TOKYO — Sydney McLaughlin needed a world record of 51.46 seconds to beat her fellow American and rival Dalilah Muhammad in the 400 hurdles.
Andre de Grasse of Canada raced to the men’s 200-meter gold, with Americans placing 2-3-4 behind him, and Emmanuel Korir of Kenya won the men’s 800.
Sakura Yosozumi, 19, of Japan won the park skateboarding event, defeating two of the youngest competitors at the Games, Kokona Hiraki, 12, of Japan and Sky Brown, 13, of Britain.
The U.S. women’s basketball team had no problem in its semifinal, cruising past Australia, 79-55. Breanna Stewart led the team with 23 points. The U.S. baseball team defeated the Dominican Republic, 3-1, and is two wins away from a gold medal.
Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil won the women’s marathon open-water swimming competition.
And Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia lifted the most weight in the men’s super heavyweight division and set a couple of world records in the process — 491 pounds in the snatch and a massive 584 pounds in the clean and jerk.
TOKYO — Andre De Grasse of Canada claimed his second medal of the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, sprinting to gold in the men’s 200 meters in 19.62 seconds, a national record.
He was followed by three athletes from the United States: Kenny Bednarek won the silver (19.68) and Noah Lyles was third for the bronze (19.74). Erriyon Knighton, the 17-year-old high school student from Tampa, Fla., was fourth.
De Grasse, 26, won bronze in the 100 meters this week. He is now a five-time Olympic medalist.
Here’s what else happened Wednesday evening in Tokyo.
Men’s 800 meters
Taking the torch from their countryman David Rudisha, Kenyans finished one-two in the men’s 800 meters. Emmanuel Korir won the gold in 1 minute 45.06 seconds, and Ferguson Rotich finished behind him for silver. Rudisha was the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion in the event, and last raced competitively in 2017. Patryk Dobek of Poland finished third.
Clayton Murphy of the United States, the bronze medalist in 2016, finished ninth on Wednesday.
Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase
With about four laps remaining in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, Courtney Frerichs decided to push the pace. She was rewarded with a silver medal.
Frerichs, the American record-holder in the event and the silver medalist at the 2017 world championships, broke down in tears as she crossed the line in 9:04.79. Peruth Chemutai of Uganda won the gold, and Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya finished in third.
Emma Coburn of the United States, the bronze medalist at the 2016 Olympics, was laboring when she tumbled after hurdling a barrier. She finished in 14th place but was later disqualified because she had fallen inside the track.
Women’s 400-meter semifinals
Allyson Felix of the United States advanced to Friday’s final, finishing second in her heat. Felix, competing in her fifth Olympic Games, needs one more medal for 10 in her career, which would match her with Carl Lewis as the United States’ most decorated track and field Olympian. Now 35, Felix has said that these are her final Olympics.
Breanna Stewart scored 23 points to lead the United States to a 79-55 rout of Australia in the women’s basketball quarterfinals in Saitama, Japan, moving one step closer to the team’s seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal.
The Americans, who avenged a surprising loss to Australia in a pre-Olympic exhibition game, will face Serbia, the reigning European champion, in the semifinals on Friday. Serbia beat China on Wednesday.
“I think our players had a look in their eyes that they didn’t want to go home,” U.S. Coach Dawn Staley said.
The United States opened a 14-point lead after the first quarter, extended it to 21 points by halftime, pushed it to 30 in the third quarter and never looked back. Brittney Griner added 15 points and 8 rebounds and A’ja Wilson had 10 points against Australia, the world’s second-ranked team.
The United States ran its Olympic winning streak to 53 straight games. This year’s team leads the Olympic tournament in scoring, shooting percentage, rebounds, assists and blocks. But it may have been motivated more by a 70-67 defeat against Australia in a warmup game last month in Las Vegas.
“We didn’t talk much about it,” center Sylvia Fowles said. “We watched film yesterday before practice and pretty much that was the last of it. We try not to harp on it, what happened in Vegas, but I think everybody got the memo and we knew exactly what happened.”
TOKYO — Noah Lyles, the American sprinting star, was less than an hour removed from racing to a bronze medal in the men’s 200 meters at the Tokyo Games on Wednesday when he opened up about his mental health and the challenges he had faced over the past year.
He spoke about dealing with depression. He spoke about seeking help in therapy. He spoke about the pressures of his profession. And he cried as he spoke about his younger brother, Josephus, whose own Olympic dream as a professional runner currently lives through Noah because he didn’t make the Olympic team.
“Sometimes I think to myself, this should be him,” Noah Lyles said through tears.
For Lyles and many others competing in Tokyo, the Olympics have doubled as a sort of catharsis. In fact, Lyles’s raw display of emotion was hardly unusual: Many athletes here have been outspoken about the burdens of performing in the wake of the most daunting 18 months of their lives, a period shadowed by the pandemic and racial strife — and a yearlong postponement of the Games themselves.
Simone Biles, the world’s greatest gymnast, withdrew from multiple competitions, citing the stress of the past year as one of the reasons she had lost the ability to control her body as she tumbled through the air.
Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked tennis player who had dominated his sport for months, cracked in his semifinal match, hurling his racket into the stands and smacking a replacement against a fence post. After that loss, and then after missing out on the bronze medal, he was as distraught as he had been in years.
Members of the U.S. women’s soccer team, a fairly indomitable force entering the Olympics, fell in the semifinals and spoke of losing the joy they usually feel when they step onto the field.
Lyles, 24, has been one of the most celebrated stars in American track and field since he won a pair of gold medals at the 2019 world championships. But he has also routinely used his platform to share his struggles with anxiety and depression, and it was no different for him in the wake of winning his first Olympic medal.
“I knew there was a lot of people out there like me who’s scared to say something or to even start that journey,” he said. “I want you to know that it’s OK to not feel good, and you can go out and talk to somebody professionally, or even get on medication, because this is a serious issue and you don’t want to wake up one day and just think, you know, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’”
For a long time, he said, track was a sort of oasis for him. School was difficult for him when he was young, and running was an outlet. But over the course of the pandemic, some of that enjoyment disappeared. He took anti-depressants on and off, and he was also profoundly affected by the police killings of unarmed Black people.
Before leaving for Tokyo, he broke down crying in front of his girlfriend, he said, “just talking about how hard it was to get through this year.”
Lyles had always told himself that he would leave the sport behind if he ever lost his passion for it, he said. But while he ultimately chose to continue to train and compete, he was determined not to let track control his life. In the process, he said, he sought more balance. He pointed to his interests in music, art and fashion.
“Even if this doesn’t go right in track, I still have a life outside of it,” he said. “I have places that I can go. I am not defined by being an Olympic bronze medalist, or a gold medal world champion, or the high schooler who went pro. That’s not who I am; I’m Noah Lyles.”
He was at his most emotional, though, when he addressed his relationship with his brother, Josephus, a sprinter who fell short of making the U.S. Olympic team this summer. When they were children, Noah Lyles said, it was actually his brother’s dream to compete at the Games.
“This wasn’t even my dream,” Lyles said as he sobbed. “I just wanted to tag along because I loved my brother, and I wanted to do this together. And it’s taken us so far, and I feel like he should be here.”
In the 200-meter final, staged in an empty stadium, Lyles finished behind Andre De Grasse of Canada and Kenny Bednarek, Lyles’s American teammate. Lyles called his bronze medal “boring.”
“I didn’t win,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s a great achievement.”
YOKOHAMA, Japan — Behind one of its oldest and one of its youngest players, the United States toppled the Dominican Republic, 3-1, on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals and preserve its gold medal hopes. The U.S., which last won the Olympics’ top prize in 2000, will face South Korea on Thursday, with the chance to face unbeaten Japan in the final on the line.
On Wednesday, Scott Kazmir, 37, who returned to the major leagues this season after five years away, allowed only two hits over five scoreless innings while striking out five batters.
An All-Star with the Tampa Bay Rays in his early 20s, Kazmir made a comeback this major-league season, appearing in three games with the San Francisco Giants. When he was let go by the Giants, Team U.S.A. pounced, and the unemployed Kazmir seized the opportunity to pitch in the Olympics.
“I felt like I still had a lot in me, and I felt like the time off really did me well,” he said.
First baseman Triston Casas, 21, a top prospect for the Boston Red Sox, smashed a two-run home run in the first inning off Denyi Reyes, another player in the Red Sox farm system. It was Casas’s third home run of the Olympics. Designated hitter Tyler Austin added a solo blast in the fifth inning.
In the later game on Wednesday, Japan held off South Korea, 5-2, using a bases-clearing double by Tetsuto Yamada in the eighth inning to pull ahead. Japan is the only undefeated team in the Olympic tournament, and handed the United States its only loss earlier in the week.
Despite the loss on Wednesday, the Dominican Republic advanced to the bronze medal game, where it could claim its first Olympic medal in baseball. The Dominicans will play the loser of the United States-South Korea matchup.
TOKYO — Janja Garnbret of Slovenia, the most dominating competition climber of recent years and the gold medal favorite in the first Olympic women’s sport climbing competition, cruised into the eight-woman final with a typically strong performance on Wednesday night.
Garnbret, 22, is a double threat in bouldering and lead climbing, two of the three disciplines that have been combined into one event as sport climbing makes its Olympics debut.
She will be tested in Friday’s final by a veteran group that includes Akiyo Noguchi and Miho Nonaka of Japan, plus the 20-year-old Brooke Raboutou of the United States and the 17-year-old Chaehyun Seo of Korea.
Sport climbing, to the chagrin of climbers and fans, was granted only one medal each for men and women. That forced organizers to smash three distinct climbing disciplines — speed, bouldering and lead — into one combination event.
At the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, speed will have its own medal, and lead and bouldering — which have more skills and athletes in common — will partner as another medal event.
But in Tokyo, each athlete’s ranking in the three individual disciplines is multiplied together to produce a single score. Garnbret was 14th in speed, first in bouldering and fourth in lead. That total of 56 points — 14x1x4 — put her in first place, ahead of Seo, Nonaka and Noguchi, who rounded out the top four.
All of the Olympic finalists but two are adept at bouldering and lead climbing. One exception was Aleksandra Miroslaw of Poland, who had the fastest time up the 15-meter speed wall. That first-place finish was enough to get her into the final despite a last-place result in bouldering and a second-to-last place showing in lead.
Anouck Jaubert of France used a second-place finish in speed to squeak into the final, too.
Kyra Condie of the United States was 11th among the 20 competitors. Her hopes for making the final were undone by a pair of boulder problems that left nearly everyone but Garnbret vexed. Condie then endured an early slip in lead climbing.
The men’s final is scheduled for Thursday, and got some unexpected intrigue after the qualifying round on Tuesday when Bassa Mawem of France dropped out of the final with a biceps injury, leaving only seven competitors.
Mawem, the fastest speed climber in the final, was scheduled to race against Adam Ondra, likely the slowest, in the first round of a head-to-head speed bracket. Now Ondra will receive a bye and an automatic slot in the speed semifinals.
That means that a likely eighth-place finish in speed — a ranking number that can be hard to overcome in the multiplication of the combined format — will now be no worse than fourth for Ondra, a dominating boulderer and lead climber.
An earlier version of this article misidentified the country Janja Garnbret represents. It is Slovenia, not Slovakia.
TOKYO — Sydney McLaughlin recently said that “iron sharpens iron” when it comes to her relationship with Dalilah Muhammad. They are the pre-eminent practitioners of their craft, the two fastest women ever to run the 400-meter hurdles.
Few events were more highly anticipated at the Tokyo Games than the renewal of their rivalry on Wednesday at Olympic Stadium.
It was safe to assume that something extraordinary would happen, and McLaughlin delivered, breaking her own world record to win her first Olympic gold.
McLaughlin, 21, finished in 51.46 seconds. Muhammad ran the fastest time of her life to take the silver medal in 51.58 seconds, and Femke Bol of the Netherlands was third.
There have been various high-profile chapters between McLaughlin and Muhammad. At the 2019 world championships, Muhammad dipped under her own world record by 0.04 of a second to edge McLaughlin for the win at 52.16 seconds.
But at the U.S. Olympic trials in June, McLaughlin — so often considered the prodigy — met the outsize expectations that had shadowed her since she was a teenager by breaking Muhammad’s world record with a time of 51.90 seconds. Muhammad, after dealing with injuries and illness during the pandemic, finished second at the trials.
Those two races, though, were preludes to what played out on Wednesday, the fastest women’s 400-meter hurdles race in history — one day after Karsten Warholm of Norway had won gold with a time of 45.94 seconds in the fastest men’s 400-meter hurdles race in history.
Muhammad, 31, who had come to Tokyo as the reigning Olympic champion, went out hard to take an early lead. But McLaughlin was gaining on her coming off the final turn and outsprinted her in the final meters.
McLaughlin was a teenager when she competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she fell short of advancing to the final. It was a learning experience, and she leaned on some of those lessons in Tokyo. The Olympics were not new to her. She seemed utterly unfazed by it all.
She had spent the early part of the year refining her technique by running the 100-meter hurdles at the behest of her coach, Bob Kersee. The idea, McLaughlin said, was to “feel the rhythm of running faster.”
On Wednesday, she was the fastest in the world.
TOKYO — The formidable team of skateboarders from Japan continued its stellar performance at the Olympics and on Wednesday took the gold and silver medals in the women’s park competition, ending the gold medal hopes of the 13-year-old Sky Brown.
Sakura Yosozumi, 19, won the event under the blistering midday sun at Ariake Urban Sports Park. Her winning score of 60.09 put her a point ahead of the 12-year-old Kokona Hiraki.
Brown, who grew up in Japan, lives in California and competed for Britain, finished third to earn the bronze medal.
A victory by Hiraki or Brown would have made either one the youngest gold medalist in Olympics history. The official distinction remains with Marjorie Gestring, a diver who won at age 13 years 268 days at the 1936 Berlin Games.
Brown stumbled in her first two runs of the final but skated flawlessly on the pressure-packed third. She raised her arms in the air, climbed out of the bowl and knelt on the deck and then got hugs from her competitors.
The judges were less impressed and gave her a score of 56.47.
Misugu Okamoto, 15 and a favorite for the gold medal, came off the board on all of her final runs but still scored well enough to finish fourth.
The women’s park discipline in skateboarding had the youngest set of teenagers (and one preteen) in the Olympics. One by one, they dropped into the concrete bowl and buzzed over its ramps and hips and up its walls, flying up and over the lip to twist and turn and drop back in again.
Runs lasted 45 seconds. Brown, Hiraki and Okamoto were among those who stood out from the beginning with bigger airs, more nuanced tricks and bursts of speed and confidence.
Hiraki, who will turn 13 in about three weeks, was the second-youngest athlete among the 11,000 at these Olympics. She wore white Nike coveralls, like someone about to go painting. (The youngest Olympian competing in Tokyo was Hend Zaza of Syria, a table-tennis player.)
Brown turned 13 last month. The effervescent daughter of a British father and a Japanese mother, she grew up mostly in Japan and now lives mostly in Southern California.
“All three of them feel like home,” she said.
She competed in baggy pants and a tank top featuring the Union Jack. She gained attention in Britain by winning a juniors version of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2018. Her smile and her Instagram posts have earned her fans in at least three countries. She has a younger brother named Ocean who has gained attention, too.
She was severely injured last year in an accident at Tony Hawk’s indoor skatepark when she flew through a gap between two high ramps, crashing at least 15 feet to the concrete. She was unconscious with a skull fracture and broke a wrist and a hand.
She was back on a board a few weeks later and appeared to be flying higher and skating harder than ever at the Olympics.
“Falling is part of skateboarding,” she said in an interview in May. “It’s part of life. I was honestly excited to get back on the board.”
Brown’s main rival at the Olympics was expected to be Okamoto, a quiet and straight-faced competitor, the best park skater of the past couple of years. She is part of a deep Japanese contingent that has captured more medals in skateboarding than any other country — including all three of the Olympic gold medals awarded so far.
Kokona Hiraki of Japan, 12, and Sky Brown of Britain, 13, won the silver and bronze medals in the park skateboard competition on Wednesday. Because they didn’t win, they failed to claim the title of youngest-ever Olympic gold medalist.
Not that we really know who that is.
The current accepted youngest gold medalist is Marjorie Gestring, a 13-year-old American diver who won the springboard competition in 1936. Her record was threatened by Momiji Nishiya of Japan, a 13-year-old who won the street skateboard competition last week. But Nishiya was about two months older than Gestring was at the time of her gold.
Either Hiraki or Brown would have broken the record.
The youngest winner of any medal was Dimitrios Loundras of Greece, who at age 10 in 1896 won a bronze medal in team gymnastics.
But there’s one possible twist to Gestring’s record.
At the Paris Games of 1900, a Dutch rowing pair recruited a local French boy to be their coxswain. After they won, and a picture was taken, he disappeared into the crowd. Though several candidates have been put forward, his identity has never been discovered, and it remains one of the greatest mysteries in Olympic history.
The consensus is that he was 10 or younger, but despite the avid interest of Olympics researchers, that simply isn’t known for sure.
TOKYO — Every city that hosts the Olympics pushes for events popular in its country to be included in the program, and Tokyo is no different. The Japanese organizers successfully lobbied for baseball to return after an absence of a dozen years and for surfing to make its debut.
The International Olympic Committee also signed off on the Japanese organizers’ request to include karate as a medal sport, an upgrade from the cameo it made as a demonstration sport at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Thanks in part to Hollywood movies, karate is perhaps the best known of the martial arts. But it forms the basis of numerous other martial arts, including taekwondo, and has a wide following across the globe.
But it has its roots in the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa, where it was developed centuries ago. It is fitting, then, that one of the gold medal favorites in the three-day tournament that begins Thursday is Ryo Kiyuna, an Okinawan. A three-time individual world champion, Kiyuna will compete in the men’s kata portion on Friday, and if he meets expectations, he will be the first Okinawan to win an Olympic gold medal.
“Since karate has finally been selected as an official event at the Tokyo Olympics, I would like to show the world what karate is all about, both as a representative of Japan and as a representative of Okinawa,” he told Jiji Press last year.
Casual observers of the sport are probably familiar with kumite, where two fighters face off and try to hit and kick their opponents to score points.
Kata, by contrast, includes the building blocks of karate performed against an imaginary opponent, traditional aspects of the martial art that purists relish. In kata, athletes perform alone, demonstrating a series of offensive and defensive moves. Karateka choose from among 102 katas, or techniques, that are approved by the World Karate Federation.
The seven judges base 70 percent of a score on technical proficiency, which includes focus, breathing, timing and stances. The other 30 percent is based on athletics, including strength and speed.
Kiyuna has dominated the kata world in recent years, the only karateka to receive a perfect score, something he did in 2019. Now 31, he began practicing karate at 5, inspired to join a friend from kindergarten. He started winning competitions, and studied under Tsuguo Sakumoto, a karate master from Okinawa. By 2014, Kiyuna overtook his biggest rival, Antonio Díaz of Venezuela. His main competition at the Tokyo Games is Damián Quintero of Spain, who was runner-up to Kiyuna at the past two world championships.
According to Masahiro Ide, who runs a karate fan newsletter, Kiyuna has exceptional speed, sharpness and strength and accurate techniques.
“His moves are so strong that the judges can feel his power just from his appearance, which allows him to get high scores,” said Ide, who expects Kiyuna to win a gold medal. “He is also good at pulling power from within himself.”
Unfortunately for karate fans, the sport will not be on the program at the Paris Games in 2024. Supporters of karate hoped its inclusion in Tokyo would boost the sport’s popularity much the way taekwondo benefited from being added to the Olympic program at the Sydney Games in 2000.
For now, the sport will get plenty of exposure in Tokyo this week, with Kiyuna and Okinawa as two of the main attractions.
“The Japanese feel that karate is theirs, and they want to regain dominance,” said Sherman Nelson Jr., a karate analyst for NBC Sports. “The world caught up. The sport is a melting pot. Everyone has to adapt.”
The Greek synchronized swimming team has withdrawn from the Olympics because four athletes and two staff members tested positive for the coronavirus, requiring the entire team to leave the athletes’ village in Tokyo.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee said in a statement that “there will be no Greek representation” in the duet or group events in synchronized swimming. All members of the team were transferred to a quarantine hotel, the committee said.
Olympic organizers said on Tuesday that one Greek swimmer had tested positive, and on Wednesday three more members of the team were added to the list of athletes who had been found to be infected with the coronavirus. At least 327 people connected to the Games have now tested positive in Japan since July 1, including 31 athletes, according to Tokyo 2020 officials.
The news ended a topsy-turvy run for the Greek swimmers. A key member of the team, Evangelia Platanioti, tested positive for the virus in late July and was thought to be out of the Games. But after a subsequent test turned up negative, she rushed to Tokyo and arrived on Sunday, just a day before the preliminary round of the duet competition in synchronized swimming, also known as artistic swimming.
She and her partner, Evangelia Papazoglou, tied for 10th place and advanced. But they had to withdraw before the next round on Tuesday evening.
Tokyo organizers announced a total of 28 new cases among Olympics personnel on Wednesday, the highest daily count reported so far.
Elsewhere in Japan, virus cases are surging. The country has recorded an average of nearly 10,000 new infections daily over the past week, the most since the start of the pandemic, according to New York Times data. The Japanese government said this week that it would begin hospitalizing only Covid-19 patients who were seriously ill or at risk of becoming so, leaving those with minor symptoms to isolate at home in order to reduce the strain on hospitals.
The International Olympic Committee said it was investigating a potential breach of Olympic regulations after two cyclists from China wore pins bearing the silhouette of Mao Zedong in a medal ceremony.
The small red and gold pins — once ubiquitous symbols representing Mao’s three-decade rule over China — were attached to the track suits of the cyclists, Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi, when they received gold medals in the women’s sprint on Monday.
The cyclists’ badges are a potential violation of Rule 50 of the Olympic charter, which bans “political, religious or racial propaganda” at Olympic venues.
In a news briefing on Wednesday, Mark Adams, an I.O.C. spokesman, said that the committee had asked China’s Olympic delegation to submit a report explaining the incident, and that it had been promised a “full formal answer soon.”
“They have also assured us already that this will not happen again,” Mr. Adams said.
Separately, the Korea Badminton Association said on Wednesday that it had filed a complaint with the World Badminton Federation after a Chinese player was captured on video swearing in a doubles match against South Korean players.
The Chinese badminton player, Chen Qingchen, repeatedly shouted what has been interpreted as a common Chinese obscenity. She apologized, saying that she was merely celebrating points scored and that she would adjust her “bad pronunciation.” But she did not say what she had intended to shout.
The incident was widely reported in South Korea — where nationalists sometimes chafe at China’s assertions of power — but lauded as a spirited and refreshing performance on Chinese social media.
The Chinese team ended up defeating the South Koreans.
On Sunday, Raven Saunders won a silver medal in the shot-put at the Tokyo Games. On Tuesday, NBC reported that her mother had died in Orlando, Fla., where she had gone to attend an Olympic watch party for her daughter.
Saunders called her mother, Clarissa Saunders, her “number one guardian angel” in a message on Twitter.
Hoping off social media for a while to take care of my mental and my family. My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me. My number one guardian angel 🙏🏾 I will always and forever love you. https://t.co/XWOjE56EjI
— Raven HULK Saunders (@GiveMe1Shot) August 3, 2021
Herbert Johnson, Raven Saunders’s longtime coach, confirmed her mother’s death in a Facebook post. He said that Clarissa Saunders and Raven’s sister, Tanzy, had gone from Charleston, S.C., the Saunders family’s hometown, to Orlando to watch Raven compete in the Olympics.
Raven Saunders did not disappoint. Sporting hair dyed green on the right and purple on the left and a mask that was a nod to the Hulk (her nickname), she defeated all competitors but Gong Lijiao of China.
Saunders, 25, brought attention to her feat, dancing and singing “Celebration” afterward and later, on the medals podium, crossing her arms in the shape of an X, a gesture she said was “for oppressed people.”
“Not being there is a bummer,” Clarissa Saunders said of not being able to be with her daughter in Tokyo, The State, a newspaper in Columbia, S.C., reported. “But hey, we’re cheering from here … and she knows we’re here cheering for her.”
Saunders, who finished fifth in the shot-put in the 2016 Rio Games, has publicly praised her mother for her support. In an Instagram post on Mother’s Day, Saunders said of her mother: “You’ve shown me what strength is and for that I can push through anything. You’ve shown me relentlessness and for that I’ve learned determination.”
Mayor John Tecklenburg of Charleston called Clarissa Saunders “Raven’s strongest supporter.”
“On behalf of the citizens of Charleston, we pray for Raven and her family, and join them in grieving this unimaginable loss,” Mr. Tecklenburg said in a statement.
CHIBA, Japan — Either way on Tuesday night, Tamyra Mensah-Stock knew there would be a first.
Since women’s wrestling was added to the Summer Olympics in 2004, a Black woman had never won the top prize. But in the light heavyweight gold medal match at Makuhari Messe Hall, Mensah-Stock, a Texas native whose father came to the United States from Ghana at 30, was going up against Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria.
“Oooooh, it was awesome,” Mensah-Stock said afterward with her usual zeal and earnestness.
“Oh my gosh, look at us representing,” she added later. “And I’m like, if one of us wins, we’re making history. You’re making history, I’m making history, we’re making history. It’s fantastic. It meant a lot. I’m so proud of Blessing. I was looking at her, ‘Dang, she’s killing it.’ But I can kill it, too.”
And Mensah-Stock, 28, certainly did, dominating her opponents throughout the Tokyo Games and beating Oborududu, 32, by a score of 4-1 to become the second American woman to win a wrestling gold medal after Helen Maroulis in 2016.
Tamyra Mariama Mensah Stock
Asked about the feat after the match, she said: “Young women are going to see themselves in a number of ways. And they’re going to look up there and go: ‘I can do that. I can see myself.’”
Then Mensah-Stock signaled toward her head, saying: “Look at this natural hair. Come on, man! I made sure I brought my puffballs out so they could know that you can do it, too.”
Serving as a symbol to others has long been on Mensah-Stock’s mind. Back home in Katy, Texas, she started wrestling in 10th grade after she was bullied in track and field, her sport of choice. She reluctantly switched to wrestling at the behest of her twin sister, a wrestler, but soon found that the sport not only unlocked her athletic ability but also helped her develop confidence.
Mensah-Stock said she wanted other young women, perhaps those who felt as she once did, to see that “you can be silly, you can have fun, and you can be strong, you can be tough and you can be a wrestler.”
In her first year wrestling, Mensah-Stock finished second in the state championships but knew more was to come. She told a friend that they would be Olympians one day. In 2016, she made it to the Rio Games, but only as a practice partner for her teammates when she failed to secure a spot in the competition.
“From the very beginning, I knew I could get here,” she said.
Although a Black woman hadn’t won an Olympic gold in wrestling before, Mensah-Stock rattled off the names of Black wrestlers who had achieved so much before her. Among them: Toccara Montgomery, who finished seventh in the 2004 Games, and Randi Miller, who won a bronze medal in the 63-kilogram weight class in 2008.
“They paved the way for me, and I was like, ‘I know you guys could have done it, so I’m going out there and I’m going to accomplish this,’” Mensah-Stock said.
Before the gold medal match, Mensah-Stock struggled to sleep because of nerves. She said her coach, Izzy Izboinikov, made sure she ate something. Watching other wrestlers from the United States compete earlier on Tuesday made her anxiety worse.
“It wasn’t pretty,” she said.
But after the clock ran out and Mensah-Stock was the winner, she formed a heart sign with her hands and showed it to both sides of the arena. The television broadcast showed her family, watching from the United States, making the same gesture in response. From the stands, her training partner Maya Nelson clapped and shouted with so much glee that her mask couldn’t stay on.
The heart sign, she later said, was a tribute to her loved ones: her father who died in a car crash after leaving one of her high school tournaments, a tragedy that nearly led her to quit wrestling; her uncle, a former professional boxer, who died of cancer; her grandfather who also died of cancer; a late friend who was also a wrestler; her husband, her mother, her aunt, her sister and the entire country.
“I’m trying to send love to everyone,” she said.
Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage on Tuesday evening. All times are Eastern.
GOLF NBC Golf airs the first round of play in the women’s tournament live at 6:30 p.m.
TRACK AND FIELD Coverage begins at 8 p.m. on USA Network, with highlights including a replay of the women’s 200-meter and 800-meter races. The men’s 110-meter hurdles semifinals will be broadcast live starting at 10 p.m., and the highly anticipated women’s 400-meter hurdles final starts at 10:30 p.m. Heats for the decathlon, heptathlon and men’s javelin will be held.
WATER POLO The U.S. women’s team faces Canada in a quarterfinal match that will be replayed on NBCSN at 8 p.m. The U.S. men play Spain in a quarterfinal game at 2 a.m. on CNBC.
GYMNASTICS NBC will air replays of the men’s horizontal bar final and the women’s beam final starting at 9 p.m.
SOCCER The men’s teams from Mexico and Brazil face off in a semifinal game replayed at 9 p.m. on NBCSN.
SKATEBOARDING The women’s park competition kicks off at 9 p.m. on CNBC, with the finals airing live at 11:30 p.m.
WRESTLING Men compete in the round of 16 and quarterfinal matches for freestyle in the 57-kilogram and 86-kilogram weight classes. Women face off in the 57-kilogram class for freestyle. Coverage starts at 10 p.m. on the Olympic Channel.
BASKETBALL The N.B.A. superstar Kevin Durant leads the United States men’s team against Spain, with Pau Gasol, at 10:45 p.m. on USA Network. The women’s team, featuring Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, plays Australia at 12:40 a.m. on USA Network in a live broadcast.
BASEBALL The U.S. team faces the Dominican Republic in an elimination game airing live at 12:15 a.m. on CNBC.