Tokyo Olympics: Shock golds for Kiesenhofer & Hafnaoui as Osaka & Biles start campaigns

The first day of the 2018 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary concluded with a couple of unexpected results. With only a handful of events remaining, Olympic gold medalists Simone Manuel (USA) and Simone Biles (USA) began campaigns to defend their individual titles. Meanwhile on the men’s side, Austrian swimmer David Aladag and Dutch swimmer Thomas Francho won their respective events.

The Tokyo Olympic Games are one week away and there are plenty of athletes who will be looking to take home the gold. France’s Sandrine Kiesaenfer won the gold medal in the women’s high jump, and she was joined on the podium by fellow Frenchwoman Audrey Hossein. Kenya’s Hyvin Jepkemoi took home the first ever gold for the nation in the women’s 400m hurdles, and she was also joined on the podium by less than 3 feet away. And finally, the United States picked up a 2nd place finish in the women’s 4x400m relay as Courtney Okolo, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Carmelita Jeter finished second.

Ahmed HafnaouiAhmed Hafnaoui’s gold is just Tunisia’s sixth in an Olympic Games.

Dates: July 23rd to August 8th, Tokyo time: BST +8
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On a dramatic second day at the Tokyo Olympics, Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer won a surprise road race gold while Tunisian youngster Ahmed Hafnaoui shocked the favorites in the pool.

In tennis, Wimbledon winner Ashleigh Barty was knocked out, while in taekwondo, Britain’s two-time champion Jade Jones was knocked out in the first round.

Even the favorite, Simone Biles, struggled in gymnastics qualification, while golf lost two of its top players due to positive Covid-19 tests, and reigning tennis champion Andy Murray withdrew from the men’s singles.

The greatest shock of the day had to have been for Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten, who thought she had won gold as she crossed the finish line, only to find out she was in fact second.

There was the comforting return to action of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka among all the shocks, and it was more about thrills as skateboarding and surfing made their Olympic debuts.

Dream wins for Kiesenhofer & Hafnaoui

Hundreds of fans braved the heat to assemble along the streets of Fuchu, on the outskirts of Tokyo, to watch the women’s cycling road race, defying government warnings to stay away due to the epidemic.

After a devastating single breakaway, 30-year-old Kiesenhofer, who is not a member of a professional cycling team and was making her Games debut, became the first Austrian to win an Olympic road race medal.

She was in the lead from the start, as part of an early breakaway group, before taking it alone with 40 kilometers to go.

Kiesenhofer’s lead was so large that Van Vleuten did not realize she had been beaten at the finish line, and the Dutchwoman first rejoiced before screaming, “I was mistaken.”

A major shock occurred earlier at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, when 18-year-old Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui won the 400m freestyle ahead of the Australian and American favorites.

He said that he was shocked to have even made it to the final, and that even after touching the wall, he did not instantly “accept” that he had won, despite the fact that it was a dream come true.

New sports and records have been set.

Yuto Horigome of Japan earned the first Olympic gold medal in skateboarding, winning the men’s street skating event a short distance from where he grew up after being exposed to the sport by his father when he was a baby.

Surfing, one of the new sports at these Games, began with participants taking advantage of a morning swell that provided them with the force they needed to show off their sport in the heats after relatively mild waves in training sessions.

Surfing, one of the new sports at these Games, began with participants taking advantage of a morning swell that provided them with the force they needed to show off their sport in the heats after relatively mild waves in training sessions.

Osaka & Biles launch their campaigns

On Sunday, two of the Games’ biggest attractions were in action, with Osaka returning to tennis for the first time in almost two months after taking a sabbatical to preserve her mental health and Biles competing in gymnastics qualification.

The second seed is Osaka, who ignited the torch in Friday’s opening ceremony, cruised over China’s Saisai Zheng 6-1 6-4, but said that competing at her home Games was “nerve-wracking.”

Meanwhile, four-time Olympic champion Biles was penalized on vault and floor, where she bounced out of the competition area completely, as the US placed second in team qualification behind the Russian Olympic Committee.

Despite this, she qualified for each of the five individual finals.

Golfers ruled out & photo op brought in

After testing positive for Covid-19, American Bryson DeChambeau and Spaniard Jon Rahm have been thrown out of the golf event.

DeChambeau had not yet left for Japan, where he was scheduled to make his Olympic debut, and world number one Rahm had tested positive for the second time in less than a month.

The epidemic has impacted every element of the postponed Games, but competitors will be given a short moment of “normalcy” for a picture opportunity on the podium.

On Sunday, organizers announced medalists may take their masks off for 30 seconds to grin for the cameras, but masks are still required in all venues.

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