Gong wins shot before crowning of post-Bolt sprint champion
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Tokyo (AFP) –
China's Gong Lijiao lived up to her pre-Olympics form by winning gold in the shot put in Tokyo on Sunday, while the current crop of male sprinters will later bid to succeed retired Jamaican legend Usain Bolt as 100m champion.
Gong managed a personal best of 20.58 metres on her sixth and final attempt in blazing sunshine in the Olympic Stadium, having led from her opening effort of 19.95m.
American Raven Saunders took silver with 19.79m, while New Zealand veteran Valerie Adams, in her fifth Olympics, was left delighted as she claimed bronze with 19.62 to go with golds in 2008 and 2012, and silver in 2016.
After Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce failed in her bid for a third 100m title, Adams was next up in her quest to become the first woman to win a single individual Olympic field event three times.
But Gong, who has topped the world lists in three of the last four seasons, totally dominated the field to shut down any prospect of Adams making history.
"This is a special day for me," 36-year-old Adams said. "It means everything, more than a gold medal as I've been juggling motherhood and athletics.
"Being able to achieve this as a mum, and a mum of two at that, is phenomenal. I've come back from motherhood and can still be at the top of the game. I'm testament to that.
"I hope to inspire other female athletes," said Adams, who will now coach her sister Lisa, who will compete at the Tokyo Paralympics, meaning a four-month absence from home.
That bid to win three individual titles now falls to Poland's world record holder hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, who needed just one throw to advance to Tuesday's final.
The 35-year-old Pole, a four-time world champion, will be gunning for a third consecutive gold after triumphing at the 2012 and 2016 Games.
- Bromell under pressure -
World champion Stephen Gardiner of the Bahamas and American Michael Cherry led a host of serious contenders into Monday's semi-finals of what promises to be an ultra-competitive men's 400m.
Cherry's teammate Michael Norman and reigning champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa, who set a world record when winning in Rio, also made the cut despite not winning their heats.
A new men's 100m sprint champion will be christened in Sunday's final in the absence of Bolt, who took three consecutive Olympic 100m-200m doubles in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
The 100m semi-finals and final were blown open after American Trayvon Bromell, who owns the fastest time this year of 9.77sec, the seventh-quickest in history, scraped through as a fastest loser after finishing fourth in his heat.
US teammates Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley will fancy their chances while Canada's Andre De Grasse and South African Akani Simbine are sure to offer some decent competition.
Other finals feature Venezuela's world champion Yulimar Rojas going for gold in the women's triple jump and in the men's high jump, Mutaz Barshim of Qatar is the favourite as he bids to improve on his two previous silver medals.
© 2021 AFP