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5 to Watch: Stanford's Ledecky Targets One More Medal; Men's Hoops Goes for 2nd Win

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5watch-ledecky-NEW-0730
5watch-ledecky-NEW-0730

Team USA swimming continues in the spotlight at the Tokyo Olympics, with Stanford’s Katie Ledecky back in the pool Friday to try to add to her medal collection. Plus the women’s 100m takes center stage at the track and field venue, and men’s basketball takes on Czech Republic. Here’s what’s on tap for Friday-Saturday:

Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel continue Team USA domination in the pool

Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky highlighted another strong night for Team USA in swimming. In the first of Dressel’s three Olympic swims on Friday, he won gold in the 100m butterfly with a time of 49.45 seconds, improving on his own world record. Meanwhile, Kristof Milak of Hungary took silver and Noe Ponti of Switzerland took bronze.

Kaite Ledecky won the 800m for the third straight time, giving her six individual gold medals in her career, the most of any female swimmer. Ledecky has 10 medals total but could add to her collection in the future.

“That was not my last swim,” she said after the race, in regard to further Olympics. “I’m at least going to ’24, maybe to ’28, we’ll see. I just knew it was my last swim here.”

In the women’s 200 backstroke, Australia’s Kaylee McKeown won the gold medal to sweep the women’s backstroke events in Tokyo. The United States’ Rhyan White and Phoebe Bacon placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

 

In the inaugural mixed 4x100m medley relay, the Americans went with a lineup of Ryan Murphy (backstroke), Lydia Jacoby (breaststroke), Torri Huske (butterfly) and Dressel (freestyle). Although Murphy gave the U.S. a big lead in the first leg, the Americans fell behind as the race went on. Jacoby swam admirably despite her now-famous pink goggles falling off her face.

Great Britain won gold, while China took silver and Australia took bronze. Team USA finished fifth.

U.S. men’s basketball aims for second consecutive win vs. Czech Republic

The U.S. men’s basketball team came to Tokyo struggling to find a rhythm in exhibition play. Those struggles continued as they lost their opening matchup to France 83-76, snapping a 25-game Olympic win streak.

Team USA seemed to get back on track Wednesday night against Iran, winning by a score of 120-66 and earning their first win of the Tokyo Olympics.

Next up for Team USA in preliminary Group A play is the Czech Republic at 5 a.m Saturday. Kevin Durant has a chance to surpass Carmelo Anthony as the all-time scorer in United States men’s Olympic basketball history. Durant currently sits five points shy of the record (336 points) held by Anthony.

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Kevin Durant (right) and Damian Lillard.

Women’s 100m highlights big day on the track

In the first track and field event of the evening, the American trio of Anna Cockrell, Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad advanced to the semifinals in the women’s 400m hurdles. Defending champion Muhammad closed out Heat 5 in first place, posting a time of 53.97, which is the fastest time of the evening.

Team USA’s Clayton Murphy and Bryce Hoppel advanced to the semifinals in the men’s 800m. Murphy finished first place in Heat 3 posting a time of 1:45.53 where he took a commanding lead in the final seconds. Hoppel closed out Heat 6 posting a qualifying time of 1:45.64.

In the women’s 100m hurdles, Team USA’s Keni Harrison, Gabriele Cunningham and Christina Clemons all advanced to the semifinals. Cunningham qualified first posting a time of 12.83 in Heat 1. Harrison finished in first place in Heat 2 with a time of 12.74, and Clemons was the last member of Team USA to qualify posting a time of 12.91 in Heat 4.

American Valarie Allman is the only member of Team USA to advance to the women’s discus throw final. Allman advanced to the final posting a distance of 66.42 on her first attempt in Group B. She not only beat the qualifying distance of 64 meters, but beat everyone who threw before her. The final will take place on Monday at 7 a.m. ET.

Team USA’s Chris Nilsen and KC Lightfoot have advanced to the men’s pole vault final. Both Lightfoot and Nilsen cleared clearing distances of 5.75 meters to qualify for the top 12. Matthew Ludwig – who arrived in Tokyo nearly 20 hours before his heat to replace Sam Kendricks due to Kendricks testing positive for COVID-19 – cleared 5.5m in Group B but was unable to make the final 12.

 

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Teahna Daniels smilesTeahna Daniels, of United States, gestures ahead of her heat of the women’s 100-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

U.S. women’s volleyball fails to stay undefeated

Team USA was unable to remain perfect in pool play, losing to the Russian Olympic Committee in three sets. The loss is disappointing, but with three wins in pool play, the United States is already assured a sport in the quarterfinals.

The defeat wasn’t the only loss for Team USA — superstar Jordan Thompson left with an apparent injury. Thompson landed hard on her ankle from a block early in the second frame and was immediately removed from the game. She was evaluated on the sidelines through the remainder of the second set, but left the court when it concluded.

The U.S. is on a quest to win Olympic gold in Tokyo, something the program hasn’t done in the 57 years that volleyball has been featured at the Games. In fact, no other country has won more women’s volleyball Olympic medals — three silver and two bronze — without taking home a gold.

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Team USA poses for a group photo after their 3-2 victory over Turkey, at the end of a women’s volleyball preliminary round pool B match, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, early Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Palmer, Hernandez advance in women’s springboard

Krysta Palmer, a former gymnast who didn’t start diving until she was 20, has an outside chance at medaling in the women’s 3m springboard. She and the other American in the field, Hailey Hernandez, advanced to the semis at 11 p.m. Friday.

Palmer, 29, finished eighth in the synchronized springboard final with her partner, Alison Gibson. She finishes her slate of dives in the individual competition with a difficult dive known as “the double out.”

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Hailey Hernandez divesU.S. diver Hailey Hernandez sails through the air in Friday’s Olympic springboard preliminaries