Misfiring Neymar ‘could leave the team’ over boos
Brazil’s star striker, Neymar, could walk out on the country’s football team if fans continue to blame him for the team’s disastrous performances, according to Olympic coach Rogério Micale.
The sensitive Barcelona striker is fed up with copping boos for Brazil’s showing so far — the team have drawn with Iraq and South Africa and failed to score in either match. The Seleção need to beat Denmark in their final group A match on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals.
“If we analyse it coldly . . . if we don’t treat [our stars] with respect, before long they will not want to stay with us any more,” Micale was quoted as saying in Folha de S Paulo newspaper. His pleas are unlikely to attract any sympathy from fed-up Brazilians who have seen the team as coddled and incompetent ever since they were routed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals of the World Cup two years ago.
Stars and Stripes dominate the pool. Again
Surprise, surprise? Not really. US swimmer Katie Ledecky proved her supremacy yet again, winning her second gold in the women’s 200m freestyle final on Tuesday night. The US swimming prodigy faced a challenge from Australia’s Emma McKeon in the first lap but proved too fast on the return, clocking 1.53.73.
Meanwhile, a fist-clenching Michael Phelps basked in the adulation of the crowd after winning his 20th Olympic gold, this time in the men’s 200m butterfly final. He clocked a time of 1.53.36, well short of his own world record of 1.51.51 but still good enough. After the medal ceremony, he delighted the cameras by climbing the stands up to his fiancée and kissing their infant son. Later he won his 21st gold with the USA team in the men’s 4x200m relay. Great Britain gained a silver in the event, while Siobhan-Marie O’Connor also won a silver for Team GB in the women’s 200m individual medley.
Diving into the green abyss
Down by the diving pool, there was just one question on spectators’ minds: why is it green? Overnight, the water in the diving pool of the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre mysteriously went from bright blue to murky green.
Swimmers and alarmed onlookers shared photos on social media of what quickly became known as the “green abyss”. Commentators speculated that organisers may not have cleaned the pool overnight with chlorine, allowing algae to flourish in the warm temperatures, while some suggested it was tinted green on purpose as one of Brazil’s national colours.
In a statement on Twitter, Rio 2016’s organising committee said tests had shown there was no risk to athletes’ health and that it was investigating the cause.
Journalists under attack
A bus was hit on Tuesday evening as it took journalists from Rio’s Deodoro Stadium to the main Olympic Park. A reporter at Brazil’s Estado de S Paulo newspaper travelling on the bus said it was struck by gunfire, causing two windows to shatter.
Two journalists suffered minor cuts from the shards of glass but no one was seriously hurt, according to the newspaper. Reuters also quoted a witness saying someone had shot at the bus. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Globo news agency quoted a police officer as saying that the bus had been pelted with rocks.
According to local media, eight foreign journalists and four Brazilians were on the bus when it was struck at about 7.45pm local time. Brazilian police did not immediately comment.
The Biles Olympics
19-year-old Simone Biles is tipped to win five gold medals in the gymnastics. She started by guiding the USA to the women’s team title, producing the best-scoring routines on the vault, beam and floor in a dominant display.
The USA won by eight points, a huge margin — when Japan won the men’s competition they did so by two and a half points and its team contained Kōhei Uchimura, widely regarded as the greatest male gymnast of all time.
Like Uchimura, Biles is also taking her sport to new levels. According to the New York Times, her signature move is a “double layout with a half twist at a blind landing”. Watch for it closely when she performs in the women’s individual all-round competition on Thursday. The move involves several tumbles, before leaping high into the air and flipping twice. During the second flip, she twists 360 degrees, then lands perfectly facing forwards.
When she first performed the manoeuvre three years ago, it had never been seen in competition. It has since been dubbed the “The Biles”. More feats like this, and these games may also be forever associated with her.
The sun rises above the All Blacks
A year ago, Japan beat South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in one of the biggest upsets in the the sport’s history. On Tuesday the men representing the “land of the rising sun” produced another unlikely victory, beating New Zealand’s mighty All Blacks in the Olympic rugby sevens tournament.
A late try from Kameli Soejima followed by a coolly kicked conversion by Katsuyuki Sakai gave Japan a famous 14-12 win in the pool stage. Worse yet for New Zealand, star Sonny Bill Williams ruptured his Achilles tendon in the match, ending his participation at the games. Later, New Zealand beat Kenya to keep alive fading hopes for a gold but they will need to beat Great Britain in their final pool game on Wednesday. The medals will be decided the following day and Japan stand a chance for a podium finish.
“For most of us this is our last sevens series, so this is our only chance to prove to the world that Japan can beat any team,” said Lote Tuqiri, one of its players. “In sevens it’s anybody’s game.”
Tennis favourites tumble
The Olympic tennis tournament has been shorn of the sport’s two most dominant players, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.
On Tuesday night Williams was defeated in the third round of the singles by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-3. Earlier in the competition, she lost in the women’s doubles alongside her sister Venus — their first ever defeat together in an Olympic tournament.
On Monday Djokovic was left in tears by a loss in the first round of the men’s singles by Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro. Afterwards, he described it as “one of the toughest losses in my life and my career. The wounds are still fresh.” He followed it up with a loss alongside his Serbian partner Nenad Zimonijic in the second round of the men’s doubles to the Brazilian pair of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares.
Their departures could help Great Britain, as both its top singles players, reigning men’s singles champion Andy Murray and Johanna Konta, remain in the tournament. Whisper it softly but the nation’s medal tally is poorer than many had hoped for at this stage, so the team could do with all the help it can get.
Protesters score last-minute victory
Expect more political protests over coming days. A federal judge in Brazil has ruled in favour of allowing political protests at Olympics venues, saying that removing protesters is a violation of their right to free expression. Since Friday, several Brazilian spectators have been filmed being removed from stadiums after displaying anti-government slogans, often directed at the country’s interim president Michel Temer. Organisers of the games are expected to appeal the ruling.
The slowcoach in the fast lane
The men’s 100m freestyle is one of the marquee races in Olympic swimming, pitching together some of the world’s fastest humans through water. Spare a thought for the man who becomes the slowest.
In Rio, that dubious honour fell to Robel Kiros Habte of Ethiopia. At 1.02pm local time, he started in the first heat for the competition, alongside the two other slowest qualifiers: Côte d’Ivoire’s Thibaut Amani Danho and Dominican Republic’s Johnny Urena Perez.
Habte, who does not possess the lithe physique of his rivals, proceeded to lose by half the length of the pool in a time of 1.04.95. Still, it has been a memorable games for the swimmer, who was Ethiopia’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony.
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