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Samantha Kerr of Australia celebrates scoring against Britain at the Tokyo Olympics on July 30, 2021.HENRY ROMERO/Reuters

The unpredictable nature of this Games owing to COVID-19 disruptions and delay has created high drama at the top of the medal tally in the first week. China ended Day 7 of competition with 19 golds, while host country Japan had 17 ahead of the United States with 14.

In soccer, Britain’s women suffered heartbreak in extra time as a Sam Kerr double helped Australia to a 4-3 victory after her first goal in the 89th minute had brought the scores level at 2-2 to force the extra period. Later, the U.S. women, who have won four World Cups and four Olympic golds, managed to stave off the Netherlands in a penalty shootout.

In a surprise victory, world No. 8 Japan claimed the gold medal in the finals of the men’s team epee event with a 45-36 victory over the Russians. Japan had trounced top-ranked France in the quarter-finals, and cruised to victory over South Korea in the semis.

Czech heavyweight Lukas Krpalek won gold in the men’s judo +100-kg division. defeating Guram Tushishvili of Georgia in the final, after double Olympic champion Teddy Riner suffered a shock defeat in the quarters.

The final day of Olympic rowing also delivered thrills when Greece’s Stefanos Ntouskos upset the favourites in the men’s single sculls and Canada ended U.S. dominance of the women’s eights.

FIRST GOLD IN ATHLETICS

Selemon Barega of Ethiopia won the men’s 10,000 metres gold medal, the first of the Olympic athletics programme, on Friday, defeating world champion and world record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda. Cheptegei’s compatriot Jacob Kiplimo took bronze. The 21-year-old Barega’s victory was secured on the last lap as he sprinted to the finish line to secure a shock win.

Selemon Barega of Ethiopia celebrates after winning the men's 10,000m race at the Tokyo Olympics on July 30, 2021.ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL/Reuters

DOPING RAISES ITS HEAD

American swimmer Ryan Murphy stoked controversy when he raised the spectre of doping after losing his second Olympic title to Russian rival Evgeny Rylov. Murphy, who won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Games, said his 200-metre backstroke final was “probably not clean” after he lost to Rylov, competing as part of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). Gold medalist Rylov responded by saying: “I always do the doping tests ... I would not be able to forgive myself if I had taken something. I don’t know how to react to this. I haven’t been accused of anything.”

BMX MARRED BY CRASHES

Colombian Mariana Pajon’s long reign as queen of Olympic women’s BMX racing was ended by British underdog Bethany Shriever in a gripping final on an accident-marred day in which American Connor Fields was taken to hospital after a horrible crash. On a day in which several favourites were involved in crashes, the men’s gold was won by Dutchman Niek Kimmann, who edged out Britain’s Kye Whyte in another thriller. Sadly, a spectacular day of racing was overshadowed by the crash involving the 28-year-old Fields. A team official later told Reuters that Fields was awake in hospital.

Connor Fields of the United States receives medical attention at the Tokyo Olympics on July 30, 2021.MATTHEW CHILDS/Reuters

THANK YOU

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has thanked the IOC for the inclusive policies that will allow her to be the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Games on Monday in Tokyo. Hubbard has not spoken to the media since her place on the New Zealand team was confirmed and on Friday a statement was read out on her behalf at an IOC briefing on inclusion. “I see the Olympic Games as a global celebration of our hopes, ideals and values and I would like to thank the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible,” she said.

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