Since our last update on the exploits of the Texas Longhorns athletes competing at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, two Longhorns have won gold medals! One former Longhorn track and field athlete won his second Olympic gold medal, while another Longhorn athlete played a starring role in getting her country its first Olympic gold in her sport.
The 28 former, current, and future Longhorns who have competed in Tokyo so far have combined to win seven medals (three gold and four silver), and they are guaranteed to win at least three more gold or silver medals before the games have their closing ceremony on Sunday. As of this writing, five Longhorns have yet to complete their respective Olympic competitions.
Below is a summary of what has transpired in Tokyo for the Longhorn Olympic contingent since Wednesday morning, and which events they still have remaining.
Kevin Durant (USA) - Durant scored a game-high 23 points in Team USA’s 97-78 win over Australia in the men’s basketball semifinals. Australia outscored the U.S. 24-18 in the 1st quarter and led 45-42 at halftime. But the Americans came back and dominated the 3rd quarter, outscoring Australia 32-10 in the frame to take a commanding 19-point lead going into the 4th quarter. The outcome was never in doubt after that, as Australia never got closer than 16 points in the game’s final 10 minutes.
Durant didn’t shoot well from long distance, making only 1 of 7 three-point attempts, but he made 9 of 12 two-point shots and also contributed a game-high 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a blocked shot in 30 minutes of playing time.
Team USA will play France in the gold medal game, which will tip off tonight at 11:30 p.m. France beat Team USA 83-76 in the teams’ first game in group play, and it has won all five of its games at the Olympics. France advanced to the gold medal game after winning a 90-89 nail-biter over Slovenia in the semifinals, a game in which France’s team captain Nicolas Batum, a veteran of 13 NBA seasons, blocked a would-be game-winning layup attempt by Slovenia’s Klemen Prepelic in the game’s final seconds to preserve the win.
Since basketball was first included in Olympic competition in 1936, the United States has won the gold medal 15 out of 19 times, and the only time it did not win a medal was at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, which were boycotted by the U.S. and over 60 other countries. A win tonight would give Team USA its fourth straight gold medal in basketball, and it would make Kevin Durant a three-time gold medalist. He would be the eighth Longhorn athlete to win three Olympic gold medals, and he would be the first UT athlete in a team sport to accomplish that feat.
Ariel Atkins (USA) - Team USA beat Serbia 79-59 in the women’s semifinals in a game that tipped off late Thursday night by Texas time. Atkins played 13 minutes and scored 4 points, making 1 of 4 field goal attempts and both of her free throws. She also had one steal and one assist.
Atkins was the most seldom-used player in Team USA’s three games in group play, but she played a double-digit number of minutes in both the semifinal win over Serbia and in the quarterfinals against Australia.
Team USA will play host country Japan in the gold medal game on Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. The U.S. beat Japan 86-69 in the teams’ group play match on July 30. By reaching the gold medal game Japan is guaranteed to win its first-ever medal in women’s basketball, which was first contested at the Summer Olympics in 1976. The United States has won the Olympic women’s basketball tournament at eight of the past nine Olympic games, including the last six dating back to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Jordan Windle (USA) - Windle competed in the preliminary round of the men’s 10-meter platform early this morning. The top 18 out of the 29 divers qualified for the event’s semifinal. Things looked iffy for Windle two-thirds of the way through the prelims, as his total score ranked 21st after the first four dives, but he recovered to post the fourth-best score on the fifth dive, and went on to finish 15th. He will dive in the semifinals tonight at 8:00 p.m., and if he finishes among the top 12 he will qualify for the event final, which is scheduled to begin on Saturday at 1:00 a.m. Central Time.
Julia Grosso (Canada) - Grosso, a British Columbia native and a midfielder for the Texas Longhorn soccer team, is the first Longhorn to play soccer at an Olympic games. She did not get off the bench in Canada’s first group game two weeks ago against Japan, but she was the last player on the field for Team Canada in its gold medal match against Sweden this morning. In the biggest game-winning kick by a Longhorn since at least Justin Tucker, she etched her name in Canadian Olympic history by scoring the game-winning goal in a penalty kick shoot-out.
Canada had played a lot of tight games during its Olympic run, with three of its first four games being tied at the end of regulation, and no games decided by more than a goal. Canada and Brazil tied 0-0 in the quarterfinals before eventually going into into a penalty kick shoot-out, with Canada prevailing 4-3. The only goal scored in Canada’s 1-0 semifinal win over Team USA came in the 76th minute on a penalty kick.
Grosso did not start in the gold medal match, but substituted in at the start of the second half, with Sweden leading 1-0, and she played for the rest of the game. The game was later tied at 1 apiece when Canada midfielder Jessie Fleming scored on a penalty kick in the 67th minute. The game remained tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, and after neither team scored in either of the two extra time periods, the teams went to a shootout.
After each team had attempted four penalty kicks, Sweden led 2-1, with a chance to win the gold medal with one more goal, but Sweden’s team captain Caroline Seger, a veteran of four World Cups who was playing in her fourth Olympic soccer competition at age 36, missed on her attempt, which went above the crossbar. This kept Canada’s hopes alive, and Deanna Rose capitalized by scoring on Canada’s final turn to tie the shootout at 2-2.
After Sweden missed on its next turn, Julia Grosso lined up with a chance to give Canada its first-ever Olympic gold medal in soccer, and this happened.
Canada had previously won the bronze medal in soccer at the 2016 and 2012 Olympics, but had never reached the gold medal match. Grosso’s golden goal gave Canada not only its first Olympic gold in soccer, but its first gold in any team sport at a Summer Olympic games since 1908, when it beat Great Britain to win the last lacrosse competition ever held at the Olympics.
Men’s Track & Field
Ryan Crouser (USA) - Crouser, the defending Olympic gold medalist in the shot put, defended his crown and topped his own Olympic record on Wednesday, putting the shot 23.30 meters (76’5.25”) on his sixth and final throw. That throw landed just three inches shy of the world record distance, which Crouser set in June at the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials. He improved by over two and a half feet on the Olympic record he set in the event at the 2016 Olympics. In a repeat of those 2016 games, American Joe Kovacs won the silver medal, and New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh won the bronze.
NBC Sports won’t allow the highlight video from the event to be embedded, but you can view them here.
Remarkably, Crouser’s win represented the first gold medal in track & field won by an American male at the 2020 Olympics, and he is the first American to win back-to-back gold medals in the shot put since Parry O’Brien won the event at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics. No thrower has ever won the shot put three times at the Olympics, though two previous two-time winners — O’Brien and fellow American Ralph Rose (Olympic champion in 1904 and 1908) — settled for silver medals in their attempts at winning a third gold.
Crouser will be 31 when the 2024 Olympics in Paris begin. He would seem to have as good a chance as anyone has ever had to be the first three-time shot put gold medalist. He was so dominant this week, that each of his five best throws would have been enough to win the gold, and even his worst throw would have still won the silver medal.
Women’s Track & Field
Teahna Daniels (USA) - After a disappointing 7th place finish in the 100 meter final a week ago, Daniels ensured that she wouldn’t leave Tokyo empty-handed when she ran the second leg of the U.S. 4x100 meter relay team in that event’s final heat this morning, and the Americans finished 2nd with a time of 41.45, with the winning team from Jamaica clocking a 41.02.
In its first heat for that relay on Wednesday night, the U.S. had finished second behind Great Britain, who went on to finish 3rd in the final.
Stacey Ann Williams (Jamaica) - Williams ran the anchor leg for Jamaica’s 4x400 meter relay team in its first heat on Thursday, and her team ran a time of 4:21.95 and finished in 2nd place, just over a second behind the team from the United States. Those two countries had the fastest prelim times and will both be in the final for that event, which will start on Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. The United States and Jamaica have finished 1-2 in the 4x400 meter relay at four of the past five Olympics, with the one exception being the 2004 games, in which Russia won the silver while the U.S. and Jamaica got gold and bronze. The U.S. women have won this event at every Olympics since 1996, which was also the last time that Jamaica failed to win a medal in it.
Women’s Indoor Volleyball
Chiaka Ogbogu (USA) - Ogbogu did not play in Team USA’s semifinal win over Serbia, a match the Americans won in straight sets: 25-19, 25-15, 25-23. The U.S. will play Brazil in the gold medal match on Saturday night at 11:30 p.m.
This will be the third time the U.S. and Brazil have faced each other in the gold medal game for volleyball; Brazil won the previous two meetings in 2008 and 2012. Team USA has reached the gold medal game three times in all but has never won (they also fell to China in the 1984 Olympic final), and along with three silver medals the U.S. women’s volleyball team has won the bronze twice, in 1992 (when they beat Brazil in the bronze medal game) and 2016.
Unless the women’s basketball final goes into about five overtimes, then Chiaka Ogbogu will be the final Longhorn left at the 2020 Olympic Games when the volleyball gold medal match concludes.