"Iron sharpens iron."
So said 400m hurdler Sydney McLaughlin about her pursuit, both literal and figurative, of fellow American Dalilah Muhammad, who needed a world record to hold off the young phenom in the 2019 World Championships.
But as expected, iron also sharpened a couple of more precious metals, the gold and silver medals in the second 400m hurdles race for the ages in Tokyo.
McLaughlin appeared to have taken the throne (figurative, not iron) when she set the world record of 51.90 at the Olympic trials. Muhammad, though, wasn't giving up that throne lightly, running well ahead of world-record pace in Wednesday's final.
In the end, Muhammad had beaten McLaughlin's record time. But she hadn't beaten McLaughlin, who surged at the end to win in 51.46, just ahead of Muhammad's 51.58.
McLaughlin was barely 17 when she made her Olympic debut in Rio and has not yet turned 22. That's young on the track but would seem geriatric in the skateboard park, where the medalists were 19, 12 and 13. The host country had a 1-2 finish with gold medalist Sakura Yosozumi (19) and silver medalist Cocona Hiraki (12). Bronze medalist Sky Brown (just turned 13) has parents who are British and Japanese and splits her time between Japan and the USA.
The USA didn't have a lot of medal chances outside the track, but Richard Torrez Jr. made sure that his boxing medal would be either gold or silver, and U.S. teams advanced in baseball, women's basketball and women's volleyball.
Several sports had quarterfinals Wednesday, while baseball had what could roughly be considered a quarterfinal in its unique, heavily modified double elimination format.
Women's basketball: Australia beat the USA in an exhibition game leading up to the Games but was overmatched in the quarterfinals. A 13-2 run in the second quarter briefly pulled Australia close, but the USA's defensive dominance and Breanna Stewart's 20-point first half shot down any notion of a second upset. Final score: 79-55. (STORY)
In the biggest thrillers of the day, Rui Machida hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left and Belgium missed a buzzer-beater, giving Japan an 86-85 win and a semifinal berth. The last quarterfinal was another close one and an upset, as France beat previously unbeaten Spain. (STORY)
Women's volleyball: The U.S. women, still missing injured stars Jordyn Poulter and Jordan Thompson, had little trouble with the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals, winning 25-11, 25-20, 25-19. Next up is Serbia. South Korea and Brazil also advanced. (STORY)
Baseball: While the U.S. women's volleyball team was convincingly beating the Dominican Republic, the baseball team was doing the same. A two-run home run by Tristan Casas staked the USA to a two-run lead in the first and starting pitcher Scott Kazmir made it stick with five strikeouts in five innings on the way to a 3-1 win. (STORY)
Japan left it until late to beat South Korea 5-2 and advance to the gold medal game. South Korea will next face the USA, with the winner playing for gold and the loser playing for bronze. (STORY)
Men's water polo: Spain ended the USA's run in the quarterfinals with a 12-8 victory, extending an American medal drought dating back to 2008. Greece and Serbia also comfortably advanced to the semifinals, and traditional powerhouse Hungary worked its way past Croatia. (STORY)
Women's handball: In the shocker of the day, France routed the world champion Netherlands 32-22. Perennial powers Norway and the ROC advanced to the semifinals. Sweden defeated South Korea, which missed out on the semifinals for the second straight time after making it every time for a couple of decades. (STORY)
Men's beach volleyball: Brazil's Alison Cerutti lost his chance to defend his gold medal as he and new partner Alvaro Filho lost to Latvia's Martins Plavins and Edgar Tocs. Teams from Norway, the ROC and Qatar will fill out the semifinals. (STORY)
Table tennis: No surprises here, with China advancing to the final in men's and women's team events. Germany will be China's opponent in the men's final after beating Japan. (STORY)
Track and field
U.S. record-holder Courtney Frerichs pushed the pace and led for much of the last half in the 3000m steeplechase and held on for silver behind Peruth Chemutai of Uganda. Emma Coburn, the 2016 bronze medalist and 2017 world champion, fell behind and stumbled. (STORY)
Kenyan runners Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir and Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich finished 1-2 in the men's 800m.
Poland took three medals on the night, with Patryk Dobek placing third in the 800m and Wojciech Nowicki taking gold in the hammer throw, with Pawel Fajdek following for bronze.
Allyson Felix will get a shot at one more individual medal after qualifying for the 400m final along with U.S. teammate Quanera Hayes. (STORY)
Canadian Damian Warner took the lead after five events in the decathlon, and The Netherlands' Anouk Vetter leads the heptathlon after the first day. U.S. athletes stand fourth and sixth in each event — Steven Bastien and Garrett Scantling in the decathlon, Annie Kunz and Erica Bougard in the heptathlon.
And the last event was a momentous occasion for Canada, with perennial podium finisher Andre de Grasse finally taking gold, winning a fast 200m over Americans Kenneth Bednarek and Noah Lyles. (STORY)
Around the Games
Sport climbing: Brooke Raboutou advanced to the eight-climber final with solid showings in all three phases of the event, particularly bouldering. (STORY)
Golf: Golfers might need to contend with triple-digit temperatures and tropical storms, but Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom shot 5-under and the USA's Nelly Korda is in a tie for second, one shot back. (STORY)
Diving: Delaney Schnell and Katrina Young advanced to the women's platform semifinal. (STORY)
Wrestling: U.S. wrestler David Taylor was dominant in three bouts to advance to the final of the 86kg freestyle. Helen Maroulis fell short of her quest for a second gold medal but will have a shot at bronze. The Kawai family of Japan had a great day, with Risako beating Maroulis and her sister, Yukako, taking gold in another weight class. (STORY)
Weightlifting: Georgia's Lasha Talakhadze's only competition was with the record book. He won, lifting 223kg in the snatch and 265kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 488kg, all world records and a total of 47kg ahead of the rest of the pack. (STORY)
Artistic swimming: Svetlana Romashina of the ROC joined the rare club of six-time gold medalists with a win in the duet competition. She can get one more in the team event. (STORY)
Artistic swimming, duet: Gold - ROC, Silver - China, Bronze - Ukraine
Boxing, men's light heavyweight: Gold - Arlen Lopez (CUB), Silver - Benjamin Whittaker (GBR), Bronze - Imam Khataev (ROC), Bronze - Loren Dominguez Alfonso (AZE)
Cycling, men's team pursuit: Gold - Italy, Silver - Denmark, Bronze - Australia
Equestrian, jumping: Gold - Ben Maher (GBR), Silver - Peder Fredricson (SWE), Bronze - Maikel van der Vleuten (NED)
Sailing, men's 470: Gold - Australia, Silver - Sweden, Bronze - Spain
Sailing, women's 470: Gold - Great Britain, Silver - Poland, Bronze - France
Skateboarding, women's park: Gold - Sakura Yosokumi (JPN), Silver - Cocona Hiraki (JPN), Bronze - Sky Brown (GBR)
Swimming, 10k open water: Gold - Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA), Silver - Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED), Bronze - Kareena Lee (AUS)
Track and field, women's 400m hurdles: Gold - Sydney McLaughlin (USA), Silver - Dalilah Muhammad (USA), Bronze - Femke Bol (NED)
Track and field, women's 3000m steeplechase: Gold - Peruth Chemutai (UGA), Silver - Courtney Frerichs (USA), Bronze - Hyvin Kiyeng (KEN)
Track and field, men's hammer throw: Gold - Wojciech Nowicki (POL), Silver - Eivend Henriksen (NOR), Bronze - Pawel Fajdek (POL)
Track and field, men's 800m: Gold - Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir (KEN), Silver - Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich (KEN), Bronze - Patryk Dobek (POL)
Track and field, men's 200m: Gold - Andre de Grasse (CAN), Silver - Kenneth Bednarek (USA), Bronze - Noah Lyles (USA)
Weightlifting, men's 109+kg: Gold - Lasha Talakhadze (GEO), Silver - Ali Davoudi (IRI), Bronze - Man Asaad (SYR)
Wrestling, men's 67kg Greco-Roman: Gold - Mohammadreza Geraei (IRI), Silver - Parviz Nasibov (UKR), Bronze - Frank Staebler (GER), Bronze - Mohamed El-Sayed (EGY)
Wrestling, men's 87kg Greco-Roman: Gold - Zhan Beleniuk (UKR), Silver - Viktor Lorincz (HUN), Bronze - Zurabi Datunashvili (SRB), Bronze - Denis Kudla (GER)
Wrestling, women's 62kg: Gold - Kawai Yukako (JPN), Silver - Aisuluu Tynybekova (KGZ), Bronze - Iryna Koliadenko (UKR), Bronze - Taybe Mustafa Yusein (BUL)
Get all the details on:
- Artistic swimming: duet, team
- Baseball: overview and box scores
- Basketball: men's preliminary round, women's preliminary round
- Beach volleyball: men's tournament, women's tournament
- Boxing: men's fly, men's feather, men's light, men's welter, men's middle, men's light heavy, men's heavy, men's super heavy, women's fly, women's feather, women's light, women's welter, women's middle
- Canoe/kayak: all events
- Cycling: all events
- Diving: all events
- Equestrian: all events
- Field hockey: men’s tournament, women’s tournament
- Golf: women's tournament
- Handball: men's preliminary round, women's preliminary round
- Sailing: all events
- Skateboarding: all events
- Soccer: men’s tournament, women’s tournament
- Sport climbing: all events
- Swimming: all events (including open water)
- Table tennis: men’s team, women’s team
- Tennis: men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles, mixed doubles
- Track and field: all events
- Trampoline: women's event
- Volleyball: men's preliminary round, women's preliminary round
- Water polo: men's preliminary round, women's preliminary round
- Weightlifting: all events
- Wrestling: all events