The USA edged past France to extend their men’s Olympic basketball reign and America’s Nelly Korda sealed women’s golf gold as the busiest day at the Tokyo Games got into full swing on Saturday.
Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir won the women’s marathon in intense heat in Sapporo as storms lurked elsewhere, interrupting the golf as Korda held a one-stroke lead with two holes left.
But top-ranked Korda, sister of six-time US LPGA Tour winner Jessica and daughter of former tennis player Petr, held her nerve on the resumption to complete an American golf sweep after Xander Schauffele won the men’s competition.
China topped the medals table with 37 golds, four ahead of the United States, on the penultimate day of the pandemic-delayed 2020 Games, the first postponed Olympics.
The day’s opening medal went to Jepchirchir, who timed 2hr 27min 20sec in hot and humid conditions in Sapporo — the second slowest winning time for a women’s Olympic marathon.
The race, moved from Tokyo to avoid the capital’s summer heat, started an hour early as Sapporo was also hit by sweltering conditions.
“If we’d started at 7:00 am, by the finish after 9:00 am it would have been too hot for us,” Jepchirchir said.
“When I heard that (the start time) was changed (to 6:00 am) I was so happy. I said: ‘Wow, that’s nice’.”
The marathon was one of the few events where fans were allowed at the Olympics, which have mostly unfolded in front of empty venues because of coronavirus risks.
In boxing, British former factory worker Galal Yafai defeated Carlo Paalam of the Philippines in the men’s flyweight final, and Bulgaria’s Stoyka Krasteva won the women’s flyweight.
– Baseball final –
France handed the United States their first Olympic basketball defeat since 2004 in the group stage but they could not repeat the feat in the final, narrowly going down 87-82 in Saitama.
NBA All-Star Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 29 points as the Americans survived some nervous late moments to prove the doubters wrong.
Later on “Super Saturday”, Brazil play Spain in the men’s football final and Britain’s Tom Daley goes for the individual 10m platform title.
The climax to track and field at the Olympic Stadium includes the men’s 1500m final, with Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot facing a major challenge from Norwegian youngster Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the women’s 10,000m and the 4x400m relays.
Japan and the US cross swords in the men’s baseball final in what would be a morale-boosting win for the host country, where the Games have had a mixed reception.
The men’s madison is the dish of the day at the Izu Velodrome.
At the Nippon Budokan, karate’s fleeting appearance as an Olympic sport concludes with kumite finals for men (+75kg) and women (+61kg). Karate made its Olympic debut in Tokyo but will not figure at Paris 2024.
On the most gold-heavy day there are also finals in modern pentathlon, equestrian team jumping, artistic swimming, handball and water polo.
The Games will close on Sunday in the same way they started on July 23 — with a ceremony at the spectator-free, 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.