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OLYMPICS NOTEBOOK

All-American shooter William Shaner adds another gold to US haul

William Shaner reacts after winning the gold medal in the men's 10-meter air rifle at the Asaka Shooting Range on Sunday.
William Shaner reacts after winning the gold medal in the men's 10-meter air rifle at the Asaka Shooting Range on Sunday.Alex Brandon/Associated Press

William Shaner won gold in the men’s 10-meter air rifle, adding to the United States’ frenzy after being shut out on the first day of the Tokyo Olympics.

The 20-year-old Shaner qualified third and was steady in the finals at his first Olympics, finishing with an Olympic-record 251.6 points. Sheng Lihao, a Chinese 16-year-old with little international experience, took silver, and countryman Yang Haoran earned bronze.

Shaner was one of the top youth shooters in the country and has already had a decorated career at the University of Kentucky, finishing second at the NCAA individual championships and team gold in consecutive seasons. He also was a first-team All-American as a freshman.

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Shortly after the Star Spangled Banner played during his medal ceremony at Asaka Shooting Range, a female volunteer collapsed. The Olympic music kept playing as staff and medical personnel raced to the woman’s side. One volunteer waved papers to cool her off and she was placed on a stretcher after a few minutes.

Paramedics arrived at the venue’s medical center with a stretcher, but left after a few minutes as workers inside turned the woman on her side and talked to her.

Intense heat and humidity have taken a toll already during the Games. The Asaka Shooting Range is air conditioned, but still muggy inside.

Naomi Osaka shows no rust in return to the court

Naomi Osaka is into the the last 16 of the women’s singles. After overpowering Zheng Saisai of China, 6-1, 6-3, in the first round, the four-time Grand Slam winner stepped up her game when she needed to in a 6-3, 6-2 win over 49th-ranked Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland early Monday at Ariake Tennis Park.

The second-ranked Osaka will next face either 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic or Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania.

Naomi Osaka defeated Viktorija Golubic in second round action.
Naomi Osaka defeated Viktorija Golubic in second round action.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Just seven weeks ago, Osaka was enduring the first true crisis of her career. She caused upheaval in the tennis world, and intensified the discussion around athletes and mental health, when she withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon as well after refusing to endure what she called the stress of mandatory news conferences at Grand Slam tournaments.

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For a while, the Olympics hung in the balance until she committed to them, unable to pass up representing Japan on home turf. She was then chosen to light the Olympic cauldron.

“I feel a little bit out of my body right now,” the 23-year-old said minutes after winning her first-round match, adding she was “happy” reporters were asking her questions.

“More than anything else I’m just focused on playing tennis,” Osaka said. “The Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a kid so I feel like the break that I took was very needed. I feel definitely a little bit refreshed and I’m happy again.”

Austrian cyclist claims road race gold in massive upset

Anna Kiesenhofer came to the Olympics without a pro team and will leave it with a gold medal. In a huge upset marked by uncertainty and confusion at the finish line, Kiesenhofer won the 85-mile road race on a brutally hot day, Austria’s first cycling medal in 125 years and its first gold in a Summer Olympics sport since 2004.

Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria pulled off a shocking win.
Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria pulled off a shocking win.Christophe Ena/Associated Press

After she crossed the finish line, the 30-year-old mathematician lay on the pavement, gasping for breath. She had been riding with Poland’s Anna Plichta and Israel’s Omer Shapiro as they took a lead of more than 10 minutes. At Kagosaka Pass, Kiesenhofer decided to take off, and the rest of the peloton forgot about her.

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Over the final miles, favorite Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands broke away from the remaining cyclists and crossed the finish line alone, throwing her arms into the air in the belief that she had won her country’s third straight gold medal in the event. She wasn’t alone. Britain’s Lizzie Deignan told the BBC: “The best person won the bike race here today. Annemiek was clearly the strongest.”

Except she had finished second, 1 minute and 15 seconds after Kiesenhofer.

Lack of communication contributed to the loss. In the Olympics, radios are not allowed, as they are in professional races, to update riders on their competitors. So van Vleuten and others lost their orientation and apparently felt no urgency to sprint during the final stretch.

“It feels incredible,” Kiesenhofer said. “I couldn’t believe it. Even when I crossed the line, it was like, ‘Is it done now? Do I have to continue riding?’ . . . I have never emptied myself so much in my whole life. I could hardly pedal any more. It felt like there was zero energy in my legs.”

Van Vleuten, 38, was attempting to earn the Netherlands its third straight gold in the event. Instead, she came away with a silver medal and disappointment in her first Olympics since a crash in Rio de Janeiro left her with a concussion and three fractures in her back.

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“I’m gutted,” van Vleuten said. “With five kilometers to go, Marianne came up to me, none of us knew if everyone was caught back. This is an example of what happens if you ride an important race like this without communication.”

US softball walkoff winners again

Kelsey Stewart homered leading off the seventh inning, capping a late rally that gave the United States a 2-1 victory over Japan to win the group stage at the Olympics and the right to bat last in Tuesday’s rematch for the gold medal.

Stewart hit the Americans’ first homer of the Olympics, a drive just over the glove of leaping right fielder Yuka Ichiguchi that sent US players running onto the field with their second straight walkoff win. The US trailed until Valerie Arioto’s RBI single in the sixth.

Kelsey Stewart and the US walked off with the win.
Kelsey Stewart and the US walked off with the win.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Monica Abbott (3-0) pitched a perfect seventh in her third relief outing to go along with two wins as a starter. The lanky left-hander is likely to start Tuesday’s gold medal game, a day before her 36th birthday.

The Americans, trying to bounce back from their 3-1 loss to Japan in the 2008 gold medal game, finished the group stage 5-0 while Japan dropped to 4-1.

COVID-19 ousts last two US Open champs, including world No. 1 Jon Rahm, from golf event

Positive COVID-19 tests knocked Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau out of the Olympic golf tournament, in a pair of surprises that reinforced the tenuous nature of holding a massive sports event during a global pandemic.

Word of Rahm’s positive test came from the Spanish Olympic committee about four hours after USA Golf delivered the same news about DeChambeau.

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Spain’s Olympic federation explained that Rahm had two negative tests after leaving England, where he played in the British Open earlier this month. But a third test that was also required came back positive. This is the second positive test for Rahm in fewer than two months. He was holding a six-shot lead after three rounds at the Memorial in early June when he was informed he had tested positive and would have to withdraw. He came back two weeks later to win the US Open and vault to No. 1 in the world.

After his win at Torrey Pines, Rahm said he was vaccinated when he tested positive at the Memorial, but still had to be quarantined because he had not been vaccinated for 14 days.

There won't be any Olympic competition for Jon Rahm.
There won't be any Olympic competition for Jon Rahm.Gregory Bull/Associated Press

DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion, will be replaced by 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, provided he successfully gets through COVID protocols Sunday and Monday in order to travel to Japan and be ready for the tournament later in the week.

Reed found out after finishing his third round of the 3M Open on Saturday in Minnesota, where he immediately took one of his required three COVID-19 tests that each must be 24 hours apart. “Captain America” was planning to start his flight to Japan on Tuesday and arrive Wednesday, which won’t leave him enough time for a practice round before Thursday’s first round at Kasumigaseki Country Club outside of Tokyo.

Reed has long been more gung-ho about the Summer Games than many of his peers on the tour. He’s now the only two-time Olympian on the men’s side of the sport, which was reintroduced to the program in 2016, and will join first-timers Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, and Xander Schauffele on the American team. Reed had been third in line to be a replacement, behind Patrick Cantlay and Brooks Koepka.

Successful debuts for surfing, skateboarding

Like most surfers, Stephanie Gilmore of Australia never expected to see surfing in the Olympics. Like many of the competitors here, the seven-time world champion has traveled the globe for years, but even at age 33 she is not, she said, so jaded that she is immune to wonder.

In the last week alone, she said, she has met the world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player, spent time with Norwegian volleyball players, and marched in the kind of opening ceremony that she had, until this year, only seen on television.

“I’m obviously trying to be as serious as I can be,” Gilmore said on the first day of surfing competition at the Games. “But it’s such an enjoyable experience in one’s life to come to the Olympics.”

Australia's Stephanie Gilmore maneuvers on a wave during third round of women's surfing competition at Tsurigasaki beach in Ichinomiya.
Australia's Stephanie Gilmore maneuvers on a wave during third round of women's surfing competition at Tsurigasaki beach in Ichinomiya.Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Surfing is spending the Games far removed from much of the other Olympic action, 60 miles away from Tokyo at Tsurigasaki Beach. On Sunday morning, the first of the eight-day period blocked out for the Olympic competition, the waves were deemed surfable — not necessarily good, but good enough for organizers to start the event on time, with the first round beginning about 7 a.m.

In the hours that followed, the only people dotting the beach were team members and venue staff. When the Australian team — Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Julian Wilson, and Owen Wright — came in from a heat, they were serenaded with cheers of “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” When American surfers Caroline Marks, Carissa Moore, John John Florence, and Kolohe Andino landed a wave, the US contingent supporting them stood and rang cowbells.

Gabriel Medina of Brazil won the last heat of the first round of the men’s competition but dismissed the mediocre waves as “tiny and hard.”

“It’s not the conditions you want to surf to start off in the Olympics, but it is what it is,” he said. He said he expected he would be able to put on a better show Monday, when the waves, driven by a tropical storm, were expected to be better.

Back in Tokyo, native son Yuto Horigome became the first-ever Olympic skateboarding champion, the regining world champion winning the men’s street event.

“Skateboarding is still a minor sport,” Horigome, 22, said. “I want to show how skateboarding is fun.”

Yuto Horigome of Japan celebrates after competing in men's street skateboarding.
Yuto Horigome of Japan celebrates after competing in men's street skateboarding.Ben Curtis/Associated Press

Mission accomplished. Its Olympic debut delivered exactly what the Games’ organizers had hoped for: A high-adrenaline show of thrills and lots of spills from athletes plugged into younger audiences.

U.S. skater Jagger Eaton, who won bronze, immediately celebrated by whipping his phone out of his pocket and broadcasting live on Instagram. And Kelvin Hoefler, who used to sleep with his board when he first fell in love with skating as a young boy, was so giddy with his Olympic silver that he started picturing kids back in his native Brazil perhaps putting aside their soccer balls and hopping onto four wheels instead.

“It’s going to be mind-changing for them,” he predicted.

And perhaps for the Games, too. The venerable sporting extravaganza had never seen an event quite as, well, chill as this, with laid-back camaraderie and an emphasis on fun among competitors steeped in the “life is a blast” philosophy of their counter-culture pursuit born in freewheeling California. Several skaters wore headphones as they competed — unthinkable in most sports. Putting competition aside, skaters whooped and applauded when others landed tough tricks.

“The goal is to progress each sport to the maximum and we can do that without having to bash or cheat,” Puerto Rican skater Manny Santiago said. “The other sports do need that. (At) the cafeteria last night, the majority of the countries, the skate guys, we all sat down for dinner as like, ‘Let’s all sit down before the event starts.’ You don’t see that in swimming.”

The women’s street competition is Monday.

Opening Ceremony ratings plunge for second straight Games

An estimated 17 million people in the United States watched the Opening Ceremony in a largely empty stadium, down 36 percent from the kickoff to the Rio de Janeiro Games five years ago. The 17 million includes people who watched the ceremony live on NBC or online when it aired Friday morning and those who saw an edited version on NBC in prime time that night, the Nielsen company said. The 26.7 million who saw the Rio opening ceremony was well down from the record 40.7 million to watch the 2012 ceremonies in London . . . Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt won the men’s triathlon in a time of one hour, 45 minutes and four seconds, 11 seconds ahead of Britain’s Alex Yee and 20 seconds ahead of New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde. Finishing 13th in Rio, he is the first Norwegian to medal in the event, which combines swimming, cycling, and running. American Kevin McDowell was sixth, the lymphoma survivor posting the best US finish in the sport’s Olympic history, which dates to 2000. The race featured a rare false start, when a boat carrying media equipment blocked roughly half the 56 starters when the buzzer sounded. The leaders were nearly 200 meters into their 1,500-meter swim when all were stopped and returned to the dock for a restart . . . For decades, female gymnasts have worn bikini-cut leotards. In qualifying, however, the German team instead wore unitards that stretched to their ankles, intending to push back against sexualization of women in gymnastics. The Germans first wore them at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in April. Sarah Voss, the team’s youngest member at 21, said they weren’t sure they would decide to wear them again during Olympic competition until they got together before the meet. “We sat together today and said, ‘OK, we want to have a big competition,’ ” Voss said. “We want to feel amazing, we want to show everyone that we look amazing.” Male gymnasts wear comparatively body-covering clothes: singlets, with loose shorts for their floor exercise and vault, and long pants on bar and pommel horse routines. Germany’s wardrobe revolution, while widely championed, has not so far started a trend. Leotards that leave the legs bare were worn by every other female gymnast during qualifying . . . Uta Abe and older brother Hifumi Abe won Japan’s second and third judo gold medals at its home Olympics. Uta beat France’s Amandine Buchard by ippon in the women’s 52-kilogram final; the 21-year-old is one of the biggest stars in Japan’s homegrown martial art, with two world championships to her name. Hifumi earned an ippon victory over Georgia’s Vazha Margvelashvili in men’s 66 kilograms . . . China made it three golds in three events in weightlifting, but only after plenty of drama. Chen Lijun had two shots at lifting 187 kilograms — one kilogram short of the world record — to beat Colombia’s Luis Javier Mosquera in the clean and jerk. Fail and he was off the podium in the 67-kilogram category. Chen made the lift look easy, sparking loud celebrations as team officials in the hall waved flags. Earlier, Li Fabin won the 61kg class after pulling off a spectacular “flamingo” lift on one leg as he tried to balance earlier in the competition. All eight Chinese weightlifters in Tokyo — no country can enter more than eight of the 14 competitions — are gold medal contenders, especially with traditional rival North Korea skipping the Games, citing the coronavirus pandemic . . . A contingent led by An San captured South Korea’s ninth straight women’s archery team gold medal; the country hasn’t lost since the women’s team event was added to the Olympic program at the 1988 Seoul Games. She combined with Kang Chae Young and Jang Minhee to beat the Russian Olympic Committee, 6-0 in tricky wind conditions. Germany beat Belarus for bronze . . . China’s Shi Tingmao and Wang Han romped to victory in the women’s 3-meter synchronized springboard diving event with 326.40 points. Chinese divers have won 37 of 48 gold medals at the last seven Olympics . . . Romain Cannone won France’s first gold medal by beating Gergely Siklosi of Hungary, 15-10, in the men’s epee final . . . Russian shooter Vitalina Batsarashkina won gold in women’s 10-meter air pistol five years after taking silver at the Rio Games, with an Olympic record 240.3 points. Georgia’s Nina Salukvadze made history by becoming the first athlete to compete in nine Olympics and announced her retirement to Russian media after failing to qualify for the finals . . . Ulugbek Rashitov won Uzbekistan’s first Olympic taekwondo gold medal in dramatic fashion at 68 kilograms by beating Bradly Sinden of Britain. Down two points inside the final 15 seconds, the 19-year-old landed a four-point turning body kick and went on to win, 34-29.