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Tokyo Olympics recap: USA wins gold medals in 86kg freestyle wrestling and pole vault

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Wednesday was filled with glory for Team USA at the track, and Thursday marked the first gold medal in track and field at the Tokyo Olympics for U.S. men. Ryan Crouser set an Olympic record in winning the men's shot put, with teammate Joe Kovacs taking silver.

However, there was disappointment as well when the men's 4x100 relay team finished sixth in their semifinal heat and did not qualify for the final. In addition, the favorite in the men's 110-meter hurdles -- American Grant Holloway -- was upset in the final. He hung on for the silver.

The USWNT salvaged what was a disappointing showing in Tokyo by winning the bronze medal game against Australia.

The U.S. men's basketball team overcame to sluggish start to go on to rout Australia, 97-78, and advance to the gold medal game.

The U.S. baseball team plays South Korea (6 a.m. ET, USA Network) with a spot in the gold medal game against Japan on the line.

Megan Rapinoe celebrates with teammate Lindsey Horan after one of her two first-half goals in the bronze medal game.
Megan Rapinoe celebrates with teammate Lindsey Horan after one of her two first-half goals in the bronze medal game.

WEDNESDAY RECAP: Sydney McLaughlin sets world record in women's hurdles

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Baseball: Team USA reaches gold medal game

USA baseball will play for a gold medal for the first time since 2000 after beating South Korea 7-2 in Tokyo.

The Americans got out to a 2-0 lead heading into the fifth inning before South Korea cut it in half. However in the next frame, the tides shifted toward the U.S. and never gave way.

A series of walks and singles allowed USA to score five runs and despite their efforts, South Korea only managed one more run scored before the game ended at the top of the ninth.

Starting pitcher Joe Ryan pitched 4 ⅓ innings, giving up four hits, an earned run and striking out three. Ryder Ryan came in relief, throwing 1 ⅔ innings and earned the win.

USA will play Japan in the gold medal game Saturday.

Sport climbing: American Nathaniel Coleman wins silver

Sport climbing is one of five new sports at the Tokyo Olympics and the United States men put on a show of strength and speed during the combined final Thursday. Nathaniel Coleman won silver, the United States' first climbing medal of any color.

Spain’s Alberto Gines Lopez won gold with 28.00 combined points, and going home with the bronze is Jakob Schubert of Austria with 35.00 combined points. Coleman ranked sixth in speed, first in bouldering and fifth in lead, earning him 30.00. Coleman came from behind after the speed finals where he had to face his American teammate, Duffy, in the final round for the 5th and 6th place ranking. Coleman was the only climber during the bouldering round to top two of the three boulders. In the lead round, the route was set in a very boulder-y style, which perfectly suited Coleman’s style and strength.

-- Sandy Hooper

Helen Maroulis takes home bronze in 57kg freestyle

CHIBA, Japan – Helen Maroulis has been to the top and to what she’s called rock bottom.

A bronze medal is certainly nothing to be ashamed of in her eyes.

The Olympic champion in the women’s 57kg freestyle division five years ago, Maroulis endured debilitating concussions and battled post-traumatic stress disorder during the quadrennial since. At one point, she heard voices in her head, as the Washington Post detailed earlier this week. Opponents have targeted her head nonetheless.

She disregarded all of that on her way to a technical superiority (11-0) victory against Mongolia’s Khongorzul Boldsaikhan for a bronze, her second Olympics.

-- Chris Bumbaca

US men fail to medal in 400 meters

TOKYO -- The U.S. men’s track and field squad won its first gold medal on the field on Thursday, but the gold-medal drought continued on the track.

Bahamas’ Steven Gardiner won the men’s 400-meter final at the Tokyo Olympics. Gardiner battled hard in lane seven and pulled away in the final 45 meters to win the race in a season-best time of 43.85.

The win by Gardiner, the 2019 400-meter world champion, gave Bahamas its first Olympic gold medal in the men’s 400 meters.

“I’m just happy that I’m the chosen one,” Gardiner said. “I’m happy I was able to do it here and everybody watching back home. I just want to thank everybody for all the support, and all my hard work has paid off once again.”

Columbia’s Anthony Zambrano placed second with a time of 44.08 and Grenada’s Kirani James, the 2012 Olympic champion, rounded out the top three, finishing the race 44.19.

James had the second fastest time in the world this year heading into the final. American Michael Norman had two of the top six times in the world this year, but lost out on obtaining his first Olympic medal. Normal finished fifth and was noticeably disappointed following the race.

American Michael Cherry placed one spot away from the podium in fourth, running a 44.21.

An American male had won the 400 meters at the Olympics from 1984 Los Angeles Olympics until the 2008 Beijing Games. The American males have been kept away from the 400-meter gold medal podium since, including in Tokyo.

The Americans have a rich tradition of male sprinters and historically have won gold in at least one sprinting event, however, it’s been a different story in Tokyo.

According to NBC Sports, it’s the first time in Olympic history the American men didn’t get a single gold medal in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, as well as the 110 and 400-meter hurdles.

“I’m not really sure,” Cherry answered when asked why the men’s team is struggling to earn gold medals. “It’s just not happening right now.”

The U.S. men’s track and field team still leads all other participating countries with eight total medals, but the squad’s lone gold medal came from Ryan Crouser in the men’s shot put.

-- Tyler Dragon

Hocker in, Centrowitz out of men's 1500m final

TOKYO -- The reigning gold medalist in the men's 1500 meters is out of the Tokyo Olympics. But a 20-year-old from the University of Oregon is still in the mix for a medal.

American Cole Hocker qualified for the final by finishing second in his semifinal heat Thursday in a time of 3:33.87. But Matthew Centrowitz, who won gold in the 1500 in Rio, missed the cut after finishing ninth in his heat -- a race in which the winner, Kenya's Abel Kipsang, broke the Olympic record.

Centrowitz, 31, said he didn't position himself well during the race, sometimes swinging out away from the inside lane in an attempt to navigate through the crowd.

"Pretty disappointed in just kind of the way I raced," he said. "When they're running the Olympic record, in the heat, you can't be in Lane 2, Lane 3, wasting energy like that."

Hocker, meanwhile, is on to Saturday's Olympic final after keeping his remarkable season alive. He won the NCAA title earlier this summer, then beat Centrowitz with a late sprint to win the U.S. Olympic trials.

-- Tom Schad

Katie Nageotte cleared 16 feet, 1 inch for the gold

TOKYO -- Katie Nageotte is an Olympic gold medalist.

The 30-year-old from Olmsted Falls, Ohio won gold in the women's pole vault at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, clearing a height of 16 feet, 1 inch to secure her spot atop the podium.

Nageotte, who also won the event at the Olympic trials, outlasted ROC athlete Anzhelika Sidorova and Holly Bradshaw of Great Britain as the bar continued to rise. Sidorova and Bradshaw got silver and bronze, respectively.

Nageotte is the third American woman to win gold in pole vault, following Jenn Suhr in 2012 and Stacy Draglia in 2000. Sandi Morris won silver in the event in Rio in 2016.

-- Tom Schad

David Taylor wins gold and celebrates after defeating Hassan Yazdanicharati in the men's freestyle 86kg final.
David Taylor wins gold and celebrates after defeating Hassan Yazdanicharati in the men's freestyle 86kg final.

'Magic Man' wins gold in men's 86kg freestyle wrestling

CHIBA, Japan — They call him “Magic Man.”

Now you see him, now you don’t. And now he has a gold medal.

It's an apropos nickname, because David Taylor’s efficiency on the mat during his four matches at the Tokyo Olympics could be equated to a disappearing act — in the best way — and helped him claim the top podium spot for the United States in 86kg freestyle wrestling.

He needed all of 10 minutes and 49 seconds – none of his matches lasted the full six minutes thanks to three technical falls before the finals – to face Hassan “The Greatest” Yazdanicharati in the championship match.

Yazdanicharati, the top-seed in the field, is a two-time world champion whose kryptonite appears to be Taylor’s sorcery. Taylor entered 2-0 against the Iranian, having defeated him at the 2017 World Cup and the 2018 World Championships.

In the trilogy of "Magic Man" against "The Greatest," Taylor scored a dramatic 4-3 victory over Yazdanicharati at Makuhari Messe Hall on Thursday to clinch gold. Taylor had won by a combined 33-2 margin on his way to the gold-medal bout.

-- Chris Bumbaca

Nelly Korda jumps out to four-shot lead

As temperatures soared in Japan on Friday, Nelly Korda was on fire. The top-ranked women's player in the world had a chance to shoot 59 in the second round heading into the closing par 4, but instead made double.

"I wasn't thinking about it at all," she said of a birdie for 59. "I was like, 'Oh, cool, I have a pretty good lead going into 18.' Unfortunate that double on 18, but that's golf and that's just how it goes sometimes."

Still, the powerful young American bolted out to a sizable lead over the field of 60 at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Korda, who rose to No. 1 in the world after winning her first major in June, sits at 13-under 129 through 36 holes and holds a four-shot lead over Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Aditi Ashok and Emily Kristine Pedersen.

-- Golfweek

Americans seek medal in sport climbing

TOKYO -- American sport climbers Nathaniel Coleman and Colin Duffy finished the bouldering discipline of the sport climbing combined final in 1st and 4th place, respectively. The overall combined points have Coleman ranked 3rd with 6.00 points and Duffy ranked 5th with 20.00 points.

Mickael Mawem of France is currently leading the pack of 7 climbers in 1st with 6.00 combined points.

Mawem, Tomoa Narasaki of Japan and Coleman all have 6.00 points as we head into the final discipline, lead. Although tied, their current ranking is decided by the amount of tops and zone holds reached during the bouldering round.

-- Sandy Hooper

Wrestler Thomas Gilman gets bronze

CHIBA, Japan – Thomas Gilman won two matches on Thursday to secure one of the men’s 57 kg bronze medals for the USA.

Thrown into the repechage bracket after a tough 5-4 loss to Zavur Uguev in the first round, Gilman crushed Uzbekistan’s Gulomjon Abdullaev and won by technical fall (11-1) in the morning session to set up his bronze-medal bout with Reza Atrinagharchi of Iran in the evening.

Gilman sprinted to the mat and the readiness was apparent. The former University of Iowa grappler methodically wore down Atrinagharchi throughout the six-minute match and won 9-1. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Gilman leaned back and threw his arms in the air in celebration as the American contingent rose to their feet and cheered.

-- Chris Bumbaca

Gable Steveson to final

CHIBA, Japan – With the NCAA’s shift on name, image and likeness, one athlete that has already capitalized on marketing deals is University of Minnesota wrestler Gable Steveson.

A gold medal will only make those opportunities more lucrative, and Steveson will wrestle for gold on Friday after defeating Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur 5-0 in the men’s 125kg semifinals Thursday.

Steveson scored a takedown before the break at the three-minute mark. Munkhtur tried to slow Steveson down by stalling. But Steveson stayed on his game plan and scored another takedown late to walk away the victor in his third match of the day.

He will face Geno Petriashvili of Georgia in the final.

-- Chris Bumbaca

USWNT gets its Olympic bronze

KASHIMA, Japan — If this was the last game at a major international tournament for Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, they sure made it one to remember.

Rapinoe scored twice – including the rare olimpico – and Lloyd set the U.S. women’s record for most career Olympic goals as the U.S. women defeated Australia 4-3 on Thursday to win the bronze medal at the Tokyo Games. Lloyd’s goals, in stoppage time in the first half and in the 51st, gave her 10 total at the Olympics, passing Abby Wambach.

Though this was only the third time since the World Cup (1991) and Olympic (1996) tournaments began that the USWNT had failed to make the final, it at least avoided being shut out like it was in Rio, when it lost in the quarterfinals.

-- Nancy Armour

Carli Lloyd becomes USWNT's all-time leading Olympic goal-scorer

KASHIMA, Japan — No matter what happens, Carli Lloyd is leaving the Olympics with something.

Lloyd scored her second goal of the game in the 51st minute to put the U.S. women up 4-1 over Australia in the bronze-medal match. That gives Lloyd 10 career goals at the Olympics, topping the nine scored by Abby Wambach.

Australia got a goal back three minutes later when Caitlain Foord beat Adrianna Franch, who was starting because Alyssa Naeher hyperextended her knee in the semifinals.

-- Nancy Armour

Americans finish fifth and sixth in speed sport climbing final

After the speed final, American Colin Duffy finished with a fifth-place ranking and American Nathaniel Coleman finished sixth.

Duffy had a false start in his heat and was relegated to the fifth-eighth place bracket. Duffy received a bye to the fifth-sixth place final since his would-be competitor, Bassa Mawam, did not compete in the finals due to an injury. It ended up being the two American battling for 5th, and Duffy came out on top.

The bouldering discipline is up next.

-- Sandy Hooper

USWNT builds two-goal lead at half of bronze medal game

KASHIMA, Japan — Carli Lloyd scored her ninth Olympic goal, and the U.S. women are 45 minutes from a bronze medal.

Lloyd put the USWNT up 3-1 over Australia with a cracker in the second minute of stoppage time. She controlled a pass from Lindsey Horan with her right foot, and then went far post with a left-footed rocket. The nine goals ties Lloyd with Abby Wambach for most by a U.S. woman.

-- Nancy Armour

Megan Rapinoe puts USWNT into lead in bronze medal game

KASHIMA, Japan — Megan Rapinoe is having herself a game.

Rapinoe scored two goals within six minutes – including the rare olimpico – to give the U.S. women a 2-1 lead over Australia midway through the first half in the bronze-medal match.

The Tokyo Olympics has been largely disappointing for the reigning World Cup champions. But Rapinoe got things off to a raucous start, scoring directly off a corner kick in the eighth minute. That’s known as an olimpico and, while rare, it’s actually Rapinoe’s second in an Olympic tournament. She had one at the London Olympics, too.

The USWNT’s lead didn’t last long, with Adrianna Franch deflecting the ball into her own net when she tried to stop a close-range shot by Sam Kerr in the 17th.

But Rapinoe gave the Americans the lead back in the 21st. Australia was trying to clear the ball and Rapinoe snagged it in the air and sent it rocketing over Teagan Micah’s head.

-- Megan Rapinoe

Two Americans reach sport climbing final

TOKYO — The men’s sport climbing combined final will feature two Americans, Colin Duffy and Nathaniel Coleman.

The final will begin with the speed discipline before moving onto bouldering and lead. In the combined format, rankings in each discipline are multiplied together, resulting in a total combined score – the lower the score, the lower the score, the better.

In the speed final, Duffy will face off in a head-to-head quarterfinal heat against Spain’s Alberto Gines Lopez. Coleman will face France’s Mickael Mawem.

On Wednesday, French climber Bassa Mawem (Mickael Mawem’s brother), who finished 7th in qualification, announced on Instagram that he will not compete in the final due to an injury. According to the International Federation of Sport Climbing, “the eight highest ranked athletes from the qualification round are eligible to participate in the final. Athlete substitution is possible only when an athlete is either disqualified or otherwise not ranked in the previous round.” Therefore, Bassa Mawem’s competitor in the speed finals, Czech Republic’s Adam Ondra, receives a bye to the semifinals where he will face either Duffy or Gines Lopez.

-- Sandy Hooper

Colin Duffy of the United States competes in lead qualification of sport climbing.
Colin Duffy of the United States competes in lead qualification of sport climbing.

Megan Rapinoe scores an olimpico at the Olympics

KASHIMA, Japan — An olimpico in the Olympics!

Maybe.

Megan Rapinoe gave the U.S. women a 1-0 lead over Australia in the eighth minute when her corner kick found the far lower corner of the net. When a player scores directly off a corner kick, without another player touching it, it’s known as an olimpico. But it wasn’t clear from replays whether Australian goalkeeper Teagan Micah got a hand on it or not.

Either way, it was a hell of a goal.

-- Nancy Armour

U.S. women's water polo team advances to gold medal game

The U.S. women's water polo team overcame an early deficit to defeat the Russians 15-11 Thursday in an Olympic semifinal game.

Maddie Musselman led the way for Team USA with five goals on 10 shots. Captain Maggie Steffens added three goals and Makenzie Fischer punched in two.

Ashleigh Johnson made eight saves in the victory.

The Americans will play the winner of the match between Spain and Hungary in the gold medal game.

-- Jace Evans

U.S. diver Delaney Schnell comes up short of earning second medal

TOKYO — U.S. diver Delaney Schnell placed fifth in the individual 10-meter platform final, coming up short of earning a second medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Schnell won silver in the synchronized 10-meter platform with partner Jessica Parratto last week.

Schnell finished with 340.40 points, 31 back from third-place Melissa Wu of Australia. China’s Quan Hongchan and Chen Yuxi took gold and silver, respectively.

Schnell’s strongest dive came on a forward three-and-a-half somersaults pike in the fourth round, which earned 79.50 points and ranked third among the competition.

U.S. women have made diving history at the Tokyo Olympics, earning multiple medals for the first time since the 1988 Seoul Olympics. At those games, U.S. women took bronze in the individual 3-meter springboard (Kelly McCormick) and silver and bronze in the individual 10-meter platform (Michele Mitchell and Wendy Williams). Synchronized diving was not added to the Olympic program until 2000.

In total, U.S. diving has won three medals in Tokyo, including Krysta Palmer’s bronze in the individual 3-meter springboard and Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon’s silver in the synchronized 3-meter springboard.

-- Olivia Reiner

USWNT shakes up lineup again for bronze medal game

KASHIMA, Japan — The U.S. women’s lineup for the bronze-medal match against Australia is, uh, interesting.

Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press get the start at forward. Lynn Williams, who had a goal and assist in the quarterfinal win over the Netherlands, won’t even be available. Neither will Catarina Macario, considered the future of the USWNT.

Sam Mewis is starting again, and Rose Lavelle is on the bench. Tierna Davidson, who was called for the penalty that gave Canada the game-winning goal in the semifinals, is starting.

Adrianna Franch is the starting goalkeeper after Alyssa Naeher was ruled out with the hyperextended knee she suffered in the first half against Canada.

-- Nancy Armour

American boxer Duke Ragan loses men's featherweight gold medal bout

TOKYO — American Duke Ragan on Thursday was in position to become the first men’s U.S. boxer to win an Olympic gold medal in 17 years.

He’ll have to settle for the silver.

Ragan lost to Russian Albert Batyrgaziev by split decision, 3-2, in the featherweight division final at the Tokyo Games.

The last U.S. boxer to win an Olympic gold was Andre Ward, who did it at the 2004 Athens Games. The U.S. men’s team will have at least one more chance to end the gold medal drought.

-- Josh Peter

Team USA men's basketball advances to gold medal game

TOKYO — Were you worried about the U.S. men’s basketball team? There was certainly reason to be for a moment against Australia in the semifinals Thursday at Saitama Super Arena. But with this much talent, it only takes a few minutes of good basketball for concern to turn into jubilation.

Team USA will play for its fourth straight gold medal on Saturday thanks to a 97-78 win over the Australians, a game whose final score does not indicate how badly the Americans were outplayed early on.

But much like their quarterfinal against Spain, where the U.S. trailed by double digits before going on a run to tie it at halftime, the Americans tightened up their defense at just the right time. After closing the final 3 ½ minutes of the second quarter on an 11-1 run to close the gap to 45-42, they went into full flight in the third quarter and put away the Australians rather easily with a series of defensive stops and a barrage of 3-pointers.

The U.S. will play the winner of Slovenia-France in the gold medal round.

-- Dan Wolken

Zach Lavine dunks the ball in the semifinal against Australia.
Zach Lavine dunks the ball in the semifinal against Australia.

'Clown show': U.S. track legend Carl Lewis rips 4x100m relay team

Carl Lewis, the winner of nine gold medals in four Olympic Games, could not believe his eyes. He was at home Wednesday night in Houston watching the U.S. men’s 4x100-relay team melt down half a world away in the Olympic Stadium, and he simply could not contain his frustration.

“This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared,” Lewis said in a phone interview with USA TODAY Sports.

“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. And 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.”

-- Christine Brennan

US men's basketball down at halftime to Australia

The U.S. men’s basketball team closed a 15-point deficit to just three points, 45-42, in the latter stages of the second quarter in its semifinal against Australia and will head into halftime with a good chance to advance to the gold medal round.

Given the way most of the first half played out, Team USA should feel fortunate to be in this position after struggling on both ends of the floor for the first 16 minute of the game. Not only did the Americans have a hard time guarding the Australians, who made seven threes in the first half, they turned it over eight times and didn’t make a three of their own until Devin Booker splashed a wide open look from the corner with 3:21 left in the second quarter.

Team USA is shooting 64% from inside the arc but just 2-of-13 from long range.

Kevin Durant has 15 points for the U.S., while Dante Exum leads Australia with 10.

-- Dan Wolken

Gable Steveson cruises toward men's heavyweight semifinals

CHIBA, Japan – No backflips yet, but Gable Steveson might break one out on the Olympic stage soon.

The high-flying Minnesota Gophers wrestler and NCAA champion still has some work to do on the mat first.

Steveson dominated both of his preliminary matches at Makuhari Messe Hall on Thursday to advance to the men’s heavyweight semifinals (125kg) this evening. He scored a technical victory in the first match (10-0) before winning 8-0 over Taha Akgul, the defending Olympic champion, of Turkey.

“Like a champ, took him down,” Steveson said.

“He’s the best heavyweight wrestler to ever step foot (onto the mat,” the 21-year-old added. “But his time is up. I came here for business. I came here to win. Respect to him, he is a top dog, but young cat came to play today.”

He’ll face Mongolia’s Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur in his semifinal matchup. Steveson will wrestle again Friday for a medal, and he’s hoping the color is gold.

“I gotta keep going,” he said. “Ain’t nothing going to be given to me, I got to go get it.

“The bigger the stage, the better Gable gets.”

USA wrestling has had success at the Tokyo Games, with Tamyra Mensah-Stock taking gold and Adeline Gray winning silver in their respective weight classes. David Taylor (men’s 86kg) has his gold-medal match later Thursday and Helen Maroulis (women’s 53kg), the defending champion from Rio, wrestles for bronze afterward.

“They did their job. It’s just momentum for us to go out there and do our things too,” Steveson said. “We’re on a roll right now. We’re not going to stop.”

A hiccup came when Kyle Dake, finally out of the shadow cast by Jordan Burroughs in his weight class (men’s 74kg), lost 11-0 to Belarusian Mahamedkhabib Kazdimahamedau in the quarterfinals. In his first match of the day, a 4-1 victory, he was poked in the eye 15 seconds into the match and again a minute later.

Earlier, Jacarra Winchester overcame a 4-1 deficit in her first match but also fell in the quarterfinals.

Thomas Gilman won his 57kg repechage match to have the shot at a bronze later Thursday.

-- Chris Bumbaca

Cory Juneau holds on to win bronze in park skateboarding final

TOKYO — Cory Juneau had done the safe run to get into the final. Once he was there, he went for the one he hadn’t done all together before – and it earned him Olympic bronze.

The American skateboarder qualified for the men’s park final in the last position, sneaking in on his third run in prelims that he landed cleanly. In the final, he chose a line through the park course he hadn’t taken before and landed a more technical run.

“I had done bits and pieces but I hadn't made a full run,” Juneau said. “All the stress or like butterflies were gone after I made it (to the final) and so I just put everything I had on the table and it all came together how I imagined.”

Australia’s Keegan Palmer, who has dual citizenship with the United States and lives in Southern California, took gold, getting huge air out of the bowl and using it to do kickflip tricks with grabs. Brazilian Pedro Barros took silver.

Juneau, 22, was the only American to get into the final after teammates Zion Wright and Heimana Reynolds led the first of four preliminary heats, but their scores didn’t hold up and no one from that heat advanced.

Competing in the fourth heat, Juneau needed to land a run to advance, so he took out his riskier tricks and went for a safer run he hoped would be enough.

Once he was through, he knew he would need more to contend for a medal. In addition to choosing a new line through the course, he upped his technical difficulty on his second run to improve his position.

Juneau got massive air on a backside 540 tail grab and landed a frontside flip with no grab – flipping the board and bringing it back to his feet without using his hands – in a stylish run that flowed beautifully through the course.

“My favorite thing is like just going fast, doing grind, flip tricks,” he said. “I'm not so much of an air kind of guy, but with the level out here you kind of got to switch it up, change up some things.

“Kind of just like went bigger and switched up a couple lines and I'm thankful it worked out and be completely honored to take home a bronze medal.”

-- Rachel Axon

Cory Juneau in the men's skateboarding park prelims during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games.
Cory Juneau in the men's skateboarding park prelims during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games.

Ryan Crouser gets men first track and field gold with shot put win

TOKYO – On his very first attempt, U.S. shot put world-record holder Ryan Crouser walked to the shot put circle as cool and casual as one can be in an Olympic final. The reigning Olympic champion stepped into the ring sporting a USA track and field hat and shades. He took a deep breath, did the popular shot put spin technique and boom – Olympic record.

Crouser tossed 74 feet, 11 inches to break his 2016 Olympic record of 73 feet, 10¾ inches.

In Crouser’s second attempt, he increased his own record. The 6-foot-7 shot putter tossed a monster throw of 75 feet, 2¾ inches.

The competition for first was all over after two attempts.

Crouser saved his best for last, though. The Oregon native threw 76 feet, 5½ inches on is very last attempt to break the Olympic record for a third and final time of the competition.

Joe Kovacs finished in second (74' 3¾) and New Zealand’s Thomas Walsh (73' 8¾) came in third.

With the win, Crouser is the U.S. male to win a track and field gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Additionally, Crouser is the first American to win back-to-back Olympic golds in the shot put since Parry O'Brien did it at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics.

-- Tyler Dragon

US advances to bronze medal match in karate kata debut

TOKYO – American Sakura Kokumai advanced to one of two Olympic bronze medal matches in karate kata Thursday.

Karate is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo. Kata is an a form demonstration event comparable to gymnastics floor exercise.

Kokumai, 28, was third in her five-woman pool, advancing to a ranking round, where she again placed third at Nippon Budokan.

That puts her into a bronze medal match later Thursday against Italy’s Viviana Bottaro, who was second after the ranking round in the other pool.

Kokumai was born in Honolulu but has family and friends in Japan, where she lived and trained before returning to the U.S. to train for these Games.

-- Jeff Metcalfe

US breaks canoe gold medal drought

Nevin Harrison secured a rare medal in canoe for the United States as she took gold in the women’s 200-meter single canoe race. The 19-year-old from Seattle finished ahead of Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe (46.786) and Ukraine’s Liudmyla Luzan (47.034) in the final with a time of 45.932 seconds.

Harrison’s medal is just Team USA’s fifth overall in the sport.

“This is so incredible, it’s crazy. Thank you to my family and friends. You are my rocks and my support," Harrison said. "Kenny and Anna, my two best friends, have been with me every step of the way. I wouldn’t be here without any of them.”

-- Jace Evans

Holloway upset in 110m hurdles, takes silver

TOKYO -- The U.S. men’s team isn’t having much luck obtaining gold medals on the track.

Heavy 110-meter hurdle favorite Grant Holloway narrowly lost to Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment in the event final.

Parchment ran a season-best 13.04 to win the Olympic gold medal. Holloway finished second at a 13.09.

Holloway had the No. 1 time in the world heading into the final. His season-best of 12.81 is just a hundredth of a second shy of the world record.

Jamaica’s Ronald Levy got the bronze, running a 13.10.

-- Tyler Dragon

Hansle Parchment (left), Grant Holloway (right) and Ronald Levy (center) finish first, second, and third in the men's 110m hurdles final during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Hansle Parchment (left), Grant Holloway (right) and Ronald Levy (center) finish first, second, and third in the men's 110m hurdles final during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

US misses out on 4x100m relay final

TOKYO — In a stunning development, Team USA failed to qualify for the final in the men's 4x100 relay at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

The Americans fielded four of their fastest sprinters -- Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker and Crayvon Gillespie -- and got beat, finishing sixth in their preliminary heat. The top three finishers automatically qualified, with the next two fastest advancing on time.

The U.S. men, far right lane, finished sixth in their semifinal heat in the 4x100 relay and did not qualify for the final.
The U.S. men, far right lane, finished sixth in their semifinal heat in the 4x100 relay and did not qualify for the final.

The U.S. finished behind China, Canada, Italy, Germany and Ghana in its heat, with a time of 38.10.

Team USA has a history of relay mishaps, from lane violations to poor handoffs. This time, poor handoffs proved to be costly.

The U.S. last won gold in the event in 2000.

-- Tom Schad

Aussie skateboarder collides with cameraman on course

TOKYO – Park skateboarding comes with its fair share of wipeouts. In the Tokyo Olympics prelims, one came for the leader and a cameraman.

Australia’s Kieran Woolley was finishing a big run when he went to ride a rail atop the bowl. It’s not clear how he meant to come out of it, because atop the course he collided with a cameraman from the Olympic Broadcasting Services.

One the replay, it showed Woolley’s helmet colliding with the camera lens before the cameraman’s feed came into frame.

Both appeared to be unharmed and, thankfully for Woolley, it didn’t seem to matter.

He scored an 82.69 to take the overall lead during the third preliminary heat.

-- Rachel Axon

April Ross, left, and teammate Alix Klineman celebrate their semifinal win over Switzerland in the women's beach volleyball semifinals.
April Ross, left, and teammate Alix Klineman celebrate their semifinal win over Switzerland in the women's beach volleyball semifinals.

Ross and Klineman dominate on their way to gold medal match

TOKYO – The U.S. beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman are headed to the gold medal match after defeating the Swiss team 2-0 of Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich in the semifinal round.

The pair made quick work of the Swiss, defeating them 21-12, 21-11. They went on a 7-1 run at the end of the first set to win and a 5-1 run at the end of the second. Ross finished with 15 attack points while Klineman contributed nine attack points and four block points.

Ross and Klineman will play in the final on Friday, Aug. 6 against Australia’s Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy, who beat Latvia’s Tina Graudina/Anastasija Kravcenoka in the semifinal.”

The U.S. team has been paired together since 2018 and were ranked No. 2 in the world entering the Tokyo Olympics. Ross and Klineman won once and took third twice on the world tour in 2021. Together, they have six FIVB wins.

Ross has been to two previous Olympics – she won silver in 2012 with Jen Kessy and bronze in 2016 with Kerri Walsh Jennings. With her 2016 third-place finish, she became just the fourth beach volleyball player of any gender to win multiple Olympic medals in the sport (Walsh Jennings, Misty May-Treanor and Karch Kiraly are the others).

-- Olivia Reiner

Mr. T supporting the beach volleyball 'A Team'

Ahead of their semifinal match against Switzerland, the U.S. beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman, known as the "A Team," received support from a fellow A-Team member, Mr. T.

Ross and Klineman will face the Swiss duo of Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich at 8 p.m. ET for a spot in the gold medal match, as they look to be the first Americans since Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2012 to win gold in beach volleyball.

-- Jordan Mendoza

Magic for NBC's Olympics coverage begins in an old warehouse

STAMFORD, Conn. – In 2011, NBC while looking a place to set up shop for its sports department, stumbled upon a Clairol shampoo warehouse in this quaint Eastern Connecticut town about 40 miles northeast of New York City. No one envisioned it would play a crucial part of the network’s vast array of sports properties.

Ten years later, that warehouse space has been converted into one full floor of multiple control rooms and studio space, complete with an existing loading dock so television trucks would have a place to operate.

Although there are nearly 1,600 NBC Olympics employees on-site in Tokyo, most of the behind-the-scenes work is done in Stamford, including the aforementioned production trucks that help viewers watch volleyball, golf, basketball and the swimming events.

“The biggest part is how impressive and large the operation is and continues to grow in the United States and that’s just a product of the changes in technology and the importance of figuring out simple system to create television,” Sam Flood, Executive Producer & President, Production, NBC & NBC Sports Network, told USA TODAY Sports.

-- Scooby Axson

U.S. men's track and field team still in search of first gold medal in Tokyo

TOKYO – Earning an Olympic medal is extremely hard. Winning an Olympic gold medal is extraordinarily difficult, especially in individual sports such as track and field. The gold-medal winner truly has to be the best in the world. To put things in perspective, the world population is approaching 7.9 billion, according to Worldometer.

What’s transpired on the track and field for the U.S. men’s team encapsulates just that.

“It’s really hard. All the training, all the lifting, all the running and all the miles we put on our bodies,” Kenny Bednarek said moments after earning a men’s 200-meter silver medal. “It’s just a lot of hard, hard work. It’s not easy. You got to make sure to drink water, rehydrate every day, make sure to stretch every day and use all the equipment that you have…It’s not easy, but you can do it if you put in the hard work.”

Unfortunately for the U.S. men’s team none of them have been able to achieve their ultimately golden dreams.

Following six days of competition, the U.S. men’s squad has five overall medals – four silvers and one bronze. Zero gold medals. The U.S. track and field men are still leading all participating countries in the overall medal count with five. However, at the closing of Olympic track and field day six, 10 countries have at least one track and field gold medal, including Germany and Italy leading the way with two apiece.

The positive news for the U.S. men’s team is its gold-medal drought shouldn’t linger too much longer. World-record holder and reigning Olympic champion Ryan Crouser is the clear-cut favorite in the men’s shot put final on Thursday. On the track on Thursday, Grant Holloway is going into the 110-meter hurdles final ranNo. 1 in the world and in better form than any of his competitors. There could be two gold medals forthcoming, and possibly more, in the matter of hours. But that doesn’t take away from the incredible challenge it is to be the best in the world at an individual event.

It's not gold, but bronze is better than anything for the USWNT

KASHIMA, Japan - Bronze-medal games aren’t really the U.S. women’s thing.

Oh, they’re fine for other teams. For the marquee team in the game, however, it’s always been gold or bust. They’ve won the last two World Cups, and were runners-up the tournament before that. In the first five Olympic tournaments, they won either gold or silver.

But when the choice is bronze or bust, well, a bronze doesn’t look so bad.

“We’re lucky to be out here to play,” USWNT goalkeeper Adrianna Franch said Wednesday. “And we’re competitors. We’re here to win. We’re here to take home a medal. Everyone is trying to take home a medal. We didn’t make it for gold or silver, but a bronze is just as important (because) it’s what we have to fight for.”

For all of the USWNT’s success, this is the second consecutive Olympics where the world’s No. 1 team has failed to make the gold-medal game. Playing Australia on Thursday for the bronze is actually an improvement over 2016, when the Americans went out in the quarterfinals.

After winning the World Cup in 2019, and getting an extra year to recover from the celebrations that followed, the Americans seemed to be the favorites for gold in Tokyo. But they never looked quite right, getting routed by Sweden in their opener and being held scoreless in two of their three group games.

They needed a shootout to beat the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, then lost to Canada – for the first time in 20 years, no less – after the Canadians converted a penalty kick in the 74th.

This also might be the last game for some of the team’s biggest stars, and they don’t want to leave with a loss.

A bronze medal will never be good enough for the USWNT. But, in this case, it’s better than the alternative.

-- Nancy Armour

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Olympics 2021 recap: USA wins gold in wrestling, pole vault