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Olympics Live and Simone Biles News: Star Withdraws from Sunday Finals


Current time in Tokyo: July 31, 11:02 a.m.

Simone Biles did not compete on three apparatuses during the team final after performing her vault.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Simone Biles, the superstar American gymnast, will not compete in Sunday’s event finals for vault and uneven bars at the Tokyo Games, according to U.S.A. Gymnastics. She withdrew from the event finals and the all-around final earlier this week, citing mental health reasons, and is still eligible for finals in the floor exercise on Monday and the balance beam on Tuesday.

MyKayla Skinner, the American who had the fourth-highest score on vault during qualifying, will take Biles’s place in the vault final. Skinner did not initially secure a spot in the final because every country is allowed only two gymnasts in each final, and Biles and Jade Carey had qualified ahead of her.

Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos of France will take Biles’s place in the bars finals.

In an emailed statement on Saturday, U.S.A. Gymnastics said Biles “will continue to be evaluated daily” to determine whether she will compete in the floor exercise and the balance beam or whether her Tokyo Games are over.

“We remain in awe of Simone, who continues to handle this situation with courage and grace, and all of the athletes who have stepped up during these unexpected circumstances,” the statement said.

Biles, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, won a silver medal with her U.S. team in the team final after backing out of the event once it had begun. After performing the vault during finals, she said she had gotten lost in the air and could no longer gauge where her body was in relation to the ground. Two days later, she also did not compete in the all-around final because of the issue, which she said on Friday was still plaguing her. She had been expected to win that event and become the first woman in 53 years to win back-to-back all-around Olympic titles.

Sunisa Lee, of St. Paul., Minn., went on to win the all-around on Thursday, and Lee will compete for her next medal on Sunday on the uneven bars, her specialty.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — Caeleb Dressel of the United States won his third gold medal of these Olympics, setting a world record in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 49.45 seconds.

He led off the second-to-last day of swimming competition (follow live coverage), which also features the last race for Katie Ledecky.

Entering Saturday, the United States has 24 medals, 10 more than any other country. (That would be Australia, with 14, followed by Britain, with six.) If there is disappointment among Americans, it is that they are showing depth more than dominance. Only — only being relative — six of the 24 medals are gold.

The session has four finals, including three in a row to start: men’s 100-meter butterfly, women’s 200 backstroke and women’s 800 freestyle. That is the one that Ledecky will swim, looking to add to her Tokyo haul of a gold medal and two silvers. She is heavily favored to win gold here, but Ariarne Titmus of Australia has been a threat in other races.

And two Americans could boost the medal haul in the women’s 200 backstroke. The biggest question is what color the medals will be.

The final event is the mixed 4×100 medley, the first mixed-gender swimming race at the Olympics.

Women competing in the 5,000-meter event. Saturday will feature the first time men and women will compete against each other in Olympic track and field. 
Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times

TOKYO — Saturday is a day for the new mixed-gender events at the Olympics. Track will have a 4×400 mixed relay and swimming a 4×100 freestyle mixed relay. There will be a triathlon relay and team judo and trap shooting events.

The swimming lineup, starting at 10:30 a.m. Japan time, 9:30 p.m. Eastern Friday night, also includes Katie Ledecky in the 800 freestyle. She will face her nemesis, Ariarne Titmus of Australia, but this time at a distance that clearly favors Ledecky. There is also another chance for gold for Caeleb Dressel, in the 100 butterfly.

At the track, golds will also be awarded in men’s discus, and the women’s 100 meters, at 9:50 p.m. Tokyo time, 8:50 a.m. Eastern. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaican who won gold in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2016, will go for gold No. 3.

Also on the gold medal menu are women’s rugby sevens, men’s trampoline and the wind surfing events.

Katie Ledecky, right, will swim in the 800-meter freestyle, her final event in Tokyo, on Saturday morning.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage on Friday evening and overnight. All times are Eastern.

BASKETBALL The U.S. women faced Japan in a preliminary-round game. NBCSN has the rebroadcast at 8 p.m.

TRACK AND FIELD Coverage of the men’s 800-meter heats, the men’s pole vault, and the women’s 400-meter and 100-meter hurdles begins at 8 p.m. on USA Network.

SWIMMING Katie Ledecky swims the 800-meter freestyle, her final event in Tokyo, where she has already collected three medals. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. on NBC. The network also has the men’s 100-meter butterfly and the women’s 200-meter backstroke events, among others, starting at 9:30 p.m.

RUGBY SEVENS Fans can stream the women’s quarterfinals, which include a U.S. team that cruised into the round, as well as the semifinals beginning at 8 p.m. on NBCOlympics.com.

BMX USA airs the qualifying rounds in the men’s and women’s freestyle events beginning at 11 p.m. The often dangerous cycling competition drew attention this week when Connor Fields of the United States, the defending BMX gold medalist, crashed on the first turn of a semifinal heat.

TRAMPOLINE Men’s events begin airing at 1:30 a.m. on CNBC.

TOKYO — The U.S. women’s soccer team defeated the Netherlands on penalties after a 2-2 draw in their quarterfinal on Friday night. Next up, a semifinal against Canada on Monday.

In tennis, Novak Djokovic’s surprise loss to Alexander Zverev of Germany ended his bid for a Golden Slam. The first track final, the men’s 10,000 meters, was won by Selemon Barega of Ethiopia.

Ryan Murphy won a silver in the men’s 200-meter backstroke, but he caused a stir by suggesting that the race, won by Evgeny Rylov of Russia, might have been tainted by drug use.

The United States men’s and women’s eights each finished fourth, meaning the U.S. failed to win a rowing medal for the first time since 1908.

Connor Fields of the United States, the defending gold medalist, was in excellent position in his BMX semifinal when he clipped the wheel of the rider in front and went down in a nasty three-bike crash. Medical personnel attended to Fields for several minutes before he was carried from the track on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.

Teddy Riner of France, a legendary heavyweight judoka, failed in his bid to win a third straight gold medal, but did capture a bronze.

The U.S. women’s basketball team improved to 2-0 with an 86-69 victory over Japan. A’ja Wilson had 20 points. The women’s rugby team was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Britain, 21-12.

April Ross and Alix Klineman won their beach volleyball group with a perfect 3-0 record; they advanced to the round of 16.

Ryan Murphy of the U.S. competing during the men’s 200-meter backstroke final on Friday.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Ryan Murphy won a silver medal for the United States in the men’s 200-meter backstroke and then caused some fireworks in his news conference when he questioned whether his race, won by a Russian, was drug free, given Russia’s history of doping in sports.

“I don’t know if it was 100 percent clean,” Murphy said, “and that’s because of things that have happened in the past.”

Evgeny Rylov won in an Olympic record time of 1 minute 53.27 seconds. Rylov took control of the race on the second turn, stretching his lead to a half-second at the halfway mark and finishing about half a body length ahead of Murphy, who was the defending Olympic champion in the event.

Rylov won by 0.88 of a second, but after the race Murphy dived into the fray of whether Russian athletes should be allowed to compete at the Games, given the country’s history of state-sponsored doping. Russia’s athletes are competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee, and all who were allowed to race had to go through a rigorous clearing process before being allowed to participate.

Still, Murphy directly questioned whether his race had been free of doping. He took care not to directly accuse Rylov, who was seated four feet to his left, of cheating but referred more generally to Russia’s doping history.

Rylov chose not to address Murphy’s comments, saying only that he was a supporter of clean sports and that he had followed all the procedures that were required for him to swim at the Olympics. Murphy then clarified that he was not making a direct accusation but did not back away from his statements.

“I need to be clear,” he said. “My intention is not to make any allegations here. Congratulations to Evgeny; congratulations to Luke. They both did an incredible job. They’re both very talented swimmers. They both train real hard, and they’ve got great technique.”

The bronze medalist in the race, Luke Greenbank of Britain, took the same stance as Murphy. “It’s frustrating knowing there’s a state-sponsored doping program going on and not more being done to tackle that,” he said afterward.

The Russian Olympic Committee dismissed the comments as poor sportsmanship. “How badly our victories unnerve our colleagues,” it said in a tweet. “Here we go again — the same old song about Russian doping is played by the old music box. Someone is diligently turning the handle.”

Sifan Hassan won the first-round heat of the 5,000 on Friday, launching her possible bid at a triple gold. 
Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times

TOKYO — Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands could try to do something unprecedented at the Tokyo Games: win the women’s 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters. To do so, she would need to run multiple heats in multiple events, including five races in six days next week if she successfully plows through the rounds.

She launched her bid at a possible triple gold on Friday night by winning her first-round heat of the 5,000 and securing a spot in Monday night’s final.

She raised her hands in muted celebration as she crossed the finish line.

“I was celebrating getting into the final,” Hassan said. “That is a lot of pressure.”

Asked whether she had decided to compete in all three events at the Olympics — something that’s been widely speculated — she said: “Not yet. I have to talk to my coach.”

Elise Cranny and Karissa Schweizer of the United States also made it through to the final.

“It was a tough field out there, and I got really pushed around,” said Schweizer, who was bleeding from her shins after getting spiked.

Hassan, 28, has emerged as one of the most dynamic and versatile runners in the world since the 2016 Olympics, when she placed fifth in the 1,500 meters while failing to advance through her qualifying heat of the 800 meters. She signaled her meteoric rise at the 2019 world championships by winning both the 1,500 and 10,000 meters. She broke the mile world record later that year.

In June, Hassan set another world record, this time in the 10,000 meters, only to have it broken two days later by Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia. Gidey is among the athletes who will challenge Hassan in Tokyo.

Hassan was coached by Alberto Salazar until 2019, when he was banned for four years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for violating rules governing banned substances. This week, Salazar was permanently barred from participating in track and field.

And in the final event of the opening day of competition at Olympic Stadium, Selemon Barega of Ethiopia held off a pair of athletes from Uganda, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo, to win gold in the men’s 10,000 meters. Barega scorched the final laps to edge out Cheptegei, the world-record holder in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, by 0.41 seconds.

Grant Fisher of the U.S. finished fifth.

It was the first time someone other than Mo Farah of Britain won the 10,000 since 2008. Farah, who doubled as the 5,000- and 10,000-meter champion at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Connor Fields of the U.S. was hospitalized after crashing in the semifinals.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

TOKYO — Perhaps it was an ominous sign, or maybe just a normal one, when BMX racing at the Olympics began on Monday with a training run collision between a top cyclist and a marshal who wandered onto the track.

When the competition began on Thursday, a Japanese rider flipped over her handlebars in the first heat, ending her Olympic experience in less than a minute and sending her away with a broken collarbone.

Friday, the day the medals were doled out, began with a thunderous downpour, which felt right, because BMX is high in drama. Water slicked the course, merely adding to the danger factor. Reasonable minds delayed the start and sent workers onto the paved serpentine course of rollers and high-banked turns with brooms and dryers.

Yet it was just off the track where there was something more telling: five teams of medics, each armed with a stretcher, spread around the course. Behind the main scoreboard, three ambulances idled.

The danger inherent in the sport — part of its allure and part of the reason it is here at the Olympics — became most apparent during the semifinals, when Connor Fields of the United States, the gold medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, crashed on the first turn of a semifinal heat. In a split second, two trailing riders tumbled on top of him.

Fields was carried off the track after several motionless minutes. His jersey was shredded by the fall, and his hip and shoulder were bloody with road rash. Racing was delayed about 30 minutes as he was taken to an ambulance and eventually driven away.

“We can confirm that Connor Fields is awake, stable and awaiting further medical evaluation,” the American team’s chief medical officer, Dr. Jon Finnoff, said through a U.S.A. BMX spokeswoman. “Additional updates about his condition will be shared as they become available.”

BMX is part of the growing X Games-ification of the Olympics, perpetually in search of sports that might appeal to younger viewers in ways that, say, modern pentathlon or dressage do not. BMX’s freestyle discipline was added for Tokyo, along with skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing.

Team Mexico stands on the infield for pregame ceremonies before the women's bronze medal game on Tuesday.
Credit…Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

TOKYO — Players on the Mexican softball team apologized on Friday for leaving team gear with the country’s flag in the trash before returning home from the Tokyo Olympics — actions that drew the ire of their own federation, other Mexican Olympians and fans.

“We are sorry that the actions of our team have caused such disappointment for our supporters and Olympic fans across the country,” the pitcher Danielle O’Toole wrote on Instagram in English and Spanish. O’Toole was a pitcher for the University of Arizona.

“We have been proud to wear Mexico’s colors, and to give other young girls of Mexican heritage hope and inspiration,” the statement continued. “We had no intention of disrespecting our country or our flag. We had no intention of disregarding what being in the Olympics means for so many.”

The day before, the Mexican boxers Brianda Tamara and Esmeralda Falcón posted photos of Team Mexico gear they said was left in clear bags for trash in Tokyo. In the photos, there are empty soda bottles and coffee cups mixed in with a fielder’s mitt and what look like team jackets and shirts.

“This uniform represents years of effort, sacrifice and tears,” wrote Tamara, who first posted about the discoveries. “All Mexican athletes yearn to carry it with dignity. And today, sadly, the Mexican softball team left it all in the trash of the Olympic Village.”

Fans responded angrily, too. Some even crudely questioning the heritages of members of the softball team. Many of the players are Mexican American and went to high school and college in the United States. Some even previously played for U.S. national teams.

The team, Mexico’s first for Olympic softball, lost to Canada 3-2 to finish fourth.

Responding to the outcry, the Mexican softball federation issued a strongly worded statement on Friday morning Tokyo time saying it was upset with the players responsible.

“We will conduct an investigation to find those responsible, applying the appropriate sanctions and ensuring that they no longer represent the federation,” the statement read in part.

In earlier comments to the Olympic broadcaster TV Azteca, Rolando Guerrero, president of the Mexico Softball Federation, said players were given nine sets of apparel and were unable to fit it all in their suitcases, particularly because of the space taken up by bats, gloves and other equipment.

Carlos Padilla, president of Mexico’s Olympic Committee, told ESPN Deportes that the players took the bedspreads from their rooms instead of the official gear. The report also noted additional equipment was found in the garbage, including the opening ceremony apparel and sneakers.

O’Toole’s statement said the players took home as much as they each could fit in their one suitcase, including “all of our game uniforms, embroidered apparel, and softball equipment.” She added that she and her teammates didn’t mean to give an impression of disrespect.

“We will work to do better and be better,” she said.

In its later statement, the Mexican softball federation said the amount of equipment players needed to carry wasn’t a valid reason for their actions. It also apologized to all of Mexico.

Sunisa Lee during her balance beam routine in the all-around final.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — The best thing Sunisa Lee is looking forward to now that she is the Olympic all-around gymnastics champion isn’t her instant fame as one of Team U.S.A.’s biggest stars. It’s packing up her things less than a week after she arrives home in Minnesota from the Tokyo Games so she can head to college.

Lee, who on Thursday became the fifth straight American woman to win the Olympic all-around, must report to Auburn University by Aug. 11, she said, eight days after she is scheduled to compete in the balance beam final in Tokyo. After years of long, grueling days at the gym, she can’t wait to be just another college freshman, meeting new friends, going to classes and living in a dorm with other students who may or may not recognize that she is a newly minted Olympic gold medalist.

“I do want to go to college and have fun and kind of get away from this elite atmosphere because it’s so crazy,” she said in a video call with reporters on Friday. “And I know that college is going to be way better.”

She will compete in gymnastics on a scholarship at Auburn, where things might be familiar to her: Jeff Graba, the twin brother of her current coach, Jess Graba, leads the women’s program. What is most appealing to Lee, though, about college gymnastics is that it is known to be much more fun — and certainly easier — than elite gymnastics. Unlike most other college athletes, who dream of the professional ranks while they are students, elite gymnasts who compete in college do so after establishing themselves at the highest level of the sport.

Right now, college would also give Lee’s battered body a much-needed break. She fractured her left ankle last year and it still hurts because it hasn’t healed completely.

Yet Lee, 18, doesn’t want to leave her current life behind. She is hoping to participate in at least some of Simone Biles’s Gold Over America Tour, which is a post-Olympic tour starring female gymnasts. She said she is trying to make it work because she doesn’t want to miss too many classes.

And she would like to compete at the world championships in Japan in October and isn’t counting out the 2024 Paris Games.

We’ll have to see, though, because it just seems like a lot of time to continue gymnastics,” she said of the next Olympics, which are only three years from now. “But, yeah, it’s definitely something that I’m thinking about.”

She would be 21 during those Games in Paris.

Mexico’s baseball team after upsetting the United States in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Tokyo in November 2019.
Credit…Gene Wang/Getty Images

TOKYO — Mexico has produced a long list of baseball stars including Fernando Valenzuela, Bobby Ávila and Vinny Castilla.

None of them played in the Olympics.

Baseball has been absent from the Games for 13 years, and Mexico had never qualified for the tournament when it was played.

That changed on Friday, when Mexico made its Olympic debut against the Dominican Republic at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, instilling a sense of national pride back home and hope that the sport could assume a higher profile there as well.

“It’s a gift for a lot of us here now,” Oliver Pérez, 39, who has pitched for eight major-league teams across 19 seasons, said in Spanish. “And it’s a big opportunity. We know there’s a lot of talent, and this type of tournament lifts up Mexican baseball.”

Mexico lost the opener, 1-0. But even to reach this point, the team had to navigate a winding, at times bumpy road. During an Olympic qualifying tournament in November 2019, Mexico upset the rival United States during pool play and again in extra innings during the bronze medal game to earn a spot in the Tokyo Games.

But from that joyous moment to its Olympic debut, the team has contended with internal drama and a coronavirus scare days before leaving for Tokyo.

It has been a crash course, particularly for general manager Patricio Pérez, who said he was still juggling his duties overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Mexican league while in Japan and sleeping little. He has relished it nonetheless.

“It’s a historic moment,” Pérez said in Spanish. “I’m a believer that right moments do exist, and we’re in the right moment.”





This article “Olympics Live and Simone Biles News: Star Withdraws from Sunday Finals” originally appeared here

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