Tokyo Olympics Recap: Japan get breakthrough baseball gold, Cao and Yang complete Chinese diving dominance

By Sports Desk August 07, 2021

There was home joy at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on Saturday as Japan beat the United States to the baseball gold medal.

Elsewhere, the diving board brought further Chinese success, and Sifan Hassan was among the familiar winners on the track.

Stats Perform breaks down the best of the action from Tokyo.

JAPAN JOY AGAIN AGAINST USA

Japan's women had beaten the United States 2-0 in the softball final and it was the turn of the men to achieve an identical result against the same opposition in the baseball.

The sport will not return for the 2024 Games, but the hosts seized their opportunity.

Japan stopped their major league season to make a number of leading players available and were rewarded with a first baseball gold medal.

Munetaka Murakami's third-inning home run put the hosts in control, before Tetsuto Yamada profited on an error in the eighth to complete the win.

USA manager Mike Scioscia said: "This tournament has been as intense as anything I've been a part of.

"Nineteen years managing the [Anaheim/Los Angeles] Angels, World Series and I don't know how many playoff games with the [Los Angeles] Dodgers. There's an intensity here. There's a focus."

CHINA DOMINATE BUT DALEY DELIGHTED

Cao Yuan's gold and Yang Jian's silver in the men's individual 10m platform completed a remarkable Games in the diving for China.

Cao became the first Olympic diver to win gold in three different disciplines (3m, 10m synchronised and 10m individual), while the one-two incredibly meant China won both gold and silver in every individual diving event.

Yang joined his team-mate on the podium after registering the highest score in Olympic history, with a forward four and a half somersaults in a pike position earning 112.75 points.

That performance left Tom Daley in third, but he was in awe of the dive.

"Honestly, Yang Jian is almost superhuman; he does the hardest dives in the world," Daley said. "I think if lots of other people tried to do that dive, you'd see quite a few catastrophes, so it's very impressive to see him do that dive."

Daley, who took gold in the 10m synchronised, was delighted all the same, telling BBC Sport: "I am so happy this Olympics has gone the way it has.

"I feel I am a different athlete and to finally get here... I always dreamed I would but if someone told me I was going to win a gold and a bronze I would have laughed in their faces."

HASSAN 'NEEDED' BRONZE HEARTBREAK

Hassan was going for an outstanding hat-trick at these Games, aiming to triumph in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m.

The Dutchwoman made a fine start in the 5000 but then had to settle for bronze in the 1500 on Friday, meaning she was determined to top the charts in her last outing.

A time of 29:55.32 ensured Hassan did just that, and she said: "Today I'm grateful for [the bronze], because yesterday I was number three. That was not what I wanted, but what I needed.

"If I had won yesterday – if I raced smart and won the race – today I [could not have finished]. It was so hot. From the beginning I was really tired. I felt like I was sprinting.

"I was thinking about yesterday the whole race, and I've never gone deep like I did today."

BOWING OUT ON A HIGH

Allyson Felix was asked whether she had passed the torch after her Olympic career wound down in typical fashion with victory as part of a star-studded United States 4x400m team, their time of 3:16.85 the quickest since 1993.

"I just came out really at peace and wanting to soak it all in," she said after a record-extending 11th medal. "Obviously, I had complete confidence in the team.

"I think that is a really special team because we're not 400-metre runners – I don't see myself as a 400-metre specialist.

"We all do different things and it was really cool to come together, to get to close out the Olympic Games and, for me, my Olympic career."

Sydney McLaughlin added: "I think we were excited. An amazing group of women right here, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I think we all just knew going in it's going to be fast and just have fun."

BOOMERS BREAK THE BARRIER

After the United States won yet another gold earlier in the day, it was time for a new medallist in the men's basketball.

Olympic debutants Slovenia, led by Luka Doncic (22 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, eight turnovers), went down 107-93 to Australia, who have had far more experience of this stage.

The Boomers reached the semi-finals for the fifth time in Tokyo but only now collected a medal.

Dante Exum said: "We're just ecstatic to get that one out of the way. Getting on the podium is not only huge for us as a team but for Australian basketball.

"We're definitely going to set this standard, that that's where we've got to be, and we're expected to be there every time."

Patty Mills contributed an outstanding 42 points to conclude his fourth Games, and Exum added: "Patty, I mean what do you say about Patty Mills?

"It's unbelievable what he brings on the court, off the court, to the culture of the Boomers. I hope that I can just carry that on when he steps down."

Related items

  • Harden on All-Star chances: 'I'm not going to make a case... the numbers show it' Harden on All-Star chances: 'I'm not going to make a case... the numbers show it'

    James Harden has shrugged off any stress over his chances of making the All-Star Game, saying his numbers speak for themselves.

    Harden had a double-double of 26 points and 10 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Orlando Magic 105-94 on Wednesday.

    The 33-year-old is a 10-time All-Star, but an 11th successive appearance in the mid-season exhibition game is not guaranteed.

    Harden faces stiff competition from several other star names, including Sixers team-mate Joel Embiid, in the Eastern Conference to make the reserve list for the All-Star Game. There are seven spots available for each conference.

    Yet Harden, who is averaging 21.4 points per game – Embiid, with 33.5, is the only Sixers player to boast more – 6.4 rebounds and 11 assists this season, believes he has done enough.

    "If my name is called, great," Harden told reporters. "If not, there's bigger and better goals for the season.

    "I'm not going to sit here and make a case. The numbers show it, our seed shows it."

    The Sixers are third in the East with a 33-17 record, having won eight of their previous nine games.

    Harden made three catch-and-shoot three-pointers against Orlando and was thrilled to thrive in an area where he has struggled.

    "That's pretty exciting, I didn't want to do too much, just catch and shoot," he explained.

    "You put the work in, I work on it every day. So opportunities are going to come whether it's Joel or dribble penetration."

    Embiid added: "That's not something he was comfortable with, but he's gotten better over time and he's taking more and more.

    "He needs to take more than he does, but it's a good step. He's getting better and he's knocking them down."

    Embiid was marked tightly by the Magic's Franz Wagner, though still topped the scoring with 28 points, adding 11 rebounds and three assists.

    "A really good young player," Embiid said of Wagner. "Obviously, you can tell he's competitive, as he kept attacking even though he was not getting the better of me.

    "But I like him, a great talent and as a team, that's a pretty good team."

    Sixers coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, saw scope for improvement. 

    "I didn't think we played great, but we played good enough to win," he said. "We'll take that."

  • McCarthy takes on Cowboys play-calling duties as EVP Jones calls for 'something different' McCarthy takes on Cowboys play-calling duties as EVP Jones calls for 'something different'

    Head coach Mike McCarthy will take over play-calling duties for the Dallas Cowboys next season, it has been confirmed.

    The shift in responsibilities comes after the departure of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who left at the start of this week and has joined up with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    His exit followed the departures of six others, including assistant head coach Rob Davis and offensive line coach Joe Philbin, in the wake of the Cowboys struggling offensively in a 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round game.

    McCarthy's evolving role had been anticipated and was verified by team owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice-president Stephen Jones on Wednesday.

    Jerry Jones said: "This is the logical step to build on it and use what we've established, if you will, the foundation of the things we've got. This is the time for us to build on it. That's what this is, a building step."

    Moore had been the Cowboys' offensive coordinator since 2019, with Dallas leading the NFL in total yards in 2019 and 2021, also having the league's top-ranked scoring offense last season at 31.2 points per game.

    The Cowboys finished the 2022 regular season ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring (27.5 points per game) and 11th in total offense (354.9 yards per game), but the team managed just 282 total yards and one touchdown in the loss to the 49ers.

    Dallas have not advanced past the Divisional round of the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl following the 1995 season.

    Quarterback Dak Prescott had a career-worst 15 picks over the season, and Stephen Jones called for sweeping changes to be made, saying: "Sometimes in order to take the next step, you have to get uncomfortable.

    "Sometimes for Dak to take the next step, he might have to get uncomfortable and do something different.

    "For Mike to take the next step, he’s got to do something different. For us to take the next step, same thing.

    “If you keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results, good luck."

  • Malone to coach Team LeBron in All-Star Game but no guarantees he will have Jokic Malone to coach Team LeBron in All-Star Game but no guarantees he will have Jokic

    Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone and his staff will take charge of LeBron James' team in this season's All-Star Game.

    The game will be played in Salt Lake City on February 19, with LeBron's team taking on a side headed up by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

    A victory for the Portland Trail Blazers over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday ensured the Nuggets will top the Western Conference by the end of play on Sunday, two weeks before the game, meaning Malone's coaching staff are assured of their roles in the exhibition event.

    It is the second time in his career that Malone will coach in the All-Star Game, after he oversaw a 178-164 victory for Team LeBron over Team Giannis in 2019. Joe Mazzulla, interim coach of the Boston Celtics, is to take charge of Team Giannis.

    The Nuggets still have eight games to play before the All-Star break, however, starting with a clash against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, and Malone warned against any complacency.

    He said: "I say it every year and I told our players this. There's some teams that are dying for the All-Star break and can't wait to go to Cancun.

    "No, we are keeping our eyes on the prize and we have to make sure we play all the way to the break."

    Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has been selected as a starter, though the two-time reigning NBA MVP might not be coached by Malone, who will have to wait until the day of the game to find out his full roster when James drafts his side.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.