Olympic Round-up: Women’s Relay Team Smash Record As Ash Barty Loses First Round
They were a long time coming but in no way has Tokyo 2020 failed to live up to the hype of an Olympic Games. Perhaps now more than ever, as many of us find ourselves in an extended lockdown, the Games provide a welcome distraction from the minutiae of everyday life. With a simply flick of the channel, we can find ourselves absorbed in the sport of canoe slalom or gymnastics, watching the world’s top athletes give nothing but their all as they look to be victorious and stand atop that medal podium.
The Games may only have just started, but already Australia’s female athletes are proving that they are a force to be reckoned with. Some of our top athletes have taken to their events with steely-eyed focus and determination, and while not everyone walks away with a gold medal, the way they have conducted themselves is reason alone for celebration. It’s there in our female athletes that we see just what it means to be compassionate, kind and loyal sportswomen. With that in mind, here’s a round-up of our Aussie female athletes in action at Tokyo.
While there are some big events coming up in the sport, it was hard to pry your eyes away from the TV screen over the weekend as Australia’s 4x100m freestyle relay team collected not just a gold medal, but also smashed the world record for the event, too.
In a discipline that has long been dominated by the Australian team, who won Olympic gold in London 2012 and Rio 2016, along with gold medals at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games, they’ve since set three new world records. Still, on Sunday in Tokyo they did it yet again, a fourth world record that saw them shave three-tenths of a second off their previous best to break the 3:30 mark for the first time in history. The clock was stopped at 3:29.69.
As Bronte Campbell explained, “It’s very special to be part of this relay – it always is. the competition is fierce for Australia in this really – that’s what makes us so competitive not he international stage.”
Her sister and fellow gold medallist, Cate Campbell, added, We’ve really all had to step up, year in and year out. We come together at least once a year and train together for a full week. We push each other and we challenge each other, but we do that in a really supportive way. There’s no malice, no animosity towards one another. I think that has spoken volumes. This is the third Olympics in a row that Australia has won this event. That in itself really needs to be celebrated.”
Despite her Wimbledon victory, the World No 1 fell to Spain’s Sorribes Tormo in straight sets, seeing Barty knocked out of the Olympics singles in the first round. For many it’s come as the biggest shock of the Games so far, as the 48th-ranked Spaniard took out the match 6-4, 6-3. Barty made 55 unforced errors in the match, and Australia’s medal hopes now rest on the doubles in which Barty and Storm Sanders advance to the second round.
At a press conference, Barty said: “It was a tough day, a disappointing day. I can’t lie about that. It was just loose. I knew I wanted to try and take the match on today and it was going to be a fine line of pushing too hard and not getting stuck into patterns I didn’t want to get stuck in. [I was] just too erratic today. I wasn’t able to make enough balls.”
The women’s event is stacked with star power this Olympics and has certainly come to be one of the most competitive fields in the sport over the years. All eyes will be on Jess Fox who is gunning for a gold medal at this year’s Olympics. The two-time Olympic medallist eased into the next round with the fastest time of 98.46 in a heat that was near-flawless. It was three seconds faster than Fox’s nearest challenger, Germany’s Ricarda Funk. Fox’s performance sees her join the 24 competitors set to compete in Tuesday’s semi-finals, with the K1 medals to be decided on the same day.
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