It was by no means certain the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics would even go ahead, such was the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But go ahead they did and now here we stand on the eve of the closing ceremony in the Japanese capital.

They have certainly been a Games like no other and we all hope future Olympics will not be held under such unusual circumstances, and judging the success of Tokyo 2020 is no easy feat given the measures to do so are too arbitrary.

Having said that, here are the highs of the Games and some of the lows, too.

The highs…

WARHOLM AND MCLAUGHLIN HAMMER THE HURDLES

Karsten Warholm revelled in bringing the "wow" factor to the men's 400m hurdles, and rightly so. The Norwegian became the first man to break the 46-second barrier – running an astonishing 45.94 seconds to smash his own world record, five weeks after breaking a benchmark held by Kevin Young for 29 years. A day later, Sydney McLaughlin battered her own world record in the women's race, clocking in at 51.46s.

VAN VLEUTEN'S HEARTWARMING TRIUMPH

Five years ago in Rio, Annemiek van Vleuten was on course for victory in the women's cycling road race until a high-speed crash left her with minor fractures to her spine. To make matters worse, the Dutchwoman made headlines for celebrating what she thought was victory in the same event here in Tokyo – only to realise she had finished second behind runaway winner Anna Kiesenhofer. But finally, her golden moment arrived in the women's time trial – at the age of 38 years and 293 days, she became the third-oldest woman to win Olympic gold for the Netherlands.

SWIMMING STARS PROVE THERE'S LIFE AFTER PHELPS

Michael Phelps is an Olympics legend and no one can lay claim to more than the 23 golds or 28 overall medals he accrued over between 2004 and 2016. But a stellar cast this year proved swimming is in a very strong position. Emma McKeon took home seven medals (including four golds) – the joint-most of any woman at a single Games – while Ariarne Titmus' 200m and 400m free double was memorable, particularly her win over the great Katie Ledecky in the latter race. Caeleb Dressel took five golds to show his potential as Phelps' heir apparent, while Adam Peaty stunned again for Great Britain. It was some week in the pool.

THOMPSON-HERAH DOES THE DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Elaine Thompson-Herah announced herself to the world stage with a 100 and 200m sprint double at Rio 2016 but injuries in the intervening years stemmed her momentum a little. However, she peaked at the perfect time in Tokyo and backed up her double from Brazil – becoming the first woman to repeat on the 100 and 200m. Indeed, only Usain Bolt had ever previously done so.

THE AZZURRI'S GOLDEN HOUR

There was a shock in the men's 100m final where the unheralded Marcell Jacobs started the post-Bolt era with gold. That followed on from countryman Gianmarco Tamberi having minutes earlier shared high jump glory with Mutaz Essa Barshim. There were hugs aplenty as Italy, surely celebrating their greatest night at an Olympics, won two athletics golds at the same Games since Athens in 2004.

NEW EVENTS CATCH THE IMAGINATION

One of the most fascinating aspects of any Olympics is the new sports and categories that get added to the programme. At Tokyo 2020, skateboarding, surfing and climbing have all attracted new and younger audiences to the Games – while the addition of mixed triathlon and the mixed 4x400m track relay have been successes.

BILES' INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE

On the one hand, the fact we saw so little of Simone Biles and some of the reprehensible bilge aimed her way over the decision to pull out of the women's team event after just one rotation and then miss four individual events can be seen as a negative. But, on the other hand, the fact that she came back to take bronze on the balance beam and use her platform to promote the importance of protecting mental health has to be seen as a high. It takes bravery and courage in her position to speak on such matters. Kudos to you, Simone.

And the lows…

EMPTY STADIUMS AN ENDURING IMAGE

Let's start with the obvious here and something that has been spoken about pretty relentlessly. The absence of fans has had a huge cost on the atmosphere at these Games. Magical moments and career peaks played out in front of huge, empty stadia has undoubtedly been a huge negative. Many will take the fact we got here and managed to hold a Games at all as a positive. And it is. But at times, the whole thing felt a bit… meh.

TENNIS' HEADLINE ACTS FAIL TO DELIVER

With so many of the top male players opting to skip Tokyo, there was a big focus on Novak Djokovic and the next checkmark on his quest for a rare Golden Slam (only Steffi Graf has ever done it). The Serbian fell short, dropping out at the semi-final stage then getting a little stroppy. Big things were also expected of Naomi Osaka – a home hope and the 'face of the Games'. She made it as far as round three before going down to Marketa Vondrousova.

THE TSIMANOUSKAYA SAGA

One of the ugliest stories to emerge from the Games was the story of Belarusian runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who refused to board a flight after allegedly being taken to the airport against her will following her public criticism of her team's organisation on social media. Tsimanouskaya competed in only one event and claimed she was entered into a 4x400m relay despite never racing in the discipline, suggesting that was a result of members of the team being considered ineligible due to not completing enough doping tests. The Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation indicated Tsimanouskaya feared for her life upon returning to Minsk. The country is under the authoritarian leadership of president Alexander Lukashenko, whose son Viktor heads the national Olympic committee (NOC). Both men were banned last December from attending Tokyo 2020. The whole thing has been really rather unsavoury.

Adam Peaty hailed the achievement of 13-year-old Sky Brown, who claimed bronze for Team GB in the women's park skateboarding event at Tokyo 2020 on Wednesday.

Peaty enjoyed a stellar time in the pool in Japan, winning two gold medals and a silver, becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title in the process thanks to his victory in the men's 100m breaststroke.

The 26-year-old has now returned home to Britain, having confirmed he will take a break from the pool ahead of a gruelling schedule in 2022.

He is still keeping close tabs on Team GB's progress in Tokyo, however, and was thrilled to see youngster Brown clinch bronze in the debut Olympic sport.

Brown became Britain's youngest ever medallist as she nailed a final run at the Ariake Urban Sports Park to finish third behind Japanese duo Sakura Yosozumi and Kokona Hiraki.

Thirteen years Brown's senior, Peaty put her feat into perspective by admitting when he was her age his main focus was gaming.

"When I was 13 I was in my room all day playing RuneScape (with a bit of swimming)," Peaty tweeted.

"This is a crazy achievement, well done @skyandocean_".

Remarkably, Brown, who suffered a skull fracture in a crash in California last year, was not the youngest on the podium, with silver medallist Hiraki becoming the first athlete to win an Olympic medal prior to her 13th birthday.

Brown hopes her efforts havd inspired other prospective athletes to believe in themselves from a young age.

"I really hope I inspire some girls. I feel like people think I'm too young and I can't do it but, if you believe in yourself, you can do anything," she said.

"I believed in myself and I'm here.

"I honestly feel that accident made me stronger. That accident was pretty bad. It was a hard time for my parents and a hard time for a lot of people and coming back and getting the bronze is really cool.

"I'm really happy. It's really made me stronger."

Olympic champion Adam Peaty was left disappointed by some of the reaction to his plans to take an extended break from swimming.

It has been another fruitful Games in Tokyo for Team GB swimmer Peaty, who claimed gold in the 100 metres breaststroke and 4x100m mixed medley, as well as a silver in the men's 4x100m medley.

After taking his overall Olympic medal tally to five, Peaty announced on Sunday that he would be taking a break from the pool to recharge the batteries ahead of a hectic 2022 schedule.

While set to miss the International Swimming League, which starts in September, he will set his sights on the World and European Championships next year, as well as the Commonwealth Games.

Peaty cited the need to protect his mental health, becoming the latest high-profile athlete to do so in recent days after Simone Biles and Ben Stokes.

He said the reaction to his announcement to over 116,000 followers on Twitter showed why there remains "such a stigma around mental health", insisting the pressures of competition make taking time out essential.

"Reading some of the comments in response to this is why we have such a stigma around mental wellbeing in sport," tweeted Peaty, who has now won a combined 31 gold medals in major competitions.

"It isn't a normal job. There is a huge amount of pressure. Money does not buy happiness.

"I'm taking a break because I've been going extremely hard for as long as I can remember. I've averaged two weeks off a year for the last seven years.

"Unfortunately, there are people out there who think they know you more than you know yourself."

Adam Peaty is convinced the morning starts for swimming finals are contributing to uncertainty in the pool at Tokyo 2020 and hopes defending his Olympic title sparks a gold rush for TeamGB.

Organisers have scheduled swimming finals to take place earlier in the day in the Japanese capital, with the heats being held in the evening.

There have been some notable shocks already, with home favourite Daiya Seto failing to make it out of the heats in the men's 400 metres individual medley, while Tunisian teenager Ahmed Hafnaoui earned an upset win from lane eight in the final of the 400m freestyle.

Coming into the Games, there was talk of whether Peaty could beat his own astonishing world record of 56.88 seconds in the 100m breaststroke.

While unable to do so, Peaty still dominated the competition, winning Monday's final in a time of 57.13, the fifth fastest of all time. 

For 26-year-old Peaty, ensuring he got the job done was the all-encompassing motivator given the way others have struggled.

"To be honest, I've never known swimming like this before," Peaty told a roundtable of journalists after winning gold in Tokyo.

"Normally you've got a solid one-two or maybe three if you can call it. You can't really predict it, in the 400 free there was a Tunisian guy [Hafnaoui] who won it in lane eight. 

"You can't predict that, so I think it is something to do with the morning finals and it's how the athletes adapt to that. I think it was the same in Beijing. 

"Sport is changing and the way we adapt, we train, and focus on mind and body and how we have to balance those. 

"I mean I'm fed up of talking about COVID but it's given us a chance to sort of really think differently about that and there's been a few breakout performances from COVID. 

"Would the medal table look very different last year? We don't know and we'll never know, but yeah it's definitely different."

Peaty, who became a father within the last year, was very open about the pressures he has been through in recent times.

Asked about the contributing factors to that pressure, Peaty said: "I mean put it simply we've seen over these two days, maybe three days, which is a lot of unexpected performances.

"A lot of people who should be going in here defending and winning medals are kicked out, especially in swimming we had Daiya Seto who is Japanese in the 400IM, he didn't make the final. 

"These Games are very, very different, and that's how we talk about pressure now. Mel [Marshall – Peaty's coach] said last night and a few of the other coaches have too, it's not about the times here, no one cares about the times, it's about the race, who wants it more in that last 20 metres. 

"It made me think completely differently, that every single championships I chase times because that's kind of validation for my training, I've trained really well this season.

"But it doesn't matter here, it's about the race, getting on that wall first, but also taking in every single trip and every single moment I can for these Olympics and hopefully inspiring as many people as I can while doing it."

 

It was five years ago in Rio where Peaty won TeamGB's first gold of the Games, acting as the springboard for a hugely successful Olympics whereby Great Britain won 27 golds and finished second in the medal table.

His success in Tokyo was also TeamGB's first and was quickly followed by triumphs for Tom Daley and Matty Lee in the men's 10m synchronised diving, while Tom Pidcock won the men's cross-country in mountain biking.

"I literally caught it, I caught Tom and Matt on the last dive and it was anti-climactic for me because I don't know how many rounds there are in diving – and I saw them dive, and I saw the Chinese dive because I think they were the last to go and I saw Tom celebrating and I thought 'oh my God they must have won' and yeah that's the beauty," added Peaty, who became the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title.

"I said that it could be a catalyst, not that it's down to me, those athletes are amazing. But it shows you when we come together as a team and show that kind of community spirit anything is possible. 

"We've got three golds, who knows what the rest is going to bring, what the rest of the week is going to bring. 

"I know Duncan Scott is up in the morning on the 200 free and he's a very strong candidate for gold there. Hopefully we've got it rolling now and we'll see the gold rush, eh?"

Adam Peaty revealed he has gone through "breakdowns" and has had to hide emotions from his family after becoming a double Olympic champion.

It was another dominant performance from world-record holder Peaty in the 100 metres breaststroke at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, with a time of 57.37 – the fifth fastest in history – enough for him to make history as the first British swimmer to defend an Olympics title.

Peaty is unbeaten in the event in seven years and only one other swimmer has ever breached the 58-second mark – that being silver medallist Arno Kamminga.

Despite his dominance, Peaty spoke about the challenges he has faced, with the 26-year-old having become a father to his son George within the past year.

He said: "It's been a heavy investment. A lot has changed this last year, more than the last five. Becoming a father, buying my first house and some days when I woke up and was like 'this is hard, this is really hard'.

"There's been so many challenges, so many challenges and f*****g some breakdowns as well. 

"It's like 'what am I doing every single day? Why am I training three times a day, giving it everything for this swim?'.

"I've hidden a lot of emotion from my own family, I've hidden a lot of stress and a lot of those moments where I was like 'this is very, very hard'.

"The 99.9 per cent of time that we spend in the dark is for the 0.01 per cent we spend in light."

Having made history, Peaty was asked how much longer he foresees himself staying in the pool, with the Paris Games three years away.

"I think of sport very simply, as soon as I stop having fun I'll stop, I'm still having fun, I have a lot of fun with my boy, I have a lot of fun at home and having a normal life too," he added.

"It's such a big decision, it's a family decision now, not just me being a selfish athlete because we have to be selfish but we'll have that conversation when we're home. 

"Obviously, we're targeting Paris anyway, anything after that is a bonus really. It's about how young you keep your mind, sport is getting faster, the world is getting faster, you have to take that in to consideration too.

"It depends what else is out there, if I can inspire people in other ways I'll probably do that. But I live in the present."

"Some days you've just got to attack the f*****g mountain, that's as simple as it is."

Those were the words of Adam Peaty during his pre-camp for Tokyo 2020. And boy has he attacked that mountain.

Five years ago, Peaty broke new ground to become an Olympic champion for the first time in Rio and set in motion a Team GB gold rush that would see them ultimately finish second in the medal table.

On this occasion, there was no world record – the only thing that is sure to secretly irritate this perfectionist who revels in finding new ways to push the limits of what is humanly possible – but not for the first time Peaty obliterated the competition to once again win Olympic gold in the 100 metres breaststroke.se

Whether his success can have the same sort of rousing effect on Team GB, only time will tell.

What is more certain is that Peaty must surely now be considered among the pantheon of Olympic greats.

At one stage in 2021, the 26-year-old was in possession of the 20 fastest 100m breaststroke times in history. It is mind-boggling dominance.

When the great Usain Bolt used to race there was a real awe about the way in which he had his opponents beaten by the time he was on the start line. It was mesmerising watching the sprint king, who just seemed to defy logic.

Peaty in the pool exudes a similar feeling. To witness this phenomenon in person is some experience. If you blink you might miss him.

Following his victory in the heats on Sunday, Peaty described Tokyo 2020 as "weird" without the crowds – with fans of course absent due to the coronavirus pandemic – and conceded it did "not feel like an Olympics".

He does have a point. Peaty's moment of triumph came on a day where Ariarne Titmus defeated Katie Ledecky in an epic to clinch the women's 400m freestyle – a race that really did deserve a full house – and Caeleb Dressel, tipped as an heir to American great Michael Phelps, won the first of what is likely to be multiple gold medals at these Games.

Such stars deserve a captivated audience. The cheers of their team-mates offered only slight consolation that their moments of glory are taking place in surreal circumstances.

But there is nothing strange now about seeing Peaty dominate in the pool and while the circumstances compared to his first crowning moment in Brazil could scarcely be more different, he continues to enhance his status as a supreme champion.

His latest victory was a moment of history – no British swimmer had ever defended an Olympic title before. Only three other swimmers from Britain have ever won multiple golds, and he is just the second man to defend the 100m breaststroke title after Japan's Kosuke Kitajima.

When you think of the great athletes Britain has produced – Steve Redgrave, Kelly Holmes, Chris Hoy, Laura Kenny, Jason Kenny – all belong in the category of elite Olympians.

That Peaty now too belongs in that same category is not even a debate. He is a cool competitor, but he is also a ferocious one. A contemplator, a thinker, a man who self-described himself as "liberated" by the circumstances of the past year, time that saw him become a father and learn to appreciate the important things in life as lockdowns and restrictions became the norm for us all.

What is scary is that you feel there is still new ground for Peaty, unbeaten in his event since 2014, to break.

Speaking prior to the Games, Peaty opened up about what makes him the athlete he is.

"It sounds very cliche but I'm very obsessed with continual improvement and pushing the boundaries of what's possible," he said then. 

"I don't want to end my career and go 'oh I could have done that or I should have done this'. It's that relationship with the team that makes me that person. But I think it's also I just love to race, I love to scrap and I like to dominate. That's why I swim, that's why I race it gives me something I can't get in normal life."

And even now with all he has achieved there still seems to be an unquenchable thirst to be the best, no taking the foot off the gas in a continued desire to go where no one has been before.

"No one is invincible, everyone can be beaten," he told a news conference following his victory in Tokyo.

"I'm a firm believer in that. If I didn't believe in that I wouldn't have the world record, it's about setting no limits. 

"Today could have gone either way. It's a morning final, you saw it this morning with such a close race with Ledecky and Titmus, it could have gone either way.

"Everyone is beatable, it's who wants it more and who is invested more in those races."

For most, owning the world record and becoming a double Olympic champion would be well beyond the pinnacle of the mountain.

For Peaty, it seems certain he will just keep on f*****g attacking it.

Ariarne Titmus defeated Katie Ledecky in a thrilling women's 400 metre freestyle final that lived up to its billing, while the brilliant Adam Peaty made history by becoming a double Olympic champion.

A star-studded cast in the pool at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Monday did not disappoint, with Canada's Maggie McNeil adding to her World Championship title in the women's 100m butterfly.

And in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay, Caeleb Dressel – tipped to be one of the stars of the pool – earned his first gold of the Tokyo Games.

TITMUS AND LEDECKY PUT ON A SHOW

The only disappointment about the women's 400m free was the fact no fans were in attendance to witness a battle for the ages.

The pre-race hype centred around whether it would be Ledecky, who had never lost in an individual Olympic event, or Australia's world champion Titmus that would be prevail.

Ledecky held a six-tenths lead after 200m and looked well on course to defending the title she won at Rio 2016 in a world-record time of 3:56.46.

But Titmus came storming back and a stunning 28.67 split on the way home was enough to fend off Ledecky – whose 3:57.36 was her second fastest time in the 400m free.

Titmus' 3:56.69 is second only to Ledecky's world record and she becomes the third Australian to win gold in the event.

PERFECT PEATY DOUBLES UP

There was no world record over three races for Peaty but his utter dominance of the men's 100m breaststroke shows no sign of abating as he became the first Briton to ever defend an Olympics swimming title.

Five years on from winning gold in a world-record time at Rio 2016 (a benchmark he has since beaten twice), Peaty swam a 57.37 to stand atop the podium again ahead of Arno Kamminga – the only other swimmer in history to go under 58 seconds.

It was perhaps not quite the time Peaty, who had designs on another world record, wanted but it still represents the fifth fastest time in history and edged his previous season best of 57.39.

Peaty unleashed an almighty roar after his win and later said to BBC Sport: "I haven't felt this good since 2016. It just means the world for me.

"Thank you to the nation for being behind me. This victory wasn't mine - it was a great swimming team, my family, my friends."

Peaty is now only the second man to defend an Olympic breaststroke title, and just the fourth swimmer from Great Britain to win multiple golds in the Games.

MAGIC MAGGIE

Maggie McNeil completed a world and Olympic double in the women's 100m butterfly in an incredibly tight race.

The Canadian was down in seventh but propelled towards the front after a brilliant turn and managed to hold off China's Zhang Yufei to earn gold. 

The top four all ranked inside the top seven swims in the 100m butterfly of all time, with McNeil's 55.59 the second fastest ever. Australia's Emma McKeon took third, with Torrie Huske of the USA just 0.1 off the podium.

DRESSEL UP AND RUNNING

America's big men's hope in the pool at these Games is Dressel, who has been touted as the successor to the legendary Michael Phelps.

The 23-year-old is top seeded in three individual events and raced in the first of potentially four relay events on Monday as the United States romped to victory in the 4x100m freestyle.

Joined by Blake Pieroni, Bowen Becker and Zach Apple, the US came home in a time of to 3:08.97, with Italy and Australian rounding out the podium. 

Elsewhere, Duncan Scott of Great Britain went fastest in the men's 200m freestyle (1:44.60) semi-finals ahead of American Kieran Smith (1:45.07), while world record holder Ryan Murphy led the way in the 100m backstroke semis.

In the women's 100m backstroke semi-finals, Regan Smith set an Olympic record time of 57.86 and Tatjana Schoenmaker went quickest in the women's 100 breaststroke semi-finals ahead of rival Lilly King.

The third full day of the Tokyo Olympics sees 21 gold medals up for grabs during a packed programme.

Plenty of eyes will be on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, where four swimming golds will be on the line, while the first women's skateboarding champion will be crowned.

The rugby sevens event gets under way and the men's triathlon will also take place.

Stats Perform picks out some of the standout action.

 

LEDECKY STEPS UP GOLD QUEST

After winning four golds in Rio five years ago, Katie Ledecky has the chance to add four more to her collection in Tokyo, starting with the women's 400m freestyle.

The United States competitor set a world record time in the event in 2016, but she will face a big challenge from Australia's Ariarne Titmus this time.

Titmus was marginally faster than Ledecky in the heats, though whether that edge will count for anything on the day remains to be seen.


WILL IT BE ANOTHER PEATY BLINDER?

Great Britain's Adam Peaty is nothing short of a phenomenon in the world of swimming and will be looking to retain his 100m breaststroke title.

Peaty qualified for the final in a dominant manner, his time of 57.56s just two hundredths of a second off his own world record pace.

Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands is expected to be Peaty's biggest threat, having produced a personal best of 57.80s in the previous heat.


MORE SEVENS HEAVEN FOR FIJI?

Fiji's triumph in the men's rugby sevens was one of the more remarkable stories of the Rio Games and the islanders will now be out to retain their title in Tokyo over the coming weeks.

They begin their group campaign on Monday with games against tournament hosts Japan and then Canada later in the day.


MEN'S TRIATHLON WIDE OPEN

The men's triathlon is a tough one to call, with back-to-back champion Alistair Brownlee not taking part in this year's event.

The likes of Alex Yee, Kristian Blummenfelt, Morgan Pearson and Tyler Mislawchuk are among those to watch in one the standout events at any Games.


BILES SURVIVES, NOW MEN MUST THRIVE

After Simone Biles struggled to find top gear in her Games entrance on Sunday, albeit making it through to each of her finals, Monday's gymnastics event is the men's team final.

Japan are the defending champions and led the way in qualifying, but they are expected to face stiff competition from China and the Russian Olympic Committee team. Watch out for Russian maestro Nikita Nagornyy and Japan's Daiki Hashimoto among a star-studded cast.


OSAKA BACK IN ACTION

It is proving to be a busy Games for Naomi Osaka, who followed lighting the Olympic cauldron on Friday with a first-round tennis win on Sunday.

Japan's four-time grand slam winner is back on court on Monday, looking to inch closer to the women's singles final. Awaiting her is Swiss world number 50 Viktorija Golubic, and it will be their first match encounter. Men's title hopefuls Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are among those also due in action.


WOMEN'S SKATEBOARDING MAKES ITS DEBUT

Japan's Yuto Horigome made history on Sunday by winning the first Olympic gold in men's skateboarding. On Monday, it is the turn of the women.

Among those competing in the event are Kokona Hiraki of Japan and Team GB's Sky Brown, who are aged 12 and 13 respectively.

After plenty of falls and drama in the men's equivalent, expect more of the same in this inaugural event. 

Ahmed Hafnaoui scored a stunning upset, Chase Kalisz got the United States on the gold medal trail, Yui Ohashi brought joy to Japan and Australia's women broke new ground in the 4x100 metres freestyle in a blockbuster morning swimming session at Tokyo 2020.

The first medals in the pool were up for grabs on Sunday and a thrilling couple of hours of racing ensued at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. 

While there was plenty to celebrate, the morning belonged to a teenage rising star from Tunisia.

HAFNAOUI MAKES HISTORY

At just 18-years-old, Hafnaoui – who only just made it into the final by clocking the eighth fastest time in the heats – upset all the odds to take out the men's 400m freestyle gold.

Battling it out with Australia's Jack McLoughlin down the final 50m, Hafnaoui touched home first in a time of 3:43.36, shaving 2.32 seconds off his personal best time set on Saturday.

He is now Tunisia's second-ever swimming Olympics gold medallist and the first African from any nation to win gold in the event.

"I just can't believe it, it's a dream it came true," he told Eurosport. "It's about racing not the time, you see competitors and try to get yourself better than them. It was great, it was my best race ever."

KALISZ GOES ONE BETTER AS OSASHI TASTES HOME SUCCESS

Four years ago, Kalisz earned a silver medal in the men's 400m individual medley but he moved up a step on the podium in Tokyo to win USA's first gold of the Games.

The field for this race was blown wide open when favourite Daiya Seto failed to make it out of the heats and Kalisz led an American one-two from Jay Litherland, with Australia's Brendon Smith taking the bronze.

Seto may have missed out on the chance to race for gold on Sunday, but Japanese compatriot Ohashi won the hosts' first gold in the pool of the Games in the women's 400m IM. 

Ohashi's time of 4:32.08 was enough to hold off American Emma Weyant despite tiring as the race neared its conclusion.

AUSSIES FREESTYLE TO NEW GROUND

The Australian quartet of Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell lived up to their billing in the women's 4x100m free.

Comfortably the favourites for success, the Aussies clocked a new world record time of 3:29.69 (the fourth time in a row Australia has set the world benchmark), the first time any foursome has gone under 3:30.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Adam Peaty continued his seemingly unstoppable march towards gold by going fastest in the men's 100m breaststroke semi-finals in a time of 57.63.

And in the wide-open women's 100m butterfly, China's Zhang Yufei qualified fastest for the finals with a time of 55.89.

Kathleen Dawson is keen to take advantage of Team GB's strong female contingent at Tokyo 2020 by inspiring the next generation of talent, and hailed the 'incredible' Adam Peaty.

Team GB's selection for the delayed Olympics saw more female athletes chosen than males for a summer Games for the first time in 125 years.

Dawson is making her debut appearance at an Olympics in a competitive 100 metre backstroke event, in which she goes up again Kaylee McKeown, Regan Smith – the former having broken the latter's world record last month – and Kylie Masse, all of whom have gone under 58 seconds this year.

At the European Championships, Dawson swam a 58.08 to break new national ground and she hopes to be part of a strong showing leading the way for the talent of tomorrow.

"It's great to see actually that there's more women than there are men on the team, it has been more male dominant in the past," Dawson told a roundtable of journalists.

"I'm really proud to be a part of that, especially as from my University of Sterling team there are more female athletes going than male athletes for the first time.

"It's a great thing to be a part of I think. It just shows women can step up to the same level as men.

"It is a really good thing to see all these women on this team. I think everyone should be really proud of themselves and it is definitely an inspiration for the next generation coming through."

Dawson is banging on the door of a podium finish, which she believes it will take going into the 57s to achieve.

While there is a clear determination to do so, Dawson insists she will not become "fixated" by winning a medal but vowed to fight with everything she has to get on one of those three steps.

"Yeah it definitely is a reality. I'm not going to try and think too much about it or try and chase too much," she added.

"I'm just going to go in and swim the best race I can. I'd love to go to a 57 then I'll know I'll have given them a run for their money.

"I can't speak for Team GB but personally I won't get too focused or fixated on medals because it will just end up with heartbreak if I don't come back with a medal. 

"But I know whatever I do I'll fight to the end so if it results in a medal then great, if it doesn't I know that I'll have given it all my best and I'm going to give the girls a fight for it."

Dawson is one of five University of Sterling swimmers on the team, alongside Cassie Wild, Aimee Willmott, Duncan Scott and Ross Murdoch.

"It's been lovely. I feel like we're all quite a big family at Stirling, the boys as well, but with the girls here we have each other's backs and it's great to be with them," she said.

"It's definitely shifted my mental state from 2018 onwards, I feel kind of bulletproof right now mentally."

But there is another superstar giving Dawson and the rest of the team motivation in the form of 100m breaststroke world record holder Peaty, who is aiming to become the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title.

"You kind of forget how good he is until you see him swim and you think 'oh actually...'," she said. "You become kind of desensitised to it. He is incredible."

Adam Peaty set an early benchmark but home hope Daiya Seto suffered a shock on a busy first day of swimming at Tokyo 2020, one that saw Australian duo Brendon Smith and Emma McKeon shine.

Peaty is aiming to become the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title having taken gold at Rio 2016, while Seto made an inauspicious start to the Games.

Here is a round-up from Saturday's opening heats at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

EASY PEATY! RECORD HOLDER SAFELY THROUGH

Peaty has not been beaten in a 100m breaststroke race since 2014 and is aiming to lower his own record time of 56.88 seconds, which was set at the World Championships two years ago.

The dominant 26-year-old posted a 57.56 in a solid start to his Games, qualifying fastest ahead of Dutch rival Arno Kamminga (57.80). 

Peaty produced the eighth fastest time in history, while Kamminga set a Dutch record and is the only other swimmer who has broken 58 seconds in the event.

 

WOE FOR SETO AS SMITH STARS

These Games were meant to be about redemption for home medal hope Seto, the bronze medallist in a men's 400m individual medley race won by compatriot Kosuke Hagino four years ago.

Seto was the favourite in the race and seeking to atone after being barred last year after his involvement in an extramarital affair. He won world gold in the 400IM two years ago, but he sensationally failed to make it out of the heats at these delayed Olympics.

Seto, who returns to the pool next in the 200m butterfly on Monday, said: "It hurts and I'm frustrated at myself. It's my mistake and I have to owe up to it. What's done is done and not a whole lot I can do about it."

By contrast, it was Smith who qualified fastest, clocking a 4:09.27 to set a new Australian and Oceanic record. New Zealander Lewis Clareburt was second quickest, winning a tight third heat over 2016 silver medallist Chase Kalisz.

Smith's compatriots Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin both made it through the men's 400m freestyle, with Germany's Henning Muhlleitner (3:43.67) fastest, just ahead of Austrian Felix Auboeck (3:43.91).

MCKEON, ZHANG SET THE MARK

There was more Aussie promise in the women's 100m butterfly – a seemingly wide-open event with three competitors having gone under 56 seconds this year.

McKeon – a winner of four medals in Rio, including relay gold in the 4x100m – and China's Zhang Yufei were two of those to achieve the feat and both recorded a 55.82 to top the timesheets in the heats, the former setting an Australian record for good measure.

Sarah Sjostrom, who holds the world record, was not even certain to race in this event after fracturing her elbow earlier this year, but posted an impressive 56.18 to go third quickest. The Swede was ahead of American Torri Huske (56.29), the third woman who has gone under 56 seconds this year.

Australia were also dominant in the women's 4x100m freestyle, their time of 3:31.73 almost two seconds better than the Netherlands.

Teenager Emma Weyant bettered her personal best with a 4:33.55 to comfortably post the best time in the women's 400 individual medley prelims. The 19-year-old - a winner at the U.S. Olympic trials - was almost two seconds quicker than Great Britain's Aimee Willmott (4:35.28).

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.