The summits: Caeleb Dressel

“New Michael Phelps” is a catchy title but could use more nuance. What the United States really needed was not to compete with Phelps’ medal harvest – because no one can – but a new male talisman, a figurehead to stand alongside. Katie Ledecky and grab the attention of the general public. And, of course, a few medals.

After two relay gold medals in Rio, the 24-year-old Floridian won his first three individual Olympic titles in Tokyo. Add two more stints and Dressel lived up to the hype. The fastest swimmer in the world and a seven-time Olympic gold medalist? It will do the trick.

And his frankness should not be overlooked in a Games where the pressures on the athletes are at the forefront. Thoughtful, sensitive and honest, he has revealed that he cries a lot, gets nervous and sometimes feels energized. He expressed levels of emotional honesty and self-awareness that Phelps, now a mental health advocate, would no doubt applaud. This is a valuable contribution in addition to his collection of medals.

Sunisa Lee

An event that should be one of Tokyo’s most anticipated conclusions has proven nothing, but Simone Biles has pulled out of the women’s individual gymnastics competition. Yet American greatness was still on display, as Sunisa Lee won gold.

The 18-year-old Minnesotan, the first American Hmong Olympian, has a powerful personal history that includes a recent family tragedy. “This medal really means a lot to me because there was a point where I wanted to quit and I just didn’t think I would ever be here, including injuries and everything,” she said. told reporters.

Not only did Lee extend the United States’ winning streak in the top event to five consecutive Olympics, she also won silver in the women’s team competition and bronze on uneven bars.

Sunisa Lee won all-around gymnastics gold for the United States after favorite Simone Biles retired. Photograph: Loïc Venance / AFP / Getty Images


It’s not a sport that is gaining a lot of attention in the United States, for reasons beyond its limited television appeal. Even the governing body’s website describes its athletes as “misunderstood, under-recognized and somewhat frowned upon.”

Yet, at the time of writing, the shooting team had achieved their best results in decades and contributed the second most medals in the US team’s total (second behind swimming) with three medals. of gold, two of silver and one of bronze.

Two titles arrived on the same day, as Vincent Hancock and Amber English won their skeet competitions. And that’s even without the participation of six-time Olympian Kim Rhode, a legend for her abilities and longevity, who traveled to Tokyo as a substitute.

Lee kiefer

The avid tarantula fencer and medical student beat reigning champion Inna Deriglazova of ROC to win the women’s individual foil. She looked momentarily stunned, which isn’t surprising given the context.

Although the sport is a niche in the United States, with a collegial tradition closely associated with the Ivy League, it is still remarkable that Kiefer’s was the first Olympic foil title for an American. After all, there were chances; fencing has been practiced at every Games since the first in 1896. The top three nations – Italy, France and Hungary – have accumulated 131 gold medals. The only other American gold medalist besides Kiefer is five-time Olympian Mariel Zagunis, saber champion in 2004 and 2008.

Kiefer, 27, comes from a family with training in fencing and medicine. Her father is a neurosurgeon, her mother is a psychiatrist, her sister is a doctor, and her brother is a medical student. And her husband, Gerek Meinhardt, won bronze in the men’s team foil. The couple are both students at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

Lee Kiefer (right) faces Italy's Alice Volpiin in the women's team foil event.
Lee Kiefer (right) takes on Italian Alice Volpi
in the women’s team foil event.
Photography: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

The socks: the swimming relays

The spectacle of Dressel frantically trying to pass seven women amid the chaos as he swam the anchor leg of the 4x100m Mixed Medley was one of the best – and arguably the strangest – races in the competition. But the huge gap he failed to close (the United States was fifth) represented a tactical failure. “Unacceptable,” Dressel called the result.

It was a new event; the men’s 4x200m freestyle without Dressel, also won by Great Britain, was a historic disappointment. Surprisingly, this was the first time in 96 attempts that an American relay team failed to win a medal. There were still gold medals in the 4x100m freestyle and men’s medley. In total at the Aquatic Center, the American swimmers finished with 30 medals (11 gold), compared to 33 medals (16 gold) in Rio.

It was still the table, as usual, although overall it was an excellent but not compelling meeting for the United States. A resurgent Australia and a strong British team played a big part in this, but the relays did play a part. The United States won just two of seven, compared to five of six in Rio.

Rugby Sevens

One of the dormant hits on his Rio debut, the Eagles didn’t do much to keep fans awake for the action in Tokyo. The women’s and men’s teams were aiming for medals but were both eliminated in the quarterfinals by Great Britain.

The tournament wasn’t much of a spectacle either, aside from heartwarming tales of Fiji’s triumphs over adversity. It was an event that suffered more than others from the absence of fans, with the resonating void of the 50,000-capacity Tokyo stadium creating about as much atmosphere as outer space. .

The format is undeniably finicky, with a few blurry minutes or a sudden change in momentum enough to spell the end, but given the positive momentum before the pandemic – both US teams were ranked second in the world – the Olympics represented a missed opportunity. And the way out of the men’s squad, losing 26-21 after wasting a 21-0 lead, was particularly maddening.

Naya Tapper (right) pushes back Australia's Faith Nathan in the rugby sevens qualifiers for fifth place.
Naya Tapper (right) pushes back Australia’s Faith Nathan in the rugby sevens qualifiers for fifth place. Photograph: Adam Davy / AP


An Olympic bronze? To verify. Silver? Twice. World titles? By bucket load. World number one ranking? For sure. Appearance on Fox & Friends urging fellow Olympians to stick with the sport? That too!

There isn’t much that Brady Ellison hasn’t accomplished in archery, but the man who credits a Slovenian natural healer with his recovery from a career-threatening hand injury has arrived at Tokyo with the aim of winning its first Olympic gold medal.

The 32-year-old, nicknamed “The Arizona Cowboy”, lost his individual quarter-final to eventual winner, Turkish Mete Gazoz, and did not fare better in the men’s and mixed events. Team USA’s best result was Mackenzie Brown’s fourth place in the women’s individual, meaning the Americans withdrew from the Olympics without a medal for the first time since 2008.


The USWNT were pissed off by Sweden in their first group game, they only passed the Netherlands in the quarterfinals thanks to the heroism of Alyssa Naeher, and now it’s the best. bronze after Monday’s 1-0 semi-final defeat. in Canada, a performance so stagnant that it is astonishing that the algae did not start to bloom on their kit. This magnificent 2019 World Cup campaign seems a long time ago, even with a similar roster in Tokyo. The same is true in 2012, when the United States won their third consecutive Olympic title.

At least they made it to Japan, eh, USMNT?

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