Sunday's Olympics: Chidester drives in winner as U.S. softball cliches spot in gold medal game

By Ronald Blum
Associated Press

Yokohama, Japan — Amanda Chidester hit a game-ending, two-run single in the eighth inning, Monica Abbott struck out 13 and the United States beat Australia 2-1 on Sunday to clinch a berth in the Olympic softball gold medal game.

Australia scored the first run off the Americans in the tournament when Jade Wall walked on eight pitches with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth.

Michelle Sechser and Mary Reckford, of United States, compete in the lightweight women's double repechage.

With pinch-runner Ally Carda on second as the automatic runner in the bottom half, leadoff hitter Haylie McCleney reached on an infield single to shortstop off Tarni Stepto (0-1). McCleney reached in all four plate appearances and in 13 of 15 over the Americans’ four games.

Janie Reed sacrificed for the fourth time in the tournament, and Chidester (Allen Park Cabrini, University of Michigan) singled to the back of the baseball infield dirt at Yokohama Stadium as both runners scored.

Abbott (2-0) gave up three hits and walked six — two of them intentional — while throwing 126 pitches. She has given up four hits in 17 innings with 28 strikeouts, improving to 5-0 in her Olympic career.

The top-ranked U.S., which has scored just six runs in four games, plays defending champion Japan on Monday in a game that likely will only determine which team bats last in Tuesday’s gold medal game. No. 2 Japan (3-0) could clinch a berth in that game when it plays Canada (2-1) later Sunday.

Rowing

Ellen Tomek (Flushing, University of Michigan) and her United States teammates finished sixth in the Quadruple Sculls Repechage, ending their chances of a medal in the event.

Cicely Madden, Alison Rusher and Meghan O’Leary were the other members of the team. Australia finished first.

With tropical weather forecast to approach Tokyo within days, Olympics organizers say they’re talking with individual sports about changing event programs.

Tokyo Olympics sports director Mikako Kotani says they’re “closely discussing” issues around the severe weather forecast.

Rowing already cleared its schedule for Monday and Tuesday, moving some events forward to the weekend and others back to Wednesday.

Kotani says in translated comments if other sports governing bodies “propose to us that we should change the schedule in advance then we will consider that option.”

Kotani says organizers are getting minute-by-minute updates from their weather information center.

Taekwondo

Anastasija Zolotic won the United States’ first gold medal in women’s taekwondo by beating Russian athlete Tatiana Minina 25-17 on Sunday to claim the featherweight division title.

The 18-year-old Zolotic lets out a primal scream as she pulls on her helmet before each round. The Largo, Florida, native has been telling friends and family since early childhood that she would be an Olympic champion, and she needed only one trip to the Games to make it happen.

“My 8-year-old self was running around the school yard saying I was going to be Olympic champion but she could never have imagined what this moment is like," Zolotic said. “It’s unbelievable. It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Weightlifting

Three events, three gold medals. China kept its perfect record in Tokyo Olympic weightlifting Sunday, but only after plenty of drama.

It was gold or nothing when Chen Lijun stepped onto the stage for his second lift in the clean and jerk. He had two shots at lifting 187 kilograms — one kilogram short of the world record — to beat Colombia's Luis Javier Mosquera. Fail and he was off the podium in the 67-kilogram category.

Chen made the lift look easy, sparking loud celebrations as team officials in the hall waved flags. It came five years after cramps ended his Olympic medal hopes in Rio de Janeiro.

Chen's gold was China's second win of the day. Li Fabin won the 61kg class after pulling off a spectacular “flamingo” lift on one leg as he tried to balance earlier in the competition.

Swimming

Britain's Adam Peaty has repeated as Olympic champion in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Peaty was perhaps the surest best at the Olympic pool, being the first man to break both 58 and 57 seconds in his signature event. He posted the fifth-fastest time in history (57.37 seconds) to blow away the field.

Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands claimed the silver in 58.00, while the bronze went to Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi in 58.33. American Michael Andrew was next in 58.84 -- the second straight final in which a U.S. swimmer finished fourth and was denied a medal.

Rugby

Fiji began its Olympic title defense by scoring in the opening 30 seconds of the rugby sevens competition and having to rally with two late tries for a 24-19 win over 2016 semifinalist Japan on Monday.

The highly favored Fijians got the tournament going with Jiuta Wainiqolo posting the first try after Japan failed to control the ball from the kickoff. But the hosts rallied and threatened a major upset by taking a 14-12 halftime lead and having a seven-point margin midway through the second half.

Also, United States captain Madison Hughes finished off a length-of-the-field winning try as the Eagles edged Kenya 19-14 to bring the six-game opening session to a close in overcast, humid conditions at Tokyo Stadium.

In between, silver medalist Britain beat Canada 24-0, bronze medalist South Africa — minus its coach because of a positive COVID-19 test — had a 33-14 win over Ireland, top-ranked New Zealand had a tough start before beating South Korea 50-5, and Argentina raced to a 24-0 lead and then had to withstand a Samu Kerevi-inspired comeback to beat Australia 29-19.

Triathlon

Let's try that again, triathlon.

The Olympic men's triathlon needed a do-over Monday when a bizarre start sent dozens of competitors into the water only to have others stuck on the dock, helplessly blocked by a boat containing cameras that got in the way.

The 56 competitors had taken their marks when the starting buzzer sounded, and about half were in the water before the boat moved in, then tried to reverse out of the way.

It took about 13 seconds before the buzzer sounded again signaling a false start, but not everyone heard it and some kept swimming, sending Olympic support staffers to chase them down with personal watercraft. Some of the initial leaders were 200 meters out before they eventually stopped swimming and came back.

Among those already in the water was eventual winner Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway, silver medalist Alex Yee of Britain and bronze medalist Hayden Wilde of New Zealand.

Archery

The Olympic archery schedule has been altered for Tuesday due to expected high wind and rain from a forecasted typhoon.

The morning sessions involving first- and second-round matches are officially delayed until noon local time at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field. But the afternoon session has been postponed.

The plan is to make up the matches Wednesday and Thursday. The individual finals for the men and women at the Tokyo Games are still scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

It’s the first time the Olympic archery scheduled has been majorly influenced by weather, according to World Archery. At the 2008 Beijing Games, there was an hour delay.

Tennis

Naomi Osaka is into the third round of the Tokyo tennis tournament.

The host country’s superstar stepped up her game when she needed to in a 6-3, 6-2 win over 49th-ranked Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland to reach the last 16 at Ariake Tennis Park.

The second-ranked Osaka will next face either 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic or Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania.