TOKYO – Barely half a day passed before politics, pandemic and scorching heat hit the events at the Tokyo Olympics.
Yang Qian from China, at least, stayed on target.
Yang edged out Anastasiia Galashina of Russia to win the first Tokyo Games gold medal in the women’s 10-meter air rifle on Saturday. Her last shot was the worst of the finals, but she still edged Galashina with an Olympic record of 251.8. Switzerland’s Nina Christen took bronze.
“It’s amazing that he can be here,” Yang said through an interpreter. “I was really nervous. The competition was very close, but I am very happy to be able to win. “
Galashina led Yang by 0.2 points as they fired almost simultaneously on their last shots. The limited crowd at Asaka’s firing range let out a gasp as the scores were posted a split second later.
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Yang, a 21-year-old who qualified sixth out of eight medal competitors, missed the innermost circle on her final shot, a 9.8 that she guessed would cost her gold.
He looked up to see that Galashina missed the two center rings. The Russian’s 8.9 meant that IOC President Thomas Bach would present Yang the gold medal on a platter, per pandemic protocols, instead of Galashina.
CANCELLATION OF COVID-19
The first event of the Olympic beach volleyball tournament was canceled because a Czech player tested positive for COVID-19. Markéta Sluková, who tested positive earlier this week, and her partner Barbora Hermannova were eliminated from the tournament.
Already empty due to a fan ban, the venue at Shiokaze Park was eerily quiet when the match was supposed to start at 9am on Saturday, the only sound coming from the incredibly loud cicadas in the nearby trees.
The Japanese team of Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishii took the victory by default after qualifying for the tournament through the entry reserved for the host country. Officially, the Czechs were marked as “Didn’t Start”, and their three free-for-all opponents will win.
Sluková is one of at least three members of the Czech team who have tested positive since arriving in Japan, including male beach volleyball player Ondřej Perušič. The team has said it is investigating whether the COVID-19 outbreak is related to its charter flight to Tokyo.
An Algerian judo athlete will be sent home after he has withdrawn from competition to potentially avoid facing an Israeli opponent.
Fethi Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef told Algerian media that they would withdraw to avoid a possible second-round showdown with Israel’s Tohar Butbul in the men’s 73kg division on Monday. Nourine would face Sudanese Mohamed Abdalrasool in the first round, and the winner would face Butbul, the fifth seed.
The executive committee of the International Judo Federation has temporarily suspended Nourine and Benikhlef, who will likely face sanctions beyond the Olympics. The Algerian Olympic committee later withdrew the accreditation of both men and made plans to send them home.
Nourine and Benikhlef attribute their stance to their political support for the Palestinians.
Tennis player Daniil Medvedev wants organizers to move games into the evening after players advanced through their first few matches in a heat that reached 91 degrees F (33 degrees C) and a heat index that made it feel like 100 F. (38 C).
Medvedev called it “one of the worst” series he has played in after eliminating Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-4, 7-6 (8).
“I’m not going to lie. But you have to play,” said the Russian. “Those are the Olympics, you’re going for the medal. You’re not here to cry from the heat.”
French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova grabbed an air tube during a medical timeout and shoved ice packs up her skirt during a substitution as she defeated Sara Errani of Italy 6-0, 6-1.
“You don’t feel well,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “So I wasn’t enjoying it at all.”
The youngest competitor in the Tokyo Games has been eliminated, as has a great Olympian.
Syria’s Hend Zaza lost in straight sets to Liu Jia, ending the 12-year-old’s hopes of making noise as the youngest table tennis player in Olympic Games history.
Zaza told Olympics.com that she was satisfied with her performance and that she learned from the defeat, and that she hopes to get another shot at the next Olympics, in Paris.
The Olympic career of two-time Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura ended when the 32-year-old Japanese gymnast fell during qualifying on the high bar.
Considered by many to be the best of all time, the 2012 and 2016 gold medalist was in the middle of his set when he took off while making a tricky connection. He got up and finished his routine, drilling his takedown.
His score of 13,866 placed him outside of the top eight, which means he will not make it to the final.