Kevin Durant said Team USA have "got to finish it" after battling past Spain to reach the Olympic semi-finals.

The Brooklyn Nets star poured in a team-high 29 points as the United States won 95-81 at the Saitama Super Arena, bolstering their gold medal hopes.

It was far from an easy assignment, and nor was it always entirely convincing from the US team, who trailed 39-29 with 3:25 of the second quarter remaining.

They rallied impressively, however, to draw level at 43-43 at the halfway point, and Spain never led again.

"We started making shots there in the second quarter. Once we see that ball going into the rim, that put all of us at ease," Durant said.

"Our defence was a little better, a little tighter, we rebounded better after that. And guys just got more comfortable shooting the basketball.

"We drove it to the rim at the end of that second and were able to get our rhythm back a little bit. I like how we played in that second quarter, from the end of the second quarter all the way to finish the game, and that's how we're gonna need to play going forward.

"It was a huge boost. We didn't want to go into the half down double digits. We knew we didn't want to get down big against this team."

Ricky Rubio plundered 38 points for Spain, with the Minnesota Timberwolves man shooting 13-of-20 from the field. That gave him the highest score by a Spain men's player in an Olympic game, beating the 37 points that Pau Gasol scored against China in 2004.

Rubio also drained four of his seven shots from three-point range, the same as Durant, but USA's 22-6 run at the start of the third quarter took the game away from Spain.

The Spaniards briefly got back to just four points behind, in the early moments of the fourth quarter, yet despite their overall 42-32 dominance on the boards, they were found wanting elsewhere.

USA coach Gregg Popovich said: "I feel great about the victory knowing full well there is a lot of work to be done. We played a terrific basketball team.

"To play that team and go down by nine or 10 and stay in and find a way to win is very satisfying."

Durant feels the team are ready to step up a level, now they are through to the final four.

The pre-Olympics defeats to Australia and Nigeria no longer matter, nor does the loss to France in the Tokyo 2020 group stage.

"I love how we stuck with it throughout this whole period of time and guys started figuring out what we need to do," Durant said.

"You've just got to finish it. We're supposed to be here. For us it's about getting a gold."

A decorated final day in the pool and Xander Schauffele's golfing gold saw the United States leapfrog hosts Japan and go second in the Tokyo Olympics medal table behind China.

Caeleb Dressel took his gold haul to five with victory thanks to victory in the 50 metres freestyle before swimming the butterfly leg as the USA broke the world record in the men's 4x100m medley.

Australia's Emma McKeon became the first female swimmer to win seven medals at a single Olympics, doubling her gold tally to four by matching Dressel's 50m and medley exploits.

In open water, there was further Australian success as Matt Wearn won the men's one-person laser event, while Logan Martin's victory in the inaugural BMX freestyle means his country are up to fourth in the medal table.

That's a place above the Russian Olympic Committee, who were guaranteed gold as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev overcame team-mates Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev in the tennis mixed doubles gold medal match.

The big story of Sunday came late on at the Olympic Stadium as Marcell Jacobs stunned the competition to win the men's 100m in a European record time of 9:80, a few moments after fellow Italian Gianmarco Tamberi earned a share of gold in the men's high jump.

That doubled Italy's overall golds to four and they are ninth overall, behind fellow European heavyweights France and Great Britain in seventh and sixth respectively.

Gymnast Max Whitlock retained his pommel horse title and Charlotte Worthington triumphed in the women's BMX freestyle final thanks to a ground-breaking 360-degree backflip, taking Team GB to 10 golds in total.

China's Sunday successes came courtesy of Gong Lijiao in the women's shot put, Chen Yufei in the women's badminton singles and now four-time Olympic champion Shi Tingmao in the women's three-metre springboard diving.

A'Ja Wilson led the way for the United States as they saw off host nation Japan 86-69 at the Tokyo Olympics, while China and Belgium booked their places in the quarter-finals.

Team USA are six-time defending champions, though they were made to work by their opponents in Saitama before their height proved decisive.

Now on a 51-game winning streak at the Olympics, Team USA top Group B on four points from their two games so far at the Games.

Wilson was the top scorer with 20 points, while she also contributed 10 rebounds and three assists. Support arrived from Breanna Stewart (15 points) and Brittney Griner (15 points).

It was by no means a comfortable victory, however, having edged out Nigeria 81-72 in their first match.

"Just communication. One, we're getting used to the ball. And then two, just working on making sure we're just all in for each other and understanding the personnel a little bit better," explained guard Jewell Loyd when asked how the team were looking to improve as the tournament goes on.

"Taking a breath. We've played a little fast in other games so just trying to get a rhythm for us, take it slow and play our basketball."

Only Wilson scored more points than Japan's Maki Takada, but the hosts were simply physically outmatched.

"[Team USA] are really superstars," said Evelyn Mawuli. "They know how to play and they're tall and we're small, so we have to run faster than them. So that was a bit difficult, but it was fun."

CHINA SNATCH LATE WIN TO SEAL QUARTER-FINAL SPOT

China and Belgium are sure of their places in the last eight.

That is because of a last-gasp win for China against Australia, avoiding overtime in dramatic fashion to clinch a 76-74 triumph in Group C.

China, who were led by 20-point Wang Siyu, were 11 ahead at one stage in the final quarter, but that deficit was cut down by a resurgent Australia.

However, with 0.6 seconds left, Li Yueru was fouled under the basket. She made both free throws to seal victory and progression into the quarters.

In the process, Belgium's progress was also secured. They beat Puerto Rico 87-52 in the first of Friday's matches.

GARNIER PROUD OF FRANCE REACTION

Elsewhere, France bounced back from an opening defeat to Japan with an 87-62 victory over Nigeria in Group B.

Five players made into double figures for points for the French team, with Sandrine Gruda topping the charts with 14, adding nine rebounds and three assists.

"It was necessary after the defeat against Japan to have a good reaction. I am proud of my team because they did and they all played very hard defence," France coach Valerie Garnier said.

"This is necessary against Nigeria because they fight a lot. After we did this very good job, we tried to make the biggest gap possible, so 25 points was a good result for us."

There were no excuses for Nigeria coach Otis Hughley Jr, who said: "We just got beaten really bad. Offensively we were flat and we couldn't score. You can't play that way against the number five team in the world."

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."

Justin Thomas described being involved at the Tokyo Olympics as "the coolest thing I've ever been a part of" as he said taking the gold medal would be "the absolute ultimate".

Golf is being staged at the Games for just the fourth time ever and the second time since 1904, having returned to the schedule in Rio five years ago.

The field is not the strongest, with Bryson DeChambeau and world number one Jon Rahm pulling out with coronavirus, while Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia opted not to play and Brooks Koepka failed to qualify.

But many other big names will take part, including ​world number four Thomas, who won his only major at the US PGA Championship in 2017 and is among those targeting a medal at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

The United States are the only nation with more than two golfers taking part in the event and Thomas says the chance to win gold for his nation is what makes this event so unique.

"It might be the coolest thing I've been a part of. It's not very often where you get so excited about being a part of a tournament," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"I really do truly think of Ryder Cups, majors, whatever it is, this is the coolest thing I've ever been a part of. It's unbelievable. Everyone is going to think differently about it.

"I know there's some people who don't think it's that big a deal and don't think it's that cool. 

"I don't know what it is but maybe it's just because being an Olympian, you're known as the best athlete in the world and it's something that golf isn't exactly always linked to."

Asked whether he would rather win a major championship or an Olympic medal, Thomas replied: "If I was going to choose, I'll take the major. 

"But this is something that would mean the absolute ultimate. It would just be the coolest thing to just be able to say not only did you play in it but that you won a gold medal.

"It's just so different. I've tried to compare it, I've tried to think about it.

"This is obviously more special because it's harder to win because you have less chances, but major championships change your life in more than one way."

Like Thomas, Ireland's Rory McIlroy will tee off at the Olympics for the first time when the delayed 2020 event gets up and running on Thursday.

Four-time major winner McIlroy sampled the the course on Tuesday and was impressed by the quality, though he is disappointed that no supporters will be in attendance this week.

"When Hideki [Matsuyama, of Japan] won the Masters, the first thing I thought of was how good is the atmosphere going to be at the Olympics," McIlroy said.

"Unfortunately, that's not the case. So yeah, it's tough.

"It's not the Olympic experience anyone dreams of having. I was even saying to Shane [Lowry] how good would it be to go and watch some of the other events this evening. 

"That's the unfortunate part about it, but there's three medals up for grabs, and we're all here trying to play for them."

McIlroy, who has been drawn with tournament favourite Collin Morikawa and South Korea's Sungjae Im, added: "The course itself is great. It's really, really nice.

"I've always been a big fan of Tom Fazio courses anyway. I'm trying to sort of think what I could compare it to back in the States, but it's a really fun golf course

"It's in great shape, obviously. It's immaculate. There's plenty of opportunities out there for birdies, but if you don't hit the fairways, the rough is pretty penal in spots."

Ireland's other representative in the men's golf tournament is Shane Lowry, who is ranked 40th in the world but is eager to challenge for a top-three finish.

"What people don't understand is we don't win too many medals," he said. "So I think it would be huge for me and huge for the country.

"Obviously it's going to take a lot of good golf. It's going to take something special this week. But it would mean an awful lot to me."

Kevin Durant feels the key to the United States' confidence-boosting win over Iran at the Tokyo Olympics was down to becoming more selfish and playing with freedom.

Team USA's 25-game winning run in the men's basketball at the Games was ended by France last week but they responded with a 120-66 victory against Iran on Wednesday.

That loss to France followed exhibition defeats to Australia and Nigeria in the build-up to the event, leading to questions over the cohesion of the record 15-time gold medallists.

But Gregg Popovich's side answered those critics against Iran with a comprehensive victory in which they played fast, aggressive basketball throughout.

Damian Lillard, one of those to come in for heavy criticism following the opening-game defeat, top-scored with 21 points, all from beyond the arc.

USA knocked down 19 3-pointers and 22 of their 37 shots (62 per cent) inside the arc as they showed signs of the quality that has taken them to three successive gold medals.

Brooklyn Nets forward Durant insists the chemistry of the side was never in question as he highlighted the changes made between matches.

"After a tough loss last game, today we came out with more freedom as individuals and took the shots that we normally like to take," Durant said.

"They went in tonight, and we guarded up, so it was a good step.

"I felt like we were in sync last game, but like I've been saying, it's a make or miss game today.

"We created good shots last game and I think today it's the continuity of what we've been doing over the last week. We finally capitalised on the stuff that we've been working on.

"Like I said, our chemistry has been great since day one. We're all excited to be here, I mean this is the Olympics, this is the national team. 

"But I think we were a bit too unselfish early on and tried not to step on toes. That bit us before.

"Tonight the guys came out there and were super aggressive to look for their shot but also keep everybody involved, and we were able to make some shots. 

"Damian came out, got it scorching for us, so we're going to need that going forward."

 

Head coach Popovich rotated his roster against Iran by bringing in Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker, who were brought off the bench against France.

"In the last game we have to play two 'bigs' and I think that might have clogged it up a bit for us all offensively," Durant added.  

"Defensively we've been solid the whole time, but offensively we were trying to find our rhythm. 

"I played the four [position], so I was able to stretch the floor a bit and give guys space and we were able to get some confidence and knock some shots down."

A victory over the Czech Republic on Saturday will guarantee the world's top-ranked side a place in the quarter-finals.

That next match will also provide Durant with his next opportunity to surpass Carmelo Anthony as USA men's basketball all-time Olympic top scorer.

Durant managed 10 points against Iran, moving him to within five of Antony's record (336).

Ash Barty has followed up her shock women's singles defeat by crashing out of the women's doubles after an epic clash with Czech pair Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

World number one Barty was stunned in the first round of the women's singles on Sunday by Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo but teamed up with Storm Sanders in the doubles, with the Australian pair reaching the quarter-finals.

However, Krejcikova and Siniakova proved too strong in a three-set thriller, winning 3-6 6-4 10-7.

"You never quite have their measure,” Barty said. "It's disappointing but there's only a couple of points in that match, here and there and it's a different result.

"We did everything right today but just weren't able to win those big points when it mattered most."

Barty's medal hopes are now entirely focused on the mixed doubles, where she has partnered with John Peers.

Andy Murray's bid to become the first male to win four Olympic tennis medals ended with defeat to Croatia's Marin Cilic and Ivan Dogic in the men's doubles.

Murray, teaming up with Joe Salisbury, went down in two hours and 18 minutes after also winning the first set. The Croatian pair won 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 10-7.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist had withdrawn from the men's singles on Sunday due to a right quad injury, preferring to focus on playing doubles. TeamGB have not fielded a mixed doubles team.

 

TITMUS DOUBLES UP, LEDECKY LIFTS FOR GOLD

Ariarne Titmus backed up her women's 400m freestyle gold medal from Monday with another triumph, getting the better of rival Katie Ledecky to win the 200m free.

The 20-year-old Australian won the final ahead of Hong Kong's Siobhan Bernadette Haughey and Canada's Penny Oleksiak, while Ledecky finished back in fifth.

Ledecky would claim her sixth Olympic gold medal, triumphing in the women's 1500m free, with the US claiming a rare one-two as Erica Sullivan grabbed the silver ahead of Germany's Sarah Kohler.

After being beaten twice by Titmus earlier in the meet, Ledecky said: "I approach each race with a belief in myself. It's the attitude I've always had that's why I've been so successful. Anything can happen, [the attitude I go in with is] I can beat the world record in this race. 

Japan's Yui Ohashi won the women's 200m individual medley, Hungarian favourite Kristof Milak powered to victory in the men's 200m butterfly and Great Britain triumphed in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay.

 

STEERING ERROR COSTS GB IN ROWING

Australia claimed two gold medals in the rowing at Sea Forest Waterway as Great Britain were left to lament a wayward finish in the men's four final.

Australian quartet Alexander Purnell, Spencer Turrin, Jack Hargreaves and Alexander Hill won in 5:42:76 ahead of Romania and Italy who claimed silver and bronze respectively.

Italy's late charge almost saw a collision with Great Britain, who finished in fourth, after veering towards the neighbouring Italian boat, narrowly avoiding a clash of oars.

GB's Oliver Cook, who steered the men's coxless four, told BBC Sport: "I do (have the steering). I need to diagnose it but I feel I screwed up a bit and as I was closing in at the end and taking big strokes at the end going for the line I forgot the steering and that’s what cost us to be honest, cost us a medal."

Australia also won the women's four narrowly ahead of the Netherlands by 0:34 seconds, with Ireland claiming the bronze more than five seconds back.

Romania secured its first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics by winning the women's double sculls final, while France triumphed in the men's equivalent.

The Netherlands and China triumphed in the men's and women's quadruple sculls finals respectively.

 

RADRADRA DREAMING OF FIJI SEVENS GOLD

New Zealand will take on 2016 gold medalists Fiji in the final of the men's rugby sevens on Wednesday evening.

Fiji went through to the gold medal match with a 26-14 triumph over Argentina, who will take on Great Britain for bronze.

New Zealand were too strong for the British, winning 29-7 in their semi-final, with two tries each to captain Scott Curry and Regan Ware.

Former NRL star Semi Radradra, who plays for Fiji after switching codes in 2017 and scored a try against Argentina, said: "Playing in the Olympics is a blessing for me. I never knew I would be here.

"I think it is everyone's highlight to win a gold medal in the Olympics. That is our aim and we try to give back to our people at home."

USA RESTORES CONFIDENCE IN BASKETBALL

Team USA restored some confidence following their first-up loss to France with a comprehensive 120-66 thrashing of Iran in men's basketball.

USA played fast throughout, wasting no time in offense, with Damian Lillard top scoring with 21 points, all from beyond the arc.

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine had eight assists along with his 13 points while Devin Booker, who played in the NBA Finals last week, scored 16 points and had five rebounds and three steals.

USA head coach Gregg Popovich rotated his roster on and off the court, sharing minutes, as hos team piled on 38 points in the last quarter to round out a comprehensive victory.

In Group B, Germany defeated Nigeria 99-92 despite Jordan Nowra's 33-point haul.

The Tokyo Olympics are now in full swing and there are another 22 gold medal events to come on an action-packed Tuesday at the Games.

Plenty of focus will be on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre once again, where four medals are on the line, while the women's triathlon will also take centre stage.

Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and Katie Ledecky are just some of the superstar names that will be in action on the fourth full day of the 2020 Games.

Stats Perform picks out of some of the standout action to look out for.

 

CAN BILES PUT BLUNDERS BEHIND HER?

Biles struggled to find top gear in her Games entrance on Sunday, albeit making it through to each of her finals, and there is no room for any slip-ups in the women's team final.

The Russian Olympic Committee finished above the United States at a major event for the first time since 2010 in qualifying, setting up an intriguing battle in the final.

The pressure is on Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum and indeed Biles, the latter of whom is aiming to add to the four golds won in Rio five years ago.

 


USA-JAPAN MEET IN SOFTBALL FINAL

Team USA's women's softball team recovered from behind to beat Japan 2-1 in their final round-robin game and finish top of the standings.

Japan finished second and the two sides are therefore set to face off in a huge gold medal match at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.

Mexico and Canada meet in the bronze medal contest earlier on Tuesday in a tasty warm-up match for the main event.


LEDECKY AND TITMUS RESUME RIVALRY

After winning four golds in Rio five years ago, Ledecky had the chance to add four more to her collection in Tokyo.

She fell short in the first of those events, however, with Australia's Ariarne Titmus taking gold in Monday's gripping 400m freestyle final.

While a medal is not on the line on Tuesday, Ledecky will be eager to lay down a faster time than her rival in the 200m freestyle heats ahead of Wednesday's showpiece.

 

OSAKA GOES AGAIN

Face of the Games Okaka followed up lighting the Olympic cauldron on Friday with victories over Zheng Saisai and Viktorija Golubic in her first two matches in the tournament.

The four-time grand slam winner has a quick turnaround in matches as world number 41 Marketa Vondrousova awaits in the third round on Tuesday.

Fellow home favourite Kei Nishikori is also in action in the men's event, with Marcos Giron standing between him and the last 16.

WOMEN'S TRIATHLON TOUGH TO CALL

There was drama before the men's triathlon had even officially got underway on Monday, with an inflatable boat carrying photographers causing a false start.

Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt won the competition and now it is over to the women, with 54 athletes in contention to claim gold.

The field is wide open this time around, though the likes of Katie Zaferes and Georgia Taylor-Brown, of Team USA and Great Britain respectively, will have their eyes on the top prize.

 

The third full day of the Tokyo Olympics sees 21 gold medals up for grabs during a packed programme.

Plenty of eyes will be on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, where four swimming golds will be on the line, while the first women's skateboarding champion will be crowned.

The rugby sevens event gets under way and the men's triathlon will also take place.

Stats Perform picks out some of the standout action.

 

LEDECKY STEPS UP GOLD QUEST

After winning four golds in Rio five years ago, Katie Ledecky has the chance to add four more to her collection in Tokyo, starting with the women's 400m freestyle.

The United States competitor set a world record time in the event in 2016, but she will face a big challenge from Australia's Ariarne Titmus this time.

Titmus was marginally faster than Ledecky in the heats, though whether that edge will count for anything on the day remains to be seen.


WILL IT BE ANOTHER PEATY BLINDER?

Great Britain's Adam Peaty is nothing short of a phenomenon in the world of swimming and will be looking to retain his 100m breaststroke title.

Peaty qualified for the final in a dominant manner, his time of 57.56s just two hundredths of a second off his own world record pace.

Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands is expected to be Peaty's biggest threat, having produced a personal best of 57.80s in the previous heat.


MORE SEVENS HEAVEN FOR FIJI?

Fiji's triumph in the men's rugby sevens was one of the more remarkable stories of the Rio Games and the islanders will now be out to retain their title in Tokyo over the coming weeks.

They begin their group campaign on Monday with games against tournament hosts Japan and then Canada later in the day.


MEN'S TRIATHLON WIDE OPEN

The men's triathlon is a tough one to call, with back-to-back champion Alistair Brownlee not taking part in this year's event.

The likes of Alex Yee, Kristian Blummenfelt, Morgan Pearson and Tyler Mislawchuk are among those to watch in one the standout events at any Games.


BILES SURVIVES, NOW MEN MUST THRIVE

After Simone Biles struggled to find top gear in her Games entrance on Sunday, albeit making it through to each of her finals, Monday's gymnastics event is the men's team final.

Japan are the defending champions and led the way in qualifying, but they are expected to face stiff competition from China and the Russian Olympic Committee team. Watch out for Russian maestro Nikita Nagornyy and Japan's Daiki Hashimoto among a star-studded cast.


OSAKA BACK IN ACTION

It is proving to be a busy Games for Naomi Osaka, who followed lighting the Olympic cauldron on Friday with a first-round tennis win on Sunday.

Japan's four-time grand slam winner is back on court on Monday, looking to inch closer to the women's singles final. Awaiting her is Swiss world number 50 Viktorija Golubic, and it will be their first match encounter. Men's title hopefuls Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are among those also due in action.


WOMEN'S SKATEBOARDING MAKES ITS DEBUT

Japan's Yuto Horigome made history on Sunday by winning the first Olympic gold in men's skateboarding. On Monday, it is the turn of the women.

Among those competing in the event are Kokona Hiraki of Japan and Team GB's Sky Brown, who are aged 12 and 13 respectively.

After plenty of falls and drama in the men's equivalent, expect more of the same in this inaugural event. 

United States men's basketball coach Gregg Popovich insists his side's defeat to France in their first outing at Tokyo 2020 should not be considered a surprise result.

Team USA have won gold in the last three Games, but they saw a 25-game winning streak in the tournament come to an end on Sunday against an inspired France side.

Les Blues, who also beat a much-fancied USA in the World Cup quarter-finals in 2019, are ranked seventh in the FIBA rankings but proved too strong for the world's top team with an 83-76 win at the Saitama Super Arena.

Despite his side's long unbeaten run in the competition coming to an end, Popovich – taking charge at his first Games – was quick to put the loss into some perspective.

"People shouldn't be surprised that we lost to the French team or the Australian team or the Spanish team or the Lithuanian team," he told reporters. 

"It doesn't matter who it is – the gap in talent shrinks every year, as there are more and more great players all over the world. 

"And you need to give the French team credit for playing well. They were more consistent than we were at both ends of the court. It's as simple as that."

 

STARS ALIGN FOR HISTORY-MAKING ZOLOTIC

Sunday was a positive day on the whole for Team USA – especially compared to Saturday, when they failed to win a medal on the opening day of a Games for the first time since Munich 1972 – as they picked up four gold, two silver and four bronze.

That haul includes a maiden gold in the women's taekwondo thanks to teenager Anastasija Zolotic, who beat Tatiana Minina of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in the final of the -57kg weight category event. 

"My eight-year-old self was running around the schoolyard saying I was going to be Olympic champion but she could never have imagined what this moment is like," Zolotic said. 

"It's unbelievable. It really hasn't sunk in yet. I can't believe it. I'm in a bit of shock. I'm just trying to wrap my head around it. It feels wonderful. I came here confident and ready to take the gold. The stars were aligned."

Zolotic's win came on the back of two-time Olympic champion Jade Jones suffering a shock elimination to Refugee Olympic Team member Kimia Alizadeh in the last 16, denying the Team GB athlete a shot of winning a historic third gold.

 

BILES BOUNCES BACK, CHUSOVITINA WAVES GOODBYE

A lot of focus has been on Simone Biles heading into the Games, though she had a rare off day as the USA finished behind ROC in the women's gymnastics qualifying.

Biles, who won four golds and a bronze in Rio, was penalised on both floor and vault but still scored a respectable 14.166 to book a spot in the final.

While Biles still has time on her side, both in Tokyo and in the long term, the 2020 Games will be the last for Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina, who bowed out on Sunday after a record-setting eighth appearance at the Olympics.

Chusovitina, at the age of 46, just missed out on qualifying for the vault event and was given a standing ovation by the small number of people inside the arena.

To put Chusovitina's remarkable run of appearances into perspective, she made her debut at the Games in 1992, some five years before Biles was born.

"It was really nice. I cried tears of happiness because so many people have supported me for a long time," she said. "I didn't look at the results, but I feel very proud and happy. I'm saying goodbye to sports. It's kind of mixed feelings.

"I'm alive, I'm happy, I'm here without any injuries, and I can stand on my own."

KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

Japanese pair Uta and Hifumi Abe made Olympic history as they became the first siblings to win gold medals on the same day of a Games in an individual sport, both enjoying success in judo on day two in Tokyo.

Uta won the women’s 52kg competition, defeating France's Amandine Buchard. A closely contested bout went to a golden score, with Abe crucially claiming ippon to settle the final in her favour.

The two-time world champion cried tears of joy in the aftermath, admitting: "I don't know, maybe it may not have been appropriate but I couldn't hold myself back."

Older brother Hifumi made it a family double, overcoming Vazha Margvelashvili of Georgia to triumph in the men's 66kg final.

"This has turned out to be the greatest day ever," he said. "I don't think we, as brother and sister, could shine any brighter on this stage known as the Tokyo Olympics. I'm so happy."

 

China remain top of the medal table at the Tokyo Olympics after an eventful round of action on Sunday that saw the United States and hosts Japan enjoy a golden day.

Having picked up four medals on the first full day of action, China added to their haul with three more golds, one silver and three bronze.

Two of China's golds came in weightlifting, with Li Fabin and Chen Lijun coming out on top in the men's 61kg and men's 67kg, followed by success in the women's synchronised 3m springboard final.

A lot is expected of hosts Japan at these Games and they picked up four golds on Sunday, two of those in judo through Hifumi Abe and Uta Abe.

Yuto Horigome made history by winning the first gold in the men's street skateboarding, while Yui Ohashi finished first in the women's 400m individual medley swimming event.

The United States failed to pick up a medal on the opening day of the Games for the first time since Munich 1972, but they stormed back into contention with 10 medals on Sunday.

That included a gold for Lee Kiefer, who became the first American fencer to win a gold medal in individual foil.

William Shaner and Chase Kalisz prevailed in the men's 10m air rifle and 400m individual medley swimming, meanwhile, and Anastasija Zolotic took taekwondo gold in the women -57kg.

Behind China, Japan and USA in the medal table is South Korea, who doubled their tally of golds thanks to victory in the women's team archery.

Austria, France, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Australia and the Russian Olympic Committee also got off the mark with their first golds of the delayed 2020 Games on Sunday.

 

Michael Phelps hailed Katie Ledecky as "the best female swimmer that we have ever seen" as the American looks to add to her haul of five Olympic golds in Tokyo.

Ledecky won the gold medal in the 800m freestyle race at London 2012 at the age of 15 and went on to scoop four golds in the Rio Games five years ago.

The 24-year-old will be aiming to defend her titles in the 200m, 400m and 800m individual freestyle races, as well as the 4x200m freestyle relay.

A new event has also been added in for the women at this year's Games, with the 1500m freestyle up for grabs.

Given her achievements so far, Ledecky may well have Phelps' all-time Olympic record of 23 gold medals in her sights.

Phelps, who also holds the record for the most gold medals in individual events (13) and Olympic medals in individual events (16), believes Ledecky already has to be considered one of the greats.

"Katie and I have known each other for a long time," the 36-year-old said in a Panasonic Instagram live interview. "She is hands down the best female swimmer that we've ever seen.

"I always say one thing for her is just be her. As long as she's being herself and preparing for what she has to do, everything else will happen how it's supposed to.

"She's somebody that understands what to do in this setting and she's going to go out there and have some fun and we're going to see a lot of fast times."

 

Phelps also suggested Ledecky, and other athletes competing for the top prizes in Tokyo, must go into "autopilot" in order to keep their composure when it counts.

He added: "You've done the hard work, now it's just time to let it all show.

"Go out there, have some smiles, have some laughs and perform.

"From [Athens] 2004 on, I feel I was almost on autopilot because the preparation was done. All I had to do was just get on the blocks and race."

Sweden ended the United States' 44-game unbeaten run with a 3-0 win in the Olympics group stage on Wednesday and Megan Rapinoe hailed them as one of the best European sides ever.

Strikes either side of the half-time whistle from Stina Blackstenius and a goal by Lina Hurtig proved the difference as Sweden claimed a famous triumph over their heavyweight rivals, who they defeated on penalties in the 2016 quarter-finals.

The world champions enjoyed a two-year spell without losing before the Group G opener but will quickly have to bounce back if they are to follow up their France 2019 success with Olympic gold.

Rapinoe found it hard to defend the USA's performance as she credited Sweden's hard-working display.

"We did not play a very good game and that is to take nothing away from Sweden, they played a great game," the attacking midfielder said after the match.

"This is the highest level and these are the best teams in the world. Sweden are one of the best ever in Europe and the world. If we don't play well we don’t win these games.

"We want to be a lot better, we played a bit tight and hurt ourselves a lot. You can't say one thing specifically.

"I can't remember the last time we gave up a goal, so to give up three is not great but we know what we need to do to win these games, get out of the group and go from there."

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski refused to panic and is keen to see a response against New Zealand on Saturday.

"It has put us in a big hole and we are the only ones who can get ourselves out of it," he said. "It is not going to be easy. We have to get good results in the next two games, but I know this team will not give up.

"I don’t remember this team losing 3-0 in recent history so it is a bit of a shock, but everyone is positive. We still have games ahead of us. We have got to bounce back. We have to forget this game and focus on the next one."

In contrast, Blackstenius, whose brace sealed a remarkable victory, spoke glowingly of her team, who were without Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson for the win.

"I'm very happy about the goals - of course I'm happy to score. The team helped me very much and I think I could have scored at least two more but I don't want to focus on that. I'm just happy and proud of the team", the forward said.

“We developed our game and our play. It's very good and we have so much quality in every player. Every player is also very different from the other. We have so many players that can do good stuff and as a team we are very good. Every player is very happy about going very attacking."

Hedvig Lindahl, though, maintained that Sweden's win was simply a starting point and that Peter Gerhardsson's side had not achieved what they had come to the Games for yet.

"It's just the first group game, we haven't won anything yet. We need to keep going," the veteran goalkeeper said. "If you have one high into lows in the group then this means nothing. But to win against the USA, it's something we can take some confidence from.

"You can go very far in a tournament even if you lose to the USA or whoever you play in the first game, so I don't know how much it means, but we showed the world and ourselves that we can play good against a team like the US and any team."

The United States got off to an awful start in Tokyo as they lost 3-0 to Sweden to end a 44-match unbeaten streak, while Brazil's Marta enjoyed differing emotions as she netted against China in a 5-0 win to make Olympic Games history.

The USA came into the Games as firm favourites for the gold medal, but Sweden offered a rude awakening for the reigning world champions. They had previously not been defeated since back in 2019 before that run was ended by their emphatic setback in the Group G opener.

Goals either side of half-time from Stina Blackstenius and another from Lina Hurtig did the damage, and while the USA were denied twice by the woodwork, Sweden were deserved winners to repeat their quarter-final shoot-out victory over the same opposition at Rio 2016.

In fact, Sweden's three-goal win was the first time since 2008 that the USA have lost in a major tournament by multiple goals and only the sixth time in their history that they have lost a game by three or more goals.

While the USA struggled, Brazil gave an early signal of their intent. Marta's opener made her the first player, male or female, to score at five consecutive Games, while the 35-year-old also moved to second in the all-time top scorer list at the Olympics.

The Brazil forward's record-breaking outing in Group F stole the headlines, but 43-year-old Formiga made history herself. She became the first women's footballer to appear in seven editions of the Games, and is hoping to become the oldest female representing Brazil to claim an Olympic medal, a record previously held by 38-year-old volleyball star Fofao. 

In more routine fashion, Great Britain got off to a strong Group E start as they cruised past Chile 2-0, with Ellen White netting both goals. 

White spoke of her pride after the win and credited her team-mates who provided the chances for her brace.

"I'm obviously delighted to contribute to the team winning, to score two goals. I feel really proud to open the Olympics with Team GB," the forward said.

"It was a great header down from Lauren Hemp for the first one and an amazing cross from Lucy Bronze for the second.

"We've been working really hard to get to this point. I feel really delighted with where I'm at the moment, but I feel there's still more to come. Collectively as a squad we [can] grow and get better as the tournament goes on."

Team GB and Chile both took the knee, as did the USA and Sweden in their fixture, as athletes across the globe continue to make a stand against racism.

Meanwhile, Barbra Banda announced herself on the world stage with a hat-trick, despite Zambia going down 10-3 to the Netherlands. 

The Netherlands led 6-1 at half-time following Vivianne Miedema's hat-trick and a brace from Lieke Martens. 

Sarina Wiegman’s side then added four more goals in the second half, with Miedema getting a fourth, before Banda hit back twice in the final 10 minutes. 

A female United States gymnast has tested positive for coronavirus while training in Tokyo ahead of the Olympics, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) has confirmed.

The unnamed athlete was an alternate – a team member included as a reserve – and will now isolate along with another team member who has been identified as a close contact.

"The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority," a USOC statement read.

"We can confirm that an alternate on the women's artistic gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19.

"Out of respect for the individual's privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time."

The positive test comes just four days before the delayed Games begins, with fellow US female gymnast Simone Biles set to be one of the stars of the competition.

The 24-year-old won four gold medals and a bronze at Rio 2016 and will be looking to add to that haul when the women's gymnastics competition starts on July 25.

It was also confirmed on Monday that Czech Republic beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic tested positive for COVID-19.

Perusic and playing partner David Schweiner are due to begin their Tokyo 2020 campaign against Latvia on July 26, but the Czech Olympic Committee will seek to postpone the game until Perusic is cleared to play.

The number of Games-linked individuals to have tested positive for coronavirus since testing began on July 1 stood at 60 on Monday.

South Africa's men's football pair Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi were the first two athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive over the weekend.

Around 11,000 athletes from 205 national Olympic committees are expected to stay at the village over the next three weeks.

The 2020 Games, delayed by a year due to the global health pandemic, will be held mostly without spectators due to a state of emergency being declared in Tokyo.

Infection rates in the Japanese capital have topped 1,000 for five days running, with a seven-day average of 1,068 as of Sunday.

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