The Sports Report Olympics Edition: Ready, set, go to the track

The bell hangs near the finish line at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
The bell hangs near the finish line in Olympic Stadium during the opening day of track at field at the Tokyo Olympics.
(Matthias Schrader / Associated Press)

On your marks…Set…

Hi I’m Gary Klein, and I’m curating the Los Angeles Times Olympics Newsletter today.

Track and field — or Athletics as it is called at the Olympics — began on Friday. And to prepare, I want to share my unexpected run of Olympic Stadium.

But before I get to firing the starter’s pistol, here’s what you need to know about what’s happening at the Olympics.


Olympic medal count

U.S. Olympic athlete tracker

Latest Olympics news and results

Friday and Saturday TV schedules

OK, back to the stadium.

This is my first Olympics. So far, I’ve covered judo, skateboarding and women’s volleyball. I’ve also written about water polo and reported from beach volleyball.

But for the next 10 days my focus will be track and field.

On Thursday, I went out to the stadium to get the lay of the land. To find out where the press room and mixed zones were located. To meet and speak with whomever I could so that Friday would be as smooth as possible.


I never anticipated that I would be on the actual track, taking selfies, while standing on the Olympic rings.

But, as photographers set up their cameras and prepared for Friday, I did all that and more.

Gary Klein is ready and set to report on Olympic track and field.
(Gary Klein)

I got into the starting blocks, channeling my inner Carl Lewis. I walked across the finish line. As I circled the track, lined with hurdles, I thought about Edwin Moses.

I also climbed the stairs to the top of the stadium to take panorama photos. It’s a spectacular venue. But with no spectators allowed because of coronavirus restrictions, it will be nearly empty for some of the most exciting events of the Olympics.

The sprints, middle-distance and long-distance races. The relays. The jumps. The pole vault. And the throws.


I remember marathoner Joan Benoit finishing the 1984 women’s marathon — the first in Olympic history — to a thunderous ovation in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was magical. The Tokyo Games marathons will be contested more than 500 miles away in Sapporo.

After they closed the press room on Thursday night, I walked outside the stadium gates to wait for a bus. A line of about 50 local folks patiently waited their turn to pose for photos in front of illuminated Olympic rings. It was probably the closest they would get to the Olympic experience.

I was reminded how fortunate I am to have mine.


U.S. players celebrate after defeating Netherlands in a penalty shootout at the Olympics on Friday.
(Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press)

Kevin Baxter on U.S. women’s soccer: For the second time in as many Olympic soccer tournaments, the fate of the U.S. women’s team came down to a penalty-kick shootout, perhaps the cruelest way in all of sports to decide who goes on and who goes home from a major world championship.

And this time they got it right with goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who saved a penalty kick in regulation and then saved two more in the shootout to beat the Netherlands and send he U.S. on to the Tokyo Olympics semifinals. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.


Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press scored in the shootout for the U.S., Press’s score helping to make up for her miss five years ago in Brazil that ended a loss to Sweden.

In Monday’s semifinal the U.S. will meet Canada, which beat Brazil on penalty kicks in its quarterfinal. The last time the U.S. and Canada met in an Olympic semifinal, in 2012, Morgan’s goal in the final ticks of extra time pushed the Americans through to the final, where they beat Japan.


Tokyo, Japan, Friday, July 30, 2021 -USA swimmers Lilly King, left.
U.S. swimmers Lilly King, left, and Annie Lazor celebrate after winning silver and bronze, respectively, in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Nathan Fenno on swimming: They had been there for each other through tragedy and training, so when Lilly King and Annie Lazor walked off the pool deck at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in triumph, their arms were around each other.

In the background, South Africa’s noisy contingent of coaches and swimmers celebrated Tatjana Schoenmaker’s world record in the 200-meter breaststroke at the Summer Games on Friday.

But the moment represented much more to King and Lazor, who finished second and third, than the brush with history.

In late April, Lazor’s father, David, died unexpectedly at the family’s home in Michigan.

“He lavished love on his daughter Annie and encouraged her big dreams,” the obituary said. “They traveled together to many swim meets where he was her ardent cheerleader — win or lose, he always let her know that she is so much more than her athletic accomplishments.”


King drove five hours from Bloomington, Ind., where she trains with Lazor at Indiana University, to support her friend.


Novak Djokovic reacts during a semifinal loss to Alexander Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Helene Elliott on tennis: Novak Djokovic’s pursuit of a Golden Slam — titles at all four tennis Grand Slam singles events as well as at the Olympics — ended on Friday in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympic tournament at Ariake Tennis Park.

Djokovic, who has won the singles championships at the Australian and French Opens and at Wimbledon this year and is ranked No. 1 in the world, was upset by Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who put on a shotmaking display in the third set. Zverev’s 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory put him in Sunday’s final against Karen Khachanov of the Russian Olympic Committee, who eliminated Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-3, in the first semifinal.

Track and field

Isaiah Jewett prepares to run in the first round of the men’s 800 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials.
Isaiah Jewett prepares to run in the first round of the men’s 800 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials in June. The Inglewood native is among the favorites to win gold in the event.
(Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

Gary Klein on track and field: The plan, as Isaiah Jewett envisioned it, lined up perfect.

Make the U.S. Olympic team. Compete for a gold medal in the 800 meters. And, as if he needed any more motivation, spend a few heavenly days in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, the center of the anime universe.

Jewett learned to read by combing through manga, Japanese comics. He overcame self-doubt and gained confidence by obsessively watching anime, Japanese cartoons.


Consider: At the U.S. Olympic trials in June, Jewett ran the last 250 meters imagining he was an anime character carrying a companion through a tunnel to safety.

“These shows just inspired me to keep moving forward,” he said this month before leaving for Tokyo.

On Saturday, Jewett’s gold-medal quest begins at Olympic Stadium with the preliminary rounds of the 800 meters.

The 24-year-old Inglewood native and NCAA champion from USC will don the trademark sunglasses that help him cope with a vision issue, and he will attempt to become the first American to win a gold medal in the 800 since Dave Wottle in 1972.

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Lauren McGough waits with her 10-month-old daughter, Dakota, to see her husband, Scott McGough.
Lauren McGough waits with her 10-month-old daughter, Dakota, to see her husband, Scott McGough, before a U.S. baseball game in Japan.
(Handout / Associated Press)

Jorge Castillo on baseball: Lauren McGough left her Tokyo apartment with her 10-month-old daughter Dakota on Wednesday on a mission to see her husband, Scott. They took the train for six stops before jumping into a taxi for a 10-minute ride. The five-mile trip took 25 minutes.

Lauren hoped they’d get close enough to have Scott, a pitcher for the U.S. baseball team, wave at them from across Tokyo Bay. But they couldn’t see Scott when they reached a gate to the Olympic Village. Barriers blocked the view. They settled for a FaceTime session.

“That’s about as much Olympic fun as any family member will be having, I guess,” Lauren McGough said.

Most foreign athletes in these Games don’t have close relatives in the country after foreigners were barred from entering Japan to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. There are just a few known exceptions among Team USA’s delegation of 613 athletes.

TV schedule for Friday and Saturday

Georgia's Sopo Shatirishvili competes in women's shot put at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
(Matthias Schrader / Associated Press)



Multiple sports — 11 p.m. (Thursday)-11 a.m., USA

  • Women’s basketball — U.S. vs. Japan (live)
  • Diving — Women’s springboard qualifying (live)
  • Table tennis — Men’s singles final
  • Women’s rugby — Quarterfinals (live)
  • Men’s volleyball — U.S. vs. Brazil
  • Swimming — Qualifying heats (live)

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

  • Gymnastics — Women’s trampoline final (live)
  • Women’s Water Polo — U.S. vs. Russian Olympic Committee (live)
  • Archery — Women’s individual final (live)

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

  • Baseball — U.S. vs. Israel
  • Men’s handball — France vs. Spain
  • Women’s soccer — Quarterfinal
  • Women’s volleyball — China vs. Russian Olympic Committee (live)


  • Men’s doubles final; men’s doubles bronze medal match, men’s singles semifinal match, mixed doubles semifinals, 11 p.m. (Thursday)-4 a.m., Olympic Channel (live)
  • Men’s doubles gold medal match; men’s singles semifinals, men’s singles semifinals, mixed doubles semifinals; 4 a.m.-12 p.m., Olympic Channel (live)
  • Women’s singles final; men’s singles bronze medal match; women’s singles bronze medal; women’s doubles bronze medal match, mixed doubles bronze medal match, 8 p.m., Olympic Channel (live)

Women’s soccer

  • Quarterfinal TBD, 1 a.m. (live), NBCSN
  • Quarterfinal TBD, 3 a.m. (live), NBCSN
  • Quarterfinal TBD, 5 a.m. (live), NBCSN


  • Men’s third round — 3:30 a.m., Golf Channel

Beach volleyball

  • Men’s qualifying round, 6 a.m., NBCSN
  • Men’s volleyball — France vs. ROC, 7 a.m., NBCSN

Multiple sports — 9 a.m.-2 p.m., NBC

  • Rowing — Women’s and men’s finals
  • Women’s water polo — U.S. vs. Russian Olympic Committee
  • Cycling — BMX racing finals
  • Diving — Women’s springboard qualifying
  • Beach volleyball — Women’s qualifying round
  • Swimming — Qualifying heats

Multiple sports — 11 a.m.-11 p.m., NBCSN

  • Badminton — Mixed doubles final
  • Equestrian — Eventing, Dressage
  • Women’s basketball — U.S. vs. Japan
  • Women’s soccer — Quarterfinal
  • Beach volleyball — Women’s qualifying round
  • Women’s water polo — U.S. vs. Russian Olympic Committee
  • Women’s rugby — Semifinals

Multiple sports — 5-8:30 p.m., NBC

  • Track and field — Women’s 400 hurdles round one (live)
  • Beach volleyball — Women’s qualifying round (live)
  • Track and field — Mixed 400 relay semifinals
  • Swimming — Finals: Men’s 100 butterfly; women’s 200 backstroke; women’s 800 freestyle; Mixed 100 medley relay (live)
  • Track and field — Qualifying rounds: Men’s 800 round one; Women’s 100 hurdles round one; Men’s 100 prelims

Multiple sports — 5-11 p.m., CNBC

  • Beach volleyball — Women’s qualifying round (live)
  • Cycling — Women’s BMX freestyle qualifying (live)
  • Women’s volleyball — U.S. vs. Russian Olympic Committee (live)
  • Rugby — Women’s semifinals
  • Fencing — Women’s team sabre, semifinals (live)
  • Gymnastics — Men’s trampoline final (live)


  • Men’s individual round of 16, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Multiple sports — 9:05-11 p.m., NBC

  • Triathlon — Mixed relay
  • Cycling — BMX freestyle qualifying

Men’s water polo

  • U.S. vs. Hungary, 10 p.m. (live), USA


Multiple sports — 11 p.m. (Friday)-1:30 a.m., USA

  • Diving — Women’s springboard semifinal (live)
  • Women’s handball — Russian Olympic Committee vs. France

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

  • Gymnastics — Men’s trampoline final (live)
  • Shooting — Mixed trap final
  • Archery — Men’s individual final (live)


11 p.m. (Friday)-Saturday 4 a.m., Olympic Channel

  • Women’s singles gold medal match
  • Women’s singles bronze medal match
  • Men’s singles bronze medal match
  • Women’s doubles bronze medal match
  • Mixed doubles bronze medal match

8-11 p.m., Olympic Channel

  • Men’s singles final
  • Women’s doubles final
  • Mixed doubles final

Men’s volleyball

  • U.S. vs. Brazil, 11 p.m. (Friday), NBCSN


  • Women’s final and bronze medal matches, 1:30 a.m., USA (live)


  • Men’s Quarterfinals (TBD), 1 a.m., NBCSN (live)
  • Men’s quarterfinals (TBD), 1:30 a.m., USA (live)
  • Men’s quarterfinals (TBD), 4 a.m., USA (live)

Track and field


Multiple events — 3-8 a.m., Peacock (live)

  • Men’s long jump qualifying round
  • Women’s 100 semifinals
  • Men’s 100 round 1
  • Men’s discus throw final
  • Women’s 800 semifinals
  • Mixed 400 relay final
  • Women’s 100 final


  • U.S. vs. South Korea, 3 a.m. (live)


  • Men’s final round — 3:30 a.m., Golf Channel (live)

Multiple sports — 5 a.m.-3 p.m., NBC

  • Archery — Men’s final
  • Men’s water polo — U.S. vs. Hungary
  • Rugby — Women’s final
  • Cycling — BMX freestyle qualifying
  • Gymnastics — Men’s trampoline final
  • Tennis — Women’s singles final
  • Beach volleyball — Women’s qualifying round
  • Golf — Men’s third round report
  • Diving — Women’s springboard semifinal
  • Women’s Volleyball — U.S. vs. Russian Olympic Committee (11 a.m.)
  • Men’s Basketball — U.S. vs. Czech Republic (1 p.m.)

Women’s volleyball

  • China vs. Italy, 6 a.m., USA (live)

Multiple sports — 6 a.m.-12 p.m., NBCSN

  • Badminton — Men’s doubles final (live)
  • Women’s handball — Norway vs. Netherlands
  • Fencing — Women’s team sabre final
  • Beach volleyball — Lucky loser
  • Equestrian — Eventing, dressage

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

  • Men’s basketball — Australia vs. Germany
  • Women’s volleyball — Serbia vs. Brazil
  • Women’s rugby — Final and bronze medal matches
  • Judo — Team final
  • Boxing — Semifinals
  • Weightlifting — Finals
  • Men’s water polo — U.S. vs. Hungary
  • Men’s soccer — Quarterfinal (TBD)
  • Men’s water polo — Croatia vs. Serbia
  • Fencing — Men’s team foil quarterfinals
  • Women’s basketball — Canada vs. Spain
  • Fencing — Men’s team foil semifinals (live)
  • Track and field — Finals and qualifying rounds, 5:10 p.m. (live): Women’s shotput final; Men’s 400 qualifying round; Women’s steeplechase qualifying round

Men’s basketball

  • U.S. vs. Czech Republic, 10:45 a.m., NBCSN

Multiple sports — 5-9:05 p.m., NBC

  • Beach Volleyball – Women’s Elimination Round (live)
  • Track and Field — Qualifying rounds
  • Swimming — Finals (live): Men’s and Women’s 50 freestyle; Men’s 1,500 freestyle; Men’s and women’s 100 medley relays
  • Track & Field — Finals (live): Mixed 400 relay final; Women’s 100 final
  • Fencing — Men’s team foil quarterfinals
  • Multiple sports — 9:05-11 p.m., NBC
  • Beach Volleyball — Men’s elimination round (live)
  • Cycling — BMX freestyle finals
  • Men’s swimming — 1,500 freestyle final

Multiple sports — 12-6:45 p.m., NBCSN

  • Badminton — Women’s semifinal
  • Archery — Men’s individual final
  • Beach volleyball — Qualifying round and lucky loser
  • Tennis — Women’s final
  • Men’s soccer — quarterfinals (TBD)

Multiple sports — 6:45-8:45 p.m., NBCSN

  • Women’s volleyball – U.S. vs. Russian Olympic Committee

Men’s water polo

  • U.S. vs. Hungary, 8:45 p.m., NBCSN

Women’s rugby

  • Bronze medal and final matches, 9:45 p.m., NBCSN

Until next time...

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