Image: Wikimedia Commons / Rwjabour
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Rwjabour

Tokyo 2020 – Day 2: Team GB win first medals on day of upsets

Team GB took their first medals of Tokyo 2020 on a day of upsets which saw a number of promising competitors knocked out of heats or forced to withdraw from the Games.

It was our martial artists who first added to the Tokyo medal haul. Chelsie Giles, of Coventry, defeated Switzerland’s Fabienne Kocher in the women’s under-52kg judo in the repechage to take bronze, Team GB’s first medal of the tournament – the gold went to Japan’s Uta Abe. In the taekwondo, Bradly Sinden was aiming to be the first British man to win an Olympic gold, but he narrowly missed out to Uzbekistan’s Ulugbek Rashitov, the fight slipping from his hands in the final minute.

In the women’s taekwondo, there was a surprise defeat, with Jade Jones knocked out of the opening round by Kimia Alizadeh of the IOC refugee team. Jones was hoping to win her third successive Olympic gold, but will instead go home empty-handed.

In the tennis, two big name performers had a bad day. On medical advice, Andy Murray has withdrawn from the men’s singles due to a thigh injury – in the women’s singles, world number one Ashleigh Barty was stunned by Sara Sorribes, who beat her in straight sets 6-4 6-3. Naomi Osaka is now the highest-ranked player in the singles draw, easily defeating China’s Saisai Zheng 6-1 6-4, while Barty remains in the women’s doubles competition, partnered with Storm Sanders.

In the cycling, in a huge upset, the 1,000-1 outsider Anna Kiesenhofer won the women’s road race, more than a minute ahead of second-placed favourite Annemiek van Vleuten. She was so far ahead, van Vleuten didn’t even know she was in the race, and thought she had won as she crossed the finish line. A similar surprise came in the men’s 400m freestyle, where 18-year-old Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui won in 3:43.36, surpassing the Australian and US favourites. It was also a disappointment for the USA in basketball, where their men’s team suffered their first loss for 17 years, beaten by France 83-76.

US gymnastic star Simone Biles qualified for a number of finals later in the week, although her performance was not quite as solid as expected. Both surfing and skateboarding made their Olympic debuts, and Japan’s Yuto Horigome won the first gold in the latter sport’s men’s street event. Elsewhere, it was a bittersweet moment for Oksana Chusovitna, who is competing in her record eighth Olympics – the Uzbek gymnast missed the vault final, and bid fans a tearful farewell as she exited her final Games to a standing ovation from fans, coaches and fellow gymnasts.

External setbacks continued. Covid has again appeared in the Olympic village – both John Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau have had to withdraw from the men’s golf after testing positive for the virus. Two days of rowing have also been cancelled due to expected storms and high winds, and an extreme weather policy was activated in the tennis tournament.

Medal table:

  1. China

Gold (6), Silver (1), Bronze (4), Total (11)

  1. Japan

Gold (5), Silver (1), Bronze (0), Total (6)

  1. USA

Gold (4), Silver (2), Bronze (4), Total (10)

  1. South Korea

Gold (2), Silver (0), Bronze (3), Total (5)

  1. Russian Olympic Committee

Gold (1), Silver (4), Bronze (2), Total (7)

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