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Huan Huan, a giant panda on loan to France, gave birth to twin cubs very early Monday, according to the Beauval zoo.  The twins, born around 1 a.m., are Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi’s second and third cubs, after the first panda ever born in France, Yuan Meng, in 2017. “The two babies are pink. They are perfectly healthy. They look big enough. They are magnificent,” said Rodolphe Delord, president of ZooParc de Beauval in Saint-Aignan, central France. WATCH: Using Pandas for DiplomacySorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 16 MB480p | 23 MB540p | 33 MB720p | 74 MB1080p | 134 MBOriginal | 725 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioPanda reproduction, in captivity or in the wild, is notoriously difficult. Experts say few pandas get in the mood or even know what to do when they do.  Further complicating matters, the window for conception is small since female pandas are in heat only once a year for about 24-48 hours. Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi — the star attractions at Beauval — thrilled zoo officials in March when they managed to make “contact,” as they put it, eight times in a weekend. Veterinarians also carried out an artificial insemination, just to be sure. Huan Huan’s first cub, Yuan Meng, now weighs more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and is to be sent this year to China, where there are an estimated 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild and another 500 in captivity. Huan Huan’s newborns will not be named for 100 days, with Peng Liyuan — the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping — set to choose what they will be called, the zoo said.  
 

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A surfer jumping in to translate for the rival who’d just beaten him. High-jumping friends agreeing to share a gold medal rather than move to a tiebreaker. Two runners falling in a tangle of legs, then helping each other to the finish line.In an extraordinary Olympic Games where mental health has been front and center, acts of kindness are everywhere. The world’s most competitive athletes have been captured showing gentleness and warmth to one another — celebrating, pep-talking, wiping away one another’s tears of disappointment.Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in their sport’s Olympic debut.Not only did he blow his shot at gold on the beach he grew up surfing, he was also being taunted online by racist Brazilian trolls.The Japanese-American surfer could have stewed in silence, but he instead deployed his knowledge of Portuguese, helping to translate a press conference question for Ferreira on the world stage.The crowd giggled hearing the cross-rival translation and an official thanked the silver medalist for the assist.”Yes, thank you, Kanoa,” said a beaming Ferreira, who is learning English.Days later, at the Olympic Stadium, Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar found themselves in a situation they’d talked about but never experienced — they were tied.Both high jumpers were perfect until the bar was set to the Olympic-record height of 2.39 meters (7 feet, 10 inches). Each missed three times.They could have gone to a jump-off, but instead decided to share the gold.”I know for a fact that for the performance I did, I deserve that gold. He did the same thing, so I know he deserved that gold,” Barshim said. “This is beyond sport. This is the message we deliver to the young generation.”After they decided, Tamberi slapped Barshim’s hand and jumped into his arms.”Sharing with a friend is even more beautiful,” Tamberi said. “It was just magical.”Isaiah Jewett, of the United States, and Nijel Amos, right, of Botswana, shake hands after falling in the men’s 800-meter semifinal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo.Earlier, on the same track, runners Isaiah Jewett of the U.S. and Nijel Amos of Botswana got tangled and fell during the 800-meter semifinals. Rather than get angry, they helped each other to their feet, put their arms around each other and finished together.Many top athletes come to know each other personally from their time on the road, which can feel long, concentrated, and intense — marked by career moments that may be the best or worst of their lives.Those feelings have often been amplified at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games, where there is an unmistakable yearning for normalcy and, perhaps, a newfound appreciation for seeing familiar faces.Restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have meant Olympians can’t mingle the way they normally do.After a hard-fought, three-set victory in the beach volleyball round-robin final on Saturday at Shiokaze Park, Brazilian Rebecca Cavalcanti playfully poured a bottle of water on American Kelly Claes’ back as she did postgame interviews.The U.S. team had just defeated Brazil but the winners laughed it off, explaining that they’re friends.”I’m excited when quarantine’s done so we can sit at the same table and go to dinner with them. But it’s kind of hard in a bubble because we have to be away,” said Sarah Sponcil, Claes’ teammate.For fellow American Carissa Moore, the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions brought her closer with the other surfers.The reigning world champion said she typically travels to surfing competitions with her husband and father. But all fans were banned this year, and Moore admitted she struggled without their reassuring presence in the initial days of the Games.Moore had flown to Japan with the U.S. team 10 days before the first heat, and soon adjusted to living in a home with the other surfers, including Caroline Marks, whom Moore considered the woman to beat.Moore said she didn’t know Marks well before the Tokyo Games but on the night she was crowned the winner and Marks came in fourth, her rival was the first to greet her.”Having the USA Surf team with me, it’s been such a beautiful experience to bond with them,” Moore said. “I feel like I have a whole another family after the last two weeks.”Claire Michel of Belgium is assisted by Lotte Miller of Norway after the finish of the women’s individual triathlon competition, July 27, 2021, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Japan.After the punishing women’s triathlon last week in Tokyo, Norwegian Lotte Miller, who placed 24th, took a moment to give a pep talk to Belgium’s Claire Michel, who was inconsolable and slumped on the ground, sobbing.Michel had come in last, 15 minutes behind winner Flora Duffy of Bermuda — but at least she finished. Fifty-four athletes started the race but 20 were either lapped or dropped out.”You’re a (expletive) fighter,” Miller told Michel. “This is Olympic spirit, and you’ve got it 100%.”

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Italian Stuns in 100-Meter Sprint

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Usain Bolt once tightly held on to the mantle of World’s Fastest Man in his lightening quick sprints at multiple Olympic Games.  That mantle now, however, has passed on to a Texas-born Italian — 26-year-old Lamont Marcell Jacobs who finished the 100-meter race in 9.8 seconds, clinching Italy’s first medal in the event.  “I mean, 9.8 from the Italian guy?” Canada’s Andre DeGrasse said. “I didn’t expect that. I thought my main competition would be the Americans.” DeGrasse won a bronze in the sprint with a time of 9.89. American Fred Kerley who finished second for the silver in 9.84 seconds, said of Jacobs: “I really don’t know anything about him.” They know now that Jacobs roundly beat them and took home the gold.Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, of Puerto Rico celebrates after winning the gold in the women’s 100-meters hurdles final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the gold for the women’s 100-meter hurdles. Camacho-Quinn was born in the U.S. and attended college in Kentucky. She decided, however, to compete under Puerto Rico’s flag since her mother is Puerto Rican. Two men tied to win the men’s high jump, after each failed three times to conquer the Olympic-record height of 2.39 meters (7 feet, 10 inches). An official told Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar that they could share the gold medal and that is what the two athletes decided to do. In another dramatic turn of events at the Tokyo Games, one of the women in a 1,500-meter heat, fell over a runner who had fallen.  Sifan Hassan, the Ethiopian-born Dutch runner tried unsuccessfully to jump over Kenya’s Edinah Jebitok who had fallen in a mishap. But Hassan never took her eyes off the prize, recovering quickly. She got up and ran past one runner after another to win the heat in 4 minutes, 5.17 seconds to move onto the semi-finals.  Some information in this report comes from the Associated Press. 

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Miles Robinson scored on a header in the 117th minute, and a United States junior varsity lineup upset a mostly front-line Mexico team 1-0 on Sunday night to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Kellyn Acosta, the only player in the U.S. starting lineup who gets playing time when the first-choice roster is together, took a free kick, and Robinson out-jumped Edson Alvarez and headed the ball in on one hop to the right of goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera. Robinson, a 24-year-old defender in his fourth Major League Soccer season with Atlanta, got his third international goal in nine international appearances, his second goal of the tournament.     Matt Turner got his fifth shutout in six matches of the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. The Americans won all three knockout matches by 1-0 scores. The U.S. won its seventh Gold Cup title, its first since 2017, matching Mexico for the most in the 15 tournaments. Canada won in 2000. It was just the second victory for the Americans in seven finals against El Tri. The U.S. has won nine consecutive games overall and 14 home games in a row. Top players, who are with their clubs for European preseasons, will return when the U.S. opens World Cup qualifying at El Salvador on Sept. 2. Mexico starts at home that day against Jamaica.    Before an overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd, El Tri started seven of the 11 players who began the Nations League final that the U.S. won in extra time in June on Christian Pulisic’s 114th-minute penalty kick: defenders Luis Rodriguez, Nestor Araujo, Hector Moreno and Jesus Gallardo plus midfielders Alvarez, Jesus Corona and Hector Herrera. The newcomers were Talavera, midfielders Jonathan dos Santos and Orbelin Pineda, and forward Rogelio Funes Mori, starting in place of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa plus Carlos Rodriguez, Uriel Antuna and Hirving Lozano. The U.S. lineup included nine players from Major League Soccer. The field CONCACAF chose was 69 yards wide, narrower than the recommended 75 yards. U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes from the lineup in the semifinal win over Qatar, inserting Cannon for Shaq Moore, Bello for Sam Vine, Williamson for Gianluca Busio and Zardes for Daryl Dike.     Defender Henry Kessler made his debut for the U.S. in extra time stoppage time. 

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This year’s 1455 Summer Literary Festival — an annual free 3-day virtual program sponsored by a group of universities in Virginia — featured over 200 authors, poets, and creative artists sharing their insights into the art of storytelling. Maxim Moskalkov has the story. Camera: Mike Maisuradze   
 

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Usain Bolt might be long gone from the sprint scene. It doesn’t mean Jamaica has slowed down one bit.Nobody has, at least not on the women’s side of the sport.An opening day at the Olympics that’s supposed to produce little more than a brisk jog for the world’s best at 100 meters turned into something very different Friday.Reigning world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran her heat in the nearly empty Olympic Stadium in 10.84 seconds. Her Jamaican rival, defending Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, finished in 10.82. And Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the Ivory Coast sprinter who finished an excruciating fourth in Rio de Janeiro, kept saying “Wow! Wow!” after she crossed the finish line in a blistering personal best of 10.78.“I’m in shock, actually,” Ta Lou said. “But I know I’m ready.”They were the fifth, sixth and seventh-fastest times of the year, produced on a day when seven of 54 sprinters hit a personal best — all in an opening round that’s supposed to be designed more for shaking out cobwebs than watching the clock.All that even though the field was missing this season’s third-fastest runner, Sha’Carri Richardson, who is back home in the United States following a doping ban.By comparison, only one runner, Fraser-Pryce, cracked 11 seconds in the opening round five years ago in Rio de Janeiro. She went on to win the bronze, behind Thompson (who has since gotten married) and American sprinter Tori Bowie.“I mean, a lot of sprinters are dominating,” Thompson-Herah said.Fraser-Pryce came in as the favorite for Saturday’s final, which is already showing signs of living up to the hype. She ran a 10.63 back in June that has some thinking even Florence Griffith Joyner’s 33-year-old world record of 10.49 seconds could finally be at risk this year.“Honestly, I have no idea,” Fraser-Pryce said when asked about the mark. “It’s super, super competitive. You want to make sure you focus on each round and the things you’re supposed to do.”There were so many unknowns coming into the Olympics – namely if the year-long delay, the empty stadium or the stress of being cooped up in a hotel room in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games would hurt the athletes. At least one group — the women’s sprinters — answered all those questions with an emphatic “No.”Another unknown: Would this be a fast track?“Clearly,” said Daryll Neita of Britain, who ran a personal best 10.96. “It’s going to be a very fast championship, let’s put it that way. It feels amazing.”The first of 48 gold medals on the line over the nine-day meet was up for grabs later Friday in the men’s 10,000. Favorites include Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda and Selemon Barega of Ethiopia.Other morning action on Day 1 went to form. Rai Benjamin of the United States and world-record holder Karsten Warholm of Norway cruised easily through their heats in the 400-meter hurdles, keeping a gold-medal showdown in the cards. Will it take another world record to win?“Maybe someone else will do it,” Warholm joked. “I’ve done my job.”Athing Mu, a contender in the women’s 800, moved through the first round of her race and didn’t seem too bothered that the track announcer mispronounced her name. (For the record, it’s pronounced “uh-THING moh”).“I’m sure everyone saw my face,” the American said. “I don’t even know what he said. It was terrible.”Ju’Vaughn Harrison made it to the high jump final, keeping alive the American’s quest for a high jump-long jump double. Also advancing in high jump was world champion Mutaz Barshim, who wowed his home crowd two years ago when he won the world title in Doha.With thousands of empty green, white and burgundy seats staring back at them, all the “oohs” and “ahhs” for this one came from the athletes themselves. After Round 1 of that women’s 100, there was plenty to get excited about.“It’s whoever gets to the line first wins,” said another contender, Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, whose 11.05 felt ordinary on this day. “Sometimes it’s not about the time, but about the position.”But sometimes, maybe this time, it could be about both.

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Los Angeles has bid farewell to Jivan Gasparyan, an Armenian musician and composer who was known as the master of the duduk, an Armenian woodwind instrument. Angelina Bagdasaryan has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.Camera: Vazgen Varzhabetian. 

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Former U.S. president Barack Obama has acquired a minority share of NBA Africa, the National Basketball Association announced Tuesday.NBA Africa was established this year to oversee the league’s business activities on the continent.The NBA said in a statement that Obama is a strategic partner and would use any profits from the new entity to “fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa.”  The financial terms of the partnership were not released.NBA Africa was created in May as a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation. The Basketball Africa League, the continent’s first professional basketball league featuring top teams from 12 countries, is part of the entity.  The league began play for the first time in May after being delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic.African NBA Scout Eyes Talent in BAL TourneySarah Chan, manager of Africa scouting for the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors team, says the BAL tournament will be a breeding ground for the next generation of African athletesThe NBA has had a presence in Africa for decades. It opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010 and has since promoted basketball through the NBA Africa Games, the launch of the BAL, social responsibility initiatives, corporate partnerships and player development.”I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities,” Obama said in the NBA’s press release.”That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”Voice of America radio simulcast the BAL’s 26 games in English and French and provided play-by-play coverage in Bambara, Kinyarwanda, Wolof, and Portuguese for the games involving teams from Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Angola, and Mozambique.The broadcasts were aired on more than 30 VOA-owned and operated FM radio stations in 16 African countries and were available to VOA’s network of commercial and public radio stations across the continent.Information from Reuters and AP was used in this report.Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that former president Obama acquired a minority stake in NBA Africa, but the financial terms of the partnership have not been released.

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Japan’s Aaron Wolf and Shori Hamada grabbed gold medals in their respective judo finals Thursday, taking the host nation’s tally to eight golds from the sport at the Tokyo Games and matching their record haul from Athens 2004.Wolf, 25, and world champion in 2017, threw South Korean Cho Gu-ham to secure a dramatic ippon victory that ended more than five minutes of grueling Golden Score sudden-death overtime in the men’s -100kg final.It was the first time in 21 years that a Japanese judoka had dominated the -100 kg category at the Olympics.Wolf, whose mother is Japanese and whose father is from the United States, raised his fist in victory and burst into tears when he won the final. He later said he had used painkillers on both his bad knees the previous day.”What I’ve done up until now paid off finally, so I felt the surge of emotion,” he told reporters.
“I was just brought up as Japanese in the low city area of Tokyo. Japanese athletes of mixed parentage are increasing, so I hope that will help diversity among Japanese as a whole.”Earlier, Wolf overcame Uzbekistan’s Mukhammadkarim Khurramov to make it to the quarter-finals, where he defeated Israel’s Peter Paltchik.In the semi-finals, Wolf beat Georgian Varlam Liparteliani, the world number one and Rio silver medalist, with a dynamic o-uchi-gari throw to score a waza-ari victory.South Korea’s Cho won silver, while the bronze medals went to Jorge Fonseca of Portugal and Niiaz Iliasov of the Russian Olympic Committee.In the women’s -78 kg division final, 2018 world champion Hamada defeated French world number one Madeleine Malonga with a quick and solid pin to win the gold medal.Earlier, Hamada, 30, had pinned Beata Pacut of Poland for an ippon victory in the elimination round of 16, then downed Aleksandra Babintseva of the Russian Olympic Committee via a sliding lapel choke to reach the semi-finals.Hamada, ranked second in her division, triumphed over German Anna-Maria Wagner with a cross armlock for an ippon victory in the semi-finals.The bronze medals went to Wagner and Mayra Aguiar of Brazil. 

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Former U.S. president Barack Obama has purchased a minority share of NBA Africa, the National Basketball Association announced Tuesday.NBA Africa was established this year to oversee the league’s business activities on the continent.The NBA said in a statement that Obama is a strategic partner and would use any profits from the new entity to “fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa.”NBA Africa was created in May as a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation. The Basketball Africa League, the continent’s first professional basketball league featuring top teams from 12 countries, is part of the entity.  The league began play for the first time in May after being delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic.African NBA Scout Eyes Talent in BAL TourneySarah Chan, manager of Africa scouting for the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors team, says the BAL tournament will be a breeding ground for the next generation of African athletesThe NBA has had a presence in Africa for decades. It opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010 and has since promoted basketball through the NBA Africa Games, the launch of the BAL, social responsibility initiatives, corporate partnerships and player development.”I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities,” Obama said in the NBA’s press release.”That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”Voice of America radio simulcast the BAL’s 26 games in English and French and provided play-by-play coverage in Bambara, Kinyarwanda, Wolof, and Portuguese for the games involving teams from Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Angola, and Mozambique.The broadcasts were aired on more than 30 VOA-owned and operated FM radio stations in 16 African countries and were available to VOA’s network of commercial and public radio stations across the continent.Information from Reuters and AP was used in this report.

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Simone Biles will not defend her Olympic title. The American gymnastics superstar withdrew from Thursday’s all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being. USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Wednesday that the 24-year-old is opting to not compete. The decision comes a day after Biles removed herself from the team final following one rotation because she felt she wasn’t mentally ready. Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take Biles’ place in the all-around. Carey initially did not qualify because she was the third-ranking American behind Biles and Sunisa Lee. International Gymnastics Federation rules limit countries to two athletes per event in the finals. The organization said Biles will be evaluated before deciding if she will participate in next week’s individual events. 

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Tuesday’s slate of competitions at the Tokyo Olympics has been filled with a number of stunning defeats and setbacks over a variety of events.One of the biggest shocks of the day came when U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, seeking to burnish her already legendary career, withdrew from the overall team finals after failing to execute her planned maneuver in the vault and stumbling backward on her landing. She then briefly left the floor with her coach, then returned to rejoin her teammates with her ankle wrapped in a bandage.”Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” said a statement from USA Gymnastics.Official statement: “Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”Thinking of you, Simone! Gold medalist Lydia Jacoby, center, of the U.S., stands with silver medalist Tatjana Schoenmaker, left, of South Africa, and bronze medalist Lilly King, of the U.S., after the final of the women’s 100-meter breaststroke.Hundreds of people packed into a railroad terminal in Jacoby’s hometown of Seward, Alaska, launched into a wild celebration as they watched her come from behind in the last lap overtake Schoenmaker.STAND UP ALASKA!17-year-old Lydia Jacoby WINS GOLD, and everybody’s celebrating! From left to right, Britain’s Duncan Scott, South Korea’s Hwang Sunwoo and Britain’s Tom Dean swim in a 200-meter freestyle semifinal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo.Olympic history was also made Tuesday when Italo Ferreira of Brazil and Carissa Moore of the United States won the first-ever gold medals for men and women’s surfing.   Ferreira, the reigning World Surf League champion, overcame a broken board on his first wave on his way to his historic victory at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Ichinomiya town, outpointing Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi and Owen Wright of Australia, who won the silver and bronze medals respectively.   The Hawaii-born Moore, a four-time world champion and current top-ranked surfer, dominated her first two waves in the finals for a combined 14.93, easily outpointing South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag, who scored 8.46 to win the silver medal.  Amuro Tsuzuki of Japan took home the bronze.   In other Olympic events Tuesday, Flora Duffy of Bermuda won the women’s triathlon in 1:55:36 (one hour, 55 minutes, 36 seconds), which included a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run. Duffy’s gold medal victory is the first for the Caribbean island nation, and the second-ever Olympic medal since boxer Clarence Hill won bronze in the 1976 Montreal Games. Georgia Taylor-Brown won the silver medal, while Katie Zaferes of the United States won bronze.   Another gold medal event is taking place later Tuesday in Tokyo when the U.S. takes on host country Japan in women’s softball in Yokohama Baseball Stadium.The United States leads the overall medal count with 22, with China in second place with 22 and host country Japan in third with 17. The U.S., China and Japan are all tied in the gold medal count with nine, followed by five for the ROC.  Host country Japan took gold  in women’s softball, defeating the U.S. team 2-0.The United States leads the overall medal count with 25, with China in second place with 21 and host country Japan with 18.  Some information for this report came from the Associated Press. 

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Sparsely populated and isolated from most of the outside world, Turkmenistan has finally won its first Olympic medal since independence from the Soviet Union.Weightlifter Polina Guryeva won a silver medal for the Central Asian nation at the Tokyo Games on Tuesday, and then predicted she would go down in the country’s history.”I was in shock because it’s the first Olympic medal in the history of the Turkmen people. It’s the first medal, which I won. No sport in Turkmenistan has had a medal, not one medal,” the 21-year-old Guryeva said. “I think I’ve entered the history of Turkmenistan by winning a medal. I’m so in shock.”Guryeva lifted a total 217 kilograms in the 59-kilogram category, edging Mikiko Andoh of Japan for second place. Kuo Hsing-Chun of Taiwan won gold by lifting 236kg.Guryeva, who calls Kuo her “idol” and copies her training exercises, finished in 28th place at the 2019 world championships while competing one weight category higher. On her coach’s advice, she used the one-year Olympic delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic to reset, dropping down a class.”When the pandemic began, I didn’t have a chance of qualifying,” she said. “In October, I dropped down and started training. And I went to the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan, lifted 211 total, and then I got the chance to go to the Olympics. And then I started training even harder to get this medal.”Guryeva will return home to a country which has often had little contact with the outside world but is trying to make its name in the world of sports. The gas-rich nation sent two medalists to the Soviet Union’s Olympic teams for the 1956 and 1960 Games but success has been rare since.Hosting the 2018 weightlifting world championships at a lavish new sports complex in the capital, Ashgabat, was one step toward raising the country’s profile. Turkmenistan’s authoritarian president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, is a fan of cycling and the country was scheduled to hold the track cycling championships this year, too, but they were moved because of the pandemic.The Turkmenistan government says it has not had any cases of COVID-19 but has made vaccinations mandatory.For Kuo, the victory was about completing a set of major championship medals. The Taiwanese lifter finally added Olympic gold to her four world titles.”I have all the pieces together. Now I am very happy,” she said through a translator.Andoh lifted a total of 214kg for bronze despite what she later revealed was severe pain in her feet. After her last lift, she fell to the ground on stage with a smile and was helped away by her coaches.In the 64-kilogram category, Maude Charron got hear a song at the Olympics that her “idol” never did — the Canadian national anthem.Charron won an unusually open competition with six women in the running for a place on the podium ahead of their last lifts. Charron’s total of 236kg was four more than silver medalist Giorgia Bordignon of Italy and six ahead of Chen Wen-Huei of Taiwan.Christine Girard, the Olympic champion from the 2012 London Games, never got to stand on the top step of the podium while “O Canada” was played because she originally finished in third place. The lifters that finished above her, from Kazakhstan and Russia, both later tested positive for doping.”I asked her how to prepare for the games, how not to be too intimidated by the rings, and she wrote me a message,” Charron said. “Now I just feel like that’s her medal, that’s her moment because she didn’t have it in real time.”Weightlifting has reallocated dozens of past Olympic medals and cut the Tokyo allocation for countries which racked up the most doping offenses.”For sure anti-doping made a great deal in just cleaning the sport,” Charron said. “There is a progression in this clean way.”

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China’s Jiang Ranxin and Pang Wei out-dueled their Russian rivals in a riveting contest to secure gold in the 10-meter air pistol mixed team event at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday. The Chinese pair scored a 16-14 victory against newly minted women’s Olympic champion Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov at the Asaka Shooting Range. Jiang and Pang, bronze winners in their individual events in Tokyo, overcame an 8-4 deficit to lead 14-10 before the Russians staged a comeback to level the scores. The Chinese shooters, however, held their nerve to reach the 16-point mark and claim gold. Russian athletes are competing in Tokyo under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) as part of sanctions for several doping scandals. Ukraine won the bronze medal match after Olena Kostevych and Oleh Omelchuk beat Serbians Zorana Arunovic and Damir Mikec 16-12. South Korean pistol great Jin Jong-oh will return empty-handed from his fifth, and possibly final, Olympics as his pairing could not get through the qualification round. The four-time Olympic gold medalist failed to qualify for the final of the men’s individual event on Saturday. 

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The Tokyo Olympics got off to a busy start Tuesday at the Tokyo Aquatics Center with a trio of high-profile finals in the men’s and women’s swimming.   In the women’s 100-meter breaststroke, the highly anticipated race between Lilly King of the United States, who won the event in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa ended in an upset when Lydia Jacoby, King’s 17-year-old teammate, edged both women to win the gold. Schoenmaker finished in second place to win the silver medal while King ended in third, taking home the bronze medal.  Hundreds of people packed into a railroad terminal in Jacoby’s hometown of Seward, Alaska, launched into a wild celebration as they watched her come from behind in the last lap overtake Schoenmaker.STAND UP ALASKA!17-year-old Lydia Jacoby WINS GOLD, and everybody’s celebrating! #TokyoOlympics x @USASwimming📺: NBC💻: https://t.co/GFrdWbcFoO📱: NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/leYOC2Mzju— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 27, 2021Jacoby is the first swimmer from the remote northwestern state to qualify for a Summer Olympics.   In another surprise finish, Ryan Murphy of the United States finished third in the men’s 100-meter backstroke final, as teammates Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov of the Russian Olympic Committee, or the ROC, finished in first and second place respectively. Murphy had hoped to repeat his 2016 gold medal Rio performance, but took the bronze medal instead. His loss also ended a streak of six consecutive U.S. wins in the 100-meter backstroke dating back to 1996.   Meanwhile, Australia’s Kaylee McKeown won the women’s 100-meter backstroke and set a new Olympic record of 57.47 seconds. Canada’s Kylie Masse won the silver medal while Regan Smith of the United States took the bronze medal.   And British swimmers Tom Dean and Duncan Scott won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the men’s 200-meter freestyle final. Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer won the bronze medal.   Yet another upset occurred Tuesday in women’s tennis as Japan’s Naomi Osaka, the world’s second-ranked player, suffered a shocking 6-1 6-4 defeat to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round. Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner and a favorite to win gold for her native country, struggled during the match with 32 unforced errors. In other Olympic events Tuesday, Flora Duffy of Bermuda won the women’s triathlon in 1:55:36 (one hour, 55 minutes, 36 seconds), which included a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run. Duffy’s gold medal victory is the first for the Caribbean island nation, and the second-ever Olympic medal since boxer Clarence Hill won bronze in the 1976 Montreal Games. Georgia Taylor-Brown won the silver medal, while Katie Zaferes of the United States won bronze.   Another historic gold medal victory occurred Monday in women’s weightlifting, when Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines won the 55-kilogram division to win the first-ever gold medal for the Pacific archipelago. Diaz also set two Olympic records when she lifted 127 kilograms in the clean and jerk section as well as an overall total of 224 kilograms.   And fencer Edgar Cheung won Hong Kong’s first Olympics gold medal in 25 years when he beat Italy’s Daniele Garozzo by a score of 15-11.   Two gold medal events will take place later Tuesday in Tokyo when the U.S. takes on host country Japan in women’s softball in Yokohama Baseball Stadium. And gymnast Simone Biles will seek to burnish her already legendary career when she leads the U.S. women in the overall team finals.   The United States and China are tied in the overall medal count with 19, while the Russian Olympic Committee has 15 and host country Japan has 13 medals. The U.S. and Japan are tied in the gold medal count with eight, followed by seven for China and 5 for the ROC.  Some information for this report came from Reuters and AFP. 

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