with the gold medal."

With families unable to join the team in Tokyo, and the Games coming on the back of a taxing NBA season, Green suggested this was a win to savour perhaps more than the Rio success, where there were no issues as imposing as the ongoing COVID restrictions.

"Don't get me wrong, I don't take either one for granted, but this one feels sweet," Green said. "It feels a lot sweeter."

Kevin Durant dazzled as Team USA won a fourth successive Olympic men's basketball gold medal, edging out France 87-82 in Saturday's final.

A game-high haul of 29 points from Brooklyn Nets superstar Durant saw the United States to a victory that avenged their opening group-stage loss to France.

It meant the USA kept up their strong recent record on the Olympic stage, with Durant securing a third gold medal of his career.

Jayson Tatum weighed in with 19 points, while France had five players in double figures but nobody in their ranks scored more than the 16 points managed by both Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier.

The USA led by 11 points at 71-57 in the third quarter, but an impressive France cut that advantage to three points at 73-70 with 5:42 remaining of the fourth after Frank Ntilikina drained a three-pointer

France again reined in a double-digit lead to get back to 85-82 in arrears with 10 seconds remaining, but a foul by Gobert on Durant gave the USA's star man the chance to put the game away, which he seized by making both his free throws.

Breanna Stewart said it would be an "insane" achievement for Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi to reach five Olympic gold medals after Team USA reached the Tokyo 2020 basketball final.

A comfortable 79-59 win over Serbia carried coach Dawn Staley's team through to Sunday's title match.

The USA will be chasing a seventh consecutive gold and a 55th successive Olympic game win, with Bird and Taurasi the longest serving players on the current roster.

Bird and Taurasi have been on the team since the Athens Games in 2004, with Stewart a relative newcomer after first being called up for Rio 2016.

"Sue and D, what they've done for USA basketball is extremely special," Stewart said.

"The fact that they're going for five straight golds is insane and I think for the rest of us as players, we want to make sure we put them in the best possible position to get that gold."

There could be a basketball double for the USA in Japan, with the men through to a title game against France on Saturday.

The women's team have surpassed the Olympic achievements of their male counterparts in this century.

The men managed only bronze in Athens but have won the three Olympic tournaments since, while the women last failed to gain gold in 1992 at Barcelona.

Bird, 40, and Taurasi, 39, might not have long left as active Olympians, but they are passing their knowledge on to the younger generation.

Yet for everyone representing the US, this is a stressful time, given that anything less than the gold medal would be written off by many as failure.

Stewart said: "I think that right now there's so much pressure that it's seven straight overall that you get lost in what's actually happening and enjoying being at the Olympics, being on the court and competing every single day.

"This is exactly where we want to be, so now everything is on the line. We're going to do what we can to make sure that we come home with a gold."

Nelly Korda is attempting to banish thoughts of an Olympic gold medal even as she closes in on winning the women's golf tournament.

The 23-year-old American will carry a three-shot lead into the final round at Kasumigaseki Country Club after shooting a two-under 69 on Friday to reach 15 under par.

She had to scramble at times after a bright start and made 10 consecutive pars following a bogey six at the eighth hole, with Korda relieved to stay firmly in control through 54 holes.

Aditi Ashok of India sits second after a 68 moved her to 12 under, with third place at 10 under shared by New Zealand's Lydia Ko, Australia's Hannah Green, Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark and Japan's Mone Inami.

Asked what pleased her most about her round, Korda said: "Probably my fight. I didn't really have a good back nine. I was kind of spraying it all over the place.

"I made all pars and fought really hard to stay in it really, or ahead of it. If I was sloppy and didn't fight the way I did, I could definitely have shot a couple over par on the back nine easily. I had a couple of testy par putts but I never give up."

As for imagining a gold medal around her neck, Korda said it was only natural to let that thought cross her mind.

"I feel like everyone does it, but that's when you need to take a step back," she said. "There's still 18 more holes to go, there's still a lot that can happen.

"I try to remind myself even though I think about it – I quickly shake my head and I'm like, 'No, no, no, no, it's not there yet, we're not there, we still have a long way to go'."

The weather forecast for the weekend suggests it may be a struggle to fit in a fourth round, with storms expected to brush the east coast of Japan.

Therefore Korda will have already done enough if the tournament is reduced to a three-round event, but she is putting that thought to one side.

An early start has been scheduled for Saturday, with the first groups out at 06:30 local time. Korda, Ashok and Ko will be the last trio out starting from the first, weather permitting, at 08:18.

"My mindset is 72 holes, so I'm sticking to that and trying to give myself opportunities and make them," Korda said. "I'm trying to stay as present as possible and see how it goes.

"I've been really calm the last three days. I haven't really gotten nervous."

Nine-time Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis did not hold back in his criticism of the United States' performance in the men's 4x100 metres relay at Tokyo 2020.

Team USA have not won the event in 21 years and though they entered Thursday's heat as one of the favourites, they failed to qualify for the final.

It is the first time Team USA have failed to reach the Olympic final since 2008, though they have hardly had much fortune in the event since their success in Sydney.

Indeed, they have only once made it to the finish line cleanly, without any mistakes, when they claimed silver at London 2012. That medal, however, was conceded in the wake of Tyson Gay's doping ban.

This time around, a team including three of the fastest men in the world over 100m in 2021, fared little better.

Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker and Cravon Gillespie finished sixth in the heat with a time of 38.10 seconds.

"We just didn't get the job done today," Kerley said. "That's all."

Sprinting great Lewis, who won two golds in the 4x100m relay, hit out at what he labelled a "clown show".

"The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay," Lewis wrote on Twitter. "The passing system is wrong, athletes running the wrong legs, and it was clear that there was no leadership. It was a total embarrassment, and completely unacceptable for a USA team to look worse than the AAU kids I saw."

He then expanded on his criticism in an interview with USA Today.

"This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared," Lewis said.

"It's unacceptable. It's so disheartening to see this because it’s people's lives. We're just playing games with people's lives. That's why I’m so upset. It's totally avoidable.

"America is sitting there rooting for the United States and then they have this clown show. I can't take it anymore. It's just unacceptable. It is not hard to do the relay."

HISTORY MADE BY SPAIN

Sport climbing and karate were two of the sports introduced for the Tokyo Games, and the first medals in each were won by Spanish athletes.

At the age of 39 years and 323 days, Sandra Sanchez became Spain's oldest Olympic champion as she triumphed in the women's kata, breaking the record set by Joan Llaneras in the velodrome in 2008.

Sanchez also became the first Spanish woman to clinch gold in martial arts since judoka Isabel Fernandez did so in 2000.

Her triumph was followed up by golds for France's Steven da Costa and Bulgaria's Ivet Goranova in the men's and women's kumite respectively.

At the opposite end of the spectrum to Sanchez, 18-year-old Alberto Gines Lopez became the youngest male Spanish athlete to strike gold at the Games as he pipped Nathaniel Coleman and Jakob Schubert in the sport climbing men's combined final.

"I think it will help the sport to grow, and for it to get more support. We need good installations in order to help the sport, and I think this will bring more support to the sport," the teenager said, before revealing his plans of celebration: "I'm going to break my diet. And then call my family and friends."

FOURNIER PREPPED FOR 'THE MOST COMPLICATED MATCH'

Team USA and France will meet in the final of the men's basketball competition, as the two favourites go head-to-head for gold.

Luka Doncic's shooting was off as Slovenia fell to an agonising 90-89 defeat to France, who beat the USA in the pool stage.

The European Champions, who also defeated the USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, now face a rematch against a side that has scored over 90 points in the last four games.

Evan Fournier, whose 23 points was second behind only team-mate Nando de Colo, knows what is in store.

"It represents a real step towards a dream, and the dream is to win the Olympics against the United States," said Fournier, who has just swapped the Boston Celtics for the New York Knicks.

"We have to rest and not let our minds wander, and prepare as much as possible, because there's a team waiting for us. They've prepared for us for two years, apparently, and because we beat them in the pool it will be worse, so it will be the most complicated match of the competition for us without any doubt."

SHOOT-OUT GLORY FOR BELGIUM

Beaten finalists in 2016, Belgium claimed their first hockey gold, and only their second in an Olympic team sport, after their men beat Australia 3-2 in a shoot-out.

Goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch was the hero in dramatic circumstances.

He made two saves before then denying Jacob Whetton, only for Belgium's celebrations to be cut short by a referral. However, Vanasch stood firm for a second time.

The shoot-out drama followed a 1-1 draw, with Tom Wickham having cancelled out Florent van Aubel's opener.

"What a feeling. You become Olympic champion, but twice [because of the referral] It's unusual," Vanasch said. "We had to calm down and go again. We knew that.

"I'm like a musician, it's a rehearsal and then you come to the concert and it comes naturally. That's how I come on the pitch. I'm composed, but also I trust myself, I trust my reflexes."

Australia have now won seven men's hockey medals across the last eight Games, while Belgium won their first gold in a team event since the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, when their men's football team triumphed.

Nelly Korda narrowly missed out on a 59 in the second round as the world number one took a firm grip on a women's Olympics golf tournament that could be cut to 54 holes.

American star Korda was 11 under on the par-71 course heading to the 18th hole, knowing another birdie would take her below 60.

Such a score would have been the first sub-60 round at the Olympics, but a double bogey scotched that prospect.

It was Korda's only misstep of the day, with the 23-year-old settling for a 62 that moved her four shots clear of the field through 36 holes, on 13-under-par 129.

It remains to be seen whether all four rounds can be played, with a forecast for stormy weather at the weekend casting some doubt on the prospects for play.

High temperatures have been a troubling factor so far this week at Kasumigaseki Country Club, and Games organisers have moved tee times forward for Friday, with every player due to be out by 09:23 local time, to avoid as much of the intense heat as possible. Players carried umbrellas on Thursday, to keep the sun off.

Korda parred holes one to four on Thursday before hitting a hot streak, picking up six shots by the turn and making five further birdies on the back nine, only to make six at the last.

Asked if she had a 59 on her mind going to the 18th tee, Korda said: "No, not really. I wasn't thinking about it at all. I was like, 'Oh, I've a pretty good lead going into 18'. It's unfortunate with that double on 18, but that's golf. That's just how it goes sometimes."

She found rough and then a bunker on that final hole, and her verdict that "golf humbles you" spoke volumes of her measured attitude.

Korda, daughter of former tennis star Petr Korda, landed her maiden major title at the Women's PGA Championship in June and now is the front-runner for Olympic gold.

One more solid round may be all it takes if the course cannot be played over the weekend.

Event organisers have said Sunday is a possible back-up day if Saturday, when the fourth round is due to be played, is hit by the weather.

"I'm going to have the mindset that it's going to be a 72-hole golf tournament," said Korda, "and whatever happens, happens."

A group of three players share second on nine-under 133, with India's Aditi Ashok there after a 66, joined by Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Emily Kristine Pedersen, who had rounds of 64 and 63 respectively.

Maha Haddioui will not be a factor in the medals shake-up, but the Moroccan had a moment to savour in a round of 74 that put her in a tie for 49th.

She made a hole in one at the 163-yard seventh hole but gave back those shots at the ninth before, like Korda, she too double-bogeyed the 18th hole.

Kevin Durant admitted Team USA were caught with "a nice haymaker" from Australia before clambering to their feet and reaching another Olympic final.

The Americans scored a 97-78 victory at the Saitama Super Arena, putting a fourth successive gold medal at the Games within reach.

But at one stage in the second quarter Durant and co trailed 41-26, with the Australian Boomers making a fast and purposeful start to the semi-final that they could not maintain.

It was at the point the USA side fell 15 points behind that they took a timeout, and from that stage onwards they dominated, Durant leading the team with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Australia shot just 25 of 61 – 41 per cent – from the field, whereas USA managed 38 of 74 and dominated the boards 44-29 in what became a convincing victory.

"We've been down 15 in games before and came back," Durant said. "It doesn't matter what level it was at, or where it's at. A lot of guys have been in that position before. We know how to handle ourselves.

"We kept our composure and we knew that we could get back into the game pretty fast, if we got stops and got out and ran. So we've got to give credit to Australia because they came out and hit us with a nice haymaker, but we were able to get back up and get that lead back."

 

It came as no surprise to Durant that Australia began as they did.

"We knew Australia would come out fast and hit us with a nice punch. We know that teams want to get us down early, see how we respond," said the Brooklyn Nets star.

"A lot of these guys got continuity for years and years, so they know how to play with each other. I feel like a lot of teams are expecting us to fold early.

"We stuck with it, stuck with our principles, made a couple of switches on defence, and we were able to get some momentum going into the half. Guys came out with that intensity, making shots as well."

The 32-year-old Durant is chasing a third gold medal of his Olympic career, having played on the London 2012 and Rio 2016 teams.

For Jrue Holiday, who is coming off an NBA championship-winning season with the Milwaukee Bucks, this is a first Olympic experience.

Like Durant, he saw no need for panic after Australia began Thursday's semi-final so strongly.

By half-time, Australia's lead had been cut to just 45-42, and a 32-10 third quarter for the USA showed their firepower.

"I think we played the game long enough to know that there's always a chance," Holiday said. "So we took that six minutes in the second quarter and kind of ramped it up, and went into half-time in the position that we liked."

Australia have finished fourth in Olympic men's basketball four times, never going further and claiming a medal.

They will have a bronze-medal game to come in Tokyo and must pick themselves up to go again.

Jock Landale scored 11 points against the USA, and the Melbourne United star accepted it was tough for Australia to keep up their early high level.

"It's hard. It's really hard. They're great basketball players, they're smart basketball players," Landale said.

"They figure out what you're doing and they just find ways to exploit it. I think we started turning the ball over in that third quarter and they were just living in transition, and that's tough to beat. They're the most athletic guys in the world, so I think that's probably where we lost them."

Team USA shook off a slow start to overwhelm Australia 97-78 and reach the gold medal game as Gregg Popovich saw the best and worst of his team in Thursday's semi-final.

A fourth successive men's basketball title for the US is now within sight, but coach Popovich will know another shaky opening might be asking for trouble.

Here, as in the quarter-final against Spain, the American team went through the gears and eventually piled on the points.

They had trailed 41-26 with 5:23 to go in the second quarter, which was when Popovich called a timeout, having seen enough of his team being pulled this way and that by Patty Mills and the lively Boomers.

Dante Exum's dunk from Jock Landale's delicious assist gave Australia that 15-point cushion, but that was as good as it got for them.

From that point on, the game flipped, the US team going on a 48-14 run through to the end of the third quarter as they built a 74-55 lead, with Australia unable to get close enough to worry their opponents.

Kevin Durant led the USA with 23 points and nine rebounds, albeit making just one of seven three-point shots, while Devin Booker backed him up with a 20-point game.

The clash of France and Slovenia in the second semi-final later on Thursday would dictate whom Popovich must prepare his side to face next.

As well as four in a row, the USA are targeting a seventh men's basketball gold medal in the last eight Olympic Games, going back to the 1992 'Dream Team' triumph in Barcelona.

Japan squeezed through to the women's basketball semi-finals following a dramatic 86-85 victory over Belgium at the Tokyo Olympics.

Targeting a first medal in the event, the host nation almost suffered last-gasp heartbreak after recovering from 70-61 behind in the final quarter.

Saki Hayashi’s three-pointer put them in front by one with 16 seconds remaining, but there was still time for Belgium’s Kim Mestdagh to take aim right at the death.

However, her last-second jump shot bounced off the rim, meaning Japan go through to a last-four clash with France.

"There were so many peaks and valleys. We were hanging on to the cliff by a fingernail in the fourth quarter," coach Tom Hovasse said.

"We just came up with plays and towards the middle of the fourth quarter, we ramped up our defence and that took them out of their comfort zone.

"We believe in ourselves, and I am hoping more people outside our locker room believe in us.

"I think it is safe to say it is the biggest win in Japan basketball history."

 

FRANCE FEND OFF SPAIN FIGHTBACK

Japan's next opponents are France, who beat Spain 67-64 after another epic encounter.

Despite dominating most of the contest – Marine Johannes leading the way with 18 points – France appeared in danger of throwing it all away as they fell 61-60 behind.

However, they recovered to snatch victory and secure a third consecutive appearance in the last four.

Astou Ndour had 16 points in a losing cause for Spain, runners up from the Rio Games who will not be taking home a medal this time around.

 

SERBIA STUN CHINA

Serbia were another team to produce an inspired turnaround as they defeated China 77-70.

Bronze medallists on their debut in Rio, the European champions recovered from 58-50 down to reach their second successive semi-final at the Games.

"How many times have we done this, 20, 30 times?" said shooting guard Ana Dabovic, who claimed six assists during the game to go alongside her 13 points.

"We never quit, and we play the hardest when we are down. We showed today we can find energy.

"This is a great success for a small country. Second time at the Olympics for Serbia; second time in the semi-finals. This is great."

Jelena Brooks top-scored with 18 points for Serbia, while Sonja Vasic had 16.


SEVEN IN A ROW STILL ON

The United States remain on course for a seventh straight Olympic gold after easing to a 79-55 win over three-time silver medallists Australia.

Breanna Stewart led the way with 20 first-half points – she would finish the contest with 23 overall - as USA ran out 79-55 winners.

"I thought we came out and played inspired basketball on both sides of the ball," said coach Dawn Staley.

"We played with an incredible desire to advance and it was just contagious.

"I thought our team was focused on keeping the heat on Australia and not let them back in the game."

Team USA have not failed to win the women’s tournament at an Olympics since Barcelona in 1992.

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