TOKYO — Architect Kengo Kuma likely envisioned a different setting for the Olympic Stadium he created in Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Games.
G. Fisher Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
The venue, located in Kasumigaoka, is enormous in size but elegant in design; it was built to blend in with its natural surroundings while standing out for its attention to detail.
The scene is perfect for tens of thousands of fans to gather on a beautiful summer evening to watch track and field, one of the most iconic Olympic events.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak put a damper on their plans, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will take place with the vast majority of the stadium’s 68,000 seats unfilled. However, that hope was not completely lost on the first night of track and field.
Grant Fisher, an American 10,000-meter runner who placed fifth in the opening track final at the Tokyo Olympics, remarked, “You go in, and it’s like stepping into the Coliseum.”
Not only did the building itself wow with its spare geometry and elaborate roof of latticed wood and steel, but the building’s design also contributed to the building’s overall ambience.
A sizable cheer went up in one section of the stadium when Ethiopian runner Selemon Barega crossed the finish line first in the men’s 10 kilometre race with a time of 27 minutes, 43.22 seconds with his arms raised in triumph. The Olympic Stadium, like the other facilities here, has designated areas for delegation members to cheer on their countrymen.
Ethiopian spectators cheered and waved their flag when the race ended. A few rows behind, another Ugandan contingent showed just as much fervour in supporting their country’s silver and bronze medalists.
Even though there wasn’t quite a roaring crowd of 68,000, the atmosphere all night long had the impression of a major tournament.
Like Fisher, Elise Cranny ran the 5,000 metres in her first Olympics tonight. “Obviously it would have been amazing to have fans,” Cranny remarked. “But even so, the intensity of the rivals and the crowd was beyond my wildest dreams.”
Friday’s highlight was Fisher’s competition, the last final before a frenzy of them over the next week. The American team of Fisher, Woody Kincaid, and Joe Klecker were put through their paces in their first Olympic competition by having to race against the likes of the defending world champion and current world record holder (Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei) and the 2021 world leader (fellow Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo), not to mention the rising star Barega.
Fisher, a previous NCAA champion at Stanford, remarked, “We did everything we could to prepare, but nothing prepares you like being out there.” It’s rough and men are making movements; it’s a tough game.
The heat and humidity made it feel even worse.
Fisher, in only his third official 10K, kept pace with the leaders until the final lap, when he launched a powerful finishing kick to rise to fifth place in a time of 27:46.39. The silver and bronze medals, respectively, went to Cheptegei (27:43.63) and Kiplimo (27:43.88), while Kincaid placed 15th in 28:11.01 and Klecker placed 16th in 28:14.18.
Fisher, who is 24 years old, has said, “I was just trying to race without fear, put myself in there and give myself a shot at the end.” The outcome exceeded my expectations, and I’m really grateful. Nothing about it ever felt pleasant. I’m sure none of the racers felt great, not even the ones who finished first, second, and third. Because I felt that way, I’m hoping that.
Earlier in the day, Cranny was one of several American competitors to make it beyond the preliminary rounds of their events. They both made it to the August 2nd 5K final, which Karissa Schweizer also ran in.
The mixed 4×100-meter relay team was originally disqualified but has since been reinstated to compete in Saturday’s championship. The United States had the fastest time in its heat. It was initially determined that Lynna Irby, who was running the second leg, was not in the correct spot to accept the baton from her colleague, Elija Godwin.
That we make mistakes is part of being human, Godwin admitted.
The men’s 400-meter hurdles matchup between Norwegian rival Karsten Warholm and American favourite Rai Benjamin is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated events of the Tokyo Games.
Benjamin’s 46.83-second performance at the Olympic trials was the second-best ever. A few days later, Warholm smashed the record by sprinting a blistering 46.70 seconds.
Though he came in second at the 2019 global championships to Warholm, Benjamin played down the possibility of breaking Warholm’s record in Tokyo.
His stated goal was to bring home a gold medal for both himself and Team USA. That’s it, I’m good to go. My only concern is about coming out on top.
Those who have been waiting for a showdown between the two stars may soon have two chances to do so. Both Benjamin and Warholm won their respective heats, with Benjamin running a 48.60 and Warholm a 48.65. They’ll face each other in the semi-finals this coming Sunday, but the big showdown isn’t until the championship game on August 3. Two other American athletes, Kenneth Selmon (48.61) and David Kendziera, also qualified for the semifinals (49.23).
It was great to come out here for a controlled one,” Benjamin remarked. I’m only through the first round, but so far, so good.
Three of the top runners in the 800 meters—Ajee Wilson (2:00.02), Athing Mu (2:01.10), and Raevyn Rogers (2:01.42—made it to tomorrow’s semifinals. Teahna Daniels (11.04), Jenna Prandini (11.11), and Javianne Oliver (11.15), all women’s 100-meter sprinters, advanced to Saturday’s semifinals.
Others who advanced included Keturah Orji (14.26 m) in the women’s triple jump, Raven Saunders (19.22 m) in the women’s shot put, Bernard Keter (8:17.31) in the men’s steeplechase, Sam Mattis (63.74 m) in the men’s discus, JuVaughn Harrison (2.28 m) and Shelby McEwen (2.28 m) in the men’s high jump, and