USWNT vs. Australia in bronze medal recreation

Wednesday was filled with glory for Team USA at the track, and Thursday marked the first gold medal in track and field at the Tokyo Olympics for U.S. men. Ryan Crouser set an Olympic record in winning the men’s shot put, with teammate Joe Kovacs taking silver. 

However, there was disappointment as well when the men’s 4×100 relay team finished sixth in their semifinal heat and did not qualify for the final. In addition, the favorite in the men’s 110-meter hurdles — American Grant Holloway — was upset in the final. He hung on for the silver. 

The day got off to a positive start for the U.S. as the “A Team” beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman took care of Switzerland in straight sets for a spot in the gold medal match. 

The U.S. men’s basketball team overcame to sluggish start to go on to rout Australia, 97-78, and advance to the gold medal game. 

Despite a devastating loss to Canada in the semifinals, the USWNT still has a chance to leave Tokyo with a medal as they’ll face Australia in the bronze medal match at 4 a.m. ET.

WEDNESDAY RECAP: Sydney McLaughlin sets world record in women’s hurdles

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TOKYO — U.S. diver Delaney Schnell placed fifth in the individual 10-meter platform final, coming up short of earning a second medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Schnell won silver in the synchronized 10-meter platform with partner Jessica Parratto last week.

Schnell finished with 340.40 points, 31 back from third-place Melissa Wu of Australia. China’s Quan Hongchan and Chen Yuxi took gold and silver, respectively.

Schnell’s strongest dive came on a forward three-and-a-half somersaults pike in the fourth round, which earned 79.50 points and ranked third among the competition.

U.S. women have made diving history at the Tokyo Olympics, earning multiple medals for the first time since the 1988 Seoul Olympics. At those games, U.S. women took bronze in the individual 3-meter springboard (Kelly McCormick) and silver and bronze in the individual 10-meter platform (Michele Mitchell and Wendy Williams). Synchronized diving was not added to the Olympic program until 2000.

In total, U.S. diving has won three medals in Tokyo, including Krysta Palmer’s bronze in the individual 3-meter springboard and Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon’s silver in the synchronized 3-meter springboard.

— Olivia Reiner

KASHIMA, Japan — The U.S. women’s lineup for the bronze-medal match against Australia is, uh, interesting.

Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press get the start at forward. Lynn Williams, who had a goal and assist in the quarterfinal win over the Netherlands, won’t even be available. Neither will Catarina Macario, considered the future of the USWNT.

Sam Mewis is starting again, and Rose Lavelle is on the bench. Tierna Davidson, who was called for the penalty that gave Canada the game-winning goal in the semifinals, is starting.

Adrianna Franch is the starting goalkeeper after Alyssa Naeher was ruled out with the hyperextended knee she suffered in the first half against Canada.

— Nancy Armour

TOKYO — American Duke Ragan on Thursday was in position to become the first men’s U.S. boxer to win an Olympic gold medal in 17 years. 

He’ll have to settle for the silver. 

Ragan lost to Russian Albert Batyrgaziev by split decision, 3-2, in the featherweight division final at the Tokyo Games. 

The last U.S. boxer to win an Olympic gold was Andre Ward, who did it at the 2004 Athens Games. The U.S. men’s team will have at least one more chance to end the gold medal drought. 

— Josh Peter

TOKYO — Were you worried about the U.S. men’s basketball team? There was certainly reason to be for a moment against Australia in the semifinals Thursday at Saitama Super Arena. But with this much talent, it only takes a few minutes of good basketball for concern to turn into jubilation.

Team USA will play for its fourth straight gold medal on Saturday thanks to a 97-78 win over the Australians, a game whose final score does not indicate how badly the Americans were outplayed early on. 

But much like their quarterfinal against Spain, where the U.S. trailed by double digits before going on a run to tie it at halftime, the Americans tightened up their defense at just the right time. After closing the final 3 ½ minutes of the second quarter on an 11-1 run to close the gap to 45-42, they went into full flight in the third quarter and put away the Australians rather easily with a series of defensive stops and a barrage of 3-pointers.

The U.S. will play the winner of Slovenia-France in the gold medal round.

— Dan Wolken

Zach Lavine dunks the ball in the semifinal against Australia.

Carl Lewis, the winner of nine gold medals in four Olympic Games, could not believe his eyes. He was at home Wednesday night in Houston watching the U.S. men’s 4×100-relay team melt down half a world away in the Olympic Stadium, and he simply could not contain his frustration.

“This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared,” Lewis said in a phone interview with USA TODAY Sports.

“It’s unacceptable. It’s so disheartening to see this because it’s people’s lives. We’re just playing games with people’s lives. That’s why I’m so upset. It’s totally avoidable. And America is sitting there rooting for the United States and then they have this clown show. I can’t take it anymore. It’s just unacceptable. It is not hard to do the relay.”

— Christine Brennan

The U.S. men’s basketball team closed a 15-point deficit to just three points, 45-42, in the latter stages of the second quarter in its semifinal against Australia and will head into halftime with a good chance to advance to the gold medal round.

Given the way most of the first half played out, Team USA should feel fortunate to be in this position after struggling on both ends of the floor for the first 16 minute of the game. Not only did the Americans have a hard time guarding the Australians, who made seven threes in the first half, they turned it over eight times and didn’t make a three of their own until Devin Booker splashed a wide open look from the corner with 3:21 left in the second quarter.

Team USA is shooting 64% from inside the arc but just 2-of-13 from long range.

Kevin Durant has 15 points for the U.S., while Dante Exum leads Australia with 10.

— Dan Wolken

CHIBA, Japan – No backflips yet, but Gable Steveson might break one out on the Olympic stage soon.

The high-flying Minnesota Gophers wrestler and NCAA champion still has some work to do on the mat first.

Steveson dominated both of his preliminary matches at Makuhari Messe Hall on Thursday to advance to the men’s heavyweight semifinals (125kg) this evening. He scored a technical victory in the first match (10-0) before winning 8-0 over Taha Akgul, the defending Olympic champion, of Turkey.

“Like a champ, took him down,” Steveson said.

“He’s the best heavyweight wrestler to ever step foot (onto the mat,” the 21-year-old added. “But his time is up. I came here for business. I came here to win. Respect to him, he is a top dog, but young cat came to play today.”

He’ll face Mongolia’s Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur in his semifinal matchup. Steveson will wrestle again Friday for a medal, and he’s hoping the color is gold.

“I gotta keep going,” he said. “Ain’t nothing going to be given to me, I got to go get it.

“The bigger the stage, the better Gable gets.”

USA wrestling has had success at the Tokyo Games, with Tamyra Mensah-Stock taking gold and Adeline Gray winning silver in their respective weight classes. David Taylor (men’s 86kg) has his gold-medal match later Thursday and Helen Maroulis (women’s 53kg), the defending champion from Rio, wrestles for bronze afterward.

“They did their job. It’s just momentum for us to go out there and do our things too,” Steveson said. “We’re on a roll right now. We’re not going to stop.”

A hiccup came when Kyle Dake, finally out of the shadow cast by Jordan Burroughs in his weight class (men’s 74kg), lost 11-0 to Belarusian Mahamedkhabib Kazdimahamedau in the quarterfinals. In his first match of the day, a 4-1 victory, he was poked in the eye 15 seconds into the match and again a minute later.

Earlier, Jacarra Winchester overcame a 4-1 deficit in her first match but also fell in the quarterfinals.

Thomas Gilman won his 57kg repechage match to have the shot at a bronze later Thursday.

— Chris Bumbaca

TOKYO — Cory Juneau had done the safe run to get into the final. Once he was there, he went for the one he hadn’t done all together before – and it earned him Olympic bronze.

The American skateboarder qualified for the men’s park final in the last position, sneaking in on his third run in prelims that he landed cleanly. In the final, he chose a line through the park course he hadn’t taken before and landed a more technical run.

“I had done bits and pieces but I hadn’t made a full run,” Juneau said. “All the stress or like butterflies were gone after I made it (to the final) and so I just put everything I had on the table and it all came together how I imagined.”

Australia’s Keegan Palmer, who has dual citizenship with the United States and lives in Southern California, took gold, getting huge air out of the bowl and using it to do kickflip tricks with grabs. Brazilian Pedro Barros took silver.

Juneau, 22, was the only American to get into the final after teammates Zion Wright and Heimana Reynolds led the first of four preliminary heats, but their scores didn’t hold up and no one from that heat advanced.

Competing in the fourth heat, Juneau needed to land a run to advance, so he took out his riskier tricks and went for a safer run he hoped would be enough.

Once he was through, he knew he would need more to contend for a medal. In addition to choosing a new line through the course, he upped his technical difficulty on his second run to improve his position.

Juneau got massive air on a backside 540 tail grab and landed a frontside flip with no grab – flipping the board and bringing it back to his feet without using his hands – in a stylish run that flowed beautifully through the course.

“My favorite thing is like just going fast, doing grind, flip tricks,” he said. “I’m not so much of an air kind of guy, but with the level out here you kind of got to switch it up, change up some things.

“Kind of just like went bigger and switched up a couple lines and I’m thankful it worked out and be completely honored to take home a bronze medal.”

— Rachel Axon

Cory Juneau in the men's skateboarding park prelims during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games.

TOKYO – On his very first attempt, U.S. shot put world-record holder Ryan Crouser walked to the shot put circle as cool and casual as one can be in an Olympic final. The reigning Olympic champion stepped into the ring sporting a USA track and field hat and shades. He took a deep breath, did the popular shot put spin technique and boom – Olympic record.

Crouser tossed 74 feet, 11 inches to break his 2016 Olympic record of 73 feet, 10¾ inches.

In Crouser’s second attempt, he increased his own record. The 6-foot-7 shot putter tossed a monster throw of 75 feet, 2¾ inches.

The competition for first was all over after two attempts.

Crouser saved his best for last, though. The Oregon native threw 76 feet, 5½ inches on is very last attempt to break the Olympic record for a third and final time of the competition.

Joe Kovacs finished in second (74′ 3¾) and New Zealand’s Thomas Walsh (73′ 8¾) came in third.

With the win, Crouser is the U.S. male to win a track and field gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Additionally, Crouser is the first American to win back-to-back Olympic golds in the shot put since Parry O’Brien did it at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics.

— Tyler Dragon

TOKYO – American Sakura Kokumai advanced to one of two Olympic bronze medal matches in karate kata Thursday.

Karate is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo. Kata is an a form demonstration event comparable to gymnastics floor exercise.

Kokumai, 28, was third in her five-woman pool, advancing to a ranking round, where she again placed third at Nippon Budokan.

That puts her into a bronze medal match later Thursday against Italy’s Viviana Bottaro, who was second after the ranking round in the other pool.

Kokumai was born in Honolulu but has family and friends in Japan, where she lived and trained before returning to the U.S. to train for these Games.

— Jeff Metcalfe

Nevin Harrison secured a rare medal in canoe for the United States as she took gold in the women’s 200-meter single canoe race. The 19-year-old from Seattle finished ahead of Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe (46.786) and Ukraine’s Liudmyla Luzan (47.034) in the final with a time of 45.932 seconds. 

Harrison’s medal is just Team USA’s fifth overall in the sport. 

“This is so incredible, it’s crazy. Thank you to my family and friends. You are my rocks and my support,” Harrison said. “Kenny and Anna, my two best friends, have been with me every step of the way. I wouldn’t be here without any of them.” 

— Jace Evans

TOKYO — The U.S. men’s team isn’t having much luck obtaining gold medals on the track.

Heavy 110-meter hurdle favorite Grant Holloway narrowly lost to Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment in the event final.

Parchment ran a season-best 13.04 to win the Olympic gold medal. Holloway finished second at a 13.09.

Holloway had the No. 1 time in the world heading into the final. His season-best of 12.81 is just a hundredth of a second shy of the world record.

Jamaica’s Ronald Levy got the bronze, running a 13.10.

— Tyler Dragon

Hansle Parchment (left), Grant Holloway (right) and Ronald Levy (center) finish first, second, and third in the men's 110m hurdles final during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

TOKYO — In a stunning development, Team USA failed to qualify for the final in the men’s 4×100 relay at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

The Americans fielded four of their fastest sprinters — Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker and Crayvon Gillespie — and got beat, finishing sixth in their preliminary heat. The top three finishers automatically qualified, with the next two fastest advancing on time.

The U.S. men, far right lane, finished sixth in their semifinal heat in the 4x100 relay and did not qualify for the final.

The U.S. finished behind China, Canada, Italy, Germany and Ghana in its heat, with a time of 38.10.

Team USA has a history of relay mishaps, from lane violations to poor handoffs. This time, poor handoffs proved to be costly.

The U.S. last won gold in the event in 2000.

— Tom Schad

TOKYO – Park skateboarding comes with its fair share of wipeouts. In the Tokyo Olympics prelims, one came for the leader and a cameraman.

Australia’s Kieran Woolley was finishing a big run when he went to ride a rail atop the bowl. It’s not clear how he meant to come out of it, because atop the course he collided with a cameraman from the Olympic Broadcasting Services. 

One the replay, it showed Woolley’s helmet colliding with the camera lens before the cameraman’s feed came into frame.

Both appeared to be unharmed and, thankfully for Woolley, it didn’t seem to matter.

He scored an 82.69 to take the overall lead during the third preliminary heat.

— Rachel Axon

April Ross, left, and teammate Alix Klineman celebrate their semifinal win over Switzerland in the women's beach volleyball semifinals.

TOKYO – The U.S. beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman are headed to the gold medal match after defeating the Swiss team 2-0 of Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich in the semifinal round.

The pair made quick work of the Swiss, defeating them 21-12, 21-11. They went on a 7-1 run at the end of the first set to win and a 5-1 run at the end of the second. Ross finished with 15 attack points while Klineman contributed nine attack points and four block points.

Ross and Klineman will play in the final on Friday, Aug. 6 against Australia’s Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy, who beat Latvia’s Tina Graudina/Anastasija Kravcenoka in the semifinal.”

The U.S. team has been paired together since 2018 and were ranked No. 2 in the world entering the Tokyo Olympics. Ross and Klineman won once and took third twice on the world tour in 2021. Together, they have six FIVB wins.

Ross has been to two previous Olympics – she won silver in 2012 with Jen Kessy and bronze in 2016 with Kerri Walsh Jennings. With her 2016 third-place finish, she became just the fourth beach volleyball player of any gender to win multiple Olympic medals in the sport (Walsh Jennings, Misty May-Treanor and Karch Kiraly are the others).

— Olivia Reiner

Ahead of their semifinal match against Switzerland, the U.S. beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman, known as the “A Team,” received support from a fellow A-Team member, Mr. T. 

Ross and Klineman will face the Swiss duo of Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich at 8 p.m. ET for a spot in the gold medal match, as they look to be the first Americans since Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2012 to win gold in beach volleyball. 

— Jordan Mendoza

STAMFORD, Conn. – In 2011, NBC while looking a place to set up shop for its sports department, stumbled upon a Clairol shampoo warehouse in this quaint Eastern Connecticut town about 40 miles northeast of New York City. No one envisioned it would play a crucial part of the network’s vast array of sports properties.

Ten years later, that warehouse space has been converted into one full floor of multiple control rooms and studio space, complete with an existing loading dock so television trucks would have a place to operate.

Although there are nearly 1,600 NBC Olympics employees on-site in Tokyo, most of the behind-the-scenes work is done in Stamford, including the aforementioned production trucks that help viewers watch volleyball, golf, basketball and the swimming events.

“The biggest part is how impressive and large the operation is and continues to grow in the United States and that’s just a product of the changes in technology and the importance of figuring out simple system to create television,” Sam Flood, Executive Producer & President, Production, NBC & NBC Sports Network, told USA TODAY Sports.

— Scooby Axson

TOKYO – Earning an Olympic medal is extremely hard. Winning an Olympic gold medal is extraordinarily difficult, especially in individual sports such as track and field. The gold-medal winner truly has to be the best in the world. To put things in perspective, the world population is approaching 7.9 billion, according to Worldometer.

What’s transpired on the track and field for the U.S. men’s team encapsulates just that.

“It’s really hard. All the training, all the lifting, all the running and all the miles we put on our bodies,” Kenny Bednarek said moments after earning a men’s 200-meter silver medal. “It’s just a lot of hard, hard work. It’s not easy. You got to make sure to drink water, rehydrate every day, make sure to stretch every day and use all the equipment that you have…It’s not easy, but you can do it if you put in the hard work.”

Unfortunately for the U.S. men’s team none of them have been able to achieve their ultimately golden dreams.

Following six days of competition, the U.S. men’s squad has five overall medals – four silvers and one bronze. Zero gold medals. The U.S. track and field men are still leading all participating countries in the overall medal count with five. However, at the closing of Olympic track and field day six, 10 countries have at least one track and field gold medal, including Germany and Italy leading the way with two apiece.

The positive news for the U.S. men’s team is its gold-medal drought shouldn’t linger too much longer. World-record holder and reigning Olympic champion Ryan Crouser is the clear-cut favorite in the men’s shot put final on Thursday. On the track on Thursday, Grant Holloway is going into the 110-meter hurdles final ranNo. 1 in the world and in better form than any of his competitors. There could be two gold medals forthcoming, and possibly more, in the matter of hours. But that doesn’t take away from the incredible challenge it is to be the best in the world at an individual event.

KASHIMA, Japan – Bronze-medal games aren’t really the U.S. women’s thing.

Oh, they’re fine for other teams. For the marquee team in the game, however, it’s always been gold or bust. They’ve won the last two World Cups, and were runners-up the tournament before that. In the first five Olympic tournaments, they won either gold or silver.

But when the choice is bronze or bust, well, a bronze doesn’t look so bad.

“We’re lucky to be out here to play,” USWNT goalkeeper Adrianna Franch said Wednesday. “And we’re competitors. We’re here to win. We’re here to take home a medal. Everyone is trying to take home a medal. We didn’t make it for gold or silver, but a bronze is just as important (because) it’s what we have to fight for.”

For all of the USWNT’s success, this is the second consecutive Olympics where the world’s No. 1 team has failed to make the gold-medal game. Playing Australia on Thursday for the bronze is actually an improvement over 2016, when the Americans went out in the quarterfinals.

After winning the World Cup in 2019, and getting an extra year to recover from the celebrations that followed, the Americans seemed to be the favorites for gold in Tokyo. But they never looked quite right, getting routed by Sweden in their opener and being held scoreless in two of their three group games.

They needed a shootout to beat the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, then lost to Canada – for the first time in 20 years, no less – after the Canadians converted a penalty kick in the 74th.

This also might be the last game for some of the team’s biggest stars, and they don’t want to leave with a loss. 

A bronze medal will never be good enough for the USWNT. But, in this case, it’s better than the alternative. 

— Nancy Armour

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