US steps up Olympic medal hunt

Agence France-Presse
US steps up Olympic medal hunt
Team USA's Kevin Wayne Durant goes for a dunk past Spain's Ricard Rubio (R) in the men's quarterfinal basketball match between Spain and USA during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on August 3, 2021.
Aris Messinis / AFP

TOKYO – The United States is eyeing a quadruple gold medal haul spearheaded by hurdler Grant Holloway in the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Thursday, while the men's basketball tournament reaches the semifinal stage.

Kevin Durant and his USA teammates are aiming for another appearance in the gold medal game as they face Australia.

With four days of the Games remaining, China is leading the medals table with 32 golds to the USA's 25. 

Host nation Japan is performing strongly with 21 golds, six ahead of fourth-placed Britain.

Ten flights of hurdles stand between Holloway and a first Olympic gold medal for the Floridian, the dominant sprint hurdler in the world this year who is aiming to reclaim the title for the USA after Omar McLeod took it to Jamaica five years ago in Rio.

Triple jumper Will Claye could bound out to the Americans' second track and field title of the day.

A third gold is likely to come from world record holder Ryan Crouser in the men's shot put final.

The Americans will expect a fourth in the men's 400m with Michael Norman under pressure to restore pride after the US 100m and 200m runners came up short.

Norman faces a challenge though from the resurgent Kirani James of Grenada, the 2012 gold medalist and still only 28 who ran an impressive 43.88sec to clinch his spot in the final.

Australia's hoop dreams

In Saitama, Durant and his teammates cannot afford to lower their guard against an Australian team with experienced NBA players of their own including Patty Mills and Joe Ingles.

The Australians have been trying to finish on the Olympic podium since the Melbourne Games in 1956 but have yet to make it despite contesting the bronze medal match four times.

"We've been to this stage many a time and haven't crossed the line. But we've bottled those experiences up, and I think we're well prepared for this moment and for this stage to make the next step," San Antonio Spurs point guard Mills said.

A strong France team which stunned the Americans in their first game must contain the scoring threat of Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Slovenia if they are to reach the final.

China will be keen to pick up another gold and tighten their grip on the diving competition by retaining the women's 10m platform title.

In other key action, China will fight it out with Japan for the women's team gold in the table tennis.

In the Izu Velodrome world records are falling like confetti, proving teams have pushed technology to new limits.

The women's keirin and men's omnium are the next events up.

Japan has all the gold medals on offer so far in skateboarding and will be contenders in the men's park final.

In the women's equivalent on Wednesday, 12-year-old Kokona Hiraki's bronze medal made her the first person to win an Olympic medal before her 13th birthday since French rower Noel Vandernotte in 1936.

Australia plays Belgium in the men's hockey final and in the early morning, the hardy men's marathon swimmers will plunge in and begin their 10-kilometre course.

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