Tokyo 2020 Day 4 round-up: Surfing gold for USA and Brazil

Tom Dean wins gold in the pool for Britain as Russia overhaul USA in 100m backstroke

Brazil’s Italo Ferreira competes during the men’s surfing gold medal final at the Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, in Chiba. Photo: Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil’s Italo Ferreira competes during the men’s surfing gold medal final at the Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, in Chiba. Photo: Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images

 

Surfing

Brazil’s Italo Ferreira and American Carissa Moore overcame challenging conditions in brilliant style to win historic first Olympic surfing gold medals at the Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on Tuesday.

Ferreira recovered from breaking his board on the first wave to beat Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi in the final, while Moore out-classed South African outsider Briana Buitendag to secure victory in the women’s event.

Australia’s Owen Wright took the men’s bronze after a tense 35-minute battle with world number one Gabriel Medina, edging out the Brazilian by two-tenths of a point, while Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki beat 19-year-old American Caroline Marks to claim the women’s bronze.

Carissa Moore won women’s gold for the USA. Photo: Nic Bothma/EPA
Carissa Moore won women’s gold for the USA. Photo: Nic Bothma/EPA

The final day of competition started with big, clean waves that delighted the competitors, but a strong onshore breeze picked up to make the swell choppier and more inconsistent with good waves harder to come by.

It made no difference to Ferreira and Moore as they went on the attack in pursuit of Olympic gold.

Having learned to surf on the lid of his father’s fishing bin while growing up in Brazil, the 27-year-old Ferreira popped up on any wave that looked promising, notching scores of 7.0 and 7.77 to open an early lead as Igarashi struggled on the beach where his father learned to surf.

Knowing he had done enough to win, Ferreira began surfing his way in to the shore with a minute to go, greeting the final horn with his arms raised to the heavens before being carried shoulder-high from the water by his team mates.

“I think it’s one of the best days of my life, for sure. For me that was a long day and it was a dream come true. The last couple of months I’ve been training a lot, just to live in this moment,” an emotional Italo told reporters.

Buitendag had beaten seven-times world champion Stephanie Gilmore and 19-year-old American prodigy Caroline Marks to get to the final, but Moore proved too much in waves that had size and power but were almost impossible to predict.

The 28-year-old nailed two excellent waves just past the mid-point of the heat and though Buitendag battled to the end, there was little she could do to close the gap and Moore ripped off a final victory wave before greeting the South African at the water’s edge.

“This isn’t just about this gold medal moment, it’s about surfing, using the platform to share some positivity and love, all that kind of stuff,” Moore said.

“I hope it has a positive impact. The ocean has changed my life and I can’t imagine my life without it, I’ll be surfing until I’m in the ground,” she added.

“Riding the wave makes you feel free, it makes you feel present, it makes you feel more in love with yourself and the ocean and the environment.”

From the knee-high ripples of Sunday’s opening rounds to Tuesday’s roiling seas, it was a fitting way to crown surfing’s Olympic debut as two of its boldest competitors were rewarded with a place in the history books.

Swimming

Britain enjoyed a one-two success in the men’s 200m freestyle on Tuesday, while Russian swimmers ended US dominance in the 100m backstroke and Kaylee McKeown gave Australia’s women more Olympic gold to celebrate at the Tokyo pool.

Tom Dean won gold and team mate Duncan Scott the silver in the 200 freestyle as the two British swimmers left their rivals in their wake, Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer taking the bronze.

Tom Dean celebrates after winning gold. Photo: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images
Tom Dean celebrates after winning gold. Photo: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images

It was Britain’s second swimming gold following Adam Peaty’s victory in the 100m breaststroke on Monday and left Dean reflecting on the adversity he has faced on his journey to becoming Olympic champion.

“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true having a gold around my neck ... I contracted Covid twice in the last 12 months ... sitting in my flat in isolation, an Olympic gold was a million miles away,” he said.

It was the first time since 1908 that two male British swimmers have finished on the Olympic podium together.

Scott had gone into the race as the slightly faster swimmer and narrowly favoured for gold, but the blow of missing out was softened by his team mate’s joy.

“Just a massive credit to Tom Dean. That was unbelievable. Olympic champion,” he said. “To come along so far in the last 18 months, it’s a pleasure to watch him. It’s great to be able to say he’s a good mate out of the pool.”

In the men’s 100m backstroke, an event won by US swimmers at the last six Games, Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov took top spots on the podium with Rio champion Ryan Murphy of the United States coming third.

Russian men had not won a swimming gold since 1996 when Alexander Popov and Denis Pankratov both topped the podium twice.

Rylov and Kolesnikov were competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee as part of sanctions imposed for several doping scandals.

But although the pair did not witness the raising of the country’s tricolour flag when receiving their medals, and were dressed in kit without the national symbol, the formalities had little impact on Rylov.

“I was busy with training while all of this (argument) was going on and I fully focused on training. I think that it doesn’t matter what you wear. What’s important is what is in your soul,” he said.

McKeown delivered a stunning late fightback in the women’s 100 backstroke to pip Canada’s Kylie Masse and add to Ariarne Titmus’s gold in the 400m free on Monday as well as the team gold in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

The 20-year-old McKeown’s time was just two hundredths of a second shy of the world record she set in the Australian trials in June.

McKeown would almost certainly not have been able to compete at Tokyo if the Games had been held on schedule last year with her father struggling with brain cancer. He died in August.

“It’s not necessarily what I have been through, everyone has their own journey. It just so happens I have had a tough time,” she said when asked about her preparations.

McKeown forms part of an impressive generation of Australian women swimmers and the latest to see her golden goal come true.

“It’s definitely something that people dream of. Something I have dreamed of,” McKeown said. “To make it a reality is ... really amazing,” she said.

“I’m just thankful I have a good support team. A few people before the race came up and said to just have all the faith in the world that you have got this.”

In another race that went down to the wire, Lydia Jacoby of the United States won gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke, the 17-year-old Alaskan finishing in 1:04.95, 0.27 seconds ahead of Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa.

Jacoby’s team mate Lilly King, who won the event in Rio in 2016, took the bronze.

Jacoby is the first Alaskan to represent the U.S. swim team and said she was stunned when she saw the scoreboard.

“I was definitely racing for a medal. I knew I had it in me. I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal,” she said.

“When I looked up and saw that scoreboard, it was insane.”

Diving

Teen divers Chen Yuxi and Zhang Jiaqi blew their opponents away in the women’s 10 metre synchronised platform, extending China’s winning streak in the event to six Olympic Games.

Aged 15 and 17, the duo - who hugged each other at the podium after receiving their gold medals - were in a league of their own at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

They finished on 363.78 points, more than 52 ahead of second-placed Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell of the United States.

“We do have an advantage in our age. We are short and light, and this means that our (water) entry is better than the others,” said Zhang after winning their country’s second diving gold in Tokyo.

“Our weakness is we are inexperienced. They have much more experience, we only have one World Championships.”

Chen added: “Of course, we can feel the pressure because we are young, (but) we have nothing to lose. We are brave to face any challenges.”

China has an unbeaten record in the event, which was introduced in 2000, while Parratto and Schnell’s medal was America’s first.

“I didn’t know (we could win silver) until pretty much the last dive. Just absolutely insane,” said Parratto. “I feel like this event is always so close, so there’s always that team that’s kind of fighting to get almost a bronze.”

Mexico’s Gabriela Agundez Garcia and Alejandra Orozco Loza took bronze with 299.70.

“This is the result of so many many many years of work,” said Agundez Garcia. “Many years of fighting, of giving everything in every training session.”

China’s dream of sweeping up all eight diving golds ended on Monday when Britain’s Tom Daley and Matty Lee took the men’s synchronised 10 metre platform title.

The competition resumes on Wednesday with the men’s synchronised 3 metre springboard final.

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