Advertisement
Share

The Sports Report Olympics Edition: A rekindling of skateboarding memories

American Jagger Eaton celebrates after his final run in the men's street skateboarding finals on Sunday.
American Jagger Eaton celebrates after his final run in the men’s street skateboarding finals on Sunday. Eaton won the bronze in the event.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

My editor might be getting a request soon from the Japanese Olympic Committee.

On each of the last two days, I was given assignments to report on sports I had never covered before: judo and skateboarding.

Japanese athletes won gold medals in both.

Hi, I’m Gary Klein, and I’m curating the Olympics newsletter. I’ll get to my apparent gold-medal touch shortly. But first, here are the big Los Angeles Times stories from Tokyo.

Advertisement

Latest news and results on Olympics live blog

Medals tracker

TV schedule for Sunday and Monday

Olympic athletes tracker

Ok, back to those gold medals.

As noted previously, I’m a veteran reporter but an Olympics rookie. Colleagues told me the Games were a great assignment because they offered the challenging and fun opportunity to cover unfamiliar sports almost daily.

So, before I headed out to the Budokan (insert Cheap Trick-related observation here) I did a crash course in judo. Within hours, I was wowing columnist Dylan Hernandez with my terminology and scoring system knowledge.

And later that night, extra-lightweight judoka Naohisa Takato won a gold medal, Japan’s first of these Tokyo Games.

Yuto Horigome of Japan competes in the men's street skateboarding at the Tokyo Summer Olympics on Sunday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

On Sunday, I headed out to the Ariake Urban Sports Park to cover the men’s street event in the inaugural Olympic skateboarding competition. When colleague Dan Woike found out I was covering skateboarding, he counseled, “Gary, remember to wear your helmet and your elbow and knee pads.”

Japan’s Yuto Horigome, 22-year-old who was born in Tokyo, won the gold medal.

My experience with skateboarding dates to the 1960s, specifically a movie short that probably screened before a theater showing of Mary Poppins or Dr. Dolittle.

Advertisement

I cannot recall the name, but the short, which featured music but no dialogue, was about a group of boys who skateboarded together. One day, one of the boys invited a girl to come along. His friends shunned him. That is until the girl brought along some friends. Then, all of sudden, the other boys eagerly embraced the idea, and everyone happily zipped along down the hill together. Fade to black. For some reason, that stuck with me.

My own skateboarding adventures were mostly confined to sitting on a primitive plastic “banana” board and riding it like a bobsled down the hills of the multilevel public park that abutted our house. I also went to school with — and threw passes to — Tom “Wally” Inouye, a speedy flag football running back who went on to achieve great skateboarding fame. Images from skateboarding magazines of Tom riding the walls of gigantic concrete pipes are burned in my memory.

But my greatest appreciation and respect for skateboarding comes from my son Will’s love for it. I took Will to skate parks when he was small and before he could drive. As he grew larger and became a college athlete, I cautioned him about injury. But he kept riding. Today, he volunteers once a week, teaching and skating with underprivileged kids. He also skates whenever he can with a former water polo teammate, the peace and enjoyment gained from a good day of riding his bliss.

Advertisement

———

Sticking with the skateboard theme…. Skateboard legend Tony Hawk is working as a correspondent for NBC during the Olympics. A few days before competition began, he was on a board at the competition facility and one of our talented photographers, Rob Gauthier, got this shot of the 53-year old Hawk.

Skating legend Tony Hawk did some skateboarding at Ariake Urban Sports Park on Friday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Here’s the story behind the story from Rob:

Advertisement

“I’m no different than most people who root for their hometown heroes. Hawk is from Encinitas, also my home town. It’s been fun following his great success over the decades. After all, I believe he is in the same category as Michael Jordan when it comes to changing the face of his sport. At Ariake Urban Sports Park he attacked the course like a teenager. It was inspiring, since he’s on the cusp of being an “old guy” like me.”

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

Swimming

U.S. swimmer Chase Kalisz celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's 400-meter individual medley.
U.S. swimmer Chase Kalisz celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men’s 400-meter individual medley on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Nathan Fenno on swimming: Though Chase Kalisz is nine years younger than Michael Phelps, they have a relationship like brothers.

Advertisement

That’s why the most decorated Olympian of all-time was in the NBC booth at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Sunday wearing a headset to provide color commentary for the broadcast and arms raised in triumph.

His protégé finally had a gold medal.

Kalisz separated himself from the pack midway through the 400-meter individual medley on the way to capturing first U.S. gold in any sport at these Summer Games.

“It’s my lifelong dream,” he said. “It’s what everyone dreams of in the sport.”

Advertisement

Jay Litherland, Kalisz’s training partner in Georgia, finished about eight-tenths of a second behind the winning time of 4 minutes, 9.42 seconds to take silver.

Tennis

Naomi Osaka serves to Zheng Saisai on Sunday.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Jorge Castillo on tennis: Naomi Osaka, this country’s most famous athlete, first emerged on Centre Court at Ariake Tennis Park on Sunday at 10 a.m. in a gray T-shirt, black leggings and neon orange sneakers.

The leggings were brave. The sun was already grilling the blue hard court as the temperature crept toward 90 degrees. English-language pop music echoed through the nearly empty stadium. She slammed serves for a half-hour before dipping from the muggy heat.

Advertisement

She returned just before 1 p.m. wearing a red dress with a Japanese flag stitched onto the left side of the chest and a red visor over her red boxed braids for her first competitive match since withdrawing from the French Open in May. And she didn’t skip a beat after the two-month break, throttling the 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai in straight sets — 6-1, 6-4 — in 1 hour and 27 minutes.

Loud sounds of silence

The Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, the site of the judo competition.
(Vincent Thian / Associated Press)

David Wharton on the absence of crowds at the Olympics: The gray, bustling city gives way to a wooded park, green and alive with the whir of cicadas, an unexpected oasis amid tall buildings. Deep in the trees, hidden at first, sits a small arena, its entrance marked by ornate Japanese characters.

Revered as something of a mecca, the Nippon Budokan is a gathering place for Japan’s beloved martial arts. But if this building with its gently curved roof has the ambience of a temple, the pandemic has rendered it a little too respectful.

Advertisement

As the Summer Games began this past weekend, there was no roar of an approving crowd for the opening day of judo competition. Spectators had been banned as a health precaution, leaving only rows of empty seats, the echoed shouts of coaches and clapping teammates.

Judo

Judo legend Yosh Uchida stands in front of memorabilia.
Judo legend Yosh Uchida.
(San Jose State University Athletics Archives)

Jorge Castillo on judo great Yosh Uchida: Yosh Uchida made a promise to Colton Brown in 2016, right after Brown competed in judo for the United States at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics: Qualify for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and I’ll be there.

Attending the Tokyo Olympics would have closed a circle for Uchida. The son of Japanese immigrants and raised in Orange County, he was the U.S. judo team’s coach at the Games in 1964, when the sport made its Olympic debut in its birthplace. The city, the country, the martial art supplied him more than a lifetime’s worth of memories.

Advertisement

Uchida was 96 years old in 2016. He would be a centenarian by the next opening ceremony. People his age usually don’t make plans four years in advance. But Uchida reached his 100th birthday in April 2020 and bought his ticket to the Nippon Budokan to fulfill his pledge.

TV schedule

Eva Tercelj of Slovenia competes in women's canoe slalom.
Eva Tercelj of Slovenia competes in women’s canoe slalom at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.
(Kristy Wigglesworth / Associated Press)

Here’s the Olympics TV schedule for Sunday and Monday. All events and times subject to change.

Here’s a look at the TV schedule for Sunday and Monday’s events at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Advertisement

SUNDAY

Multiple sports — 11 p.m. (Saturday)-1 a.m., CNBC

  • Men’s water polo — U.S. men vs. Japan (live)
  • Diving — Women’s synchronized springboard final (live)
  • Archery — Women’s team final (live)

Multiple sports — 11 p.m. (Saturday)-5:20 a.m., USA

  • Cycling — Women’s road race (Live)
  • 3-on-3 basketball — U.S. women vs. Romania (live)
  • Beach volleyball — Men’s qualifying round
  • Swimming — Qualifying heats (live)

Multiple sports — 3-8 a.m., Peacock

Advertisement

  • Women’s gymnastics qualifying (live)
  • Men’s basketball — U.S. vs. France (live)

Multiple sports — 5-9:15 a.m., NBC

  • Swimming — Qualifying heats (live)
  • 3-on-3 basketball — U.S. women vs. Russian Olympic Committee (live)
  • Beach volleyball — Men’s qualifying round (live)
  • Men’s water polo — U.S. vs. Japan
  • Rowing — Qualifying heats and repechages
  • Cycling — Women’s road race

Multiple sports — 5:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., USA

  • Archery — Women’s team final
  • Canoe slalom — Qualifying
  • Men’s soccer — Brazil vs. Ivory Coast
  • Women’s handball — Spain vs. Sweden
  • Fencing — Women’s foil and men’s epee finals
  • Judo — Finals
  • Taekwondo — Finals
  • Boxing — Elimination rounds
  • Weightlifting — Men’s finals
  • Surfing — Day 1 report

Multiple sports — 6-10:30 a.m., NBCSN

  • Men’s water polo — Serbia vs. Spain
  • Women’s handball — Norway vs. Korea
  • Table tennis – Elimination rounds
  • Badminton – Qualifying rounds

Multiple sports — 9:15 a.m.-3 p.m., NBC

Advertisement

  • Canoe slalom — Qualifying
  • Skateboarding — Men’s street final
  • Surfing — Day 1 report
  • Swimming — Qualifying heats
  • Diving — Women’s synchronized springboard final
  • Men’s basketball – U.S. vs. France
  • Multiple sports — 4-6:30 p.m., NBC
  • Triathlon — Men’s final (live)
  • Gymnastics — Women’s team competition

Multiple sports — 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m., NBCSN

  • Equestrian — Dressage
  • Table tennis — Elimination rounds
  • Men’s soccer — Japan vs. Mexico
  • Women’s volleyball — U.S. vs. Argentina

Multiple sports — 2:30-6 p.m., USA

  • Triathlon — Men’s final (live)
  • Beach volleyball — Women’s tournament (live)

Multiple sports — 5-11 p.m., CNBC

  • Skateboarding — Women’s street final (live)
  • Rugby — Men’s qualifying round (live)
  • Archery — Men’s team elimination round
  • Skateboarding — Women’s street final (live)
  • Fencing — Men’s individual foil round of 32
  • Men’s basketball — Argentina vs. Slovenia (live)

Multiple sports — 5-11 p.m., NBCSN

Advertisement

  • Men’s water polo — U.S. vs. Japan
  • Women’s beach volleyball — Qualifying round
  • Women’s volleyball — U.S. vs. Argentina
  • Men’s basketball – U.S. vs. France

Multiple sports — 6:30-8:30 p.m., NBC

  • Swimming — Finals for women’s `100-meter butterfly, men’s 100-meter breaststroke, women’s 400-meter freestyle, men’s 4X100 freestyle relay (live)
  • Skateboarding — Women’s street qualifying

Multiple sports — 8-11 p.m., USA

  • 3-on-3 basketball: Tournament play (live)
  • Beach volleyball — Women’s qualifying round (live)
  • Rowing — Semifinals
  • Women’s water polo – U.S. vs. China (live)

Multiple sports — 8:30-9:05 p.m., NBC

  • Skateboarding — Women’s street final (live)
  • Multiple sports — 9:05-11 p.m.
  • Skateboarding — Women’s street final (live)
  • Volleyball — U.S. men vs. Russian Olympic Committee

Men’s soccer

Advertisement

  • Brazil vs. Ivory Coast, 1:30 a.m., NBCSN (live)
  • Australia vs. Spain, 3:30 a.m., NBCSN (live)
  • Japan vs. Mexico, 5:30 a.m., NBCSN (live)

Softball

U.S. vs. Japan, 6 p.m., USA (live)

Tennis

First round men’s and women’s singles; men’s and women’s doubles, 11 p.m. (Saturday)-1 p.m., Olympic channel

Advertisement

Second round men’s and women’s singles; men’s and women’s doubles, 7-11 p.m.

MONDAY

Multiple sports — 11 p.m. (Sunday)-7:30 a.m., USA

  • Women’s water polo — U.S. vs. China (live)
  • Diving — Men’s synchronized platform final (live)
  • Fencing — Men’s individual foil and women’s individual sabre quarterfinals
  • Canoe slalom — Men’s final (live)
  • Men’s rugby — Qualifying round (live)
  • Swimming — Qualifying heats (live)
  • 3-on-3 basketball (live)
  • Men’s volleyball – Brazil vs. Argentina (live)

Multiple sports — 11 p.m. (Sunday)-2 a.m., CNBC

Advertisement

  • Men’s basketball — Argentina vs. Slovenia (live)
  • Shooting skeet — Women’s final
  • Shooting skeet — Men’s final (live)
  • Archery — Men’s team final (live)
  • Cycling — Men’s mountain bike

Multiple sports — 11 p.m. (Sunday)-2 a.m., NBCSN

  • Men’s beach volleyball
  • Softball — U.S. vs. Japan

Tennis

Second round men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles (live), 11 p.m. (Sunday)-11 p.m. Olympic Channel

Multiple sports — 2 a.m.-5 p.m., NBCSN

Advertisement

  • 3×3 basketball (live)
  • Fencing — Men’s individual foil and women’s individual sabre finals (live)
  • Beach volleyball — Qualifying round (live)
  • Rowing — Semifinals and qualifying heats
  • Men’s handball — Egypt vs. Denmark
  • Badminton — Qualifying round
  • Men’s handball — Spain vs. Norway
  • Women’s water polo — Australia vs. Netherlands
  • Men’s volleyball — Poland vs. Italy
  • Men’s basketball — Argentina vs. Slovenia
  • Multiple sports — 5-11 p.m., NBCSN
  • Women’s water polo — U.S. vs. China
  • Men’s volleyball — U.S. vs. Russian Olympic Committee
  • U.S. rugby — Qualifying round
  • Triathlon — Women’s final

Triathlon

Women’s final (live), 2:30 a.m., USA

Gymnastics

Men’s team final, 3 a.m., Peacock

Advertisement

Multiple sports — 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., USA

  • Archery — Men’s team final
  • Table tennis — Mixed doubles final
  • Surfing report Day 2
  • Cycling — Men’s mountain bike
  • Weightlifting — Women’s final
  • Shooting — Women’s and men’s skeet finals
  • Boxing — Elimination rounds
  • Taekwondo — Finals
  • Judo — Finals

Multiple sports — 9 a.m.-2 p.m., NBC

  • Canoe slalom — Men’s final
  • Women’s water polo — U.S. vs. China
  • Women’s 3-on-3 basketball — U.S. vs. China
  • Skateboarding — Women’s street final
  • Swimming — Qualifying heats
  • Beach volleyball — Women’s qualifying round

Multiple sports — 5-6:30 p.m., NBC

  • Diving — Men’s synchronized platform final
  • Gymnastics — Men’s team final

Multiple sports — 5-7:10 p.m., CNBC

Advertisement

  • Beach volleyball — Women’s qualifying round (live)
  • Men’s water polo — U.S. vs. South Africa (live)

Multiple sports — 6:30-8:30 p.m., NBC

  • Swimming finals — Men’s 200-meter freestyle, women’s 100-meter backstroke, men’s 100-meter backstroke, women’s 100-meter breaststroke (live)
  • Triathlon — Women’s final

Multiple sports — 7:10- 9 p.m., CNBC

  • Rugby — Men’s qualifying round (live)
  • Fencing — Women’s team epee quarterfinals (live)
  • Rowing — Semifinals and finals

Multiple sports — 8 p.m.-9:30 a.m., USA

  • Beach volleyball – Men’s qualifying round (live)
  • Archery — Individual elimination rounds

Multiple sports — 8:30-11 p.m., NBC

Advertisement

  • U.S. men’s rugby — Qualifying round
  • Women’s volleyball — U.S. vs. China

Softball

Bronze medal game — 9 p.m., CNBC (live)

Women’s basketball

U.S. vs. Nigeria, 9:40 p.m., USA (live)

Advertisement

And finally...

Anastasija Zolotic, only 18, won gold in taekwondo on Sunday. Check it out here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email us at sports@latimes.com. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


Advertisement