DAMIAN DOMINATES DECATHLON
From the very beginning of the two-day event – when Damian Warner tied his decathlon world record in the 100 metres – it appeared clear the Canadian was locked in for gold. When the 31-year-old from London, Ont., crossed the finish line in the 1,500 metres on Thursday, the seemingly inevitable was complete. Warner led from start to finish and climbed to the top of the podium for his second Olympic medal, an improvement on the decathlon bronze from Rio 2016. “It’s really special,” Warner said. “It’s one of those things where when you’re younger, you set little dreams and goals. I just remember watching guys like Donovan Bailey and Catriona Le May Doan when I was a kid, celebrating and winning gold medals, and sitting on the couch watching it with my mom, telling her, ‘I want to do that one day.’ It’s really cool coming out here and finally live that dream.” Over the course of the gruelling competition, Warner set Olympic decathlon records in the long jump and 110-metre hurdles. He also set a personal best in the pole vault.
FINAL UNDER THE STARS
After requests from both finalists – and a lengthy decision-making process – Friday’s women’s soccer gold-medal game was finally rescheduled. Instead of playing in the 11 a.m. heat (local time in Tokyo), Canada will instead face Sweden under the stars Friday night at 9 p.m. (8 a.m. eastern time) at International Stadium Yokohama. The match was originally scheduled to take place at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. Temperatures are expecting to hover in the mid-30s Friday afternoon and both teams felt their players would be at risk under the sweltering August heat. “I think the change makes absolute sense for the spectacle of what the game can be,” Canadian head coach Bev Priestman said.
JUST ANOTHER LVL
The 13 world championships were sweet, but an Olympic medal took things to another level for sprint canoer Laurence Vincent-Lapointe. The 29-year-old nicknamed LVL raced to a precious podium spot in the women’s C-1 200-metre race, winning silver behind American Nevin Harrison. It was the culmination of years of effort that included overturning a suspension from the sport after an “adverse analytical finding” from an out-of-competition drug test in July, 2019. “I’m so relieved. It hit me on the podium that I’ve done it,” said Vincent-Lapointe, of Trois-Rivières, Que. “I might not have won a gold, but this silver tastes amazing.” Vincent-Lapointe is still eyeing a gold medal. She will race the canoe double 500 with teammate Katie Vincent of Mississauga.
CANADIAN TRACK STARS
Just 14 hours after he captured the gold medal in the men’s 200, Andre De Grasse was back on the track in top form as he ran a speedy anchor leg to put Canada’s 4x100 relay team into Friday’s final. Jamaica had the fastest time on the morning with 37.82, while China ran 37.92 for second place over Canada in a decision that was determined by thousandths of a second in a photo finish. Aaron Brown, who was sixth in Wednesday’s 200 metres, ran the lead-off leg, followed by Jerome Blake and Brendon Rodney. Racing for the seventh time of these Games, De Grasse took the baton from Rodney in about fifth place, before churning down the home stretch to cross the line alongside China. On the women’s side, the 4x400 relay team of Alicia Brown, Sage Watson, Madeline Price and Kyra Constantine ran a time of 3:24.05, which was good enough for fifth in their heat and a place in Friday’s final.
Meaghan Benfeito doesn’t want her career to end this way. The 32-year-old diver’s fourth Olympics finished in heartbreaking fashion after she failed to qualify for the women’s 10-metre platform diving final. Benfeito, from Laval, Que., finished 13th in the semi-final, five points below her next competitor. Only the top 12 divers qualified for the final. It was a worst-case scenario for Benfeito, who believes Tokyo will be her final Olympics. “Yes I’m sad, I don’t want to finish my career this way. It hurts. But I fought to the end, I’m proud of myself,” she said. The Canadian diver potentially ends her Olympic career with three bronze medals. She has not retired from the sport just yet, though. Benfeito will decide if she wants to compete in a FINA Grand Prix later this year.
– The Canadian Press