The U.S. women’s 400-meter relay team, given a second chance to reach the Rio Olympic final after successfully appealing its disqualification from its first-round heat, got the baton around the track safely in a rerun Thursday night and earned a chance to compete for a gold medal in Friday’s final.
The team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Morolake Akinosun had been disqualified from its heat Thursday morning after Felix was bumped by Brazil's Kauiza Venancio and was thrown off stride, causing her to make a faulty exchange to Gardner. The baton fell and Gardner picked it up, on Felix’s urging, and they finished the race. However, they and the Brazilian teams were disqualified. USA Track and Field officials sought relief from a Jury of Appeals on the basis that Felix had been impeded; the jury agreed and granted the rerun.
The same four athletes ran in the same order, but they were the only runners on the track. Their handoffs were fine and they were timed in 41.77 seconds, the top qualifying time. However, because they earned the spot in a rerun they are considered to have qualified for the final on time and will run in Lane 1 or Lane 8 instead of a prime middle lane. China timed at 42.70 seconds — a few hundredths behind Canada — and was dropped out of the field for the final.
Helen Maroulis of the United States defeated Japan's Saori Yoshida 4-1 in the 53-kilogram freestyle final to win the first-ever gold medal for an American women's wrestler.
Maroulis celebrated Thursday's win by running around the mat in a circle and holding the United States flag with both hands while it was draped over her back.
Yoshida was a 16-time world champion who was going for her fourth gold. She hadn't lost in a major tournament in years, but she had been less dominant in recent tournaments. Maroulis was on a two-year win streak of her own.
In its latest effort to quiet a controversy over disputed judging decisions in the Rio Olympic boxing competition, the International Boxing Assn. on Thursday removed the executive director in charge of the tournament.
Francco Falcinelli, vice president of the AIBA executive board and the chief of the European Boxing Confederation, will oversee the final four days of bouts.
On Wednesday, the AIBA said it had reviewed the decisions in the first 239 Rio bouts and found reason to send an undetermined number of judges home. The BBC and the Guardian reported six judges had been expelled.
Adeline Gray’s footwear pretty much said it all on Thursday.
Gray, the face of women’s wrestling in the United States, was done much earlier than almost everyone expected at the Olympics, having lost, 4-1, in the quarterfinals of the 165-pound weight class (75 kg) to Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus. It was Gray’s first defeat in more than two years.
“This is going to be something that takes a while to sink in,” Gray said. “I mean, I thought I wasn’t going to be taking my shoes off and now I’m in sandals. It’s definitely a different feeling. I haven’t had a loss in a long time, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like.”
In the ring, Claressa Shields is as direct and imposing as a punch to the jaw, something she wielded with uncommon regularity Wednesday in a unanimous-decision victory over Russian Iaroslava Iakushina in a Rio Olympics middleweight quarterfinal.
The win guarantees her at least a bronze medal, to go with the gold she won as a teenager four years ago in London. She hasn’t lost since the 2012 world championships; with the victory over Iakushina her record is 75-1. Her coaches call her the best boxer in the world, male or female.
“Claressa came out of nowhere,” said associate Coach Kay Koroma, “and now the world loves her because of the way she fights.”
In a hallway underneath the Rio Olympic Arena, a crush of journalists pushed against the metal fence in front of the world's best gymnast. Simone Biles, not even 5 feet tall, seemed to be swallowed up by the crowd. She fiddled with the green strap of her credential, but otherwise appeared at ease with another day as one of the most recognizable faces at the Summer Olympics.
"We have an idea of just how big it is back home," the 19-year-old said.
Biles won four gold medals, including the coveted all-around title, during an adjective-defying week where she made the sport's most difficult feats look routine. The performance cemented her place as perhaps the most gifted gymnast in history.