The taste of leadership in the athletics medal tally was not the same as that of the United States’ victory at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. LeafThe country won 24.1% of the podiums in the track event of the Rio-2016 Games. In Tokyo-2020, the team fell to 20.7% of the medals.
The semi-finals saw significant defeats such as the disqualification of the 4 x 100 m relay team, causing a major crisis. Former sprinter Carl Lewis, owner of nine Olympic gold medals in athletics, publicly criticized the performance of the team formed by Trayvon Bromell, Fred Carey, Ronnie Baker and Craven Gillespie. “It was a complete shame and completely unacceptable for the American team to look worse than the amateur boys.”
The United States has a great tradition in the history of the event. He won 15 of 25 Olympic finals in the men’s 4 x 100 metres. But he hasn’t kept gold since Sydney-2000. And for the fourth time in a row, he did not even climb the podium.
Another painful defeat was in the men’s 400 metres, the event with substantial North American dominance in history. The United States won 19 of the 27 Olympic distance finals. But in Japan, despite having two representatives in the final, they could not put any athlete on the podium: Michael Cherry and Michael Norman, who came in fourth and fifth respectively.
In the 400 metres, the fast has come since Lashon Merritt’s win in Beijing-2008. At that time, silver and bronze were also retained by the United States. In Tokyo, Americans only saw America’s neighbors on stage. The race was won by Steven Gardiner (Bahamas), with Anthony Zambrano (Colombia) and Kierani James (Grenada) trailing.
Another country that lost representation in sprint races was Jamaica. In the first edition since the Usain Bolt Olympics, the Caribbean nation reduced its stake from 12.6% (Rio-2016) to 10.3% (Tokyo-2020). The races he was used to winning in the Bolt era led to controversy by other nations, including some surprises on the track. The 100 m was won by an Italian (Marcel Jacobs), the 200 m by a Canadian (Andre de Grasse, runner-up in 2016), and the 4 x 100 m, again by Italy.
The Italians had never won the best test in athletics. In the 200 metres, Canada has not won any gold since Amsterdam–1928. In the 4 x 100 m, Italy was runner-up in Berlin–1936 as the best performance. Something really changed in the sprint race. Not only in them.
Over the long haul, Ethiopia and Kenya have also seen their dominance in question. Ethiopians, who have lost many talents to other countries, won 9.2% of medals in the ongoing Rio-2016 events. In Tokyo-2020, they reduced the participation to 4.6%. Sifan Hasan, who won two golds (5,000 m and 10,000 m) and one bronze (1,500 m) in Japan, is the biggest example of talent loss created in the country. The sprinter represented the Netherlands.
Kenyans, on the other hand, did not see an increase in losses as they won gold medals in the men’s and women’s marathons last weekend of competitions. Nevertheless, he had a drop from 13.8% to 11.5% of the podium in racing competitions. The most significant defeat was with the hurdles in the 3,000 metres, evidence that the country had not lost since Moscow–1980 and Montreal–1976, when Kenya boycotted the Games. On the track, since Tokyo–1964, incidentally, the Kenyans had not been defeated.
Soufien El Bakkli’s victory was Morocco’s first victory in Olympic history. The Kenyans, for their part, had to do with Benjamin Keegen’s bronze. The silver went to Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia.
Neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya, Uganda begins to catch up with rivals on long runs. Five years ago, in Rio, he had won nothing. In Tokyo-2020, there were four medals, two of which were gold, with Joshua Chepetgi in the men’s 5,000m, and Peruth Chemutai in the women’s 3,000m with hurdles. The country is already establishing a name in the elite of world athletics. For example, Cheptegee is the current world record holder for the 5,000m and 10,000m.
The most inexplicable rise came from Italy, a country that failed to climb the podium in the running events at Rio-2016 and won four gold medals at Tokyo-2020. The Italians have already acquired a tradition in marching, with victories in the 20 km in both men’s (Massimo Stano) and women’s (Antonella Palmisano). There were surprises in the speed tests, with victories in the 100m and 4 x 100m already mentioned above.
Another increase came from the Netherlands, which won six medals in the race. Of these, however, four came from naturalized Africans. Ethiopian by birth, Sifan Hassan tried for unprecedented gold in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m. He finished with bronze in the first race and gold in the two long feuds, a feat. Somalia-born Abdi Ngei won silver in the marathon, only to lose to Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, a two-time Olympic champion and world record holder for the competition.
Between events, two stood out: the 400m with hurdles and the 1,500m, both men’s and women’s. The men’s 1500 meters was the race with the largest growth of time among medal winners of Tokyo-2020 compared to Rio-2016: 9.3%. The victory went to Jacob Ingebrigtsen of Norway, a country that not only had never won from afar, but had never been on the podium in this race. The young man of only 20 years surprised everyone and also broke the Olympic record (3min28s32).
The women’s version had a 6.2% increase in the medal winners’ time, which is explained by gold between Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, who won the Olympic bi-championship, and Hassan, who led a good portion of the race but took bronze. .
The 400 m hurdles was another race that reappeared in athletics. The women’s final presented a 3.3% increase in medal winners’ time compared to Rio-2016. The world record holder, North American Sidney McLaughlin, clocked 51s46 in the final, surpassing his own mark. The silver went to another American, Delilah Muhammad, who won the gold medal at Rio-2016.
The male version of this controversy had almost the same growth: 3.2% compared to Rio-2016. And, this time around, Brazil had an excellent partnership. Alisson dos Santos took the podium in the competition in which Norway’s Karsten Warholm broke his own world record (45s94) to take the gold.
The 400m hurdles had not been so popular since Barcelona–1992, when Kevin Young won the gold medal with a new world record. The only American mark was broken this year by Warholm, the new leading name in the competition.