YOKOHAMA, Japan â The United States womenâs soccer team beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics, leaning on its veterans to deliver a thrilling and resilient moment in a tournament journey that had previously been marked by defeat and frustration.
Megan Rapinoe, the U.S. teamâs steely and outspoken veteran forward, delivered the winning kick that beat the Netherlands, 4-2 in the shootout, after the teams played to a 2-2 tie.
Rapinoe, as is her custom, struck a victory pose after converting her kick, and was soon engulfed by her teammates. But it was goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher who had truly saved the game, making several big stops long before the shootout â including a late Netherlands penalty kick that could have sealed the Americansâ second straight medal-free exit from the Games â and then stopping two more Dutch penalty attempts in the shootout.
âThereâs no one else Iâd rather have in the net than her,â midfielder Rose Lavelle said. âSheâs saved us so many times.â
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The game, played in an empty stadium so quiet that the few reporters and spectators inside could hear the players shouting out defensive assignments and words of encouragement, was a collision of two of the best womenâs teams in the world, and a rematch of the 2019 Womenâs World Cup final.
The Dutch had been the highest-scoring team in the Olympic tournament, raining 21 goals in three group-stage games, and they took the lead on Friday through a quick-turn shot by their star striker, Vivianne Miedema.
But the United States, seemingly annoyed by surrendering a goal in a game it had dominated, quickly answered with goals three minutes apart by Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams.
Miedema scored her second early in the second half â her 10th goal of the tournament â and then the fight was really on. The Dutch pressed forward again and again, but the United States fought off one wave of attacks after another, thanks several times to acrobatic saves by Naeher, their quiet Connecticut-born goalkeeper.
But without a goal, the game went to penalties, and that was where Naeher made all the difference.
She set the tone from the start, stopping Miedema on the first attempt with a dive to her right. Her teammates, sensing an opening, stepped up one after another and went for the kill. Rose Lavelle. Alex Morgan. Christen Press.
When Naeher made her second stop, on Aniek Nouwen, with another dive to her right, it set the stage for Rapinoe. Everyone in the stadium, it seemed, knew what was coming next.
âI just try to be calm,â Rapinoe said, explaining her mentality during a shootout. âI say to myself, the worst thatâs going to happen is that we lose the whole thing.â
Granted a chance to win the game, to play the heroâs role that Naeher would almost certainly reject, she grabbed it: Taking a deep breath, she drove a rising shot into the top right corner of the goal. When it hit the netting, she jumped in the air and landed firm on her feet, her arms across her chest, a smile on her face and with her team â now racing to swallow her in a hug â in the semifinals.
The Americans will play Canada on Monday, their gold medal hopes still alive. That game will be in Kashima, and the United States will arrive with a newfound sense that maybe, just maybe, a tournament that started badly can end the way the Americans planned all along.
Novak Djokovicâs dream of a Golden Slam is over.
Alexander Zverev of Germany stormed back from a set and a service break down to beat Djokovic, the worldâs No. 1 ranked menâs player, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, in the semifinal of the Olympic tournament.
Djokovic was attempting to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic gold medal in a calendar year. He had won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon and came to Tokyo looking for the fourth jewel. The United States Open takes place at the end of the summer.
Djokovic appeared to be on cruise control when he broke Zverevâs serve to get to within three games of the match in the second set. Zverev swatted a ball through the stadium roof in frustration and looked destined to meet with a quick end like Djokovicâs first four victims in Tokyo. He had not lost a set at the Olympics and said he was getting better with each match.
But with little to lose, Zverev began unleashing his booming serve and setting up a crushing forehand to take control of the match, just as Djokovic started inexplicably spraying his shots off the court.
Zverev said he felt that even though he was down in the match he did not feel like he was playing poorly. Rather, he was playing Djokovicâs game, getting into rallies with him instead of swinging through the ball and using his superior power to control the points.
With the flick of a switch, Zverev had Djokovic on his heels, pushing him farther and farther into the back of the court.
Djokovic tried to slow Zverevâs momentum with a long bathroom break between the second and third set, as he has done in tense moments in the past, but it didnât work, and in the two-of-three set format he did not have the cushion afforded by the format of three-of-five set matches at Grand Slam tournaments.
After Zverev reeled off seven consecutive games with seeming ease, sprinting to 4-0 lead in the deciding set, Djokovic faced a mountain too difficult even for a player who had already staged several stunning comebacks in the first three Grand Slams this year.
As a final insult, Zverev broke Djokovicâs serve for a third time in the last set to take the match. He grabbed his face in disbelief and embraced the Serbian champion at the net when it was over, then stared at the sky wondering what had just happened.
âI was thinking that I had a medal for Germany and this is probably the proudest moment of my career,â Zverev said. âThe Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world.â
Zverev said as he embraced Djokovic at the net, he had nothing but praise for the player who has 20 Grand Slam titles and had a 6-2 record against him entering the match. He told him that he would go down as the greatest player in the history of the sport, that he would win the most Grand Slams, and the most Masters titles and spend more weeks as the top player in the world than anyone.
âI knew he was chasing a Golden Slam but you canât win everything,â Zverev said. âI told him he was the greatest player of all time, but Iâm sorry.â
Djokovic is scheduled to play Pablo CarreÃ±o Busta in the bronze medal match on Saturday.
TOKYO â American dominance in the Olympic pool is an old story at this point, a snowball forever rolling downhill, even if the pitch of the slope varies slightly from year to year.
The United States teamâs grinding success continued Friday, with American swimmers adding two silvers and a bronze to their growing haul at the Tokyo Games. The medals widened the U.S. advantage on its rivals in the pool but fell short of the golds they covet most of all, a development that had one American claiming his race was tainted by doping.
Ryan Murphy won a silver in the menâs 200-meter backstroke and then caused some fireworks in his news conference when he questioned whether his race, won by a Russian, was drug-free, given Russiaâs history of doping in sports.
âI donât know if it was 100 percent clean,â Murphy said, âand thatâs because of things that have happened in the past.â
Earlier, Lilly King and Annie Lazor earned silver and bronze in the womenâs 200-meter breaststroke, beaten to the wall by a South African, Tatjana Schoenmaker, who set a world record in the event and then burst into tears.
Americans now have captured 24 swimming medals overall heading into the final two days of competition, compared with 14 for their biggest rival, swimming-mad Australia. The United States most likely will not match its high-water mark of 2016, when the team won 34 medals, 16 of them gold, but it should get within spitting distance of that total.
Friday morningâs finals brought three more.
In the 200-meter breaststroke, Schoenmaker, racing as the favorite, lived up to expectations by beating King and Lazor and claiming both a world record (2 minutes 18.95 seconds) but also South Africaâs first gold of the Games.
Schoenmaker, the silver medalist in the 100-meter event, methodically reeled in King in the final, coming off the turn flying and nudging ahead of King on the strength of a relentless kick. She beat King to the wall by nearly a second.
Lazor, whose father died earlier this year, took the bronze by four-hundredths of a second. After the race, she and King swam over to congratulate Schoenmaker, who did not initially realize she had broken the world record. When she did, she gasped, and Lazor raised her rivalâs arm in triumph.
In the 200-meter backstroke, Evgeny Rylov of Russia won a two-man duel with Murphy of the United States and won in an Olympic record of 1 minute 53.27 seconds. Rylov took control of the race on the second turn, stretching his lead to a half-second at the halfway mark and finishing about a half-body ahead of Murphy, who was the defending Olympic champion in the event.
Rylov won by 0.88 of a second, but after the race, Murphy dove into the fray of whether Russian athletes should be allowed to compete at the Games, given the countryâs history of state-sponsored doping. Russiaâs athletes are competing as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo, and all who were cleared to race had to go through a rigorous clearing process before being allowed to participate.
Still, Murphy directly questioned whether his race was free of doping. He took care not to directly accuse Rylov, who was seated four feet to his left, of cheating, but referred more generally to Russiaâs doping history.
Rylov chose not to address Murphyâs comments, saying only that he was a supporter of clean sports and that he had followed all the procedures that were required for him to swim at the Olympics. Murphy then clarified that he was not making a direct accusation but did not back away from his statements.
âI do believe there is doping in swimming,â he said. âIt is what it is.â
Earlier, Australia had its own chance to shine in the 100 freestyle final. With Cate Campbell and Emma McKeon swimming next to one another in lanes 3 and 4, and a crowd of their green-and-yellow-clad teammates and coaches packing one section of the empty arena, the race quickly turned into an Aussie celebration.
McKeon won easily, setting an Olympic record of 51.96 seconds and becoming only the second woman ever to break 52 seconds in the event. She finished more than a quarter of a second faster than Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong. Campbell took the bronze, just ahead of Canadaâs Penny Oleksiak.
The last final of the morning was the menâs 200-meter individual medley, which gave the Americans yet another medal chance in the form of Michael Andrew.
Andrew, 22, turned professional at 14 and was home-schooled, in part, to maximize his training opportunities, and he was right on the pace for the first three-quarters of the race.
He led after the butterfly leg, gave up the lead to Shun Wang of China on the backstroke leg, then reclaimed it by the end of the breaststroke. But Andrew appeared to run out of gas coming out of the final turn, and Wang proved too much, steaming past him with a water-churning freestyle leg. So did Duncan Scott of Britain, who took the silver, and Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland, who captured the bronze. Andrew finished fifth, behind Daiya Seto of Japan.
Andrew said he missed the roar of the crowd he had experienced at the U.S. trials last month, a cacophony that he said had powered him through the final push. His meet is not over, though. He has another chance to win a medal on Sunday, when he is expected to swim in both an individual final and a relay.
âIâve got the 50 and the relay, and Iâm feeling fast,â Andrew said.
Australia will not catch the U.S. in overall medals, but the country has already achieved a big improvement over 2016, when it won only three gold medals and 10 overall. McKeonâs gold was Australiaâs sixth in swimming in Tokyo â the same number won by American swimmers â and the weekend holds the promise of more for both countries.
TOKYO â Players on the Mexican softball team apologized on Friday for leaving team gear with the countryâs flag in the trash before returning home from the Tokyo Olympics â actions that drew the ire of their own federation, other Mexican Olympians and fans.
âWe are sorry that the actions of our team have caused such disappointment for our supporters and Olympic fans across the country,â the pitcher Danielle OâToole wrote on Instagram in English and Spanish. OâToole was a pitcher for the University of Arizona.
âWe have been proud to wear Mexicoâs colors, and to give other young girls of Mexican heritage hope and inspiration,â the statement continued. âWe had no intention of disrespecting our country or our flag. We had no intention of disregarding what being in the Olympics means for so many.â
The day before, the Mexican boxers Brianda Tamara and Esmeralda FalcÃ³n posted photos of Team Mexico gear they said was left in clear bags for trash in Tokyo. In the photos, there are empty soda bottles and coffee cups mixed in with a fielderâs mitt and what look like team jackets and shirts.
âThis uniform represents years of effort, sacrifice and tears,â wrote Tamara, who first posted about the discoveries. âAll Mexican athletes yearn to carry it with dignity. And today, sadly, the Mexican softball team left it all in the trash of the Olympic Village.â
Fans responded angrily, too. Some even crudely questioning the heritages of members of the softball team. Many of the players are Mexican American and went to high school and college in the United States. Some even previously played for U.S. national teams.
The team, Mexicoâs first for Olympic softball, lost to Canada 3-2 to finish fourth.
Responding to the outcry, the Mexican softball federation issued a strongly worded statement on Friday morning Tokyo time saying it was upset with the players responsible.
âWe will conduct an investigation to find those responsible, applying the appropriate sanctions and ensuring that they no longer represent the federation,â the statement read in part.
In earlier comments to the Olympic broadcaster TV Azteca, Rolando Guerrero, president of the Mexico Softball Federation, said players were given nine sets of apparel and were unable to fit it all in their suitcases, particularly because of the space taken up by bats, gloves and other equipment.
Carlos Padilla, president of Mexicoâs Olympic Committee, told ESPN Deportes that the players took the bedspreads from their rooms instead of the official gear. The report also noted additional equipment was found in the garbage, including the opening ceremony apparel and sneakers.
OâTooleâs statement said the players took home as much as they each could fit in their one suitcase, including âall of our game uniforms, embroidered apparel, and softball equipment.â She added that she and her teammates didnât mean to give an impression of disrespect.
âWe will work to do better and be better,â she said.
In its later statement, the Mexican softball federation said the amount of equipment players needed to carry wasnât a valid reason for their actions. It also apologized to all of Mexico.
TOKYO â With only two days left until the gymnastics apparatus finals begin at the Tokyo Games, Simone Biles still hasnât announced whether she will compete in them. But she said on Instagram on Friday that she was still struggling with a mental block that gymnasts call âthe twistiesâ that in part prompted her to withdraw from the team final and the all-around.
âLiterally can not tell up from down,â she wrote in an Instagram story. âItâs the craziest feeling ever. Not having an inch of control over your body.â
Biles, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, wrote that she âseriously cannot comprehend how to twist,â and noted that this disconnect between her mind and body is scary and has happened before, but only on the vault and floor exercise. âThis time itâs literally on every event,â she wrote.
Since backing out of the all-around that teammate Sunisa Lee ended up winning on Thursday, Biles has left the Olympic training venue for a gym in Tokyo that has soft landings, including a foam pit. Taking it easy with training and progressing in little steps as she tries to regain her twisting skills and confidence will be key to her bouncing back to normal, coaches say.
âItâs kind of like going into a slump where you canât hit the curveball,â said Jess Graba, Leeâs coach. âSometimes your brain just doesnât fire right, so it takes time to get back to normal.â
Biles might be running out of time. Her next events are the uneven bars and vault on Sunday, the floor exercise on Monday and the balance beam on Tuesday.
On Instagram, she said there was no telling how soon she could overcome the mental block so that she could regain her ability to sense her body position midair in relation to the ground. She said that she would evaluate herself âday by day, turn by turn,â but that in the past it has taken her two or more weeks to recover.
She said she would not be performing any twisting skills during her post-Olympic gymnastics tour, called the Gold Over America Tour.
Her mental block began, Biles said, on the morning after qualifying â Monday in Tokyo, one day before the team final. The problem became clear during team finals, when the U.S. team was on the vault, its first apparatus of the night, and Biles lost herself in the air, high above the competition floor. She backed out of performing 2Â½ twists and ended up doing 1Â½ twists, bounding forward on the floor after her landing.
Afterward, she consulted with her coach and team doctor before removing herself from the finals, leaving her teammates to compete on their own. They won the silver medal, and it was the first time the U.S. team hadnât won the team event in an Olympics or a world championships since 2010.
Addressing why this phenomenon happens to gymnasts, Biles wrote in a postscript in tiny letters on Instagram that it âcould be triggered by stress I hear but Iâm also not sure how true that is.â
TOKYO â Mexico has produced a long list of baseball stars including Fernando Valenzuela, Bobby Ãvila and Vinny Castilla.
None of them played in the Olympics.
Baseball has been absent from the Games for 13 years, and Mexico had never qualified for the tournament when it was played.
That changed on Friday, when Mexico made its Olympic debut against the Dominican Republic at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, instilling a sense of national pride back home and hope that the sport could assume a higher profile there as well.
âItâs a gift for a lot of us here now,â Oliver PÃ©rez, 39, who has pitched for eight major-league teams across 19 seasons, said in Spanish. âAnd itâs a big opportunity. We know thereâs a lot of talent, and this type of tournament lifts up Mexican baseball.â
Mexico lost the opener, 1-0. But even to reach this point, the team had to navigate a winding, at times bumpy road. During an Olympic qualifying tournament in November 2019, Mexico upset the rival United States during pool play and again in extra innings during the bronze medal game to earn a spot in the Tokyo Games.
But from that joyous moment to its Olympic debut, the team has contended with internal drama and a coronavirus scare days before leaving for Tokyo.
It has been a crash course, particularly for general manager Patricio PÃ©rez, who said he was still juggling his duties overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Mexican league while in Japan and sleeping little. He has relished it nonetheless.
âItâs a historic moment,â PÃ©rez said in Spanish. âIâm a believer that right moments do exist, and weâre in the right moment.â
TOKYO â The light red flag with the five-petaled bauhinia flower does not represent a country. But Hong Kong, the Chinese territory where political and civil rights have been battered in recent months, is enjoying its strongest-ever showing at the Tokyo Olympics, capturing gold in fencing and two silvers in swimming.
The three-medal haul is the first time that Hong Kong, which was returned to Chinese rule by the British in 1997, captured more than a single medal at the Olympics. On Friday, the swimmer Siobhan Haughey won her second silver of the Games, in the womenâs 100-meter freestyle, following a victory in the 200-meter freestyle event on Wednesday.
But out of the pool and off the fencing piste, Hong Kongâs fortunes have not been as bright. The territory was promised significant political freedoms for the 50 years after its handover to China, but Beijing has clamped down. Most of Hong Kongâs top opposition politicians are in prison or in exile. Last month, the biggest pro-democracy newspaper was forced to shutter.
On Tuesday, the first person to be tried under a tough new national security law was found guilty of terrorism and inciting secession. He was sentenced on Friday to nine years in prison for driving a motorcycle into police officers while carrying a protest flag.
Beijingâs crackdown has targeted contemporary art, civics lessons in high schools and childrenâs books featuring a dozen fluffy sheep.
âCurrently, many Hong Kong people probably feel unhappy and full of negative emotions,â said Tse Ying-suet, who played in the bronze medal match in badminton mixed doubles on Friday. âI think athletes winning Olympic medals brings Hong Kong people some hope and joy.â
Tse and her partner, Tang Chun-man, went on to lose against a Japanese pair, but she thanked people in Hong Kong who had flocked to malls and other public spaces to watch the badminton contest live.
âI feel very happy that so many people got together to support Hong Kong athletes,â Tse said.
The Hong Kong police said on Thursday that they were investigating whether people who had gathered to watch Cheung Ka-longâs fencing final at a mall had breached the national security law and another law when they booed as the Chinese national anthem played at his victory ceremony.
Joy Dong contributed research from Hong Kong.
TOKYO â There can be a grim randomness to a BMX race, even at the Olympics. No matter how well a cyclist rides, a crash, a bump or even a small skid can kill the chance for a medal.
Connor Fields of the United States, the defending gold medalist, was in excellent position after finishing third and first in his first two semifinal heats. But near the lead again in the third heat, he clipped the wheel of the rider in front and went down in a nasty three-bike crash.
Medical personnel attended to Fields for several minutes before he was carried from the track on a stretcher and taken to a hospital. A U.S. Olympic official said Fields was âawake and awaiting further medical evaluation.â Even though he didnât finish the heat, he would have had enough points to race in the final had he been fit to.
The menâs winner was Niek Kimmann of the Netherlands, the world champion in 2015 who finished a disappointing seventh at the Rio Games a year later. Kimmann made headlines this week after crashing into an official who had wandered onto the course during a training run.
âThe last weeks, Iâve felt in the best shape ever,â Kimmann said. âOf course, there was a lot of pressure, but I was confident. And then I hit that official, and I felt like my dream was over. But luckily, with painkillers, that dream was still alive.â
Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes
On the womenâs side, Bethany Shriever of Britain managed to transcend the randomness, winning all three of her heats and then the final. As she completed her 44-second run, her countryman Kye Whyte, fresh off a silver medal in the menâs race, vociferously cheered for her, then lifted her off the ground in a bear hug as she put her hands to her face in disbelief.
Shriever, who was not even a projected finalist, had turned to crowdfunding to support her career in 2019 after the British sports authorities decided to focus their financing on male BMX riders because their results had been better.
âI kept my cool today, kept it simple, and it worked,â she said.
Crashes in both the first and third womenâs heats ended the hopes of Alise Willoughby of the United States, the reigning silver medalist; her third-place finish in the second heat was in vain.
The races were delayed for 45 minutes after a downpour soaked the track. A dozen workers valiantly used industrial blow dryers and squeegees to sop up some of the moisture. But riders said they did not think the wetness contributed to the crashes.
TOKYO â Perhaps it was an ominous sign, or maybe just a normal one, when BMX racing at the Olympics began on Monday with a training run collision between a top cyclist and a marshal who wandered onto the track.
When the competition began on Thursday, a Japanese rider flipped over her handlebars in the first heat, ending her Olympic experience in less than a minute and sending her away with a broken collarbone.
Friday, the day the medals were doled out, began with a thunderous downpour, which felt right, because BMX is high in drama. Water slicked the course, merely adding to the danger factor. Reasonable minds delayed the start and sent workers onto the paved serpentine course of rollers and high-banked turns with brooms and dryers.
Yet it was just off the track where there was something more telling: five teams of medics, each armed with a stretcher, spread around the course. Behind the main scoreboard, three ambulances idled.
The danger inherent in the sport â part of its allure and part of the reason it is here at the Olympics â became most apparent during the semifinals, when Connor Fields of the United States, the gold medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, crashed on the first turn of a semifinal heat. In a split second, two trailing riders tumbled on top of him.
Fields was carried off the track after several motionless minutes. His jersey was shredded by the fall, and his hip and shoulder were bloody with road rash. Racing was delayed about 30 minutes as he was taken to an ambulance and eventually driven away.
âWe can confirm that Connor Fields is awake, stable and awaiting further medical evaluation,â the American teamâs chief medical officer, Dr. Jon Finnoff, said through a U.S.A. BMX spokeswoman. âAdditional updates about his condition will be shared as they become available.â
BMX is part of the growing X Games-ification of the Olympics, perpetually in search of sports that might appeal to younger viewers in ways that, say, modern pentathlon or dressage do not. BMXâs freestyle discipline was added for Tokyo, along with skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing.
The United States rowing team had two final chances on Friday to win a medal in rowing at the Tokyo Games, but both of its boats came up short, ending an era of success at the Olympics that has lasted for more than a century.
The last time the United States failed to make the podium in rowing in an Olympics was in 1908.
âThis might go without saying, but change is clearly necessary,â Amanda Kraus, chief executive of U.S. Rowing, said in a statement sent Friday via text. âThis is a disappointing moment indeed, first and foremost for rowers themselves and the individuals who coached and cared for them.â
The U.S. teamâs menâs and womenâs eight-oared boats raced in the finals on Friday at Sea Forest Waterway, with the American women hoping to extend their phenomenal Olympic gold medal streak that began at the 2008 Beijing Games. But that three-time Olympic champion boat, which for years was so strong that it could win with different combinations of rowers filling the seats, finished fourth, more than 3Â½ seconds behind the winning Canadian team.
The New Zealand eight won the silver medal, and the Chinese boat won the bronze. Both of those rowing teams are on the rise, with Fridayâs medals their first in the womenâs eight.
âThe young group of girls who have been coming though had just added so much new life to our boat,â Kelsey Bevan, the four-set for New Zealand, said at a news conference. âYeah, I think this is only the start of the program.â
New Zealandâs women finished their race, put away their boats and returned to the racecourse to see the menâs eights competition, which was the final rowing event of the Games. It would be a great day for New Zealand rowing: their menâs team was rocketing down the course and won the gold medal.
Earlier in the day, Emma Twigg, the single sculler from New Zealand, won the gold medal after consecutive fourth-place finishes in her past two Olympics. With a gold medal around her neck now at her fourth Summer Games, Twigg said she is a perfect example of how persistence can pay off.
âIf you believe in yourself and keep going and dreaming, this can be the result,â she said.
TOKYO â The best thing Sunisa Lee is looking forward to now that she is the Olympic all-around gymnastics champion isnât her instant fame as one of Team U.S.A.âs biggest stars. Itâs packing up her things less than a week after she arrives home in Minnesota from the Tokyo Games so she can head to college.
Lee, who on Thursday became the fifth straight American woman to win the Olympic all-around, must report to Auburn University by Aug. 11, she said, eight days after she is scheduled to compete in the balance beam final in Tokyo. After years of long, grueling days at the gym, she canât wait to be just another college freshman, meeting new friends, going to classes and living in a dorm with other students who may or may not recognize that she is a newly minted Olympic gold medalist.
âI do want to go to college and have fun and kind of get away from this elite atmosphere because itâs so crazy,â she said in a video call with reporters on Friday. âAnd I know that college is going to be way better.â
She will compete in gymnastics on a scholarship at Auburn, where things might be familiar to her: Jeff Graba, the twin brother of her current coach, Jess Graba, leads the womenâs program. What is most appealing to Lee, though, about college gymnastics is that it is known to be much more fun â and certainly easier â than elite gymnastics. Unlike most other college athletes, who dream of the professional ranks while they are students, elite gymnasts who compete in college do so after establishing themselves at the highest level of the sport.
Right now, college would also give Leeâs battered body a much-needed break. She fractured her left ankle last year and it still hurts because it hasnât healed completely.
Yet Lee, 18, doesnât want to leave her current life behind. She is hoping to participate in at least some of Simone Bilesâs Gold Over America Tour, which is a post-Olympic tour starring female gymnasts. She said she is trying to make it work because she doesnât want to miss too many classes.
And she would like to compete at the world championships in Japan in October and isnât counting out the 2024 Paris Games.
âWeâll have to see, though, because it just seems like a lot of time to continue gymnastics,â she said of the next Olympics, which are only three years from now. âBut, yeah, itâs definitely something that Iâm thinking about.â
She would be 21 during those Games in Paris.
In another table tennis showdown between two players from China, Ma Long, 32, emerged victorious and took the gold medal in menâs singles on Friday night at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, repeating his performance at the Rio Games in 2016.
Maâs victory came a night after his female teammate, Chen Meng, 27, won gold in the womenâs singles. Given that Ma played his teammate Fan Zhendong, 24, it was a foregone conclusion that China would make a clean sweep in the top two medal categories of both singles events.
To distinguish between the two players from the same team, Ma wore a black uniform imprinted with a large purple dragon on the front, while Fan wore a royal blue shirt and shorts with a yellow wave sweeping across it. Inside the largely empty gymnasium, every grunt by the players and every cheer by their supporters rang out across the floor.
In a fiercely contested match, Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany ultimately overpowered Lin Yun Ju of Taiwan and won the bronze medal, meaning there was no geopolitical matchup on the medals podium.
Ma beat Fan, who came into the Olympics ranked No. 1 in the world by the International Table Tennis Federation, in six games. Watching from the stands were Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, and several members of the Chinese team.
The Chinese have long been a table tennis powerhouse. Except for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, China has won gold in every menâs singles table tennis event since 1996. The Chinese men have not been quite as dominant as the women, whose gold medal lock stretches all the way back to 1988, when the sport was introduced at the Olympics.
TOKYO â The United States opened its play in the Olympic baseball tournament as expected, with a win.
Ranked fourth in the world, the United States toppled Israel, 8-1, with an all-around performance from its roster at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Joe Ryan, formerly a top Tampa Bay Rays prospect who was traded to the Minnesota Twins while in Tokyo for the Olympics, allowed just one run and struck out five over six innings.
On offense, the United States was powered by designated hitter Tyler Austin, who smashed a two-run home run, and second baseman Eddy Alvarez, who had two hits and scored two. They combined to drive in five of the United Statesâ runs.
The United States, the team most expected to challenge top-ranked Japan for the gold medal, will play South Korea on Saturday. Isreal, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, at No. 24, is 0-2 and awaits the start of double-elimination play.
TOKYO â Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands could try to do something unprecedented at the Tokyo Games: win the womenâs 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters. To do so, she would need to run multiple heats in multiple events, including five races in six days next week if she successfully plows through the rounds.
She started her bid for a possible triple gold on Friday night by winning her first-round heat of the 5,000 and securing a spot in Monday nightâs final.
She raised her hands in muted celebration as she crossed the finish line.
âI was celebrating getting into the final,â Hassan said. âThat is a lot of pressure.â
Asked whether she had decided to compete in all three events at the Olympics â something thatâs been widely speculated â she said: âNot yet. I have to talk to my coach.â
Elise Cranny and Karissa Schweizer of the United States also made it to the final.
âIt was a tough field out there, and I got really pushed around,â said Schweizer, who was bleeding from her shins after getting spiked.
Hassan, 28, has emerged as one of the most dynamic and versatile runners in the world since the 2016 Olympics, when she placed fifth in the 1,500 meters while failing to advance through her qualifying heat of the 800 meters. She signaled her meteoric rise at the 2019 world championships by winning both the 1,500 and 10,000 meters. She broke the mile world record later that year.
In June, Hassan set another world record, this time in the 10,000 meters, only to have it broken two days later by Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia. Gidey is among the athletes who will challenge Hassan in Tokyo.
Hassan was coached by Alberto Salazar until 2019, when he was banned for four years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for violating rules governing banned substances. This week, Salazar was permanently barred from participating in track and field.
And in the final event of the opening day of competition at Olympic Stadium, Selemon Barega of Ethiopia held off two athletes from Uganda, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo, to win gold in the menâs 10,000 meters. Barega scorched the final laps to edge out Cheptegei, the world-record holder in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, by 0.41 seconds.
Grant Fisher of the United States finished fifth.
It was the first time someone other than Mo Farah of Britain won the 10,000 since 2008. Farah, who doubled as the 5,000- and 10,000-meter champion at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
A cluster of coronavirus cases has emerged among police officers providing security at the Tokyo Games, sending 50 officers into quarantine as the Olympics reach their midway point and the city grapples with a surge of infections.
Kazuhiro Kimura, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, said that 14 officers who were assigned to guard Olympic competition venues had become infected and were in quarantine. Another 36 officers were identified as close contacts and also quarantined.
According to the police, four officers developed symptoms on July 23, the day of the opening ceremony. Officials did not disclose which venues the officers had been assigned to, but said that they wore masks while on duty and did not have contact with members of the public.
Tokyo 2020 organizers on Saturday reported 21 new infections among people credentialed for the Games, bringing the total number of reported cases connected to the Olympics to 246, including 26 athletes.
Tokyo and the rest of Japan are experiencing the worst surge of the pandemic. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Friday that the government would expand a state of emergency to four areas besides Tokyo, and that the restrictions in the capital would be extended until the end of August â past the conclusion of the Olympics and into the start of the Paralympic Games.
With only 28 percent of the population fully vaccinated, the highly contagious Delta variant has taken root in Japan. More than three-quarters of cases in Tokyo are now being caused by the variant, according to the health ministry.
SEOUL â South Koreaâs female archers have been a dominant force, winning every womenâs team competition since the event was first introduced at the 1988 Seoul Games.
In Tokyo on Friday, An San, 20, won gold in the womenâs individual competition, beating Elena Osipova of Russia, 6-5. It is her third gold medal of these Games, after South Koreaâs wins in the womenâs team and mixed team events over the weekend. An also toppled a 25-year-old record last week when she scored 680 in the individual qualification round.
Despite Anâs achievements on the international stage, some South Korean social media users have been attacking her â not for her performance at the Olympics, but for her short haircut.
Thousands of online commenters have accused her of being a feminist, a word that often has more radical connotations in South Korea, where some people associate the label with hating men.
âAre you sure An San isnât a feminist,â one commenter wrote on Instagram. âShe meets all the requirements to be one.â
On one of Anâs Instagram posts, a user asked why she had cut her hair.
âBecause itâs comfortable,â she replied with a smirking smiley face emoji.
Members of the South Korean womenâs volleyball and air rifle teams with short hairstyles have been subjected to similar abuse during the Games.
High-profile figures are often targeted by anti-feminists in South Korea, and An has been in the spotlight because of her Olympic success, said Lee Wonjae, a professor of social network analysis at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea weighed in on Friday evening, releasing a statement congratulating An on her third gold medal in Tokyo. âHer pride is our pride,â he said, praising her âsteelyâ focus during the competition. He also mentioned her struggle to overcome discrimination, in an apparent reference to the anti-feminist posts.
Anâs supporters have flooded the Korea Archery Associationâs message boards, calling for it to protect the Olympic gold medalist. The Korean hashtag #women_shortcut_campaign has been trending on Twitter, with users uploading photographs of their own hairstyles in support of An and other women who choose to cut their hair short.
In a statement earlier on Friday, a spokesman for the Korea Archery Association said that the group was asking the public to refrain from commenting on the controversy over Anâs haircut. âWe will do everything to support our athlete,â he said, adding that further scrutiny would be of no help to An during one of the most important competitions of her life.
Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting.