The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are closing in on the halfway point and as dramatic as the games have been, athletes aren’t giving up an inch in their respective quests for gold. Right now, the United States is tied with China with 46 total medals, including 16 gold medals, 17 silver, and 13 bronze. China, meanwhile, has posted 21 total gold, which leads the world, and has 13 silver and 12 bronze. Japan currently has 17 gold, five silver, and eight bronze.
Below is a list of Black athletes from around the world and their performances that are contributing to their respective country’s results.
Elaine Thompson Herah (Jamaica Track and Field 100 meters)
Although world champion Jamaican runner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce sprinted in the women’s 100 meters final, claiming silver with a time of 10.74 on Saturday, her teammate Elaine Thompson Herah placed first with a 10.61 for gold, breaking the record held for 33 years by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner who ran 10.62 for Team USA in 1988.
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson won bronze with a 10.76. Fraser-Pryce in the 100 meters had a 10.84 in the opening heats on Thursday night. While normally runners don’t look to have their best race in the opening round, others take the opportunity to give it their all, especially versus an International icon. Fraser-Pryce throughout the race was a little bit ahead of Switzerland’s Alja Del Ponte, who was a little less than a step behind Fraser-Pryce, running a 10.91, a personal best for her. Fraser-Pryce, 34, ran a 10.63 back in June.
Kevin Durant (USA Men’s Basketball)
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant made a permanent mark of his own Saturday during the USA men’s basketball team’s 119-84 rout of the Czech Republic with 23 points. With a three-pointer in the second quarter, he became the top scorer in Olympic men’s basketball history with 339 points, surpassing Carmelo Anthony’s 336 points, and leaving LeBron James in third place with 273 points. He continued to drop three pointers on the Czechs through the game, solidifying the USA victory. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum was actually the team high scorer of the game with 27 points and hitting five of six three-point attempts.
The Czechs actually led the game 25-18 after the first quarter and only led by four points at halftime, but after the half, the USA team opened the gap outsourcing the Czech team 35-17, in the third quarter and 37-24 in the fourth, according to CBSSports. The win, Team USA’s second straight after an initial loss to France, moves them closer to a chance to compete for their fourth straight gold medal. The next phase, the men’s quarterfinals begin Aug. 3. Team USA will participate in the knockout round along with Australia, France, Italy, Slovenia and Spain. Argentina, Germany and Japan will compete for the final two spots, depending on the outcome of group play on Sunday (Aug. 1).
Selemon Barega (Ethiopia Track and Field 10,000 Meters)
In one of the more shocking developments, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega beat world record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda in the men’s 10,000 meters to win gold on Friday. The Gurage zone, Ethiopia native finished with a time of 27 minutes and 43.22 seconds, just ahead of world champion Cheptegei’s 27:43.63 — the silver medalist. The youngest Ugandan Olympian to run the 5,000 heats in Rio in Jacob Kiplimo finished with a time of 27:43.88 — good for bronze. Barega took charge in the last third of the race. Barega, 21, is the 2019, 5,000m world championship silver medalist who established the second fastest 10,000 meters of the year in June.
JuVaughn Harrison (USA Track and Field; Long Jump, High Jump):
JuVaughn Harrison of the United States placed second in the opening round of men’s long jump in Group A action with a distance of 8.13 meters on Saturday. In Group B action on Thursday, the six-time NCAA champion turned Olympic athlete posted a height of 7 feet, 1 ½ inches on his first attempt before clearing 7-5 ¾ when 13 finalists were identified. He also cleanly cleared over the bar at 7-3 and 7-5 ¾ — three inches off his SEC title in May on Thursday. Harrison, 22, made history in the Olympic trials in June after qualifying for the high jump and long jump at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. The Huntsville, Ala., native is the first American man since Jim Thorpe in 1912 to compete in both events. The LSU alumni will compete Sunday at 5:10 am in the finals high jump.
Keyshawn Davis (USA Men’s Boxing)
Widely considered the United States’ best chance to capture gold, lightweight boxer Keyshawn Davis beat medalist and the division’s top seed in France’s Sofiane Oumiha after a second-round stoppage on Friday. The reason: a perfectly timed right hand that left Oumiha stunned.
Davis advanced to the men’s lightweight (63kg) round of 16 thanks to a unanimous decision victory over the Netherlands ‘ Enrico Lacruz placeholder image last Sunday. The runner-up in the 2019 World Championships, the Norfolk, Virginia native was victorious in all three rounds on all five judge’s scorecards due to his sharp jab and smooth combinations before incoming attacks. Davis, 22, is working to be the first US men’s boxing gold medalist since Andre Ward in 2004.
While the United States has floundered in recent memory when it comes to winning boxing hardware, America is the all-time leader for boxing gold medals at 50; Team USA earned six golds in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. One win away from being guaranteed a medal and three from winning gold, the lightweight’s next match will be in the quarterfinal versus Gabil Mamedov (ROC).
Forward Johnson (USA Men’s Boxing)
Forward Johnson on Friday was eliminated from the Olympics after losing 5:0 to four-time Olympian, Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias. Iglesias, who won bronze in 2008 and gold in 2012 as a light heavyweight, was tactically clever despite Johnson delivering some good inside work.
Struggling to reach the men’s welterweight quarterfinals, USA’s Johnson on Tuesday won his second straight split decision over Kazakhstan’s southpaw Ablaikhan Zhussupov; Kazakhstan is the dominant nation in this weight class this century. The Cleveland native utilized his potent job in the first round, but Zhussupov won the round on the decision of three of five judges. Starting to impress judges in the second round with guile and grit, the 2019 Pan American Games bronze medalist would go on to take control and win the third round. Despite the referee constantly warning both fighters for alleged holding and Zhussupov winning the last four gold medals in this division, Johnson, 22, remained focused and won by decision.
Teddy Riner (France Judo)
In what is considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport, France’s Teddy Riner took bronze after losing to Russa’s Tamerlan Bashaev in the Olympic quarterfinal. Riner, a 6’8″ two-time gold medalist and is known as “Big Ted,” entrenched his decade of domination. The Les Abymes, Guadeloupe, France native had a 154-win streak that ended after going down to Japanese fighter “King Slayer ” in 2020. Still, Bashaev was ranked higher heading into the fight Friday because he fought more consistently in recent months. Competing in the heaviest class (over 100 kilograms), Bashaev won following a move that wasn’t enough power to be considered a knockout punch. Despite the outcome, Riner, 32, left with a fourth straight Olympic medal.
Crystal Dunn (USA Women’s Soccer)
Crystal Dunn and the US women’s soccer team advanced to the soccer semifinals after tying the Netherlands in a 2-2 draw Friday. Dunn worked diligently on the defensive end to prevent a Netherlands goal late in the game. Team USA also took another step to potentially secure a medal on Tuesday. Picked to win gold by the Associated Press in this year’s Tokyo 2021 Olympics — Sweden beat the United States 3-0 in a stunner on July 21 resulting in last place in Group G play but won 6-1 over New Zealand on Saturday to advance — the U.S. Women’s team did just enough to put themselves in the knockout round after tying Australia 0-0 in Group G play on Tuesday.
Dunn, who has started all four matches for the USA so far at the Olympics, is an attacker-turned-defender and has recently been playing out of position at left-back, as the New Hyde Park, New York native is primarily an attacking midfielder with the Portland Thorns. Ranked as No. 6 on ESPN’s FC’s Women’s Rank, Dunn did her best to prevent an even worse Sweden loss, executing some last-ditch tackles. The 2019 World Cup Champion even played a cross-field pass straight to Sweden, which resulted in a poor finish and a goalless possession by Sweden. In the 6-1 victory, Dunn, 29, was instrumental in New Zealand attempting just five shots and three shots on goal to the Americans 12 shots and four shots on goal. On Monday, the United States will play Canada in the semifinals.