US swimmer Caeleb Dressel opens his Michael Phelps-style medal hunt at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, while Judo Shohei Ono will try to hold the gold medal for Japan.
Dressel sat out in the 4 x 100 meter runs on Sunday, but the United States still qualified second behind Italy and will be favorites for the morning final.
It could be the start of a seven-title streak for Dressel, 24, whose 13 world titles have sparked inevitable comparisons with Phelps – winners of eight gold medals in 2008 and 23 total.
The pressure is on the US team to emulate the golden generation of retired Phelps along with Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian and Tony Ervin who failed to qualify.
“I think everyone who is on the team we have to increase the pace because what they have left is huge,” said Dressel.
In the men’s 100m breaststroke final, Adam Peaty is the clear favorite as he seeks to become the first British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title.
Peaty, who has lowered the world record five times, won his semifinals in 57.63 seconds and led the timekeeping ahead of the Dutchman Arno Kamminga in 58.19 seconds in the final.
Away from the pool, three-time world champion Ono awaits a life-and-death struggle at Nippon Budokan, the spiritual home of judo, as he strives for his second Olympic gold.
“Olympia is not a place to enjoy,” he said in a recent interview with the public broadcaster NHK. “For me it’s a life or death battlefield.”
After an exceptionally rocky run-up to the Games, with a year-long delay and fan bans due to the pandemic, Japan got off to a strong start in the first two days with five gold medals.
As skateboarding continues its Olympic debut, women’s road world champion Aori Nishimura hopes to emulate Japanese teammate Yuto Horigome, who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
Briton Jonny Brownlee will win triathlon gold in the absence of his brother Alistair, who won the last two Olympic titles but failed to qualify this time.
The story goes on
Brownlee, who took bronze in 2012 and silver in 2016, wants to be the first athlete to win three Olympic medals in swimming, cycling and running.
Elsewhere, Serbia’s number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, meets Jan-Lennard Struff from Germany in the second round, who is following his fight for the first Olympic title.
The 2008 bronze medalist has won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon that year, giving him a chance at the Golden Slam – he won all four majors and the Olympics in the same season.
th / jc