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Thank You And Goodbye Tokyo …Bonjour, Paris 2024

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With 11,090 athletes from 206 Olympic Associations(including The Refugee Team), competing for a little over 1,000 medals in 339 events over the course of 16 days, Tokyo 2020, the XXXII Olympiad is over.

Some locals in Tokyo had embarked on many protests demanding the cancellation of the Games in the midst of a sharp increase in the number of Covid 19 positive test cases. The Japanese government remained resolute although, with just about 72hrs to the opening ceremony, IOC senior officials were refusing to rule out cancelling the Games especially after some athletes and officials had tested positive for the virus. ”We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases” Toshiro Muto said.  ”So, we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases”.

Toyota, the country’s largest car maker reportedly announced some days before the opening ceremony that,

Even before the opening ceremony, there had been reports of covid 19 positive tests amongst athletes and officials. The biggest name at the time was US Tennis player, Coco Gauff and, she had to pull out.

According to Reuters, the number of positive cases had reached 294 by 3rd August. 

THE SPORTS

The opening ceremony must have been a great source of relief for the athletes but even more so for the 

It also meant the attention was from then going to be on the athletes. We had already been told that, the Games 

had to go ahead, mainly for the sake of the athletes who had trained for years getting themselves ready for Tokyo.

The first medals of the Games were handed out on 24th July from Archery, Road cycling , Fencing ,Judo, Shooting and Taekwondo.

Basketball 3×3 (pronounced; three-ex-three) making its Olympic debut produced a medal match on 28th July(Women). In basic terms, 3×3 is just a 3-a-side with one substitute.

Having won 27 gold medals, 4 silver and 4 bronze from all international competitions, including 4 gold medals from Rio, Simone Biles, the diminutive 24yr old Gymnast was expected to lead the American charge for medals.

It came as a great shock when news broke that, Biles had withdrawn from some events to protect her mental health and, public opinion was divided. Many called her brave with some ignorant people who thought they knew better accused her of letting teammates and a nation down.

She bravely bounced back to win Bronze in the Balance Beam event. Speaking of the beam, my goodness, these gymnasts deserve a great deal of respect. How they do all those acrobatics on that narrow beam just baffles me.

The Beam is only TEN CENTIMETRES WIDE. For perspective, the ruler in a mathematical set is 15cm long. Just imagine the skill and training required. 

SPOOKY SUMO WRESTLER’S STATUE

On the 10th obstacle of the 14-jump Equestrian course is situated a life-sized statue of a Sumo wrestler. 

The wrestler whose arms are apart while the body is hunched over in a squat position could look very real in the eyes and minds of the equestrian horses and it’s no wonder that some competitors accused it of distracting their horses during the competition.

THE SEARCH FOR BOLT’S SUCCESSOR

Usain Bolt once tipped Canadian Andre de Grasse to become the next big thing in Track and Field. There was a time when almost everyone thought Christian Coleman was going to be the man. Coleman is serving a ban.

The favourites were Lyles, De Grasse, Simbine, Baker etc. and, even with about a month to the Games, the list of favourites could have gone on and on and on and, one man’s name would not have appeared. In the end, it was that man who as inconceivable as it may sound, is now called the FASTEST MAN ON THE PLANET. Lamont Jacobs is his name.  Jacobs of Italy only decided to take up sprinting in 2019 because of the many injuries he was sustaining as a high jumper. He is now the Olympic 100m champion, the champion of Track and Field’s blue riband event.

In the women’s race, Elaine Thompson-Herah ensured we wouldn’t be surprised again as she won both sprint races.

DE GRASSE’S GOLD NUGGET IN BRONZE AND SILVER COLLECTION

Andre de Grasse must have been feeling hurt and embarrassed following his 100m loss to the ”unknown” Lamont Jacobs. He had already won 1 silver and 2 bronze medals from Rio in 2016. At the World Championships in Doha and, in the absence of Bolt, he won 2 silver medals. 

He came to Tokyo and again, in the absence of the retired Bolt, he could only win silver as he was beaten by some unknown sprint rookie.

De Grasse was in real danger of becoming a nearly man. Very much aware of his abundant talent, he must have been eager not to earn that ignominious tag of a nearly man and, that must have inspired him to win the 200m Gold medal with a time of 19.62sec, a new Canadian record. He has his Gold now. With the World Championships in 2022 and Paris Olympics 2024 coming up, the grass may be looking greener for De Grasse.

SAFE HAVEN FOR SEMENYA?

Caster Semenya has been the fastest 800m female athlete for about 10yrs now but wasn’t allowed to compete in that event in Tokyo because of new regulations brought in by World Athletics(WA), formerly, IAAF concerning testosterone issues. The new regulations say any female athlete competing in races between 400m and 1,500m must have testosterone level lower than 5 nanomoles per litre. 

A female athlete with higher levels would have to take medication to lower it in order to compete in those events or drop down and do races like 100m and 200m or a race longer than 1,500m.

Semenya refused the take medication ,opting to run the 200m and 5000m instead but her times were not quick enough to take her to Tokyo. 

Two Namibian teenage female athletes, Masilingi and Mboma facing similar problems also rejected the medication option and decided to abandon their favourite 400m and to enable them run the 200m in Tokyo. Both competed in the final with Mboma winning Silver and even setting a new World record for the under-20s.

Masilingi finished in 6th but had already set two national records in the previous rounds. 

PRESIDENT LUKASHENKO SPARKS DIPLOMATIC ROW IN TOKYO

The Olympic Games has seen some diplomatic rows and boycotts like Spain and The USSR not taking part in Berlin 1936.  About six boycotts in all.

Ghana and 28 other African countries refused to go to Montreal in 1976 as a result of the IOC’s refusal to ban New Zealand whose Rugby Team defied The UN to tour Apartheid South Africa.

In 1980, Ghana together with 65 other countries led by the US boycotted the Moscow Games.

The USSR returned the favour by leading 17 other countries to boycott the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

The Tokyo row was not a boycott but perhaps the most unusual row at any Games. Belarusian authorities unsuccessfully tried to bundle their athlete, Krystina Timanovskaya out of the Tokyo Games for allegedly criticising their coaching team.

According to the athlete, a coach had told her the order to send her back to Belarus had come ”from above”.

She is now in Poland with that country offering her refuge.

TEAM GHANA

Class of 2020 managed to earn Ghana a medal for the 1st time in 29 years, a bronze medal which by the way, was what the Black Meteors also won in 1992 in Barcelona. The Tokyo Bronze was from boxing ,thanks to Samuel Takyi.

Ok, so Azamati and Amoah didn’t do as well as we might had hoped for but even many of the more accomplished sprinters didn’t perform either. 

Azamati had a terrible start in the 100m. He did very well to close the gap but considering the opposition he faced, it was always going to be very difficult.

Amoah too couldn’t qualify from his Heat but he can console himself with the fact that, he posted a faster time than he had done all season. He did his best but it was sadly not good enough on the day.

The Men’s 4x100m team reached the final for the 1st time since Atlanta in 1996. They set a new national record in the semi-finals but were unfortunately disqualified in the final. A lot of things can wrong in a relay race and, you just hope it doesn’t happen to your team. Even the almighty Americans haven’t always got it right. Indeed, the Americans have botched the relays TEN TIMES since 1995 at either the World Championships or the Olympics. We should be proud of our young men and women. They need our support; I mean some very serious support.

ALLYSON IN WONDERLAND

Perhaps the most consistent Track and Field athlete during the past 15years. Her name is Allyson Felix.  I first got to know about her just after she had won the 200m race at the US Olympic Trials in 2004.

She won silver behind Veronica Campell in Athens, setting the World Junior Record. 

She has since gone on to amass 13 World Championship Gold medals, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze. This is a record for both males and females. 

She is the only female Track and Field athlete to have won seven Olympic Gold medals. 

Her total haul of eleven(11) Olympic medals now puts her two ahead of another of my favourites, Jamaican Merlene Ottey, as the most decorated female Track and Field Olympian. 

Now, check this ,she is ahead of Usain Bolt(8) and Carl Lewis(10) but one behind the man known as The Phantom Finn, the late Paavo Nurmi(- the most decorated Track and Field Olympic athlete.

Asafa Powell reportedly said the sound of Tyson Gay’s feet pounding the ground behind him used to panic him resulting in Gay often running past him to win races.

Having watched Felix run on tv and even in the flesh from close range a few times, I can say Powell wouldn’t be panicked by the sound of Felix’s feet. He wouldn’t even know he had her behind him and that for me is very dangerous because Felix just floats across the track when racing and before you know it, she is ahead of you. Once she gets ahead of you, you know baring some catastrophic incident, you can only finish behind her.

She plans to compete at Paris 2024 and hopes to bring her very illustrious career to a close. Paris will be hosting the Games for the 3rd time, exactly 100yrs since it last did so in 1924.

WELL, SEE YOU THERE IN PARIS.

​Akwasi Afriyie (Rosky)

  United Kingdom.

Source: ​Akwasi Afriyie (Rosky) – United Kingdom.

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