Tokyo 2020 Olympics: My Favourite Moments - week 1
Last updated: Sunday August 8th, 2021
Tokyo 2020 - an Olympics that almost never happens
When 80% of the Japanese public were against hosting the Olympics in the middle of the pandemic and national emergency, most people were pessimistic about it. I do feel sorry for the Japanese, who put in so much effort and is capable of hosting potentially one of the most successful games ever, but ended up with empty stadiums, alienating its public and risking it into a super spreading event and further disaster.
Anyway, it is happening now, and I am lucky that I live in a similar time zone, and what better things to do during a covid lockdown? And with internet/digital TV these days, for the first time I can pick and watch live whatever sport I like. So here are my picks on the most memorable moments I have watched so far in the first week.
Men’s Synchronised 10m Platform Diving (26/7)
As you may know, China dominates few sports and diving is one of them. Most other countries are competing for silver and bronze only. The Chinese always aim to claim all 8 golds in diving but so far has never been able to achieve such feat. It is not happening this time either, with the brilliant Tom Daley and Matty Lee edging ahead the Chinese pair by less than 1 point and claimed gold for Great Britain. Excellent stuff!
Fencing Men’s Individual Foil Gold Medal Bout (26/7)
When the news that Cheung Ka Long entered the final and secured at least a silver medal for Hong Kong, the whole city was overexcited about it. While fencing is not entirely unpopular in Hong Kong, it is never a mainstream sport and most people (including myself) are unfamiliar with it. Cheung, the 15th seed, playing against the 5th seed Italian Daniele Garozzo in the final, he was the clear underdog. He did fall behind 1-4 in the beginning, and retreated far back under pressure. But the tall left hander fought his way back to 10-5, and suddenly the prospect of a gold medal for Hong Kong was not impossible anymore. In the last point both players thought they won it, and it was a nail biting wait for the judge to confirm that Cheung had won.
This was the second ever gold medal for Hong Kong, 25 years after Atlanta when Hong Kong won its first in sailing. It was before the handover (God Save The Queen was played) and before Cheung was born.
Social media immediately went overdrive and many were telling people to mute their TV during the national anthem, because of the rift between Hong Konger and mainland China these days. Indeed, many people who watched it in a large Hong Kong shopping mall shouted “We are Hong Kong” (in English) loudly during the national anthem and some people booed, which is now a criminal offence in the territory. Since then, a person in his 40s has been arrested by the police.
Women's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final (29/7)
I have to admit that I only watched the replay, but the win by the young Chinese swimmers was amazing. The Australians, having already won the 4x100, were so confident that even though the Chinese pretty much led from start to finish. The commentators were counting how this gold would add to their tally, even at the final 50m. But the Chinese girls did not just win, they beat the Australian world record by more than a second. In fact, both the US (silver) and Australia (bronze) broke the previous world record. What an achievement!
Men's Individual Table Tennis Bronze Medal Match (30/7)
Both Dima Ovtcharov from Germany and Lin Yun Ju from Taiwan had narrow losses in their semi against the top two seeds from China. The bronze medal clash was more exciting than the gold medal one in my opinion. The match between the veteran Ovtcharov and the young "silent assassin" Lin did not disappoint. Lin had 4 match points in the sixth game but was unable to convert, and Dima finally won his second individual bronze medal after London.
Judo Mixed Team Final (31/7)
This was the first Judo mixed team event in the Olympics. The Japanese having already won 9 individual gold medals in Judo was expected to win this unchallenged. But the French team won convincingly by 4-1, with two ippon in the first two rounds. The Japanese would have to settle for silver in their own national sport, listen to La Marseillaise playing at Nippon Budokan at their own Olympics. It is just not their year.
Women's Volleyball Preliminary Round Group A - Japan vs Korea (31/7)
This was another nail biting match between the bitter rivals. Japan lost two previous matches and were desperate to win against the lower ranking Korean team. Although having outstanding players such as Koga Sarina, and two match points in the fifth set, the Korean edged ahead with excellent blocking and striking by the tall Kim Yeon Koung. It was a double blow to the Japanese in one evening.
Badminton Men's Double Gold Medal Match (31/7)
Again I only watched the replay as it happened at the same time as the volleyball. This was again another unexpected win by the unseeded Taiwanese pair against the Chinese, the overwhelming favourite. The Taiwanese won convincingly in two straight games and 34 minutes, the first badminton gold medal for Taiwan. The Chinese, who claim the sport as their own (alongside Table Tennis, Diving and Weightlifting), had to settle for silver and listened to the National Flag Anthem of the Republic of China.
What have I missed?
What about you?
So did you watch the Olympics and any of the above matches? What are your thoughts? What else have I missed? Let me know in your comments and thanks for reading.
P.S. I am running a poll on which sport should be removed from the Olympics. Do check it out and let me know what you think.