The women’s 400-meter hurdles also has an elite collection of talent to rival Wednesday’s thrilling men’s final, but world record holder Sydney McLaughlin reigned supreme by setting a new world record in the event at 51.46 seconds, followed by fellow American Dalilah Muhammad taking silver.
Also on Thursday’s schedule, the first round of the women’s golf competition gets underway, boxers Oshae Jones and Richard Torrez look to clinch medals, and Team USA faces the Dominican Republic in baseball (11 p.m. ET) for a spot in the semifinals.
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TOKYO — For so long, the track and field community viewed Sydney McLaughlin as a prodigy. Her accomplishments were viewed primarily within the context of her age.
That changed in June, when she broke a world record at the U.S. Olympic trials.
And it will change again now that she is an Olympic gold medalist.
The 21-year-old McLaughlin won the women’s 400-meter hurdles in dominant fashion Wednesday, beating compatriot Dalilah Muhammad – the reigning world champion and Olympic gold medalist – to secure the title. The New Jersey native crossed the finish line in 51.46 seconds, a new world record.
Muhammad was second in 51.58. Femke Bol of the Netherlands won bronze.
The gold medal comes five years after McLaughlin made her Olympic debut in Rio, at the age of 16. It was a remarkable feat for a rising junior in high school, even though she didn’t make the final. And when it was over, she went back for her senior year at Union Catholic High School, just trying to be a normal kid.
After a stint at the University of Kentucky, McLaughlin turned pro and found herself climbing the ranks, but often finishing second to Muhammad. They have long been not just the two fastest women in the 400-meter field, but also the two fastest in the history of the event.
— Tom Schad
TOKYO – American Connor Fields, the BMX racer who suffered a brain hemorrhage when he crashed in competition Friday at the Tokyo Games, is expected to return to his home in Las Vegas by the end of the week, his father told USA TODAY Sports.
“He’s doing pretty good but he’ll be tested when we get back,’’ Mike Fields said Wednesday by text message.
A day after Fields suffered the head injury, doctors said there had been no additional bleeding and no new head injuries were found, according to USA Cycling. Fields, 29, also suffered a broken rib and bruised lung in the crash, according to his father.
Fields, a three-time Olympian who won the gold at the 2016 Rio Games, crashed during a semifinal heat at Ariake Urban Sports Park. He was in second place when his front wheel appeared to catch the back wheel of the leader, France’s Romain Mahieu.
Fields tumbled to the ground and two other riders fell over him. He was taken off the course on a stretcher before being loaded into an ambulance and transported to a hospital.
— Josh Peter
We love seeing stars supporting one another.
Ahead of the primetime airing of the women’s balance beam final, in what could have been the last time Simone Biles appears in the Olympics, singer/songwriter Taylor Swift talked about the legacy Biles has left, especially in the past week opening up about her mental health struggles.
“That’s what makes it so easy to call her a hero,” Swift said.
Swift’s narration caught the attention of Biles, who responded to the tweet with, “I’m crying how special. I love you @taylorswift13.” Swift responded by saying she got emotional seeing how brave Biles was.
“I cried watching YOU. I feel so lucky to have gotten to watch you all these years, but this week was a lesson in emotional intelligence and resilience. We all learned from you. Thank you,” she said.
— Jordan Mendoza
TOKYO – American distance swimmers Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell finished sixth and seventh Wednesday in Olympic marathon swimming.
Both were in the lead pack throughout in the 10K open water race at Odaiba Marine Park on a hot morning with temperatures in the upper 80s.
“We knew coming in it was going to be pretty warm,” Anderson said. “Everyone was dealing with the same conditions. It was nice we had some clouds, that definitely helped. We tried to prepare as well as we could for the heat and put ourselves in a good position coming in.”
Brazil’s Ana Cunha won in 1:59.30.8 ahead of 2016 gold medalist Sharon van Rouwendaal of Netherlands and Australia’s Kareena Lee. There was a 7.1-second spread between first and seventh in the fourth Olympics to include marathon swimming.
Anderson was a silver medalist in 2012 and fifth in 2016. Twichell competed in her first Olympics after failing to qualify in the previous three.
“She looked great,” Anderson said. “I was so excited for her to be here. To qualify together was something I wanted for a really long time for her.”
Twichell said, “In the back end of the first lap, I got caught right in the middle of the pack. I knew that’s not where I wanted to be for the race so got myself in the lead. That’s where I’m more comfortable. The last lap there were seven of us and it was tough, but it was great to see Haley right there too. I would have loved to have medaled but proud of the fight I had out there today.”
Twichell said she is retiring after finally achieving her Olympic goal. “It was always my plan to retire after Tokyo. I’ve had a great career and I’m ready to move on.”
— Jeff Metcalfe
Chloe Dygert is no Simone Biles. Dygert is not the Greatest Of All Time nor NBC’s Face of the Games.
Yet the Dygert bronze should be viewed with the same reverence as the Biles bronze. The two 24-year-olds were similarly gritty, coming through with medals about an hour apart in different sports and different venues Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ten months after a scary crash threatened her career, Dygert won the second Olympic medal of her career.
In track cycling’s team pursuit, the Brownsburg, Indiana, rider combined with three other Americans to beat Canada for the bronze medal at Izu Velodrome. Dygert was on the silver-winning team at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Germany won the gold medal, lowering the world record at the 4,000-meter distance for the third time in Tokyo, down to 4:04.242. Great Britain took the silver.
In a first-round heat, the British broke the world record set by Germany in qualifying and beat the United States with a time of 4:06.748. USA’s time was 4:07.562, a national record. That advanced Great Britain to the gold-medal race and left the Americans riding for bronze.
Riding with Dygert were Jennifer Valente of San Diego, Emma White of Duanesburg, N.Y., and Megan Jastrab of Apple Valley, Calif.
“We’re proud of what we did out there,” said Valente, who was on the silver-winning team at Rio. “We left everything on the track. It’s just that Team GB had a little more gas.”
In the bronze final, the United States clocked 4:08.040 to Canada’s 4:10.552.
It was only USA Cycling’s second medal at Tokyo. The other was in BMX freestyle.
— David Wood, Indy Star
Clarissa Saunders, the mother of shot put silver medalist Raven Saunders, died on Tuesday morning, days after watching her daughter win her first Olympic medal.
Her mother was in Orlando to attend Tokyo 2020 watch parties for the families of Team USA athletes, where she watched Saunders win silver in the shot put on Sunday along with her other daughter, Tanzania. The cause of death is unknown.
The death was confirmed to The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier by her longtime coach and father figure, Herbert Johnson. Saunders later tweeted that she would be taking a break from social media to focus on her mental health and her family.
— Jordan Mendoza
TOKYO — Without their parents, without their friends, without any spectators, the Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly, arrived at the Olympic Games to begin play in the women’s golf tournament that begins Wednesday.
They were asked who they do have supporting them here this week.
“Each other,” Jessica said.
It was the perfect answer. The daughters of 1998 Australian Open men’s tennis champion Petr Korda and 1988 Czech Olympic tennis player Regina Rajchrtova Korda, Jessica, 28, and Nelly, 23, are two of the four U.S. golfers representing the United States in the women’s Olympic competition. Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang are the others.
So far, it has been a stellar week for the Americans in golf, with Xander Schauffele winning the gold in the men’s event Sunday.
— Christine Brennan
TOKYO — Before his first Olympic race, he yawned.
During his second Olympic race, he tilted his head as he came down the stretch, checking to see how fast he needed to run in order to win.
“I didn’t mean it out of cockiness,” Erriyon Knighton said later.
He is just 17 1/2 years old – the youngest American man to compete at the Summer Olympics since Jim Ryun in 1964. But in the first two rounds of 200-meter competition at the Tokyo Olympics, Knighton appeared in complete control, leaving 30-year-old men and longtime pros in his wake.
The former wide receiver at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida, might not enter Wednesday’s 200-meter final as the favorite – that title still probably belongs to fellow American and reigning world champion Noah Lyles – but he will certainly be favored to win a medal.
Not too shabby for a guy in just his third season of competitive track.
— Tom Schad
After her triumphant comeback Tuesday, four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles revealed that her aunt died just two days before competing in the balance beam event.
Biles, 24, withdrew from four individual finals – all-around, vault, floor and uneven bars – last week citing mental health concerns and “the twisties,” a condition when gymnasts lose their sense of awareness in the air.
Biles’ coach, Cecile Cantqueteau-Landi, opened up to reporters Tuesday about what Biles had been going through during the Tokyo Games, including her aunt’s unexpected death.
Despite mourning her family’s loss, Biles received a score of 14.0 on the beam in her return to competition, earning bronze. It was the seventh Olympic medal for her, matching Shannon Miller’s record for the most medals won by an American gymnast.
— Analis Bailey