Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi made history for both their team and themselves on the final day of the Tokyo Olympics.
The U.S. women’s basketball team won its seventh consecutive gold medal with a 90-75 victory over Japan, and Bird and Taurasi became the first basketball players – female or male – to win five Olympic gold medals.
Bird, 40, and Taurasi, 39, have been mainstays in international women’s basketball for most of their careers since graduating from the University of Connecticut two years apart – Bird in 2002 and Taurasi in ’04. Each made their Olympic debuts at the 2004 Athens Games.
Team USA ran its winning streak to 55 games in Olympic play – its last loss came in the semifinals of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics – and the program has won nine of 12 gold medals since women’s basketball debuted at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
Guard Diana Taurasi, center, and Sue Bird right, won their fifth Olympic gold medals in women’s basketball.
SATURDAY RECAP: U.S. takes both 4×400 relays, basketball wins fourth straight gold
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US grabs another gold as Valente wins track cycling women’s omnium
TOKYO – Jennifer Valente has won gold in the women’s omnium, her second medal of the Tokyo Olympics.
Valente won bronze Tuesday in the team pursuit. She was a silver medalist at the Rio Olympics in 2016, also in team pursuit.
It is the first gold for the U.S. in the omnium, after Sarah Hammer won silver in both Rio and London.
Valente finished with a total of 124 points Sunday, winning by 14 points. Japan’s Yumi Kajihara, the reigning world champion in the omnium, took silver Sunday despite a crash late in the points race, the finale of the four-race series. Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands won the bronze medal, making up significant ground in the points race.
The omnium is a four-race, points-based series. Valente took the maximum 40 points in the first race, the scratch, which awards points according to a rider’s finish. Her results in the next two races – the tempo and elimination – were enough to keep her ahead of Kajihara heading into the points race.
— Nancy Armour
US beats Japan for seventh straight gold in women’s basketball
TOKYO – Even as the U.S. women’s basketball team navigated through some uneven stretches at these Olympics, they had an identity that they were confident would carry them to a seventh straight gold medal. It was built around the simplest thing in basketball: Feeding the post and letting big players beat little players.
And against Japan in Sunday’s gold medal game, it was really all Team USA needed to finish off the tournament with a drama-free 90-75 victory.
Led by post players Brittney Griner and A’Ja Wilson, who towered over a frontcourt with no player taller than 6-foot-1, the U.S. simply could not be stopped from getting the right shots for the right players.
It ended with Griner scoring 30 points on 14-of-18 shots, Wilson adding 19 and five blocked shots and the Americans as a team shooting 54 percent. Breanna Stewart was also a major mismatch problem on both ends with 14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
Guards Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi each scored seven points in their fifth and likely final Olympics, closing the chapter on a run of historic dominance with USA Basketball.
— Dan Wolken
US post players dominating Japan after three quarters
TOKYO – It was only a matter of time before the U.S. women’s basketball team broke this game open, and now with a 75-56 lead after three quarters, they’re 10 minutes away from a seventh straight gold medal.
Give full credit to the U.S. team for understanding its advantages in this game and going to them relentlessly, attacking the rim and making sure one of their post players gets a touch on pretty much every possession.
Against a pretty small team from Japan, it makes the game awfully easy for the U.S. when they can rely on their bigs to catch the ball near the rim, turn and score. And it’s happened over and over again, as center Brittney Griner is up to 24 points and A’Ja Wilson has 17.
Though Team USA’s defense has broken down several times in the third quarter, it really hasn’t mattered. After Japan got within 52-43, the U.S. reeled off an 18-6 run to make things very difficult for the host country.
— Dan Wolken
Griner unstoppable as US takes 11-point halftime lead
TOKYO – No surprises so far in the women’s basketball gold medal game, as the U.S. leads Japan 50-39 at halftime.
Center Brittney Griner has 18 points at halftime on 9-of-10 shooting with forward A’ja Wilson adding 10.
Japan is a great story, having built up this program to the point where it gets a shot at the powerful U.S. team in these Olympics. But unfortunately for them, the matchups are just brutal against the Americans, who are just so much bigger on the front line.
Japan has actually done a decent job in this game on the offensive end generating looks and made 6-of-15 threes. But with a center playing at 6-foot-1, Japan just can’t get stops when Team USA is determined to get the ball inside, and the U.S. made 22-of-35 field goals in the first half including 69% shooting inside the 3-point line.
Megan Rapinoe, the U.S. women’s soccer star, was in the arena to watch her fiancée Sue Bird play for her fifth career gold medal.
— Dan Wolken
US takes control early in women’s basketball gold-medal game
The United States, aiming for its seventh consecutive gold medal in women’s basketball, jumped out to a 23-14 lead over Japan after the first quarter. Jewell Loyd came off the bench to make a 3-point shot to close out the first 10 minutes after Brittney Griner led the way with 10 points.
The U.S. is riding a 54-game winning streak in Olympic play. Its last loss came in the semifinals of the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Some countries requiring Olympians to quarantine upon return
Olympians from Australia and New Zealand will quarantine for two weeks upon returning from Tokyo. The two countries have fared well compared to others during the COVID-19 pandemic, with New Zealand having a total of less than 3,000 virus cases since the pandemic began.
“I guess I’ll try and take it as a really good break at the end of the season, and try and recuperate and keep on top of some rehab – and stay healthy and then come out refreshed and ready to go,” said Linden Hall, an Australian 1500-meter runner.
Even after that, athletes who live in South Australia may need to quarantine an additional two weeks according to their state’s rules regarding travel from other states.
Athletes from New Zealand will stay in a government-managed hotel facility where they’ll be provided exercise equipment during their stay. Similarly, non-vaccinated Canadian Olympians will spend three nights in a hotel before being cleared by local health authorities.
Many other countries, including the United States, will simply require a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination upon athletes’ arrival back.
— Emily Leiker and Rachel Axon
Summer Olympics prepare to shift to Paris in 2024
The closing ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics is still hours away but the buzz is already starting for the next Summer Games in Paris in 2024.
Several new sports were introduced in these Olympics, and there will be at least one event making its debut in Paris. Breakdancing will join skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing as International Olympic Committee officials attempt to attract a younger audience to the Games. Unfortunately for softball and baseball – which returned to the Olympics in Tokyo – and new Olympic sport karate, the Paris Games will go on without those events, at least for now.
A new sport isn’t the only thing to look forward to in 2024. Paris has some pretty well-known landmarks and fans of the Olympics should expect those sites to be incorporated into the 2024 Games. Imagine it: Beach volleyball at the Eiffel Tower, skateboarding at the Place de la Concorde, equestrian at the Chateau de Versailles.
— Alyssa Hertel and Rachel Axon
Jrue Holiday a ‘super champion’ after gold-medal win
While his USA basketball teammates were playing exhibition games in July, Jrue Holiday was playing for an NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Holiday and Khris Middleton, who also plays for Milwaukee, have now joined an elite club of players to win an NBA title and Olympic gold in the same calendar year. They’re the first pair to accomplish the feat since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won in 1992. Lebron James and Kyrie Irving have each earned both titles in the same year, too.
It was the United States’ fourth consecutive gold medal, and Holiday scored 11 points in about 30 minutes to boost the Americans to a win. Milwaukee’s win was its first NBA championship in franchise history.
He still doesn’t have bragging rights in his own house, though. That right goes to his wife, Lauren Holiday, a former USWNT player who won two Olympic golds and a World Cup.
— Chris Bumbaca
Kipchoge cruises to gold in men’s marathon
TOKYO – Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge became the first Olympic men’s marathon repeat champion in 40 years Sunday, winning in Sapporo on the final day of the Tokyo Games.
Kipchoge, 36, the marathon world record holder (2:01.39), bolted away from the lead pack just past 30K and breezed to a win in 2:08.38, more than a minute ahead of the rest of the field.
He is the first to win consecutive Olympic men’s marathon titles since East Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski at the 1976 and 1980 Games. Before that, Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila won twice in a row in 1960 and 1964 in Tokyo.
In a competitive finish for the remaining two medals, Abdi Nageeye of Netherlands won in a kick for silver over Belgium’s Bashir Abdi (bronze) and Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono.
Galen Rupp, a four-time U.S. Olympian, was the top American finisher, taking eighth in 2:11.41. Rupp was the marathon bronze medalist at the 2016 Olympics and 10,000-meter silver medalist at London in 2012.
The other U.S. runners were Jacob Riley and Abdi Abdirahman, finishing 29th and 41st, respectively, with times of 2:16:26 and 2:18:27. Abdirahman was competing in his fifth Olympic Games, having run the 10,000m in 2000, 2004, and 2008, and the marathon in 2012.
The lead pack went through the midway point in 1:05 with Stephen Mokoka of South Africa leading.
The marathons and distance walking events were held in Sapporo, site of the 1972 Winter Olympics, instead of Tokyo hoping for more moderate temperatures.
But it was hot enough Saturday for the women’s marathon time to be pushed up an hour. The men began their 26.2-mile trek at the regularly scheduled 7 a.m. start time with overcast skies, temperature at 79 and 78 percent humidity. In Tokyo at the same time, there was heavy rain.
— Jeff Metcalfe
Aliphine Tuliamuk finds joy with daughter after dropping out of marathon
Molly Seidel may have finished with bronze in the women’s marathon – making her the highest placing American in the race and only the third American woman ever to medal in an Olympic marathon. But American Aliphine Tuliamuk won in other ways, despite not finishing the event.
Tuliamuk, who placed first at the U.S. Olympic trials, was forced to drop out of the Tokyo women’s marathon because of a hip injury that had been bothering the runner for weeks. That was okay for Tuliamuk, though, who was greeted by her husband and daughter, Zoe, on the side of the course.
The 32-year-old mother was allowed to bring her child to Tokyo because she was still nursing; Zoe was only born in January and Tuliamuk appealed to the Olympic Committee to change their stance on not allowing family to travel to the Games.
Tuliamuk joins a handful of other mothers in the Olympics. Track star Allyson Felix and her adorable daughter took the world by storm when Cammy joined her mom on the track in Eugene, Oregon after the U.S. track and field trials.
— Alyssa Hertel
Richard Torrez Jr. wants to avenge viral YouTube knockout
Standing – literally – between U.S. boxer Richard Torrez Jr. and a gold medal will be a competitor the 22-year-old has a history with.
In 2019, Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan knocked Torrez unconscious for over a minute and a half before he was removed from the ring. The knockout, which occurred at the AIBA World Championship, went viral on YouTube with almost a million views. It’s a moment USA Boxing coach Bill Walsh said Torrez was embarrassed by.
Torrez will have a chance to avenge his loss against Jalolov in the super heavyweight boxing final, one of the last events of the Tokyo Olympics, Sunday at 2:15 a.m. ET. While Torrez, the No. 3 seed, had an impressive semifinal performance, No. 1 Jalolov has also wowed.
— Josh Peter
U.S. volleyball vying for first-ever Olympic gold
Currently No. 1 in the world, the United States women’s indoor volleyball team has a chance to win its first Olympic gold medal.
The U.S. plays Brazil – a very famiiliar nemesis – at 12:30 a.m. Sunday in the title match after sweeping Serbia 3-0 in the semifinals. Since volleyball was added to the Olympics in 1964 – the first time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games – the U.S. has earned silver three times and bronze twice. In 2016, it finished third while Serbia took silver and China won gold in Rio.
Brazil has bested the U.S. in its two most recent gold-medal matches in 2008 and 2012, beating the Americans 3-1 in both Beijing and London.
U.S. opposite Andrea Drews spikes the ball during a quarterfinal match at the Tokyo Olympics.
American middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson, who sat out the United States’ 2016 semifinal with a knee injury, played her best attacking match of the Olympic tournament against Serbia. This is the 33-year-olds third appearance at the Games, but first as a mother after giving birth in 2019.
— Emily Leiker
Kenyan runner looking to become third man to win back-to-back Olympic golds
Eliud Kipchoge will have a shot at defending his 2016 Rio Olympics marathon title when the men’s marathon begins at 6 p.m. ET Saturday.
Only two other men have successfully won back-to-back Olympic marathons. Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila did so in 1960 and 1964, and East Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski won in 1976 and 1980.
Kipchoge had claimed 10 consecutive marathon victories, including his Rio gold, in a seven year span before losing the 2020 London marathon. He’s the first man to break the two-hour mark in a marathon (in a non-open competition in 2019), but the world record that he holds – 2:01:39 – was set at the 2018 Berlin marathon.
Galen Rupp, the U.S. men’s marathon champion, will be one of the challengers to 36-year-old Kipchoge. An established American long-distance runner, Rupp won bronze in Rio. Also representing the United States is 44-year-old Abdi Abdirahman, who will become the oldest American man to run an Olympic marathon.
— Emily Leiker
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Olympics 2021 live updates: US wins hoops gold again; men’s marathon