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Olympic update: Aussies win gold, two bronze in pool

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Star swimmer Ariarne Titmus has led Australia to a golden morning in the pool, winning the Women’s 400 metres after Emma McKeon won bronze in the 100m Butterfly. The men’s 4x100m relay team, anchored by Adelaide’s Kyle Chalmers, also won bronze.

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Aussie men win freestyle relay bronze

A flying anchor leg from Kyle Chalmers has lifted the Australian team to the bronze medal in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay at the Tokyo Olympics.

The lineup of of Matt Temple, Zac Incerti, Alexander Graham and  Chalmers finished behind the United States and Italy in Monday’s final.

The medal lifts Australia’s overall Tokyo tally to two golds, one silver and three bronze – all won by swimmers.

The men’s relayers couldn’t repeat the heroics of their countrywomen, who set a world record in winning gold on Sunday – their third consecutive Olympic title.

But reigning Olympic 100m champion Chalmers produced a stunning last leg to drag Australia from fifth at the turn onto the podium.

Australia’s men found the pace of the world-record holding Americans too hot to handle, with US star Caleb Dressel swimming a standout opening leg.

Dressel is the main rival to Chalmers in the individual 100m freestyle – those opening heats are contested on Tuesday evening.

The Americans led from start to finish in the relay final, winning in three minutes 08.97 seconds, with Australia 1.25 seconds behind in third.

Titmus defeats Ledecky to win gold

Swimmer Ariarne Titmus has defeated US legend Katie Ledecky in the Women’s 400m Freestyle to claim Australia’s first individual gold of the Tokyo Olympics.

The 20-year-old triumphed in a titanic final on Monday, defeating the United States’ five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky.

Titmus’ achievement is Australia’s second gold medal of the Tokyo Games, following the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay success.

And it delivers Ledecky, regarded as the greatest female swimmer ever, her first defeat in an Olympic final.

Titmus, in lane three, kept watch on Ledecky in lane four in what became the ultimate match race between the pair.

The American held the lead for the initial 300m but Titmus was watching her all the way, lurking at her heels.

The young Australian ominously surged closer and was just 0.16 seconds behind Ledecky with 100m remaining.

Titmus then reeled in her rival in a perfectly executed race plan to win by half a body length in a time of three minutes 56.69 seconds.

The 20-year-old Tasmanian is struggling to comprehend her 400m freestyle victory which instantly entered Australian sporting folklore.

“It’s surreal. It’s probably the biggest thing you can pull off in your sporting career,” she said.

“To pull it off against someone who has an amazing second half of her race, I’m really proud of that,” Titmus said.

“I thanked her at the end. I wouldn’t be here without her.”

Ledecky touched home in 3:57.36 and China’s Li Bingjie was well back in third position in 4:01.08.

Titmus and Ledecky will also square off in a much-hyped 200m freestyle battle, though the American is favoured to win their duel over 800m.

Butterfly bronze for McKeon

Emma McKeon won Bronze in the Women’s 100m Butterfly this morning to add to the relay gold she won yesterday. Picture: Joe Giddens/AAP

Australian swimmer Emma McKeon has won the bronze medal in the 100m butterfly at the Tokyo Olympics.

McKeon collected her second medal of the Tokyo Games, taking Australia’s tally to one gold, one silver and two bronze – all at the pool.

The 26-year-old was also part of Australia’s women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team which claimed gold on Sunday.

McKeon now has six Olympic medals, after winning four at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

In Monday’s 100m ‘fly final, McKeon produced a strong last lap to emerge as a medallist behind Canadian winner Margaret Macneil (55.59 seconds) and China’s Zhang Yufei.

The Australian’s butterfly bronze comes during a gruelling program in Tokyo which could reap seven medals for the Wollongong-born allrounder.

She’s a genuine gold chance in both the individual 50m and 100m freestyles, with more medal opportunities in three more relays.

Coached by the renowned Michael Bohl, McKeon was Australia’s most successful athlete at the 2016 Rio Olympics, with a freestyle relay gold, two other relay silvers and a bronze in the 200m freestyle.

Fitzgibbons through to surf quarters, Gilmore crashes out

Stephanie Gilmore has been knocked out of the Tokyo 2020 surfing competition. Picture: Kyodo via AP Images

Aussie surfer Sally Fitzgibbons is safely through to the Olympic surfing quarter-finals.

Fitzgibbons ousted France’s last medal hope Pauline Ado to join the likes of world No.1 Carissa Moore as round-three winners on Monday.

Ranked fourth in Olympic competition, Fitzgibbons laid down two-wave scores of 5.83 and 5.03 with her combined 10.83 enough to overcome the 9.03 of Ado, who couldn’t manage any better than a 4.80.

Fitzgibbons will now face Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki in the last eight at Tsurigasaki beach.

Stephanie Gilmore will be haunted by a poor wave choice that ended her hunt for an Olympic surfer medal, crashing out in the third round to South African outsider Bianca Buitendag this morning.

Australia’s seven-time world champion took to the water in Monday’s opening heat at Tsurigasaki beach and got off to a promising start.

But 27-year-old Buitendag, who no longer competes on the World Surf League, nailed two consecutive big scores to storm past Gilmore.

The 33-year-old Queenslander will rue her decision to cede priority to Buitendag, who used the wave to post a 7.10 – the biggest score of the match-up.

“I looked at that wave and I was like, it doesn’t look that good, so I let her have it and she turned it into a seven, so that was the most frustrating thing to me – like, man, I should have just taken that wave,” Gilmore said.

The South African’s scores of 6.83 and then 7.10 left Gilmore needing 7.76 to regain the lead and while she had 14 minutes up her sleeve, she couldn’t find the winning waves with the final margin 13.93 to 10.0.

“That’s just the nature of surfing, sometimes the waves are there, sometimes the waves are not,” Gilmore said.

The world No.5 looked on track for a medal, posting the highest score of the women’s competition in the opening round but couldn’t replicate that form a day later.

Buitendag was ranked as high as world No.4 in 2014 but hasn’t had full-time status since 2016 and secured Olympic qualification through the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games.

Botched start mars triathlon

Triathlete, third from left, was the highest placed Australian in this morning’s race. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt has overcome early chaos which forced a race restart to claim the Olympic men’s triathlon gold medal.

Blummenfelt broke away late in the closing 10km run leg to win from Briton Alex Yee with Kiwi Hayden Wilde taking the bronze, while Jake Birtwhistle was Australia’s best performer in 16th.

In embarrassing scenes at the start line, a camera boat blocked the entry of almost half of the 51 competitors into the water at Tokyo’s Odaiba Marine Park.

The boat then almost reversed over some swimmers, while support craft frantically tried to get the message of a false start to those in the water to steer them back to the pontoon.

The race was safely restarted about 10 minutes later.

With a little over two kilometres to go, the three medallists cleared away before world No.2 Blummenfelt made his winning break to secure his country’s first medal in the sport, winning by 11 seconds with a time of one hour 45 minutes and four seconds.

The 27-year-old Norwegian collapsed shortly after crossing the finish line and had to be helped into a wheelchair to leave the area.

One of the race favourites, Britain’s Jonny Brownlee, was bidding for his third successive Olympic medal having won bronze in London and silver in Rio, but had to settle for fifth while French world champion Vincent Luis finished 13th in the sweltering conditions.

Queensland’s Matt Hauser was 24th while Aaron Royle, from NSW was two places back in 26th.

Royle and Birtwhistle were right in the hunt midway through the bike leg, sitting second and third behind Luxembourg’s Stefan Zachaus.

But they were swamped by the chasing pack

Costly beginning leads to opening rugby sevens loss

Argentina players celebrate after defeating Australia in their men’s rugby sevens match.
Photo: Shuji Kajiyama

A horror first half has cost Australia in a 29-19 men’s rugby sevens loss to Argentina that leaves their campaign for an Olympic medal teetering.

Tim Walsh’s side was unable to gather any of the first three kick-offs from Argentina, allowing the underdogs a weight of possession they took full advantage of.

Another sloppy piece of play when they finally had the ball led to a fourth Argentina try in the first seven minutes and a 24-0 lead at the break.

A double to Josh Turner and another to Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi gave Australia – eighth at the sport’s Olympic debut in Rio – hope of a miracle comeback.

But needing a try on the final play of the game they again lost the aerial contest from the kick-off, allowing Lautaro Bazan Velez to run unopposed for the match-sealing try.

Australia only just snuck into the Olympics, a last-minute try the difference in a tense 19-12 defeat of Samoa in the Oceania playoff.

The Aussies were fourth in the World Series before it was halted due to COVID-19 last year and entered Tokyo with quiet confidence of challenging for a medal.

That quest has hit an early roadblock though.

Australia play South Korea later today before they clash with New Zealand on Tuesday morning, likely needing to win both games to finish in the top two and progress to the quarter-finals.

The two best third-placed finishes across the three pools will also progress.

The All Blacks were pushed briefly by the Koreans, leading 7-5 late in the first half before running away with the game 50-5.

Shootout ends Aussie archers’ Olympic run

Archer Taylor Worth in action in Tokyo. Picture: Adam Davy/AAP

Australia’s quest for consecutive Olympic archery medals in the men’s team event has ended, but only after a thrilling shoot-off against world No.2 Taiwan.

Taylor Worth and Ryan Tyack were backing up after winning bronze in Rio, joined in the three-man Australian team by 2004 Olympian David Barnes.

The contest on Monday morning was neck and neck, with Australia winning the first and third sets, and Taiwan the second and fourth to take it to a shoot-off, which the Australians lost by a solitary point for a 4-5 overall result.

Australia got off to a strong start, easily winning the first set at Yumenoshima Park 53-48, with Taiwan looking shaky despite their superior ranking.

But their rivals settled to take the second set 55-53 and level.

Australia were boosted in the third set when two arrows were reviewed and elevated from nines to 10, giving them the win.

Taiwan then delivered their best performance of the day in the fourth set to push the match to a shoot-off, reeling off five consecutive 10s for a stunning 58-52 scoreline.

Tyack opened the decider with a costly eight, with Barnes adding 10, however Worth also needed a 10 with the final arrow to match with Taiwanese.

He only managed a nine, with Australia falling 28-27 and Taiwan moving into the quarter-finals.

Matilda’s prepare for crunch match with US

Picture: Mandi Wright/USA TODAY Network/Sipa USA/AAP

When the United States put New Zealand to the sword in women’s football at the Tokyo Olympics, there was no crowd but there were a handful of interested observers in the stands.

One, clapping all six American goals, was First Lady Jill Biden.

Another quiet observer was Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson – a man arguably more accustomed to watching the world champions from the sideline than the stands – ahead of Tuesday’s crunch match against the world No.1 ranked team.

Before he was named Australia coach in September 2020, Gustavsson was US assistant coach in 2012, then again between 2014 and 2019, with two Women’s World Cup triumphs and an Olympic gold medal to show for it.

There’s little change in US personnel since Gustavsson’s departure – only five of their 22-player Olympics squad weren’t 2019 World Cup champions – and he’ll have to lean on every bit of inside knowledge for the reunion with his former team.

“We want to test ourselves against the best, and we have an opportunity here as the Matildas to test ourselves against the best,” Gustavsson said

The US and Australia both sit on three points, having each lost to Sweden and beaten New Zealand, though the Americans have a superior goal difference.

A Matildas win would lock in second place in group G and a quarter-final against the group F winner – either the Netherlands or Brazil.

A draw should see the Matildas progress as one of two best third-placed teams to play the group E winner – either Great Britain or Canada – as should a loss, but the latter would see them face a nervous wait on results in other groups.

But for now their fate will be in their own hands from at Kashima Stadium on Tuesday (6pm AEST).

“We showed in both these opening games now that we are very true to who we are as a team – we’re ready to play our best with the crest on the chest and leave it all out there,” Gustavsson said after losing to Sweden.

“… We’ll go about (the US) game as being ourselves and hope that we’re good enough to beat them – we know we can if we play our A game.”

Mountain course awaits Aussie husband and wife team

Mountain biker Dan McConnell will be in action in Tokyo this afternoon ahead of his wife Bec’s race tomorrow. Picture: Evan Jeffrey/AAP

Husband and wife mountain biking team Dan and Bec McConnell will begin their Tokyo Olympics campaign this afternoon on the challenging Shizuoka course.

Dan is racing at his fourth Olympics this afternoon and has improved at each Games, finishing 39th, 21st and most recently 16th in Rio.

Now he wants to work into the top 10 during his race, knowing that would give him the springboard for a big result.

But more than anything, he just wants his race to go smoothly.

“I haven’t had the best races previously at the Olympics, I’ve had a little bit of bad luck with mechanicals and what-not,” he said.

“Just the last few weeks, things have started to click pretty nicely and I’ve turned up in pretty good shape.

“It’s a super-challenging course here, it’s going to be fairly close racing.”

Tomorrow, he will nervously look on as Bec tries to make Australian mountain biking history at the Games.

Australia’s best results have been Mary Grigson’s sixth and Cadel Evans’ seventh at the Sydney Olympics.

But McConnell, nee Henderson, has gone to a new level with bronze medals at the past two world championships.

“It never is super-easy to watch her – it’s quite stressful,” Dan said.

“But at the same time … we’re fairly used to it now.

“It seems to working pretty good at the moment and especially to see Bec riding so well, it’s quite rewarding for me.”

 – with AAP

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