The final day of the 2020/2021 Tokyo Olympics got underway in the most brutal of fashion. The Men’s Marathon was actually held in Sapporo, and whilst the temperature was “only” 28 or 29 degrees, the humidity was so oppressive that of the field of 106 starters, only 76 were able to complete the race. Of those 76, a large number were decidedly worse for wear at the finish line, with a number being carted off in wheelchairs.
Someone who required no medical assistance was the unsurprisingly comfortable winner Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who somehow covered the course in 2.08.38. The real battle however was for Silver, where three runners – Lawrence Cherono (Kenya), Abdi Nageeye (Netherlands) and Bashil Abdi (Belgium) – held a three-way sprint for second and third. It was an unlucky fourth place for Cherono, as Nageeye took the Silver and Abdi the Bronze. Of the two New Zealanders in the field, Zane Robertson looked somewhat distraught in finishing 36th, as Malcolm Hicks came in 64th.
Horrendous scenes at the velodrome, when an awful crash in the Women’s Omnium not only put paid to a number of medal chances in the Scratch race but took out some officials as well. New Zealand’s Holly Edmonston did well to avoid the carnage, finishing in 9th place. After a 14th place in the Tempo race and a 10th in the Elimination race, Edmonston had a reasonably strong Points race, finishing a creditable 10th overall. The Gold Medal was taken out by the USA’s Jennifer Valente, with Japan’s Yumi Kajihara in second and Kirsten Wild (Netherlands) in the Bronze Medal position.
Callum Saunders was a little unlucky to strike a red-hot field of competitors in his Keirin heat. Needing a third or better to qualify, he finished 5th and was out. The event was eventually won by Jason Kenny (GBR), from Malaysia’s Mohd Azizulhasni Awang and Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands).
World Record Holder Kelsy Mitchell (Canada) took out the Women;s Sprint, comfortably defeating the Ukraine’s Olene Starikova in the final, with Hong Kong’s Wai Sze Lee capturing the Bronze. Ellesse Andres was unlucky enough to come up against both finalists in her attempt to qualify – she performed exceptionally well in both attempts, and ultimately finished 11th.
France took out the Handball double – after the Men’s side defeated Denmark 25-33 on Saturday, the Women defeated the ROC 30-25 in a game that was a lot closer than the final score may have you believe. It was 15-13 to the French at halftime, but they struggled to get on the scoresheet early in the second half. A strong finish saw them edge the Russians, with reserve Goalkeeper Cleopatre Darleux coming on at halftime and securing a very impressive 43% save stat. Norway hammered Sweden 36-19 to take out the Bronze Medal. After Norway put the heat on in the first half to lead 19-7 at the break, Sweden was never really in the contest.
In Women’s Volleyball, Serbia ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over the South Koreans to take the Bronze Medal. The USA finally put some volleyball demons to rest in winning their first ever Gold Medal, beating the Brazilians by the same score line.
There were four Boxing medals handed out on the final day, with the most memorable Gold Medal won 5:0 by Ireland’s Kellie Anne Harrington in the Women’s Lightweight division. After a split first round with Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira, Harrington (below) took out the last two rounds to win the Gold Medal.
In the pool, Greece – who had never won a Men’s Water Polo Medal – took on defending champions Serbia who made a strong start and led early. The Greek side clawed their way back into the game, and at three-quarter time there was just one goal in it, with Serbia holding a 10-9 advantage. In the end, the defending champions were too strong, winning out 13-10, and the final medal of the Olympics was decided.
So that’s it – Tokyo is over. You can argue whether the Games should have gone ahead until you’re blue in the face, but ultimately, they did, and they made for incredible viewing as always.
Over the next few days, I’ll be compiling the highs and lows of Tokyo 2020/2021, so make sure to keep an eye out. Alternatively, see you in 2024!
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You can find more on the Tokyo Diaries, here.