Olympics

Sydney McLaughlin Wins Gold In World Record Time For 400m Hurdles 

Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad of the United States and Femke Bol of the Netherlands delivered an amazing 400m hurdles race at the Olympic finals for the sport. In the final strides of the race McLaughlin overtook both her competitors to win in 51.46 seconds, breaking the world record for the best 400m flat time set in 1970, as well as beating her own personal record. 

“You need somebody who’s going to push you to be your best, and I think that’s what we do so well. It’s iron sharpening iron. Every time we step on the track it’s always something fast,” McLaughlin explained. 

Embed from Getty Images

“I saw Dalilah ahead of me with one to go. I just thought: ‘Run your race.’ The race doesn’t really start till hurdle seven. I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had. I’m absolutely delighted.”

Muhammad finished just .12 seconds before McLaughlin: “I was coming at it fast and I could have gone right or left leg and I chose to go on my right leg. I had to shorten my strides but that is just how it goes.”

Bol took bronze with a time of 52.03, meaning for the second day in a row the top two finishers in the Olympic 400m hurdles final had destroyed the world record, and the recipients of the bronze medal have broken the records set just six weeks ago. 

The designers of the trach claim that it contains small pockets of air which help absorb shock while the athletes are running, and it can also create a trampoline effect which gives a 1-2% performance advantage.

Embed from Getty Images

“It definitely feels fast. I can feel that energy return. A lot of people talk about the shoes, but I think it’s one of those tracks that gives you that energy right back and pushes you and propels you forward. Especially when you go into hurdle eight and feel that death. Today I didn’t feel like I was going into death,” Muhhammad explained. 

McLaughlin agreed: “It’s one of those tracks that gives you that energy right back and pushes you forward. Every time you step on the track there seems to be some sort of record broken and it’s really cool to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Seb Coe, the president of World Athletics, responded to critics who were curious about if the track helped give the athletes an unfair advantage. 

“Of course there is a balance. We do need to make sure we’re not allowing designs or materials that really transform the sport into something we don’t recognize. But I also don’t want to strangle the innovation that the shoe companies or track manufacturers are bringing to the table.”

McLaughlin credits her coach Bobby Kersee and training alongside Allyson Felix as two of the main factors that helped her win. 

“It’s just about trusting your training, trusting your coach, and that will get you all the way round the track. We’ve practised the last 40m so many times, so it was nothing unfamiliar for me. I just knew I had to go and give it everything I had and dip at the line.”

Tokyo Olympics

Simone Biles Pulls Out Of Olympics Due To Medical Issue 

Simone Biles has suddenly pulled out of all Olympic competitions due to a medical issue. This update comes after the US Women’s gymnastics team took silver in the women’s team final, right behind Russia. 

This marks the first time in a decade that the US women’s team has not come out of the international competition with gold. They’ve managed to win every single Olympics and World Championships event since 2011. 

Embed from Getty Images

Biles’ departure from competition was a major blow to the team. She was originally expected to compete on all four apparatuses for the competition, but her teammates stepped in for her on the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. 

The final score for the Russia Olympic Committee was 169.528 and the US scored 166.096. Great Britain won the bronze overall. USA Gymnastics recently released a statement regarding Biles. 

“Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.” 

Biles remained in the arena after being pulled from the competition to cheer on her teammates and celebrate their strong performances. Biles was not limping terribly while celebrating with her team, so onlookers are hopeful that she will be able to make a recovery, but no one knows the full extent of what the medical issue even is. 

Embed from Getty Images

Jordan Chiles stepped in for Biles on the uneven bars and balance beam and Sunisa Lee competed on the floor exercise. Chiles managed to land a 14.166 on uneven bars and Lee earned a 15.4, which helped the team advance exponentially. 

During floor exercise, Chiles experienced a fall that led to her receiving an 11.7, the combined scores from all the performances overall were not enough to surpass Russia. 

It’s still unclear whether or not Biles will be able to compete later on in the competition for either individual events or the all-around individual final; which she won at the Olympics five years ago. 

Biles initially qualified for all five individual finals in Tokyo. 

“I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke!” she said on Instagram ahead of the team final.

Olympics

Organizing Committee Chief For Tokyo Olympics Claims Games Could Still Be Cancelled

The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, claimed that a last-minute cancellation was not off the table for the Olympic Games this year, despite the fact that the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place this Friday.

A combination of athletes testing positive for Covid-19 and major Olympic sponsors pulling out of the opening ceremony is what has so many experts worried.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” Muto explained.

Embed from Getty Images

“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

Covid-19 cases are currently on the rise in Tokyo. The Games are set to happen with no spectators, and Japan decided this month that participants will be competing in empty venues to minimize health risks.

So far there have been 67 cases of Covid-19 in Japan among the individuals accredited for the Games since the beginning of July, when a majority of the athletes started arriving. Japan’s vaccination program overall has been delayed, and the city of Tokyo is currently experiencing a surge of new cases with 1,387 being reported on Tuesday.

Embed from Getty Images

Seiko Hashimoto, who sits alongside Muto as organizing committee President, said that “safety measures introduced to reassure the Japanese public had not necessarily done so, I’m aware that popular support for the Games had dropped.”

“I really want to apologize from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics.”

Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, said that the Olympics bubble system was “already kind of broken. My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the (athletes’) village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people,” he added.

“Members of the public are concerned because they feel that the current situation appears to show that the playbooks that were meant to guarantee security are not providing a sense of safety.”

55% of the Japanese population claimed that they were opposed to the Games and wanted them to be cancelled, according to a poll performed by a local media outlet.

Olympic Athletes Will Put On Their Own Medals This Year To Prevent Spreading Of Covid-19 

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach announced this week that all athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will put their medals around their own necks as a means of protecting themselves and others from the Covid-19 virus. 

“The medals will not be given around the neck. They will be presented to the athlete on a tray, and then the athlete will take the medal to him or herself.”

Embed from Getty Images

“It will be made sure that the person who will put the medal on the tray will do so only with disinfected gloves so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before,” Bach explained. 

Many individuals in the industry were wondering what the medal ceremonies would look like this year, considering Japan is currently enduring another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Delta variant of Covid-19. 

In Europe, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been personally hanging medals around the necks of all players involved in the competition finals. He also shook hands with Italy’s standout goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and other all star players. 

Embed from Getty Images

Bach, however, confirmed this Wednesday that during the 2021 Tokyo Games there will be no hand shaking or hugs allowed during the ceremony. This marks just one of the many changes the International Olympic Committee is going to have to continue to endure for deciding to move forward with the Games this year. 

Many of the residents of Japan are adamantly against hosting the Olympic Games this year, considering the world is still very much battling the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the rollouts of multiple vaccines internationally. 

Vaccination rates are different in every country, so the thought of bringing in thousands of individuals from hundreds of countries all with different vaccination and infection rates, has most Japanese citizens worried for the health of their country; especially considering they’re currently in lockdown and the Games are set to begin in less than two weeks. 

It’s still unclear what other modifications will be made to the Games this year. Covid-19 infection rates are still on the rise in Tokyo and Japan in general, and while the IOC has taken a multitude of measures to protect all athletes and staff involved in the Olympics, it’s unclear how smoothly this event will go considering all that’s at stake.

Tokyo Olympics

Japan Declares Covid-19 State Of Emergency Two Weeks Before Olympic Games 

The Tokyo Olympics will still be happening later this month despite the fact that Japan has just entered into another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. The Japanese government announced this week that it would be reinstating strict health and safety measures that will take effect next week and last throughout the Olympic Games. 

The biggest measure that’s being taken is that no spectators will be allowed to attend the games, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa announced this morning. Japanese media outlets reported that all venues in and around Tokyo will be completely unattended.

Embed from Getty Images

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 920 new Covid cases just 16 days before the Games. This is 200 more than any other single-day total since May. This Thursday the country reported another 896 cases. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed to protect the nation as much as possible from further spreading. 

“New infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it. I vow to do everything we can to prevent the further spread of the infections.”

“I think we can all be very satisfied that the strict measures, having been established to protect everybody — the Japanese people and the participants of the Games — have proven to be successful,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. 

Olympic organizers have outlined a plan that will enforce a “complex web of Covid countermeasures that will limit contact between Olympic participants and non-participant Japanese citizens,” according to Bach. 

Embed from Getty Images

The measures will force “Level 1” participants (athletes, coaches, team officials and more) to be tested daily, and other levels of participation will be tested based on how often they’re in common Olympic spaces. 

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical advisor, warned of “continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on [Japan’s] medical systems.”

Olympic Organizers claimed that “in the event that a state of emergency or other priority measures aimed at preventing infection are implemented at any time after July 12, restrictions on spectator numbers at the Games, including non-spectator competitions, will be based on the content of the state of emergency or other relevant measures in force at that time.” It was officially announced today that no spectators would be allowed at the Games. 

 Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike promised that her city would “control the flow of people and be thorough with regard to measures to prevent infection during and around the Games.”

Japanese residents have been adamant in their disapproval of the Games still occurring this year despite the fact that so many countries have such different vaccination and infection rates.

Serena Williams Exits Wimbledon 2021 After On-Court Injury 

Serena Williams was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon this year after suffering a knee injury in the middle of her first match. During the first set of her Round 1 match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Williams slipped on the grass while planting one of her legs resulting in the knee injury. 

At first Williams only exited briefly and had the intention to finish the match regardless of her knee. After she was quickly treated by a trainer she returned and attempted to continue the match as tears streamed down her face from the pain. 

Embed from Getty Images

Williams was visibly trying not to put any extra weight on her injured leg and was able to manage playing for a little while before she fell to the ground after landing on her knee. She took to Instagram later that day to address her devastation.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg. My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on Centre Court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked off the court.” 

This is the second time Williams was forced to withdraw from a Grand Slam competition due to an injury. The other time was also at Wimbledon in 1998, 23 years ago. 

Embed from Getty Images

The rainy weather has been affecting the condition of some of the courts at Wimbledon this year, leading to slippery grass. Williams was the second player forced to retire from the competition due to an injury caused by slipping on the grass. 

Adrian Mannarino of France also slipped on the grass and injured his knee right as he was winning in his match against Roger Federer. Novak Djokovic also slipped numerous times throughout his match on Monday but was able to avoid injury. 

With both Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep not playing in the Grand Slam this year, and number one seed Ash Barty dealing with a hip injury, it seemed as though Williams was going to have a relatively easy time winning what would’ve been her 24th Grand Slam. 

It’s unclear whether or not Williams will be able to play in the US Open this year, as the extent of her injury has not been determined or released to the public. There is a chance she won’t be able to return to the court until next season.

Las Vegas Raiders Carl Nassib Comes Out As Gay, Pledges $100,000 To Trevor Project 

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib took to social media this week to tell his fans that he identifies as gay. This makes Nassib the first active NFL player to come out as gay.

Nassib posted a video on his Instagram in which he told his fans: “What’s up people? I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for.”

Embed from Getty Images

“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary.” 

“But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project,” Nassib claimed. 

The Trevor Project is one of the most well known LGBT+ organizations in the country. They provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services specifically for the LGBT+ community. The Trevor Project reacted to Nassib’s announcement, stating that his donation “will help scale out life-saving crisis services to reach more than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ youth who seriously consider suicide each year in the US.” 

“They’re an incredible organization, they’re the number one suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America. I’m very excited to be a part of it, help in any way that I can and I’m really pumped to see what the future holds.”

Nassib’s announcement that he’s gay is a much bigger deal than most individuals probably realize. While LGBT+ individuals are more accepted than ever, there’s still a ton of hard work to be done, and having an athlete in one of the largest sports leagues in the world come out, in a space thats prominently hypermasculine and heteronormative, is huge. 

Embed from Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell claimed that the league was “so  proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today.”

“Representation matters, we share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith added: “Our union supports Carl and his work with the Trevor Project is proof that he — like our membership — is about making his community and this world a better place not for themselves, but for others.”

After Nassib’s announcement, Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN: “It’s 2021. All the more power to Carl. It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a person or as a Raider.” 

Coach Jon Gruden added via text message to ESPN: “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great.”

GLAAD, another major LGBTQ advocacy organization, called Nassib’s announcement “a historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports.”

“Carl Nassib’s story will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in sports, but sends a strong message to so many LGBTQ youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

Brooks Koepka And Bryson DeChambeau’s Feud Won’t Be Brought To The US Open 

Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau have been making social media headlines this week as the two exchanged some heavy competitive words between one another on Twitter. 

While fans were hoping the feud would come to an epic head at the US Open, the two were drawn to be in separate groups for the opening two rounds of the Open this week. 

Embed from Getty Images

Koepka most recently fueled the feud by rolling his eyes as DeChambeau walked behind him during a TV interview at last month’s US PGA Championship. The two golfers then proceeded to exchange some harsh words on social media. 

The legitimacy of the feud, however, is up for debate, because as we all know, sports are so much more entertaining when there’s some level of a personal rivalry. 

“Pretty much everything you look at online, it’s got this in the headline, or it’s up there as a big new story. To me, that’s growing the game. You’re putting it in front of eyeballs, you’re putting it in front of people who probably don’t normally look at golf, don’t play it. It might get them involved. I don’t know how it’s not growing the game,” Koepka claimed, admitting that the feud was good for the game. 

Embed from Getty Images

DeChambeau’s agent, however, recently denied reports that his client declined an offer from the USGA to pair the two athletes together. 

“The USGA did not reach out to Bryson regarding a potential pairing with Brooks Koepka. Bryson is fully focused on defending the US Open at Torrey Pines this week.” 

Koepka also confirmed he had not been approached by the USGA: “It doesn’t matter to me, I play my own game. I don’t care who I’m paired with … What happens inside the ropes, it won’t bother me.”

DeChambeau, the defending US Open champion, will be playing alongside the current US amateur champion, Tyler Strafaci, and the winner of this year’s Masters, Hideki Matsuyama. Koepka is currently in a group with fellow former US PGA champions Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas. 

DeChambeau won his first major at last year’s US Open where he finished six shots ahead of Matthew Wolff. Koepka is a two-time US Open champion; he won the title back in 2017 and 2018.

The Rules Athletes Will Need To Follow To Participate In The 2021 Olympic Games 

The Olympics are officially going to happen this year on July 23rd in Tokyo, Japan. After the Games were postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals behind-the-scenes have been working hard this past year to make sure these Games happen as safely and efficiently as possible, which means all the athletes will need to abide by a strict set of rules to keep themselves and others safe. 

11,500 athletes are expected to travel to Japan from hundreds of countries this July. Additionally, about 79,000 journalists, officials, and staff will be in attendance. 

Embed from Getty Images

The individuals working behind the scenes have created an official list of rules that all parties involved must follow to avoid being potentially barred from competing or having their credentials completely stripped. 

The International Olympic Committee announced last month that Pfizer would be donating Covid-19 vaccines to all athletes and country delegates before they travel to Japan. While taking the vaccine isn’t a requirement for attending and participating in the Games, it’s highly encouraged for obvious safety reasons. 

All competitors from outside Japan must be tested for Covid-19 twice, on two separate days within 96 hours of their flight to Japan, they will then be tested again upon arrival. Athletes will be expected to download an app that will monitor their location and be used for contact tracing purposes as well. 

Athletes will also be required to quarantine for three days after they arrive. They will be allowed to participate in Game related activities during quarantine as long as they continue to test negative; they will be tested daily. 

Embed from Getty Images

Athletes will also be required to do daily reporting of their temperature and any potential symptoms that appear within the app. Temperatures will be checked upon entry to every Olympic venue. 

If an athlete does test positive for the virus, they will immediately go into isolation and their apps will be used to contact and trace any other individual they may have been in contact with. 

Social distancing protocols will also be enforced as all athletes will be competing at least six-and-a-half feet apart from each other. All physical interactions are discouraged as a means of preventing potential spreading of the virus. 

Athletes will be able to eat within the Olympic village or at specially-permitted venues and locations; they won’t be able to explore Japan during their downtime. 

Unless athletes are eating, drinking, sleeping, training, or competing, they will also be expected to wear a mask the whole time they’re at the Games. These rules will ideally keep all athletes, journalists, and behind the scenes workers safe and healthy throughout the entirety of the summer Games.

Tokyo Olympics Will Likely Be A Fan-Free Event 

The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee alluded to the strong possibility that the 2021 Summer Games will likely bar local fans from attending. Fans from abroad were barred from the event months ago due to Covid-19 risks, and the committee has less than two months to decide whether or not the locals of Japan will be able to attend. 

Regardless of what the committee decides, however, a majority of Japanese residents have been adamant about their disapproval of the Olympic Games from occurring this year. Multiple surveys have shown that more than half of the citizens of Japan want the Games to be cancelled or postponed another year due to safety concerns. 

Embed from Getty Images

Beyond the obvious concerns over bringing in groups of people from every single country in the world to one small venue, the Japanese government recently extended a state of emergency until June 20th due to a rise in Covid-19 cases that’s straining the country’s medical system. 

Organizers and the International Olympic Committee are insisting that they will be going ahead with the games this year, despite the multiple polls showing 60% – 80% of Japanese residents want them called off. 

“We would like to make a decision as soon as possible (on fans), but after the state of emergency is lifted we will assess,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said.

“There are many people who are saying that for the Olympic Games we have to run without spectators, although other sports are accepting spectators. So we need to keep that in mind. We need to avoid that the local medical services are affected. We need to take those things into consideration before agreeing on the spectator count.”

Embed from Getty Images

Over 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries are expected to come into Japan for the 2021 Olympic Games. The New England Journal of Medicine recently wrote an op-ed regarding the IOC and their adamant attitude in relation to making the Games happen this year. 

“We believe the IOC’s determination to proceed with the Olympic Games is not informed by the best scientific evidence. Organizers should reconsider holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic.”

Japan experienced around 12,500 deaths due to Covid-19, and that number has not stopped growing. The vaccination rollouts in Japan began slowly, and currently only about 5% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

Japan has spent about $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics, and Richard Pound, senior IOC member, told a British newspaper that the games will take place unless “Armageddon” occurs. IOC president Thomas Bach claimed that “everyone in the Olympic community needs to make sacrifices if we want to hold the Games this year,” despite the fact that a majority of Japanese residents have made it clear that they want the opposite of that.