Kevin Durant breaks a record, and add another medal to the count for UT’s Olympians in Tokyo.
As of this writing on the night of Tuesday, August 3, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan are well over half-way done, with roughly five days of competition left before the closing ceremonies on Sunday.
Since our Friday update on the performances of Texas Longhorn athletes at the Olympics, one future Longhorn swimmer won her second medal of the games, Kevin Durant led the United States basketball team into the semifinals of its tournament, Ryan Crouser began the defense of his Olympic crown in the shot put, and several track and field athletes saw their Olympic dreams end in the semifinals of their respective events, while others who reached the final under-performed compared with their career-best marks.
Later this week, a Longhorn soccer standout will be suiting up for the women’s gold medal game, a decorated Longhorn diver will go for the gold, and UT could have former basketball players win gold medals in both the men’s and women’s tournament.
Several of the 28 current, former, or future Longhorns who competed in Tokyo had already finished their Olympic run at the time of last Friday’s post, and this one will update how the members of the Longhorn Olympic contingent have fared in the four days since then. Because Japan Standard Time is 14 hours ahead of the clock for most people reading this, all dates and start times mentioned for events in this post will be according to U.S. Central Time. Also, the official results for track & field jumping and throwing events are expressed in metric measurements, so in a few places I’ve attempted to convert meters into feet and inches.
Kevin Durant (USA) – Durant scored 23 points and had 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and a blocked shot in Team USA’s 119-84 win over the Czech Republic in their final group play match on Saturday. The game was a close one for a little over two quarters before Team USA pulled away. The Czech Republic actually led the game 25-18 at the end of the 1st quarter, and though the Americans took the lead in the 2nd the score was 47-43 at halftime. Two minutes into the 3rd quarter the Czechs got to within three points with the score 50-47, but the Americans outscored them 33-14 in the rest of that quarter, and their lead never got below 22 points in the 4th quarter.
Durant’s 23 points scored against the Czech Republic allowed him to pass Carmelo Anthony and become the all-time leading scorer for Team USA in Olympic competition. This is Durant’s third Olympics, while Anthony represented Team USA at the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics.
Team USA went 2-1 in group play and advanced to the quarterfinals, where on Monday night they faced a Spanish team loaded with experienced players, no less than six of whom had NBA experience. The U.S. and Spain were tied 43-43 at halftime, but after a Bam Adebayo free throw put the U.S. ahead 44-43 forty seconds into the 3rd quarter, the U.S. led the rest of the way. The game was still fairly close for much of the 3rd quarter and the U.S. led 69-63 going into the 4th. Team USA scored 12 of the first 15 points in the 4th quarter and went ahead by as many as 15 points at 81-66 after a Kevin Durant three-pointer with 6:32 left in the game. The U.S. wasn’t able to widen that lead, but Spain never got closer than eight points for the rest of the game, and the U.S. won by a final score of 95-81.
Durant scored a team-high 29 points in the win over Spain, while Spain’s Ricky Rubio — who in ten NBA seasons has scored 30 points in a game just five times and has a career high of 34 — led all scorers with 38 points! Rubio’s 38 points was reported to be the most ever scored against Team USA by an opposing player in Olympic competition. His scoring outburst was all the more remarkable in that it came just a few months after the end of an NBA season in which he played in 68 games and scored 20 points or more only four times!
Team USA will next play Australia in the semifinals on Wednesday night in a game set to tip off at 11:15 p.m. The winner will play either France or Slovenia in the gold medal game on Friday night at 9:30 p.m.
Ariel Atkins (USA) – After playing for less than two minutes in each of Team USA’s first two group games, Atkins did not play at all in a 93-82 win over France in a game that began late Monday night. The Americans won all three of their group play matches and advanced to the quarterfinal bracket, where they will face Australia in a game set to begin on Tuesday night at 11:40 p.m. The winner of that game will move on to the semifinals and play either China or Serbia for a chance to advance to the gold medal game.
Jordan Windle (USA) – The Cambodian-born Windle, who was named the Big 12 Diver of the Year four times in his college career, will be the last member of the UT Olympic swimming and diving contingent to compete in Tokyo. He is competing in the 10-meter platform, which will have its preliminary competition at 1:00 a.m. early Friday morning. If he advances to the semifinals he will dive again starting at 8:00 p.m. the same day, with the event’s finals scheduled for 1:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Hailey Hernandez (USA) – At the time of our last update on Friday afternoon, Hernandez had recorded the sixth best score in the 3-meter springboard preliminary round and had advanced to the semifinals. She had the 10th best total score in the semifinals on Saturday, which allowed her to be one of the twelve divers who advanced to Sunday morning’s final. She finished 9th in the finals, while fellow American Krysta Palmer finished 3rd and took the bronze medal. Palmer was the first American woman to earn a medal in this event since 1988. Hernandez has finished what may end up being the first of a few Olympic appearances in her career. She will be a freshman at UT this fall.
Jhonattan Vegas (Venezuela) – Vegas finished the four-round men’s golf tournament with an overall score of -11, and was tied for 16th place in an Olympic field of 60 golfers. That finish was an improvement on his performance at the 2016 Olympics, in which he his score was in the bottom ten.
He was in fifth place after the first round last week, in which he shot a 5-under-par 66 and was three shots behind the leader going into the second round. But he fell further behind by shooting consecutive rounds of 70, then finished with a final round four-under-par score of 67 on Saturday. Vegas finished the tournament seven shots behind gold medalist Xander Schauffele (-18) of the United States, while silver medalist Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia was one shot behind (-17). Seven golfers finished tied for third at -15 and had to go to a playoff to decide the bronze medalist, and it eventually went to C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei (aka Taiwan). Vegas will turn 37 in two weeks.
Julia Grosso (Canada) – Grosso was a substitute and played 30 minutes of Canada’s 1-0 win over Team USA in the Women’s
Football Soccer Semifinals on Monday morning. Canada will face Sweden in the gold medal match on Thursday at 9:00 p.m. Canada won the bronze medal in women’s soccer at the 2016 and 2012 Olympics but has never played in the gold medal game since women’s soccer was added to the summer Olympic program in 1996. This will be Sweden’s second time to play for a gold medal; Sweden won the silver medal in 2016 after a 2-1 loss to Germany in the gold medal game, and also lost to Germany 1-0 in the 2004 bronze medal game.
In its five matches at these Olympics, Canada has scored 5 goals while allowing 3, has won two games in regulation, tied two others, and won its quarterfinal game over Brazil in a penalty kick shoot-out. So the Canadians have been far from dominating but now find themselves one win away from a gold medal.
Canada has competed at every summer Olympic games except for two: the first modern games in 1896, and the boycotted 1980 Moscow games. 67 gold medals have been won by Canada at the summer games, but only three have ever come in a team sport. Canada won the 1904 soccer competition (which consisted of only three teams), and was the winning country in Lacrosse in 1904 and 1908, the only two times that sport has been part of the Olympic program (there was only one other country that entered a lacrosse team in either year). So a gold medal in the women’s soccer final this week would undoubtedly represent the most impressive achievement by a Canadian team in a summer Olympic competition.
Lydia Jacoby (USA) – Jacoby, who earlier in the Olympics won the gold medal in the 100 meter breaststroke, was not listed as a member of the U.S. 4×100 meter medley relay team in its initial heat, but she was a member of the quartet that swam in that event’s final heat on Saturday night, and the U.S. team finished 2nd to Australia, which won the race by a mere 0.13 seconds. Both Australia and the U.S. swam times that beat the previous Olympic record.
The night before, she swam with the U.S. mixed 4×100 meter medley relay, in which each relay team had two male and two female swimmers. If you haven’t heard of such an event before, it’s because this was its Olympic debut. Each team got to select the order of its swimmers, and there were a variety of strategies employed. The U.S. team was the only one to begin and end with male swimmers while having its two female swimmers on the second and third legs. The winning team from Great Britain (and three other relays) used the opposite approach, with its female swimmers leading off and anchoring the relay and its two male swimmers in the middle legs. The silver medal-winning Chinese relay team went male-male-female-female, and two other teams did the same. As a result, Lydia Jacoby was the only female on any relay team’s second leg, and unsurprisingly she swam by far the slowest second leg split. The U.S. was in sixth place when she touched the board, and of the five teams ahead of them, three had male swimmers on their third leg, so Torri Huske — who had finished 4th in the women’s 100 meter butterfly earlier in the games — not only lost ground on the leaders in her third leg but gave the proverbial baton to anchor Caeleb Dressel with the U.S. in last place and 2.6 seconds behind the next-to-last team. Dressel, winner of three individual gold medals in Tokyo, was able to catch up to two opposing teams anchored by female swimmers but couldn’t get the U.S. from last place to the medal stand, as they finished in 5th place and 1.63 seconds behind the bronze medal-winning Australian team.
One individual gold medal and a relay silver medal is not a bad haul of Olympic hardware for a 17-year-old soon-to-be high school senior. Jacoby will be preparing to enroll at UT by this time a year from now, and when the 2024 Olympics in Paris begin she’ll be 20 years old and likely a strong contender to reach a few medal stands once again.
Men’s Track & Field
Ryan Crouser (USA) – Crouser, the world record holder in the shot put, competed in that event’s qualification groups early Tuesday morning. Throwers who put the shot at least 21.2 meters (equivalent to just over 69 feet 6 inches) automatically qualified for the finals, as did the top 12 throwers overall in the qualification round. Crouser needed just one throw to punch his ticket to the shot put finals, which will be held Wednesday night at 9:05 p.m. His throw, which went just under 72’4”, was nearly two feet better than the second-best throw in the qualifying round.
Crouser is the defending Olympic champion in the shot put, and if he successfully defends his gold medal he will be the first American to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in that event since Parry O’Brien, who won gold at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, and also won a silver in 1960.
Jonathan Jones (Barbados) – Jones, the first Longhorn to represent Barbados in the Olympic games, finished 2nd in his round 1 heat of the 400 meters on Saturday night, running a time of 45.04. In the 400m semifinals on Monday morning, he did not do nearly as well, finishing last among the eight runner in his heat with a time of 45.61, 1.47 seconds behind the heat’s winner, Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas.
Steffin McCarter (USA) – McCarter jumped nearly 26 feet in the long jump qualifying round on Saturday morning, but it wasn’t far enough to put him among the top 12 and qualify for the event’s final. Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece won the long jump final with a leap of 8.41 meters (27’7”).
Women’s Track & Field
Teahna Daniels (USA) – At the time of our last update, Daniels had won her preliminary heat of the 100 meters and advanced to the semifinals. On Saturday morning she finished 3rd in her semifinal heat, running a personal best time of 10.98. The top two finishers in each semifinal qualified for the final heat, along with the next two fastest times. Daniels had the sixth-fastest semifinal time overall and reached the 100m final, which was held on Saturday morning just over two hours after the semifinal heats.
In the final race she finished 7th with a time of 11.02, a good distance behind the trio of Jamaican sprinters who swept the top three places, with Elaine Thompson-Herah winning her second consecutive gold medal in the event and setting a new Olympic record with a time of 10.61. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, running in her fourth Olympics at age 34, got the silver in a very fast time of 10.74. Fraser-Pryce had previously won the 100m at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and won the bronze medal in the event in 2016. Her 2nd place time of 10.74 on Saturday was faster than her winning times at the 2008 and 2012 games.
Tara Davis (USA) – Competitors in the women’s long jump had to leap at least 6.75 meters (roughly equivalent to 22 feet, 1.75 inches) in the qualifying round to automatically move on to the final. Davis needed only one jump in her qualifying round on Saturday night to get into the finals, jumping 6.85 meters. In the long jump final on Monday night she nearly matched that with a top jump of 6.84 meters (just over 22’5.25”), but it was only good enough to finish in 6th place. Germany’s Malaika Mihambo won the event by jumping 7.00 meters on her last jump to pass American Brittney Reese, whose 6.97 meter jump had led the competition going into the final round.
Neither Reese nor Davis performed at their personal best in Tokyo. Tara Davis set an NCAA record in the long jump at the Texas Relays in March, jumping 23’5.25”. More recently, at the U.S. Olympic trials in June, Reese won the long jump with a leap of 7.13 meters (just under 23’4.75”), and Davis was second with a 7.04m jump. Reese, a 7-time world champion in the long jump who previously won gold in that event at the 2012 Olympics and silver at the 2016 Olympics, turns 35 next month and has likely competed in her final summer games, while Davis is just 22 and probably has more Olympic competitions in her future.
Melissa Gonzalez (Colombia) – On Friday evening, Gonzalez finished 2nd in her preliminary heat of the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 55.32 seconds to qualify for the semifinals. In Monday morning’s semifinals, she finished 6th in her heat with a time of 57.47, and did not qualify for the event’s final.
Chantel Malone (U.S. Virgin Islands) – Malone was a member of the UT women’s track team from 2007 to 2011. I didn’t mention her in my previous posts on UT athletes at the Olympics because she wasn’t named in the July 19 release from UT Athletics that listed the current and former Longhorns who were set to compete in Tokyo (that release has since been edited with her name and event added, naturally without a note admitting that Malone had been erroneously omitted at first).
Malone was one of the best long and triple jumpers in school history during her time in Austin, and she is the second Longhorn to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at the Olympic Games after sprinter Allison Peter, who ran the 100m and 200m at the 2012 Olympics.
Malone competed in the long jump in Tokyo and qualified for the final after jumping 6.82 meters in the qualifying round on Saturday (any jump over 6.75 meters automatically qualified for the finals). In the long jump final on Monday night, she only managed a jump of 6.50 meters and finished last out of the 12 finalists.
Pedrya Seymour (The Bahamas) – Running in the preliminary round of the 100 meter hurdles on Friday evening, Seymour finished 4th in her heat with a time of 13.04, which qualified her for the semifinals. She finished last in her semifinal heat on Sunday morning, running a time of 13.09 (though the runner who had the fifth-fastest time was later disqualified), and she did not qualify for the event’s final heat.
Stacey Ann Williams (Jamaica) – UT Athletics’ initial press release issued two weeks ago had stated that Williams would run the 400 meters, but she was not one of the three Jamaican runners who ran that event in its preliminary heats on Monday evening. She is slated to run a leg of Jamaica’s 4×400 meter relay, which will have its semifinal heat early Thursday morning. On Saturday morning she ran the third leg of Jamaica’s 4×400 meter mixed relay team, which finished 7th with a time of 3:14.95, over five seconds behind the winning team from Poland, which ran a 3:09.87.
Women’s Indoor Volleyball
Chiaka Ogbogu (USA) – Ogbogu played in parts of the second and third set of Team USA’s 3-0 loss to the Russian Olympic Committee team in pool play on Friday night. She only appeared in one set and did not record any stats on Sunday night in Team USA’s final pool play game, a tight match with Italy that the Americans won three sets to two. With a 4-1 record in its pool, Team USA moved into the volleyball quarterfinals for a matchup with the Dominican Republic, which went 2-3 in its pool. That game is scheduled to begin at 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday and may be over by the time you read this. The winner of that game will advance to the semifinals and play either Italy or Serbia on Thursday or Friday.
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