TOKYO, Aug 3 ― Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles stared down the debilitating “twisties” to bravely win Olympic bronze today as Norway’s Karsten Warholm lit up the Tokyo athletics competition with a stunning hurdles world record.
Biles pulled out of most of her finals as she battled the disorientating mental block, but she returned in medal-winning style to high excitement at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
The American four-time gold-medallist, widely considered the “GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time) put in a solid routine including a double backward somersault and double pike dismount, smiling broadly as she was congratulated by her teammates.
Biles was lying in the silver medal position until the final competitor, Chinese 16-year-old Guan Chenchen, stepped up and scored 14.633 points to take first place, pushing teammate Tang Xijing into silver.
China’s Zou Jingyuan won the men’s parallel bars with 16.233 to add Olympic gold to his two world titles on the apparatus.
Earlier, the Olympic Stadium witnessed one of the great races when Warholm shattered his own world record by nearly 0.8sec in an epic 400m hurdles final.
The 25-year-old stormed over the line in 45.94 seconds, pushed hard down the home straight by USA rival Rai Benjamin, who took silver in 46.17 ― the second fastest in history.
“I dream about it like a maniac,” Warholm said, adding: “I didn’t touch one hurdle. I was even able to find another gear coming home, so ‘wow’. It’s just so big.
“It’s almost like history here.”
There was more drama in the women’s long jump, when Germany’s Malaika Mihambo snatched gold from former champion Brittney Reese with her last leap of the competition.
Mihambo, 27, was lying in the bronze medal position ahead of her final jump, but powered down the runway to register a season’s best of 7.00 metres and Reese could not respond. Nigeria’s Ese Brume took bronze.
“It was, I think, the most exciting women’s long jump competition in history,” said Mihambo.
The women’s 200m highlights the evening session, with 100m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica looking to seal an unprecedented “double-double”, after winning both sprints in 2016.
World record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden is hot favourite in the men’s pole vault final, which will take place without Covid-positive US world champion Sam Kendricks.
Elsewhere the USA men’s basketball team, beaten for the first time since 2004 earlier in the competition, saw off Spain 95-81 to reach the semi-finals, while Slovenia crushed Germany to make the last four.
In cycling, Germany won the women’s team pursuit gold in a world-record time of 4:04.242 and the Netherlands won the men’s team sprint, with Britain on the losing side each time.
Jason Kenny’s silver in the men’s team sprint was enough to equal the British record of eight Olympic medals ― just minutes after his wife, Laura, won her fifth medal in the team pursuit.
France’s Bassa Mawem led the men’s combined qualifications with 5.45sec in speed climbing, one of the sports that is making its debut as the Olympics seeks to reach new audiences.
Sena Irie became the first Japanese woman to win Olympic boxing gold, defeating Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines on unanimous points to take the featherweight title.
Xie Siyi won the men’s 3m springboard diving ahead of Chinese teammate Wang Zongyuan and Britain’s Jack Laugher.
Britain grabbed sailing golds in the men’s 49er and Finn, while Brazil won the women’s 49er FX and Italy were crowned champions in the mixed Nacra 17.
Belgium beat India 5-2 in the semi-finals of the men’s hockey competition, ending their hopes of a first gold in the sport since 1980.
India have another chance in the women’s hockey tournament, when they play Argentina in the semi-finals tomorrow. ― AFP