‘Bonded For Life’: Durant Revels In His Third Olympic Gold

USA’s Kevin Wayne Durant jumps for the rebound in the men’s final basketball match between France and USA during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on August 7, 2021. (Photo by Mohd RASFAN / AFP)

 

 

Kevin Durant said he is “bonded for life” with his US team-mates after they beat France to win basketball gold Saturday, ensuring the Brooklyn Nets star joined all-time great Carmelo Anthony with a third Olympic title.

The 32-year-old has been the backbone of the team for a decade, scoring more Olympic points than any player in US men’s basketball history, and he was again the standout against France.

He drilled 29 points to go with the 30 he bagged in the 2012 final against Spain and 30 in the 2016 decider against Serbia, reinforcing his incredible consistency.

In doing so, he became the first American player to score more than 100 points in three different Olympics, accumulating 124 in Japan.

“When you are part of a team that is evolving by the second, it’s just amazing to see. Every game we continued to grow,” he said, after the US were stunned in their opening group game by France.

“It’s just that journey that is so important, you realise. You finish the job and get the gold medal, but when you go through that journey, man, it is just so special.

“I am bonded with these guys for life, it’s a family for life. I am grateful we all committed to this (Olympics) early and finished it off.”

Durant, who is poised to sign a four-year, $198 million contract extension with the Nets, according to his manager, scored 21 of his points Saturday in the first half.

He was quieter in the fourth term until he drained a pair of crucial free throws with eight seconds left.

Durant said he was reluctant to compare the gold medal in Japan with his previous two “because everything is its own memory”.

“But this is one of those special journeys that is hard to describe,” he added.

“Each one of us put in that work every single day. From the coaches, to the trainers, to the players.

“We all came in with the goal of let’s finish this thing off, let’s build a family, let’s build a team, let’s finish this thing off.”

 

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 7: Kevin Durant #7 of the USA Men’s National Team and Jrue Holiday #12 of the USA Men’s National Team celebrate after defeating the France Men’s National Team to win the Gold Medal Game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the Saitama Super Arena on August 7, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Ned Dishman / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

 

US coach Gregg Popovich said he was “totally frozen” when his team won, calling it “an out of body experience when you are in those kinds of games”.

“Every championship is special, every group is special, but I can be honest and say this the most responsibility I’ve ever felt, because you’re playing for so many people that are watching it for your country,” he said.

Popovich had special praise for Durant, whose experience proved vital to taking home the title.

“The relationships he builds with team-mates, the respect he garners, the joy he has in playing is like osmosis. It goes into all the other players,” he said.

“That sort of love of the game and of people is what makes him more special as a player.”

Swiss Sprinter Wilson Fails Doping Test, Suspended From Olympics

 

Swiss sprinter Alex Wilson has been suspended from the Olympic Games after failing a drugs test, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Jamaica-born sprinter tested positive for the banned steroid trenbolone in an out-of-competition test on March 15.

Wilson had initially challenged the test result, arguing that the drug was contained in contaminated beef he ate at a Jamaican restaurant in the United States. He was provisionally suspended in March.

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However, a Swiss Olympic disciplinary panel lifted his suspension in early July.

The World Anti-Doping Agency and Athletics Integrity Unit appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which on Wednesday upheld the initial suspension.

“Today’s ruling is the right outcome and demonstrates a proper application of the rules,” said AIU chief Brett Clothier.

“This case reflects the AIU’s commitment to protecting the interests of clean athletes and ensuring a level-playing field in Tokyo.”

Wilson made headlines on July 18 after appearing to clock a blistering 9.84sec for the 100m at a meeting in the United States, but the time has not been ratified amid doubts about its veracity.

-AFP

Tokyo Olympics Medal Table: Every Country’s Gold, Silver, Bronze Medals

Bronze medallist South Korea’s Kim Junghwan celebrates during the medal ceremony for the men’s sabre individual during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

China claimed three gold medals on the first day of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday and cyclist Richard Carapaz became just the second competitor in Ecuador’s history to top the podium, with victory in the road race.

Nigeria’s first two participants, Olufunke Oshonaike (Table tennis) and Esther Toko (Rowing) lost out in their events on Saturday morning.

 

Nigeria’s Esther Toko competes in the women’s single repechage during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP)

 

Stay up to date on the medal tracker to find out which nation has the most gold, silver, and bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Below is a list of all the medals won during the 2020 Summer Olympics. In total, 339 medals will be awarded across 33 sports.

Tokyo Olympics medals table after Saturday’s events:

 

CountryGoldSilverBronzeTotal
China3014
Italy1102
Japan1102
South Korea1023
Ecuador1001
Hungary1001
Iran1001
Kosovo1001
Thailand1001
Russian Olympic Committee0112
Serbia0112
Belgium0101
Spain0101
India0101
Netherlands0101
Romania0101
Taiwan0101
Tunisia0101
Estonia0011
France0011
Indonesia0011
Israel0011
Kazakhstan0011
Mexico0011
Mongolia0011
Slovenia0011
Switzerland0011
Ukraine0011
Nigeria0000

 

Djokovic Makes Fast Start To Olympic Gold Bid Despite ‘Brutal’ Heat

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns a shot to Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s singles first round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

 

 

Novak Djokovic launched his quest for Olympic gold on Saturday with a straight-sets win at the Tokyo Games as tennis stars toiled in the searing summer heat on the opening day of the tournament.

World number one Djokovic, the undisputed favourite for the men’s title in Japan, easily dispatched Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien 6-2, 6-2, avoiding a repeat of his first-round exit five years ago in Rio.

“It was challenging but I’m pleased to overcome the first hurdle,” said Djokovic, who was beaten by Juan Martin del Potro at the 2016 Olympics.

“I think I was solid on the court. I could always do better but for a first match I’m satisfied.”

Djokovic dodged the worst of the sweltering conditions at Ariake Tennis Park as late afternoon cloud cover provided some respite from the hot sunshine that confronted players in the earlier matches.

 

 

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic serves to Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s singles first round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

“It was the hottest day so far. Humidity is brutal. It’s certainly hot but also humid, the hard courts absorb the heat and it stays trapped in there. There was not much wind, not much breeze,” said Djokovic.

The 19,900-seat venue, home to 11 outdoor courts and the showpiece Ariake Coliseum court, was almost empty, with fans barred from all but a handful of Olympic sites in Tokyo because of strict Covid-19 rules.

Djokovic, a 2008 bronze medallist, is hoping to emulate Steffi Graf’s 1988 feat of winning the Golden Slam after already snapping up the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year.

He will take on Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in round two, in an event missing half the men’s top 10 players, including 2008 Olympic champion Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

One of the Serb’s chief rivals for gold in Tokyo is Daniil Medvedev, who saved a set point in the second set before completing a 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) win over world number 40 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan.

– ‘Not here to cry about heat’ –
Second seed Medvedev, appearing at his first Games, broke Bublik in the opening game of the match and edged a close-fought second set to book a last-32 clash with India’s Sumit Nagal.

“It’s some of the worst (conditions)… I’m not going to lie, but you have to play. That’s the Olympics, you go for the medal. You’re not here to cry about heat, it was really tough for both of us,” said Medvedev.

Poland’s Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, needed just over an hour to brush aside 172nd-ranked Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-2.

Sixth seed Swiatek, in the same quarter of the women’s draw as Japanese star Naomi Osaka, will play Spain’s Paula Badosa for a place in the last 16.

“It was very hot as everybody is saying,” said Swiatek, whose father Tomasz competed in rowing at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

“Even though I’ve practised here for a few days already, a match is totally different because the stress comes in and the conditions are different, you feel everything twice as much.”

Reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova advanced when her Kazakh opponent Zarina Diyas retired down 5-2 in the first set.

 

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns a shot to Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s singles first round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Last month’s beaten French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova inflicted a crushing 6-0, 6-1 defeat on Italy’s Sara Errani, the 2012 runner-up in Paris.

Osaka was originally scheduled to kick off the tournament against China’s Zheng Saisai, but her match was pushed back 24 hours after she was chosen to light the Olympic cauldron in Friday’s opening ceremony.

“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honour I will ever have in my life,” Osaka wrote on social media.

The four-time Grand Slam champion will return to court Sunday following an eight-week break after she abandoned her French Open campaign for mental health reasons and then skipped Wimbledon.

Andy Murray, the defending two-time singles gold medallist, began his fourth Olympics by combining with Joe Salisbury to knock out French second seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-2 in the men’s doubles.

Murray, now ranked a lowly 104th, takes on Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round of the singles.

VIPS Allowed At Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony, But No Fans

A woman stands in front of the Olympic Rings at dusk in Yokohama on July 2, 2021. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

 

Fans are likely to be banned from the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony over virus fears, but a reduced number of VIPs and Olympic officials will be able to attend, a Japanese newspaper reported.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives, foreign dignitaries, sponsors and others connected to the Games will be allowed into the National Stadium to watch the July 23 ceremony, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said late on Monday.

But under plans currently being discussed, fans would be locked out as organisers rethink attendance limits, as concern grows over rising virus cases in Tokyo.

The report, which cited several unnamed government sources, said organisers are working to whittle down the expected 10,000 “Olympic family” members to a level the Japanese public would find acceptable.

“Some people in government are concerned that the public won’t accept them being given special treatment,” it said.

“They’d like the number of people attending to be reduced to the hundreds.”

Games organisers last month set a limit of 10,000 domestic fans, or half of each venue’s capacity. Overseas fans have already been barred.

But a rise in infections has forced a rethink, with Games president Seiko Hashimoto recently warning that a closed-door Olympics remains an option.

The government is this week expected to extend anti-virus measures in Tokyo and elsewhere, with a decision on Olympic fans to follow.

Organisers were considering banning spectators from events in larger venues and in the evening, said the newspaper.

The announcement of the results of a ticket lottery for oversubscribed events has been pushed back to Saturday — less than two weeks before the opening ceremony.

Japan’s Covid-19 outbreak has not been as severe as in some countries, with around 14,800 deaths, but experts say another wave could stretch medical services as the Olympics begin.

The Olympic torch is due to arrive in Tokyo on Friday, but there will be no relay on public roads in the capital this weekend, organisers said, with short fan-free ceremonies planned instead.

Several legs of the torch relay, which began in March, have been taken away from public roads to prevent crowds from gathering.

Olympics: Team Nigeria’s First Batch Departs For Tokyo

The first batch of Team Nigeria Contingent departs for Tokyo Olympics from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun

 

The first batch contingent of Team Nigeria today, July 6 left for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The team members departed through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

The Director, Federation of Elites Athletes Department (FEAD), Simeon Ebhojiaye in a statement explained that the members include the Canoeing team – Ayomide Bello and her coach Ebenezer Ukwunna; Esther Toko and her coach Regina Enofe of Rowing event alongside Secretary-General Olubunmi Oluode.

Also in the team is the Special Adviser on Sports to the Minister, Mary Onyali; Medical crew of Dr Samuel Ogbondeminu – Okoh Joseph, Abdulsalam Shuaibu, and Ekundayo Ogunkunle.

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Earlier on Monday, an advance team of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development departed via the Muritala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

The second batch will depart on July 13th.

Nigeria will be competing in nine sports at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics which runs from July 23rd- August 8th.

The Paralympians will be competing in four sports from August 24-September 5, 2021.

The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare at the send forth ceremony held in Abuja on Tuesday morning said the departure of the team for the Games is evidence that “working in unison, we can collectively, achieve whatever we set our minds to achieve as humans.”

He said all the athletes and officials that would feature at the Games have been severally educated on COVID-19 compliance and anti-doping instructions and urged them to adhere to the rules in order to compete safely and avoid the discomfort of COVID-19 isolation.

“In continuation of his grandiose support to the sports sector, President Muhammdu Buhari has committed enormous resources in the preparation and participation of Team Nigeria for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As part of this effort, Mr. President would formally unveil the official Team Nigeria uniform for the Games during the presentation of the contingent to His Excellency, by the Honourable Minister,” Dare added.

The Nigeria contingent to Games is scheduled to move to Tokyo in four batches as follows:

Batch 1: July 6, 2021

Canoe Sprint

Rowing

Table Tennis

 

Batch 2: July 13, 2021

Athletics

Taekwondo

Wrestling

 

Batch 3: July 17, 2021

Gymnastics

Badminton

 

Batch 4: July 19, 2021

Basketball

ATTF Insist Quadri Will Be At Tokyo Olympics

 

The African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) is insisting that Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri will feature at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics based on his world rating.

Reacting to speculations over the possibility of an eventual qualification of Africa’s highest-ranked player for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the ATTF President, Khaled El-Salhy said that Quadri’s participation is very important to the Federation.

“For sure the participation of Aruna Quadri in the Olympic Games is very important to ATTF as the top African ranked player and his expected super performance in such special event as he did in the last edition in Rio 2016. Normally he should have qualified in the African Qualification Tournament, unfortunately, he could not continue due to his sudden injury during the 3rd stage of group matches.

“Now the situation is that we have fulfilled two qualification stages (Team Qualification & Continental Qualification), and then ATTF should work hard together with NTTF for the coming stages of qualification,” he added.

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According to ATTF chief, the first qualification for Quadri is to attend the final World Singles Qualifying Tournament which will be held in Qatar on May 28 to 31, with eight top players expected to qualify from the tournament.

However, he said the last option which the Nigerian had met is through the June 2020 ITTF World Ranking with the top 13 players in the world expected to get their qualification through their world rating.

For the Olympic Games, El-Salhy said 86 men and 86 women are expected to compete in Tokyo 2020 with each country having two players each in men and women events.

For now, Olajide Omotayo remains the only Nigerian that has qualified as Nigeria still has one more slot to be part of the tournament.

“I completely believe that a top player like Aruna Quadri has a very big chance to join the African qualifiers through one of the remaining two stages of qualification due to his ranking and super performance whenever he recovers from his injury soon,” the ATTF boss said.

“I have to admit that Aruna Quadri is a special top player in Africa and with his current ITTF ranking making him among the top 20 while his performance has shown worldwide in all previous World, Olympic, Continental, and sanctioned events during the recent years. I think he cannot afford to miss the Olympic Games this year,” El-Salhy said.

Nigeria In Final Round Of Olympics Qualifiers For Beach Volleyball

 

The Head coach of Nigeria beach volleyball team, Francis Imoudu is confident the women’s team can qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after dominating the zone 3 2020 qualifiers in Laboma, Ghana.

At the women’s championship, Nigeria recorded two victories beating Benin Republic twice 2-0 (21-3, 21-7) and 2-0 (21-17, 21-16).

The Nigerian ladies then overcame hosts Ghana 2-0 (21-14, 21-19) and in the second match 2-0 (21-12, 21-11).

Imoudu believes the team can qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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“With the performance of the girls at the Zone 3 qualifiers and emerging first, the signs are there that we will make it to Tokyo 2020 Olympics, we are just one step away from Japan.

“I commend the women’s beach volleyball team for their resilience and determination. They played well and did the country proud in Ghana,” he said.

He further said, “The girls used tactical discipline to subdue Benin Republic and Ghana in their respective matches. The Ghanaian team was powering at the beginning of the matches but we had a game plan which was perfectly executed”.

The President of Nigeria Volleyball Federation, Engineer Musa Nimrod is pleased the team made it to the next round of the Olympic qualifiers and believes the players can upset their opponents in the final round yet to be decided by the African Volleyball Confederation.

2020 Olympic: Nigeria Going For Only Result-Oriented Sports, Says Sunday Dare

Sports Minster, Sunday Dare

 

The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has announced that Nigeria will participate in only result-oriented sports at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, disclosed this while addressing journalists at the Imo State Sports Summit 2019 in Owerri, the state capital.

According to the Sports Minister, the era of going to the Olympics as mere participants has ended and there would be reduction in the number of Sports Nigeria will feature in at the games.

“The Olympics is eight months and four days away. In October, I met with all the Federations, I told them to submit their plans. I told them we are going to have a scientific approach.

“By tomorrow we are inaugurating the ministerial Olympic committee within the Ministry which is the ministerial arm. By January we will begin our scientific analysis.

“This is because we are not going to go and compete in 12 or 14 Sports. We are going for Sports in which we have competitive edge. We will look at the performances in a scientific approach. We will look at our athletes, those they are going to compete with, their timing and their points,” Dare said.

The Minister added that Nigeria will eventually compete in only eight or nine Sports “where we are sure we can make the mark.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Nigeria’s Beach Volleyball Team Optimistic Of Qualifying

 

Nigeria’s beach volleyball coach, John Iwerinma is optimistic the country will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Iwerinma expressed his optimism after Nigeria lost to Canada 2-0 (21-11, 22-20) at the ANOC World Beach Games in Doha, Qatar.

He said the players played with a high level of dedication, selflessness and determination but were beaten by the best players in the world.

According to the coach, “Nigeria can qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics; the world beach games has re-affirmed my hope and confidence in the nation’s beach volleyball team. We played against the best teams in the world (Brazil, USA and Czech) and the girls were able to get 10 points from them. This shows we have improved drastically.

“The girls never showed any sign of complacency during and after the matches; their heads were up high after playing against Canada in the quarterfinals despite the loss”.

He further said, “The ANOC World beach games have confirmed that the players that we can stand against the best in the world and going by recent antecedent we are a world-class beach volleyball playing nation”.

He commended the leadership of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation for believing in the team that went to Doha.

“The President of the Federation has been supportive and has supported the beach volleyball teams during every of their programs. Some of the players participated at the World Championship and featured at the snow volleyball championship too”.

He concluded that Africa is blessed with talented players that can challenge European players but identified funding as a major problem that has hampered the growth of the game.