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Olympics

OLYMPIC DIGEST | Daily Highlights for August 8

The U.S women’s volleyball team triumphs in an Olympic final for the first time, after finishing as the runner-up on three previous occasions.

JAPAN Forward

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U.S. players Andrea Drews (11) and Haleigh Washington compete at the net with Brazil's Rosamaria in the women's gold-medal match at the Tokyo Olympics on August 8 at Ariake Arena. (Ivan Alvarado/REUTERS)

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Congratulations to every one of the athletes who participated and spectators who stayed home (or near their screens) to watch their feats from afar. You showed the world the power of humankind through sports. 

Athletes at the Tokyo Olympics performed super (and super-human) athletic feats, even as COVID-19 and other controversies swirled. JAPAN Forward monitored the key happenings in a variety of Olympic sports during the day and brought reports to our readers through this Olympic Digest every evening. We hope you enjoyed the coverage and will check back for other sports news on JAPAN Forward’s homepage.

Volleyball

U.S. Women Prevail Over Brazil for First Olympic Title

The United States overpowered two-time champion Brazil in straight sets to claim its first-ever gold in women’s volleyball on the final day of competition at the Tokyo Olympics.

Andrea Drews scored 15 points and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley added 14 to power the Americans to the 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 win at Ariake Arena in a match that lasted just 1 hour, 22 minutes.

Earlier Sunday, Serbia defeated South Korea 25-18, 25-15, 25-15 to win the bronze medal.

Captain Jordan Larson added 12 points for the U.S., all from the attack line. Fernanda Rodrigues and Gabi Braga Guimaraes had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Brazil.

The U.S. women previously lost to Brazil in the final at the 2008 Beijing Games and four years later at the London Olympics. The U.S. women also won the silver in Los Angeles in 1984.

“A lot of people had to sacrifice a lot for us to be here and had to learn along the way,” Larson was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “We had to learn that in London and in Rio that we just weren’t enough at that point. Did we believe it in that moment? Absolutely. We had to go one extra step to figure it out.”

The victory was important in more ways than one. It also gave the U.S. 39 gold medals, one more than second-place China, to clinch first place for gold medals.

The win also allowed U.S. coach Karch Kiraly to join China’s Ping Lang as the second person to win volleyball gold both as a player and a coach. 

Kiraly won gold as a player in 1984 and ’88. He also won gold in beach volleyball in 1996. 

Boxing

Uzbekistan’s Jalolov Wins Super Heavyweight Gold

Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan defeated Richard Torrez Jr. of the United States by a dominating 5-0 decision to win the gold medal in the super heavyweight division in the final boxing match.

The 201-cm (6-foot-7) Jalolov, who lives in California and fights mostly out of California, won the only boxing medal in Tokyo for Uzbekistan.

Jalolov dominated all four of his bouts in Tokyo, winning by unanimous decision in three fights and winning by stoppage in the semifinals. He finished fifth at the 2016 Rio Games.

With the silver, Torrez helped the United States to its most successful Olympics in boxing since 2000 in terms of total medals (four).

Despite medaling, Torrez was quite disappointed in the outcome of the final.

“It’s one of those bittersweet moments, and I have to blame myself,” Torrez was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “It’s a big dude. He’s a great competitor. Being in the ring with him, it’s not fun. … Ever since I was 8 years old, I remember watching the Olympics with my dad. I was there. It just didn’t go my way.”

Frazer Clarke of Great Britain and Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev won super heavyweight bronze.

Water Polo

Serbia Claims Back-to-Back Men’s Titles

Serbia replicated its gold medal-winning performance from the 2016 Rio Games by beating Greece 13-10 in the final at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.

For Greece, the result produced the first Olympic water polo medal for the nation.

Serbia led 6-3 after the opening quarter and 8-7 at the midway point of the title match.

Through three quarters, Serbia held a 10-9 advantage, then added goals from Dusan Mandic, Nikola Jaksic and Andrija Prlainovic, all of whom shared the team lead in goals (three), in the final quarter to secure the victory. 

When the intense duel was over, Serbia coach Dejan Savic told reporters he just wanted to savor the victory.

“I am emotionally empty, just done,” Savic said. “It was just an amazing journey. Any comment is unnecessary; let’s enjoy the moment now.”

Handball

France Downs Russian Squad in Women’s Final

France entered the women’s final against the Russian Olympic Committee squad knowing it had a chance to achieve something special: give the nation its second handball gold in as many days at  the Tokyo Games.

In the men’s final, France topped Denmark 25-23 on Saturday.

A day later, the mission was accomplished. The French women defeated the Russians 30-25, and it was a reversal of fortunes for France. Russia beat France 22-19 in the final at the 2016 Olympics.

This time, France’s Pauletta Foppa provided a magnificent spark, scoring seven goals on seven shots. Teammate Allison Pineau also notched seven goals at Yoyogi National Stadium.

Norway defeated Sweden 36-19 in the bronze-medal match.

Authors: Jim Armstrong, Ed Odeven