Big day for Dressel, Chinese in pool
Caeleb Dressel got his first individual gold medal, the Chinese women put together a record-setting relay and American Sunisa Lee won the women’s all-around gymnastics gold.
After the biggest action of the day session on Day Six of the Tokyo Olympics came at the pool, Lee shone at night in gymnastics with teammate Simone Biles watching from the stands.
Lee became the fifth straight American woman to claim the Olympic title in the women’s all-around. She edged Rebeca Andrade of Brazil in an entertaining and hotly contested final.
Lee’s total of 57.433 points was just enough to top Andrade. The Brazilian earned the first gymnastics all-around medal by a Latin American athlete, but missed out on gold when she stepped out of bounds twice during her floor routine.
Russian gymnast Angelina Melnikova earned bronze two days after leading the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to gold in the team final.
OLYMPIC RECORD TIME
Dressel, America’s successor to Michael Phelps, won the 100-metre freestyle in an Olympic record of 47.02 seconds – a mere six-hundredths ahead of defending champion Kyle Chalmers of Australia. That gave him a fourth career gold medal, with three previous ones coming in relays.
“It is a lot different. I guess I thought it would be, I just didn’t want to admit to it,” he said. “It’s a lot tougher. You have to rely on yourself, there’s no one to bail you out.”
The most dramatic race of the day came when China surprised the US and Australia with a world-record performance in the women’s 4x200-metre freestyle relay.
Katie Ledecky took the anchor leg for the Americans in third place, nearly two seconds behind the Chinese and also trailing the Aussies.
Ledecky passed Australia’s Leah Neale and closed the gap significant on China’s Li Bingjie, but couldn’t quite catch her at the end.
Li touched in a world-record seven minutes, 40.33 seconds. She also set an Olympic record in winning the 200-metre butterfly before the relay.
“I didn’t know I was doing it until I’d finished the 200 butterfly and our coach told me, ‘You’re in the relay’,” she said through an interpreter. “I didn’t even know how to swim the 200 free, although I have the training qualities and levels for the 200 distances.”
The Americans claimed silver in 7:40.73, while Australia took the bronze in 7:41.29. All three medallists broke the previous world record of 7:41.50 set by the Aussies at the 2019 World Championships.
Novak Djokovic is into the medal rounds of the Olympic tennis tournament. The top-ranked Serb rolled past home favourite Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-2, 6-0 to reach the semi-finals and extend his bid for a Golden Slam.
Steffi Graf in 1988 is the only tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.
Djokovic has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year and needs the Tokyo Games title and the United States Open trophy to complete the Golden Slam.
In the women’s tournament, 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will meet in the gold-medal match. Bencic beat Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3 and Vondrousova – who eliminated Naomi Osaka in the third round – defeated fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3, 6-1.