Tokyo 2020 digest: Marathon marred by intense heat; Meadow finishes with a flourish

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Fionnuala McCormack battled to a 25th-place finish in the women’s marathon in Tokyo. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

It is the penultimate day of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with the few remaining Irish athletes finally getting the chance to make their medal bids. Overnight Fionnuala McCormack came 25th in the women's marathon in crippling conditions - it was an achievement just to finish, as Ian O'Riordan reports. The race was won by Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir, with Ireland's Aoife Cooke pulling out of the running just before halfway as temperatures pushed the 30 degree mark. Elsewhere Stephanie Meadow earned a seventh place finish in the women's golf tournament at Kasumageseki Country Club. The 29-year-old signed for a final round of 66 to finish on 12 under par, five strokes behind gold medal winner Nelly Korda of the US. Leona Maguire was further down the leaderboard in a share of 23rd place after a closing round of 71. Later this morning Mark Downey and Felix English line up in the in men's madison cycling final at 8.55am, with Stephen Scullion, Paul Pollock and Kevin Seaward in the men's marathon at 11pm.

It is all or nothing for the Lions today, as they meet world champions South Africa in a series-deciding third Test match in Cape Town (kick-off 5pm). After winning the opening Test the tourists were brought back to earth with a bang last weekend as they were beaten 27-9, failing to register a point in the second-half of a frustrating, disjointed fixture. Warren Gatland has made six changes to his starting XV, with Ireland's Bundee Aki coming into midfield alongside former Connacht teammate Robbie Henshaw. But, as Gerry Thornley writes this morning, the Lions will have their work cut out if they want to secure a famous series win: "In the immediate aftermath of the Boks pulling clear last week, it appeared that not only had they generated momentum and confidence, but they had damaged the Lions." You can follow all of the action via our liveblog, which will be up and running from around 4.30pm.

Elsewhere today the All-Ireland hurling semi-finals get underway, with defending champions Limerick meeting Waterford in a repeat of last year's final (throw-in 5pm). And while Waterford failed to fire in that match, Nicky English believes they could cause an upset this evening. He writes: "Limerick's real form is somewhere between their first and second halves in Cork. They will need to find their best because I think Waterford are clearly the biggest danger to Limerick retaining their title. Waterford are battle hardened and it is possible they could play better in a semi-final than they did in the final last year."

And the English football season began last night, with relegated West Bromwich Albion drawing 2-2 away to Bournemouth. Ireland internationals Dara O'Shea and Callum Robinson were on target for the Baggies.

Patrick Madden

Patrick Madden

Patrick Madden is a former sports journalist with The Irish Times