El Bakkali ends Kenyan rule, Canada stuns US
Soufiane El Bakkali ended Kenya’s dominance in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase by winning Morocco’s first Olympic gold medal in all sports since 2004.
The Kenyans have set the standard in this event in recent times, winning gold in each of the previous nine Games.
But El Bakkali ended that streak, taking victory over Ethiopian Lamecha Girma while Benjamin Kigen won a bronze medal for Kenya.
The last Moroccan to claim the honor of the sport was Hicham El Guerrouj, who won the men’s 1500m and 5000m in Athens 17 years ago.
“I’m so used to seeing Kenyans win, it’s a great accomplishment for me,” said El Bakkali.
“I have been aiming for this for years and it was my opportunity to show that Morocco is capable of winning this award ahead of the Kenyans.
“I tried so many times to compare myself with Kenyans and Ethiopians to see if I could achieve this gold medal, and I did.”
HASSAN HAT-TRICK OFFER ON TRACK
Sifan Hassan aims to become the first athlete to win a treble over 1500m, 5000m and 10000m in a single edition of the Olympic Games.
The Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman, who recovered from a crash to overcome her 1,500m series earlier today, got off to an exceptional start with a victory in the 5,000m on Monday.
“After I fell it cost me a lot of energy, I went home and wanted to sleep,” said Hassan, who won the Netherlands’ first Olympic gold in track and field since 1992.
“A lot of people think I’m crazy. I also think I’m crazy. A lot of people think it’s crazy and I’m not even going to get a single medal.
“Life is not gold, the winner is also following his heart.”
HOODOO END OF CANADA TEAM REACH CANADA FINAL
Canada ended a sensational 36-game winless streak against the United States, with Jessie Fleming’s penalty securing a berth in the women’s football final.
The Canadians hadn’t beaten the US team – four-time Olympic gold medalists – since March 11, 2001.
However, their luck changed with Fleming’s 74th-minute penalty that settled the semi-final after the VAR ruled Tierna Davidson fouled Deanne Rose.
Canada’s reward is a gold medal showdown with Sweden, who beat Australia 1-0 thanks to a Fridolina Rolfo strike in the second half.
On a more positive note for the United States away from football, it has been announced that Simone Biles will compete in Tuesday’s balance beam final.
LOPE IN FOUR WAYS
Mijain Lopez became the first Greco-Roman wrestler to win four gold medals at the Olympics after beating Georgian Iakobi Kajaia in the 130kg final.
His success allowed him to receive a congratulatory call from Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, while he also did not rule out continuing until Paris 2024.
“I feel happy, proud to be the best in the world and to make history,” Lopez said.
“I have had a long career, working hard to achieve these goals and break this record.
“I worked so hard to get there. To be able to break this record today for me is a great achievement, because I have faced the best and I can be proud.”
ALREADY SEEN IN WOMEN’S HOCKEY
After making the 2016 final in Rio, Great Britain and the Netherlands will face each other again at the Games – this time in a tantalizing final four showdown.
The GB team needed a shootout to defeat Spain after a 2-2 draw, with Hannah Martin and Sarah Jones scoring their efforts while goalkeeper Maddie Hinch produced exploits to seal a 2-0 success.
Martin said: “It’s a huge time for us to get to these medal games. We’re right over the moon.
“Maddie was absolutely exceptional in there. We knew she had it and the feeling was utter elation. I couldn’t reach it fast enough.”
As for the Netherlands, they had a comfortable 3-0 victory over New Zealand.