Team USA takes medal lead, but loses Simone Biles and the gold in softball
Day four of Tokyo 2020 saw arguably the biggest name in gymnastics bow out to injury and Cuba win its first medal.
Following a day that saw Team USA athletes on seven podiums, the country has taken the overall medal lead at the Tokyo Olympics with 25 total medals (nine gold, eight silver and eight bronze). Rounding out the top five are China with 21 medals, the Russian Olympic Committee and Japan tied with 18, and Great Britain with 13.
Japan still maintains its gold medal lead by one, with 10, and the U.S. and China follow with nine apiece.
Team Japan was able to keep its gold medal lead because its softball team, which lost 2-1 to Team USA earlier in the Olympic softball tournament on Sunday, came back to beat the Americans 2-0 in the gold medal game on July 27.
The U.S. entered the game undefeated in the tournament with five wins.
It’s not the type of revenge Team USA would have preferred to end its Tokyo softball experience. Back when softball was last played at the Olympics in 2008’s Beijing games, Team USA also fell short in the gold medal game to Japan.
It was a shock then because of prior dominance by the Americans, but after Japan’s second-straight gold medal at the Olympics (albeit 13 years apart), there is a new world power on the softball diamond to catch.
For Latin America, Mexico’s softball team can leave the tournament holding its head high, having battled to get a shot at the bronze medal against Canada. They just fell short by a score of 3-2 and finished fourth overall in the tournament out of six teams.
Someone who will also be able to go home with her head held high regardless of her future at the Tokyo Games is U.S. gymnast Simone Biles.
Considering world gymnastics championships and Olympic games, the 24-year-old Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history, reeling in a total of 31 medals in the span of eight years. For those feats she is widely considered the most dominant gymnast of all time.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Biles won four gold medals and a bronze in a combination of individual events and the team artistic gymnastics event, where the U.S. took gold.
In Tokyo, Biles is taking home a silver medal from the women’s team artistic gymnastics event after Team USA finished second to the team from the Russian Olympic Committee.
The upset came due in large because of Biles’ withdrawal after one botched vault in the team final as the result of a “medical issue” that has yet to be defined. Shorthanded and with Biles cheering them on, a team composed of Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles came within eight-tenths of a point of catching the ROC team.
After, it was also announced that Biles is unsure if she will compete in the upcoming continuations of her individual events.
Beyond the success of Team USA, another Latin American country, Cuba, added its first Olympic medal with a bronze in 80kg+ taekwondo from Rafael Alba.
Alba is a former two-time world champion in taekwondo at 87kg in 2013 and 2019. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, he suffered a shock defeat in his third bout against Uzbekistan’s Dmitriy Shokin.
Brazil also upped its medal tally to five total by adding its first gold medal in short board surfing from world champion Ítalo Ferreira and South America’s first swimming medal from Fernando Scheffer, who finished with a bronze behind British duo Tom Dean and Duncan Scott in the men’s 200m freestyle final.
Elsewhere, Brazil’s women’s soccer won against Zambia and its women’s volleyball team continued its winning ways against the Dominican Republic.
Yes, the Puerto Rican women’s basketball team lost big against China in its first game of pool play at Tokyo 2020, but the debut was still historic.
These Olympic games are the first for Puerto Rico women’s basketball in its history and after all the island has been through over the past six years, its appearance is a major bright spot and will continue to be as the women’s basketball tournament progresses.