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Olympics wrap: Track hopefuls push towards medal runs


Australian runners Linden Hall, Jessica Hull and Riley Day have put in solid heat performances this morning to join 800m runner Peter Bol as among our leading medal hopes on the track.

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Hall, Hull through to 1500m semis

Gun Australian duo Linden Hall and Jessica Hull have cruised into the Olympic 1500m semi-finals with a minimum of fuss, while Dutch superwoman Sifan Hassan was made to work much harder.

Hassan, who is chasing an unprecedented 1500-5000-10,000m treble in Tokyo, fell with one lap to run in the second heat on Monday morning.

But rather than panicking, Hassan quickly got back to her feet before mowing down the field in the concluding 400 metres.

Australian record holder Hall was rewarded for a brave display of front-running by cruising through third in a slick time of 4:02.27 seconds in the quickest heat, won by defending Olympic champ Faith Kipyegon from Kenya.

Having decided to target the 1500m rather than the 5000m in Tokyo, the US-based Hull (4:05.28) was also untroubled in advancing to the semis on Wednesday evening.

“Definitely you want to do one (event) and do it well,” Australian 5000m record holder Hull told the Seven Network.

“At this point in my career, the 1500 is where I’m most confident.

“I’ve raced it the most times, I know how to navigate the tactics a bit better.

“And it’s pretty brutal conditions for a 5K here, so choosing the 1500, when my coach decided a couple of weeks ago, I was all in.”

Georgia Griffith was never in contention in the opening heat as she finished second-last in 4:14.43.

In the women’s 200m, Queenslander Riley Day finished third in her heat to qualify for tonight’s semi-final.

‘Mingling’ Aussie athletes spark COVID scare

A group of athletes has sparked a COVID-19 scare in the Australian Olympic team after mingling with other residents inside the Games village.

Team chef de mission Ian Chesterman said none of the Australians involved in the Saturday night incident had tested positive and they had rejoined the group.

“It was a very minor offence – I’m not taking any disciplinary action, none was necessary,” he said.

It followed a party in a park on Friday at the end of the Games village, which did not involved any Australian team members.

“There was a similar mingling afterwards (on Saturday), we became aware of that and that a few of our athletes had been mixing with other athletes – not in the heat of the party, but in places outside of our direct allotment,” Chesterman said.

“That’s clearly something we don’t encourage.

“They understood what they did was not according to the Australian playbook, but nonetheless it didn’t lead me to any great concern.”

Chesterman would not name the athletes or their sports.

He said they had finished their competition at the Olympics and the incident involved “around about” 10 members of the Australian Games team.

Olympic athletes are having to abide by strict COVID-19 protocols and there are no crowds at Tokyo competition venues.

A large group of Australian competitors will return home on a Monday night charter flight and all of them will go into two-week quarantine.

Green paddles into contention in canoe sprint

Olympic debutant Tom Green has advanced directly through to semi-finals of the men’s K1 1000 metres in Monday’s opening day of canoe sprint racing in Tokyo.

The 22-year-old Queenslander, who is coached by three-time Olympic medallist Ken Wallace, finished second in his heat behind Rio silver medallist Czech Josef Dostal.

Green led the field at the halfway mark after a blistering start and looked comfortable cruising to the line with the top two avoiding the repechage.

Australian teammate Jean van der Westhuyzen finished third in his heat and will go into the repechage later Monday.

Bol rockets into 800m contention

Australia’s Peter Bol is considered a strong medal chance in the men’s 800m final at the Tokyo Olympics tonight. Picture: Yoann Cambefort/Marti Media/DPPI/Sipa USA

Peter Bol has rocketed into medal contention at the Tokyo Olympics after improving the Australian 800m record for the second time in as many days.

Bol won his semi-final in one minute 44.11 seconds on Sunday night, stripping two-hundredths of a second off the mark he set in the opening round.

He will be the first Australian man to contest an Olympic 800m final since Ralph Doubell won the gold medal in Mexico City in 1968.

And if the Sudanese-born runner can replicate that performance in Wednesday’s decider, he is every chance of claiming a spot on the podium.

“I went to Europe for three weeks and raced two races; they weren’t the best in terms of positions but they were the best for preparation,” said Bol.

Bol was the second-fastest overall qualifier behind Kenyan Ferguson Rotich (1:44.04).

Fellow Australians Charlie Hunter and Jeff Riseley were eliminated in the semis.

Commonwealth champion Brandon Starc played a key role in an epic men’s high jump final.

Starc finished a creditable fifth with 2.35m but only after having a couple of unsuccessful cracks at what would have been a new Australian record of 2.39m.

“It was hard – 2.35 and to come fifth, I don’t how many times that would have happened,” Starc said.

“I thought I was a genuine chance at 2.39, but that’s how it goes.”

Dual world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi declined a jump-off, meaning they tied for the Olympic title at 2.37m.

Tired Matildas prepare for Sweden re-match

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

Australia captain and star striker Sam Kerr is in doubt for tonight’s women’s Olympic soccer semi-final against Sweden.

Kerr, who looked to be struggling late in the quarter-final extra-time win over Great Britain, has played every minute of the Matildas’ campaign so far, as has Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter, Emily van Egmond and Tameka Yallop.

But the high of delivering one of Australia’s greatest wins is yet to wear off and the side’s adamant they can overcome niggles and fatigue and once again vanquish past demons when they face the Scandinavians for the second time this tournament.

A brace from inspirational skipper Kerr and a goalkeeping clinic from Teagan Micah secured a 4-3 upset quarter-final victory over the Brits on Friday night.

It was the Matildas’ first knockout win at an Olympics or World Cup since 2015 and guaranteed they’ll play off for a medal.

The Australians haven’t defeated Sweden in 11 games stretching back 24 years, including a 4-2 loss last week.

“When you look at the rankings, obviously (Great Britain) was the second favourite in this tournament … and obviously Sweden’s ranked above us as well,” Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said.

“But I think we’ve shown throughout this tournament that we believe in ourselves, and we stay loyal to who we are, whoever we play.

“So just believing in ourselves, go out and do our game plan and stick to that and play our game and hopefully it’ll take us to the final.”

Triple treat for Venezualan jumper

Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela celebrates her triple jump win in Tokyo. Picture: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images.)

Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas has set a world record with her final attempt on Sunday night to win the women’s triple jump gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics after earlier eclipsing the Olympic record.

Rojas already had the victory assured when she took the last of her six attempts, finishing with a mark of 15.67m to break the previous record of 15.50m set in 1995 by Inessa Kravets of Ukraine.

The win made Rojas Venezuela’s first female Olympic champion.

“I was looking for it, I knew we had that distance in my legs to get it today. I was failing a bit in the technical aspect but the last jump was one to give everything, and it was like that,” she said.

“I focused on giving my best, enjoying, and it came out.”

The two-time world champion, who won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Games, earlier broke the Olympic record of 15.39 with her first attempt in the final.

Patricia Mamona of Portugal took silver with a national record of 15.01m while Spain’s Ana Peleteiro claimed bronze with a national record of 14.87m.

Shock Olympic 100m gold for Italy’s ‘Lamont who?’

Lamont Marcell Jacobs won gold in the 100m last night. Picture: Alfredo Falcone – LaPresse/Sipa USA.

Texas-born Lamont Marcell Jacobs has become one of the biggest surprise winners – and the first Italian champion – in the history of Olympic men’s 100 metres.

Jacobs smashed his personal best and set a new European record in the title race last night with a winning time of 9.80 seconds.

American Fred Kerley claimed the silver medal in 9.84 and Canada’s Andre de Grasse took the bronze in 9.89, with all three medallists setting PBs.

It was the first Olympic 100m final of the post-Usain Bolt era – and not a single Jamaican qualified for the medal race.

The now-retired Bolt had won the previous three Olympic 100m crowns but instead of a marquee global name, many were left asking ‘Lamont who?’ after Jacobs raced to the title.

Nobody was more amazed than the winner. “I don’t know, it’s a dream, a dream, it is fantastic. Maybe tomorrow I can imagine what they are saying, but today it is incredible,” said Jacobs.

“It’s been my dream since I was a child. I need a week or so to understand what has happened.

“I’ve won an Olympic gold after Bolt, it’s unbelievable. Tonight, staring at the ceiling, perhaps I will realise.”

Even in a race with no clear favourites, the 26-year-old Jacobs proved a surprise champion – and his victory came on quite a night for Italy, just a few minutes after countryman Gianmarco Tamberi had tied Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim for gold.

Jacobs was born in El Paso, Texas – the son of an American father and an Italian mother and moved to Italy as a young boy when the US military transferred his dad to South Korea.

He was a long jump specialist for years, and his biggest major success was an indoor 60 metres win at the European Indoor championships.

His path was made easier when American Trayvon Bromell, who came into Tokyo with the world’s leading time and as the odds-on favourite, didn’t even make the final, finishing third in his semi.

Australian Rohan Browning was also run out in the semis after finishing fifth in 10.09 just eight-hundredths of a second slower than he clocked in the opening round on Saturday.

 – with AAP

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