The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan are nearing the halfway point of competition, and we’re now a full week removed from the opening ceremonies. The swimming competitions will wrap up in the next few days and track and field will take center stage for much of the final full week of the games.
Since BON’s last Olympic update on July 27, two former Texas Longhorn athletes who’ve won gold medals at past Olympic games both had disappointing finishes to their competitions, while a future Longhorn had an impressive performance in her event and walked away with a silver medal. The first of eleven Longhorn track & field athletes to compete at the games has had her first action on the track, and the others will begin their competition in the coming days.
All dates and times for events mentioned in this post will be written according to U.S. Central Time and not Japan Standard Time, which is 14 hours ahead. Visit the official Olympics website for a full list of schedules and results.
Kevin Durant (USA) - After a poor shooting performance in Team USA’s 83—76 upset loss to France on Sunday, Durant had a merely pedestrian game in a 120-66 blowout win over Iran on Tuesday night. He made 4 of 8 shots from the field, including 2 of 4 three-point attempts, and finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocked shots, 2 steals, and no turnovers in 19:38 of playing time.
Iran actually led 7-5 two minutes into the first quarter, but a Durant three-pointer gave the U.S. a 8-7 lead, and they went on a 23-5 run to finish off the quarter and never trailed again. To ensure that it advances to the quarterfinal round out of group play, Team USA will need to beat the Czech Republic on Saturday morning in a game scheduled to tip off at 7:00 a.m. Central Time. The Czech team lost to France 97-77 on Wednesday morning, and had to withstand a late Iran rally to hold on to a 84-78 win in its first group play game last Saturday. It’s a pretty safe bet we’ll see Durant and company in the quarterfinals, which will begin on Monday night.
Ariel Atkins (USA) - After barely seeing the floor in Team USA’s 81-72 win over Nigeria earlier in the week, Atkins again had minimal playing time in a 86-69 win over Japan in a game that tipped off late Thursday night. Atkins played in 1:20 and did not record any statistics. Team USA’s third and final game in group play will begin late Sunday night against France, which lost to Japan 74-70 in its first game and beat Nigeria 87-62 early this morning.
Hailey Hernandez (USA) - Hernandez, just two months removed from her graduation from Southlake Carroll, competed in the 3-meter springboard prelims early this morning and finished with the sixth-most total points. This allowed her to qualify for the semifinals of the event, which will begin Saturday at 1:00 a.m. Central Time.
Jhonattan Vegas (Venezuela) - Vegas tied for the fifth-best 1st round score, shooting a 5 under par 66 on Wednesday. In the 2nd round, which began Thursday afternoon, he completed finished the 18 holes with a 1 under par 70. Round 2 was evidently delayed, as 16 of the 60 golfers in the field have not yet finished it, and it is scheduled to resume Saturday morning. Among the golfers who have completed both of the first two rounds, Vegas is tied for the ninth-best score, and the current leader is American Xander Schauffele, who is at 11 under par.
Gia Doonan (USA) - Doonan and the United States women’s eight rowing team finished fourth in the final yesterday. The team was in fifth place for much of the race, and going into the final 500 meters they were a half-second behind third place China and 0.13 seconds behind Australia. In that final stretch they passed Australia but couldn’t lost more ground (or sea?) to the Chinese team, finishing 1.47 seconds behind them and 3.65 seconds behind the gold medal-winning team from Canada.
Julia Grosso (Canada) - Grosso did not start in Team Canada’s quarterfinal match with Brazil, which began very early this morning, but she later substituted in and played 57 of the game’s 120 minutes. Canada and Brazil were scoreless in regulation, and after both failed to score during two extra times they went to a shootout, and Canada advanced to the semifinals with a 4-3 shootout advantage.
Canada will face the United States in its semifinal match, and the game will begin at 3:00 a.m. on Monday. The winner will face either Australia or Sweden.
Cat Osterman (USA) - Osterman had a disappointing end to her Olympic career, as Team USA fell 2-0 to Japan in the gold medal match on Tuesday. Team USA had gone 5-0 in pool play, despite an anemic offensive production that scored just 9 total runs in those five games. Against Japan and its ace pitcher Yukiko Ueno (who turned 39 last week), the Americans managed just two hits and two walks and were unable to push any runners across the plate in her six innings. Osterman got the start for Team USA and threw two shutout innings with 2 hits and 1 walk allowed, but she was pulled after two innings and gave way to Ally Carda, who allowed two runs in her 2.2 innings pitched.
Those two runs were all Japan needed to win the gold medal in the first softball competition held at the Olympics since 2008. The sport is not scheduled to be part of the 2024 Olympic program in Paris, and there’s no telling when it might be played at the Olympic games again. This was likely the end of Osterman’s distinguished U.S. national team career; she was previously a member of the American teams that won silver at the 2008 Olympics and gold in 2004.
Townley Haas (USA) -
Drew Kibler (USA) - Kibler and Haas swam the second and fourth legs of the 4x200 freestyle relay on Tuesday. The U.S. team was in second when Kibler touched the wall and Zach Apple dove into the water for his third leg, but had fallen to fifth by the time Haas began his anchor leg. The 2.43 second gap between the U.S. and the leading British team was far too much for Haas to make up. He swam a fast final leg and was able to pass Italy and move into fourth place, but he couldn’t catch up to third place Australia and get the U.S. team onto the medal stand.
Joseph Schooling (Singapore) - Schooling was the defending Olympic champion in the 100 meter butterfly, an event in which he set a new Olympic record at the 2016 games. In his preliminary heat on Thursday he had the fastest reaction time at the start, but the race went downhill for him afterwards and he finished dead last with a time of 53.12, nearly two and a half seconds behind his heat’s leader. He did not advance to the semifinal heats in that event, and to add insult to injury, his Olympic record was broken in one of the other preliminary heats, then broken again in the semifinals by American Calaeb Dressel, the current world record holder.
Anna Elendt (Germany) - Elendt swam the third leg of Germany’s 4x100 meter medley relay in that event’s semifinal heats early this morning. Germany finished sixth in its heat and did not advance to the final.
Remedy Rule (The Philippines) - Rule swam in the semifinals of the 200 meter butterfly on Tuesday night, but finished last in her heat and did not reach the semifinals. She had publicly stated before the Olympics that the Tokyo games would be her last competitive swim meet, and she plans on pursuing a grad school course at the University of Miami studying marine biology. Good luck to a lifetime Longhorn on her future endeavors.
Erica Sullivan (USA) - Sullivan had maybe the best non-winning performance seen by a Longhorn athlete so far at the games when she swam in the 1,500 meter freestyle final on Tuesday night. The 1,500 meters is a grueling race (the competitors swim 30 lengths of the pool, and altogether the race is about 109 meters short of a full mile) that is included in world championship meets but had never before been included in the women’s Olympic swimming program. Sullivan’s fellow American and world record-holder Katie Ledecky led the race from start to finish, and for most of the race the only drama was in who would finish second and third. Sullivan lingered in fifth or sixth place for much of the race but remained within striking distance of the crowd that trailed Ledecky, and with a series of consistently fast 50m lengths in the race’s final 400 meters she ate up the distance between herself and the second and third swimmers in the race.
Sullivan moved into second by the time she touched the wall after 1,350 meters, and maintained that spot all the way to the finish. Her silver medal-winning time was 15:41.41, four seconds behind Ledecky and a full second and a half ahead of third place finisher Sarah Kohler of Germany. After beginning the race at a relatively leisurely pace, only one of Sullivan’s final 20 lengths was slower than 31.50 seconds, while China’s Jianjiahe Wang — who was in second place for the race’s first 500 meters but eventually finished fourth — only met that pace on three of her final 20 lengths.
The silver was the first career Olympic medal for Erica Sullivan, who turns 21 on August 9. She graduated from high school in 2018, but a series of personal trials and the Coronavirus pandemic delayed the beginning of her college career, and she will enroll at Texas later this fall.
Women’s Track & Field
Teahna Daniels (USA) - Daniels was the first Longhorn track athlete at the games to begin competition. On Thursday night she won her preliminary heat in the 100 meters in a time of 11.04, just 0.05 seconds short of her personal best in that event. Her semifinal heat will be on Saturday at 5:31 a.m.
Melissa Gonzalez (Colombia) - Gonzalez, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough and the first Texas Longhorn to represent Colombia at the Olympic games, will run her preliminary heat in the 400 meter hurdles tonight at 7:00 p.m.
Pedrya Seymour (The Bahamas) - She will run her preliminary heat of the 100 meter hurdles tonight at 9:09 p.m.
Women’s Indoor Volleyball
Chiaka Ogbogu (USA) - After not playing in Team USA’s 3-0 wins over Argentina and China, she subbed in and played in parts of the fourth and fifth sets of Team USA’s pool play match with Turkey on Thursday. The U.S. won the first two sets, but dropped the third and fourth to set up a fifth set for the game. Turkey led 11-10 late in the final set, but the Americans scored five of the final six points to win 15-12. Team USA is 3-0 in pool play and will next face the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team tonight at 9:05 p.m.