Wednesday, December 1

Ten of the best Australian stories from the Tokyo Olympics | Tokyo 2020 Olympics


First round: Titmus beats Ledecky

It was the most anticipated moment of the 2020 Tokyo swim meet: American swimming queen Katie Ledecky versus 20-year-old Australian Ariarne Titmus in the 400m freestyle. Ledecky had dominated the event for years, but a teenage Titmus had overshadowed it at the 2019 world championships. After two years of no competition, the rivals were back in the pool. The 400m discipline is grueling – too long for sprinting, too short for endurance pace. Ledecky led and was ahead of Titmus for most of the race, before Tasmania’s came up on the final lap to win its first Olympic gold medal. It was a tactical swim executed to perfection. And he got the celebration he deserved from Titmus trainer Dean Boxall, who caught the world’s attention with his twists. (Kieran Pender)

Mateship motivates the Moloney medal

Ash Moloney had given all he could. He knew it and his team knew it. Fortunately, Cedric Dubler is on your team. Moloney had broken his stomach in the first nine events of the decathlon and was about to get to where no Australian decathlete had ever gone before: the podium. But to secure bronze, the 21-year-old Queenslander had to finish no more than 10 seconds behind American Garrett Scantling in the 1500 meters. It was a task that could have gone beyond an exhausted Moloney, but he was not alone in this. Dubler, Moloney’s longtime sparring partner, was injured and was not in dispute, but he devised a plan to help a friend in need. With his hamstring tied, Dubler set the pace until it was time for Moloney to rush past and sprint to the finish line. When Moloney got over him, Dubler stayed close, wishing Moloney would return home with words of incessant encouragement. “He was yelling, I can’t repeat what he said,” Moloney said. “I could hear his voice bouncing off my skull like a bat out of hell.” It worked. Moloney finished just four seconds behind Scantling to take bronze. Dubler won nothing except the hearts of a nation that values ​​camaraderie above all else. (Scott Heinrich)

Cedric Dubler and Ashley Moloney
“I could hear his voice bouncing off my skull like a bat out of hell.” Photograph: Patrick Smith / Getty Images

‘Patty Mills for Prime Minister’

For a long time, an Olympic medal had eluded Australia’s men’s basketball team. On four previous occasions, the team had played the bronze medal match and lost each time. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, the loss to Spain was particularly heartbreaking – a questionable last-minute foul against Boomers talisman Patty Mills that sent Australia into a one-point loss. In Tokyo, in another clash for the bronze medal, Mills made sure that this misfortune was not repeated. Australia’s Tokyo 2020 co-flagger Mills put the Boomers on his shoulders and led them to Olympic glory. His stat line was remarkable: 42 points, nine assists and three rebounds. There was nothing stopping Mills. The joy that followed the victory underscored what it meant not only to the 12 players in Tokyo, but also to past generations of Boomers. Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze was crying in a television interview. Mills’ hug on the court with his friend and teammate Joe Ingles was an iconic moment. An Olympic medal at last, prompting tongue-in-cheek suggestions that Mills should become the next leader of the nation. (KP)

Brotherly pride for BMX star Sakakibara

When Saya Sakakibara rides, it is not just for her. The BMX racer went to Tokyo bent on a medal, one that she would have dedicated to her brother, Kai. He was also a brilliant pilot and would have had a medal shot in Tokyo if it weren’t for a horror accident in 2020 that left him with a serious brain injury. She just learned to walk and talk again and was looking forward to her sister moving on as she led the field in the third race of the second semifinal, racing towards what seemed like a certain spot in the final. But then disaster struck. Sakakibara was knocked down from behind in a crash that put hearts in the mouths of all who watched. His Olympics were over, but Sakakibara’s well-being was the only thing that mattered as he lay motionless on the track. Fortunately, after showing signs of a mild concussion, Sakakibara was cleared of a serious injury. But nothing could cure the anguish. “This is very disappointing,” he said. “I feel like I have let everyone down. I disappointed everyone, especially my brother. “Sakakibara did nothing of the sort.” I’m very proud of her, “Kai said, as tears drowned across the nation of viewers. (SH)

Saya Sakakibara collides with Alise Willoughby of the USA.
Saya Sakakibara collides with Alise Willoughby of the USA. Photograph: John Cowpland / AAP

Fox finally fulfills his dream

Australian canoe slalom star Jess Fox hails from Olympic royalty; her parents are former Olympians (her mother, Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi, a bronze medalist). Before Tokyo, Fox had two medals to his name: silver in London and bronze in Rio. She added another bronze in Tokyo and then 48 hours later, in the women’s C1 canoe slalom event, Fox finally claimed gold. His father, Richard Fox, was part of the Channel Seven commentary team in Australia; he remained expressionless throughout the coverage, until father and daughter met on a living cross from the Kasai slalom course. “I can’t wait to show you this dad,” Fox said. (KP)

Jess Fox celebrates after finally securing an Olympic gold.
Jess Fox celebrates after finally securing an Olympic gold. Photograph: Joe Giddens / AAP

Palmer takes a hit for the new generation

Be honest, when the Games started, you were talking on your lockdown slanket about skateboarding not being a sport, right? But it turns out that kids are the future, and if taught well, they’ll lead the way, doing stunts and gingersnaps as they go. And children is not an exaggeration. Of the four golds on offer, three were for teens. The podium at the women’s street event had a combined age of 42! The Australians played their part in a discipline that brought more color and camaraderie than any other event at the Games. Keegan Palmer did the best two races in the men’s park final, and by a long distance. “It’s an absolute honor to skate with my friends,” Palmer said afterward, summing up the esprit de corps of this strangest of the Olympics, as only his generation can. “I can’t believe I’m here in Tokyo for the Olympics, skating with so many of my best friends from when I was little. And now we are all on the podium together, and it is an absolute honor. I have no fucking words, man. It’s fucking crazy. “(Jonathan Howcroft)

Rohan Browning from Australia
Australia has discovered a true sprint star in Rohan Browning. Photograph: Joe Giddens / AAP

Browning and Bol captivate the nation

It’s been some time since Australia had a lot to be happy about in the men’s Olympic races. That changed in Tokyo with not one, but two new stars on the track. At the start of the week-long track and field program, Rohan Browning became the second fastest Australian sprinter in the 100m in history and the first in decades to win an Olympic 100m. While Browning fell short in the semi-final after a slow start, 800m runner Peter Bol took the lead and wowed Australia with his energy and enthusiasm. Bol’s fourth place was the best Australian finish in the discipline in decades, but the inspiration it provided was just as important. Both Browning and Bol will return to Paris. (KP)

Wright’s Stuff on Surfing’s Olympic Debut

One of the many inspiring stories that the Olympics regularly shed light on, Owen Wright’s triumph over adversity stands out given the journey he undertook from the depths of despair after a severe brain injury five years ago to thin air. of an Olympic podium. The fact that he seems like a genuinely nice man added to the pleasant narrative and made it easy for the watching audience to fall in love with him. Wright had to relearn how to walk, and surf, after sustaining serious head injuries in a beating in 2015; many would not even have returned to the water, but not only did Wright return to surfing, he returned to top-level competition and capped a remarkable comeback with a bronze medal at the sport’s inaugural Olympic competition. His celebrations on the beach with other members of the Australian surf team, all of whom seemed genuinely delighted with their teammate’s victory, will live long in memory. (Mike Hytner)

Owen Wright from Australia
Owen Wright lets it all out after finishing on the podium. Photograph: Lisi Niesner / Reuters

Cate Campbell’s Perfect Change

Australia’s gold women in the pool closed the Olympic swimming match on top by winning the women’s 4x100m medley relay. The Australians beat the United States by less than two-tenths of a second. Cate Campbell’s quick reaction time finally made the difference. Campbell, a relay veteran, was anchoring the relay with the final freestyle stage. When Emma McKeon hit the wall at the end of the butterfly leg, Campbell was off the blocks in 0.04 seconds. It was the perfect change, within legal limits, but only fair. His American rival Abbey Weitzeil, on the other hand, took 0.38 seconds. After a nervous wait to verify that Campbell’s trade had been legal, Australia finally received the gold medal. If the great Australian swimmer had been just 0.14 of a second slower, he would have been second on the podium behind the United States. (KP)

Sam kerr
Sam Kerr, the talisman of the Matildas. Photograph: Henry Romero / Reuters

Mad about Matildas

The popularity of the Matildas was already through the roof before the Games began; two and a half weeks later, its public stock is, if anything, even larger. No matter that they didn’t return home with a coveted medal, no matter that they only won two games during the campaign in Tokyo (the only two of their first 11 under new coach Tony Gustavsson), the Matildas capture the imagination of the Australian public. like few, if any, other national teams. Never again than during the thrilling quarter-finals against Great Britain, when this team’s indefatigable talisman, Sam Kerr, scored in injury time to send the tie into extra time. Then Tegan Micah saved a penalty, Mary Fowler and Kerr again scored and the Matildas endured a famous 4-3 win that was as much due to team spirit and never-die attitude as anything else. Public fervor reached a zenith. A semi-final loss to Sweden and a victory for the United States in the bronze medal match followed, but for a moment in Tokyo anything seemed possible. (MH)


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