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Friday, September 17, 2021
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Double gold joy for American men in pool, Croatia and New Zealand triumph in rowing

Caeleb Dressel of the United States won the men’s 100m freestyle gold and compatriot Bobby Finke clinched the 800m free in a day of double American glory in the Tokyo pool on Thursday (July 29).

World champion Dressel powered to victory an Olympic record time of 47.02, finishing six hundredths of a second ahead of Rio winner Kyle Chalmers of Australia, with Russian Kliment Kolesnikov taking bronze. Dressel went into the race as favourite and led from rising star Kolesnikov at the turn before holding off a strong finish from Chalmers to touch first.

Finke pulled off a surprise win ahead of Italian world champion Gregorio Paltrinieri, who led all the way until the 750m turn when German Florian Wellbrock moved in front for the last length. But Finke then made his late move and powered home in a time of 7:41.87. Wellbrock faded but Paltrinieri did not, the Italian, who had been a doubt for the Games due to illness, touching 0.24 seconds behind Finke to take the silver. Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk took the bronze medal.

Australia’s Zac Stubblety-Cook took gold in the men’s 200m breaststroke with a powerful late surge to the finish.

Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands led at the 150m turn and was inside world record time as he fought with Finland’s Matti Mattsson.

Stubbletly-Cook was third on the last turn, 1.2 seconds adrift of the lead, but then delivered an astonishing final lap to secure the country’s fifth gold medal in the pool so far and the first for their men. Kamminga was second, adding to his silver in the 100m breaststroke, with Mattsson taking bronze.

The gold was the first in men’s breaststroke for Australia since Ian O’Brien in Tokyo in 1964, also in the 200m.

Croatia’s mighty Sinkovic brothers came out on top in the men’s pair and New Zealand’s unstoppable crew triumphed in the women’s event as Olympic rowing continued on Thursday at Tokyo’s blustery Sea Forest Waterway.

Martin Sinkovic and Valent Sinkovic, who won gold in the double sculls in Rio and were pairs world champions in 2018 and 2019, pulled away from the field almost immediately to win in 6:15.29, 1.29 seconds ahead of silver medallists Romania, with Denmark taking bronze.

After clinching their Wednesday semi-final in a world best time, Kiwis Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler again dazzled, overcoming a slow start and taking the lead shortly after the midway point to win in 6:50.19, with the Russian Olympic Committee team and Canada taking silver and bronze.

Pre-tournament favourites Australia and New Zealand flexed their muscles with comprehensive victories in the opening matches in the women’s competition of the Olympic Rugby Sevens at the Tokyo Stadium on Thursday.

Defending champions Australia ran in eight tries as they defeated hosts Japan 48-0 in Pool C, with Emma Tonegato scoring a hat-trick.

The gold medal winners in Rio showed their potential to repeat that feat with a superb all-round display of power running and excellent hands in the hot and humid conditions.

New Zealand cruised to a 29-7 victory over physical Kenya in Pool A, Michaela Blyde scoring twice in a slick and professional performance to open their campaign.

The United States eased past China 28-14 as Kristi Kirshe bagged a brace of tries in the second period after a tight first half.

Britain survived an almighty scare when captain Abbie Brown scored a try after the hooter at the end of the game to secure a 14-12 victory over the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

Keyara Wardley dotted down twice as Canada overcame a difficult first half against Brazil to run out comfortable 33-0 winners in Pool B. The Canadians, who were bronze medallists five years ago, are delighted to be back on the big stage.

France defeated Fiji 12-5 in a tight opening match in the group.

(Production: James Redmayne)

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