Tokyo Olympics Recap: Triumphant Ledecky eyeing more gold in 2024 and 2028, GB triathlon team win

By Sports Desk July 31, 2021

Katie Ledecky is eyeing up the 2024 Paris Olympics and the 2028 Games in Los Angeles after claiming her seventh gold medal with victory in the women's 800 metres freestyle on Saturday.

Ledecky, who holds the world record over the distance, fended off rival Ariarne Titmus for her latest swimming triumph, backing up success in the 1,500m.

The 24-year-old American was clear of Titmus throughout the race and held off the Australian's familiar late push to win in eight minutes and 12.57 seconds. Italy's Simona Quadarella claimed bronze.

Ledecky's victory takes her Olympic medal tally to 10, including the gold haul, and she is targeting more.

“I'm still young, 24 is not that old," Ledecky said. "People are sticking around in this sport into their 30s. I still love this sport, I love it more and more every year. I feel I'm going to give every ounce I have to this sport.

“I love the training, I love the day-to-day. I'm just going to keep doing it until I feel like it's time. Obviously the Olympics in 2028 are in LA so that's kind of out there and appealing also."

USA's Michael Phelps holds the record for most Olympic gold medals with 23, with the next most going to gymnast Larisa Latynina, distance runner Paavo Nurmi, swim great Mark Spitz and athlete Carl Lewis who all claimed nine golds, which Ledecky could plausibly match or eclipse.

Ledecky has already become the first US female swimmer to win three consecutive golds in the same event.

Caeleb Dressel revealed he was not feeling 100 per cent despite breaking his own world record to win the men's 100m butterfly gold medal from Kristof Milak.

American Dressel triumphed in 49.45 seconds, bettering his own mark of 49.50 from July 2019 in Gwangju, to beat Milak, with Switzerland's Noe Ponti taking bronze.

"It was well executed, my body wasn't as good as it could have been, it was the body I was given on this day, I felt better yesterday," Dressel said. "It hurt really bad but it was fine. I knew what my race plan was and stuck to it, got the job done. What a close race. Two of the fastest times in history.

"You don't get that very often so to be a part of that is very special. The event is only going to get faster. I'm aware of that and it's just exciting that it took a world record to win."

Milak also remarked after the race that the pair would push and inspire each other on to future world records.

Australian Kaylee McKeown backed up her 100m backstroke gold with victory in the 200m, ahead of Canada's Kylie Masse and compatriot Emily Seebohm.

Great Britain, powered by Adam Peaty, won the mixed 4x100m medley relay, ahead of China and Australia.

BROWNLEE TRIUMPH AS GB MAKE HISTORY

Great Britain made history by claiming the first-ever gold medal in the mixed triathlon, with victory by 14 seconds ahead of the USA.

Jonny Brownlee, who won individual bronze in 2012 and silver in 2016, opened up a good lead for the British in the second leg which they did not relinquish.

Jessica Learmonth had started off for Team GB, before Brownlee's leg, with Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee finishing it off.

"Olympics? Completed it," Brownlee said. "It feels absolutely amazing. It's my third Olympics and I've finally got gold."

Great Britain finished in 1:23:41, with France claiming bronze behind the US team.

PERFECT GROUP PHASE FOR HOCKEYROOS

Australia's Hockeyroos completed a perfect group phase after final-quarter goals from Savannah Fitzpatrick and Emily Chalker sealed a 2-0 win over Argentina.

The victory means Australia have topped Pool B with five wins from five games and will play the fourth-ranked nation from Pool A, either Great Britain, India or Ireland.

The Australia hockey team are three-time Olympic gold medallists but have not won a medal since Sydney 2000 and endured tumult in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020 with a change of coach.

China were eliminated despite beating New Zealand 3-2, while Japan also bowed out after a 4-1 loss to Spain, who finish second in Pool B.

Germany and the Netherlands meet on Saturday evening to determine top place from Pool A ahead of the quarter-finals on Monday.

SAN MARINO'S MEDAL RUSH

Tiny European nation San Marino claimed a second-ever Olympic medal, only 48 hours after grabbing their first.

Alessandra Perilli, who won bronze on Thursday in the women's trap shooting, teamed up with Gian Marco Berti to claim silver in the mixed team trap, beaten 41-40 by Spain in the final.

San Marino, which has a population of 33,600, is the least populous country to win an Olympic medal, having competed at the Games since 1960.

USA beat Slovakia 42-42 (3-2) in the bronze medal final.

Related items

  • Rangnick grateful to Brighton for securing Man Utd Europa League qualification Rangnick grateful to Brighton for securing Man Utd Europa League qualification

    Ralf Rangnick lamented another abject away showing from Manchester United at Crystal Palace, while he thanked Brighton and Hove Albion for helping the Red Devils to Europa League qualification.

    United lost six consecutive away league matches for the first time since March 1981 after Wilfried Zaha's strike proved decisive in the 1-0 win for Crystal Palace on Sunday.

    Erik ten Hag was in attendance at Selhurst Park and has much to ponder after United finished the Premier League season with a record-low points tally (58).

    It was also the first time United did not end a league campaign with a positive goal difference (zero in 2021-22) for the first time since the 1989-90 season (minus-one).

    However, Brighton came from behind to defeat top-six hopefuls West Ham, which meant United will be playing Europa League football next term under Ten Hag after finishing sixth in the league.

    Rangnick, who will move into a consultancy role alongside his managerial job at Austria, expressed his gratitude to Graham Potter's side for overcoming David Moyes' West Ham.

    "Yes, I think Brighton did us the favour to turn the game around because they were losing at half-time," he told reporters. 

    "They scored three times in the second half and that was the good thing about the weekend and about this fixture.

    "We would have loved to take care of ourselves but in a way the game was indicative of last couple of weeks, especially when we played away from home.

    "It was a new experience for me, not necessarily coming in the middle of the season, but knowing that it would be an interim role. Unfortunately, we didn't have any pre-season and unfortunately, we couldn't strengthen the squad.

    "These things happen and in hindsight, it was a little bit bittersweet or sweet bitter rather because in the first couple of weeks and months we did well.

    "We collected enough points with an average of 2.1 until the game against Atletico [Madrid] but I think that defeat in the Champions League was in a way like somebody popped the balloon."

    Rangnick also bemoaned United's away performance as they failed to capitalise on chances and allowed Palace to impose themselves on the contest.

    "I think we had three good opportunities to score ourselves in the first half but we didn't and, especially in the first half, we had too many unforced errors and bad giveaways, that is the way we conceded the goal," he continued.

    "In fact, it was our assist, the goalscorer, in the end, was Zaha but the ones who gave the assist were ourselves.

    "There was a throw-in – just keep the ball into our own half – and the way we defended that shot was also not the way that you have to defend in this league and that's why we were trailing again 1-0.

    "At half-time, we were trying to bring on all the young strikers we had on the bench. We had some opportunities in the second half but it was not clinical enough and that's why we lost again away from home."

  • Conte: Tottenham's Champions League qualification is like a trophy Conte: Tottenham's Champions League qualification is like a trophy

    Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says the club's qualification for the Champions League is like winning a trophy. 

    Spurs claimed a fourth-placed finish in this season's Premier League after a resounding 5-0 win over bottom club Norwich City on Sunday.

    The win was secured through Harry Kane's header and braces from Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min.

    Son's double saw him claim the Premier League Golden Boot alongside Liverpool's Mohamed Salah after the pair finished with 23 goals each.  

    Conte has overseen an impressive turnaround since he took over from Nuno Espirito Santo in November.

    Spurs were eighth in the table then, yet a fine second half of the campaign saw them finish with 71 points – a tally that have only bettered in three previous Premier League seasons (86 in 2016-17, 77 in 2017-18 and 72 in 2012-13).

    "I didn't win a trophy in this season like in the past but if I am honest to get a place in the Champions League given the difficulty with the situation in November, I have to consider it a really big achievement," he told a media conference.

    "After two years Tottenham is able to play again in the Champions League. For me this is a trophy and I'm very happy.

    "To become very good and to compete for something important you need to improve in many aspects. I know only one word and that's work, work, work.

    "Everybody has to do the right path in this process. For sure we need to improve a lot. Next season the league will be very difficult for all of the teams."

    Conte, who signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 campaign, said he will need a few days to gather his thoughts before ensuring his ambitions are in line with those of the club's hierarchy.

    "I am under contract until next summer," he added. "I signed a contract for one year and seven months. I have enjoyed a lot my time in Tottenham.

    "It was a big challenge in a modern club, with a fantastic stadium and training ground and I knew the situation I would find.

    "On the other hand you know I am a person who has ambition and I like to fight for something important, to lift trophies. I always said to you that at the end of the season I'd speak to the club and find the best solution.

    "Now I think for me, the club and my players I think it's good to have three, four or five days of rest and then the mind will be clear and then you can consider the whole season and be calm before you speak.

    "Now there are lots of emotions for me in my mind."

  • Milan champions 2021-22: Modern Rossoneri's title win and where to from here? Milan champions 2021-22: Modern Rossoneri's title win and where to from here?

    For a club like Milan, 11 years make for a long wait.

    Let alone the enormous hierarchical changes that have taken place at Casa Milan over that period, with turbulent changes of ownership and coaches that have impacted various transformations in approach both on and off the pitch, those 11 years in European football have witnessed a seismic tactical shift.

    The Rossoneri's last Serie A title in 2010-11 sits as a stark contrast to this year's title charge that ended in success, glory sealed on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

    In 2010-11, the Scudetto was like a perfect storm – upon Massimiliano Allegri's hiring as coach, Alexandre Pato was coming into his own before injuries started to take their toll, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were solidifying their respective statuses as world-class footballers in their positions, amid the career tail-ends of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta.

    That Milan team was inherently reflective of its time, leaning on the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho to provide goals, moments and the eventual title. Despite Ibrahimovic's added contribution of 12 assists that season, their equal share of 14 league goals each was fitting. But coming into the final game of the season this weekend, Rafael Leao was the only Milan player to have scored over 10 goals.

    Reflecting the totality of role that midfields at the top of European football must now characterise, Milan have effectively challenged for the Scudetto this season – and last season – without a front third it can lean on. Less diplomatically, Milan's front third has been a collection of misfit toys jumbled together as the purse strings have tightened.

    Despite falling away after Christmas, it is what made last season's run so distinct, for it was ultimately volatile in the second half of the season and served as a precursor to this term. Following Ismael Bennacer and Ibrahimovic's injuries against Napoli in November 2020, Milan were performing the proverbial smash and grab on a weekly basis, on the back of Franck Kessie's penalty exploits and Theo Hernandez doing Theo Hernandez things at left-back. Their 3-2 win over Lazio coming into that Christmas was a particularly distinct example.

    How has this Milan team achieved this Serie A title with a largely dysfunctional frontline in possession? How do the Rossoneri build something sustainable from it, given the Scudetto for this project has arguably come ahead of schedule, despite losing Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, along with successive injury spells for Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer?

    In contrast to last season, Milan have come home strongly, going undefeated since their loss in mid-January to Spezia. Following the African Cup of Nations as well as a debilitative run of injuries and Covid-19, Bennacer has finally been able to put together a consistent run of games since February. With the arguable exception of Marcelo Brozovic, the 24-year-old has re-established himself as the best midfielder in Serie A.

    Along with the ever-improving Sandro Tonali, the diminutive Algerian gives Milan oxygen while taking it away from the opposition, in both attacking and defensive senses. The latter is a critical aspect for under Stefano Pioli, Milan press high up the pitch more than any team in Serie A. Among players over 500 minutes, Bennacer leads the team for combined tackles and interceptions (4.08) per 90.

    Something that's particularly important is how he can compress the pitch and close off the middle for the opposition through where he wins the ball, not simply how much of it he wins. Bennacer has an innate ability to step onto the opposition's initial pass into Milan's defensive half and come out with the ball, allowing the Rossoneri to spring into transition or maintain territorial superiority.

    His spatial awareness also transfers to the offensive side of the game, as an extension of the simple fact he shows for the ball to feet in areas his team-mates in midfield do not.

    It unlocks his technical aptitude and sense of balance on the ball, with the ability to wriggle out of tight spots and get the team up the pitch. As a result, Bennacer (2.18) dwarfs Tonali (1.05) and Kessie (1.34) for successful dribbles per 90, while seeing more of the ball over the course of a game and in more damaging areas, with 83.9 touches per 90 in comparison to Tonali's 65.51 and Kessie's 66.63.

    Meanwhile, Kessie playing a more advanced role in midfield for periods this season has not translated to a correspondent gap in chances created from open play.

    Kessie - who scored against Sassuolo - leads the three with 1.05 per 90 this term, in comparison to Tonali's 0.84 and Bennacer's 0.98. Kessie's forthcoming departure for Barcelona might actually unlock Milan's best tandem in Pioli's 4-2-3-1.

    With Bennacer, Milan can play through their midfield and not have to rely on the attacking force of nature at left-back that is Hernandez. His open play xG p90 of 0.11 and 1.06 chances created from open play p90 is simply eyewatering from left-back - especially in comparison to Alessandro Florenzi and Pierre Kalulu's respective 0.55 and 0.34 in the latter category.

    Ultimately, amid Ibrahimovic running on fumes at 40, the members of Milan's attack have largely singular skill sets and as a sum of their parts, are still largely inflexible.

    Players like Leao, Alexis Saelemaekers, Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias – and even Ante Rebic when available - are all necessary in some capacity on top of what they provide in defensive pressure up the pitch, but with the ball Milan are a much less flexible team in the absence of that Tonali/Bennacer tandem – something last weekend's win over Atalanta arguably only reinforced despite the result.

    The need to maximise midfield balance in relation to attacking personnel is a distinct dynamic across Serie A, particularly in contrast to Juventus' diminishing power and as the arms race for forwards intensifies across the rest of the top five. Yet in a season where the Italian title winner will not break 90 points, none reflect that dynamic more than the Rossoneri.

    The narrative accompanying Milan's Scudetto triumph this season will be one of a European giant being quote unquote "back". 

    Their ability to maintain this level domestically in coming seasons - as well as challenging on the continent, with meek group stage exits in the Champions League like this season only being tolerable for so long among an ambitious fan base - will ultimately depend on how this relatively young team builds around Tonali and Bennacer.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.