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Cal at Tokyo Olympics: 4 Golds, 4 Silvers, 5 Bronzes at end of Swimming/Rowing
US Calympian Golfer Collin Morikawa just misses out on a medal after crazy 7-way playoff for Bronze
With rowing and (indoor) swimming now finished at this Tokyo Olympic Games, the bulk of the 49 “Calympians” are done with their competitions in Japan. The Golden Bears can and should still pick up more medals from team competitions (Women’s Soccer, Women’s Water Polo, maybe Men’s Water Polo) and possibly from the lone track and field athlete - Canadian Hammer Thrower and Cal senior Camryn Rogers in the last week.
Because NBC Sports have changed the ability for their geo-locked YouTube video highlights to be played directly on SubStack, I’ll just include the links to those events now. If you are in the US, I would definitely watch/rewatch the highlights.
Cal Olympic Medals (4 Golds, 4 Silvers, 5 Bronzes)
11) SILVER - Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay, Abbey Weitzeil, USA
Two Stanford commits (Regan Smith and Torri Huske) and another swimmer too young to commit to college (Lydia Jacoby) were paired with Cal alum Abbey Weitzeil for Team USA in the penultimate swimming event. Weitzeil and the Americans knew that the Australians were the favorites, but they also clearly really wanted the Gold.
Although Weitzeil got a slight lead going to the final leg, that lead was not enough. Watch the embedded tweet below to see just how close the final margin was. Weitzeil, despite a great split in the mid 52 seconds, was out-touched by Australian’s Cate Campbell. Weitzeil’s split here was significantly closer to Campbell than at the 100 Free final earlier in the week when Campbell earned the Bronze while Weitzeil finished 8th.
While the two-time Calympian Abbey Weitzeil was hard on herself, the rest of her relay squad, all teenagers, consoled her on a job well done afterward. It was a nice moment.
At the end of her 2nd Olympic Games, Abbey Weitzeil has doubled her Olympic medal total. Weitzeil earned a Bronze (400 Free Relay) and a Silver (400 Medley Relay) to go with the Gold (400 Medley Relay) and Silver (400 Free Relay) from Rio 2016. Weitzeil again fell short in the individual events despite again being a finalist. Especially with the extra Olympic berths for the 400 Free Relay, one would think that Weitzeil probably has two more Olympic games in her to grow this already impressive Olympic medal haul.
12 & 13) GOLD - Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay, Ryan Murphy (final) and Tom Shields (prelim), USA
The final event of the swimming session saw a great race between the USA and Great Britain for the Gold. The Americans were in lane 1 due to qualifying 7th in the prelim. As I had mentioned before, Tom Shields butterfly split really saved the Americans in that swim to still get a lane for the final.
Ryan Murphy started the race off again and again (after the Mixed Medley Relay the day before) bested Russia’s Rylov to the wall.
When it was all over, not only did the Americans stayed undefeated in this relay for the entire Olympic history (other than the 1980 boycott, of course), they also set a new World Record.
With this win, both Murphy and Shields got a Gold medal. Shields again get the Gold for swimming the prelim of this race after serving the same role at Rio 2016.
Ryan Murphy, meanwhile, completed the rainbow of owing a Gold, a Silver, and a Bronze from the Tokyo Games. Sure, it would have been sweet for him to get three Golds again like at Rio, but this was still a great result for the Cal legend who now increases his career Olympic medal total to 6.
With the next Olympics just three years away, one would think that Ryan Murphy should still be one of the best backstrokers in the world. For the second consecutive Olympic Games, Ryan Murphy again was the most successful “Calympians” by winning three medals.
Cal Bears still in contention (prepare to not sleep for the next two nights)
USA Women’s Soccer with Alex Morgan vs. Canada in the semifinal (1 AM PT Monday, August 2nd)
Given how late this post got finished, this match may very well have been over by the time you are reading this.
Almost assured of a medal in Tokyo is the United States Women’s National Team, despite some inconsistent play and rather conservative strategies at times. The USA (1-1-1 in group play) will take on Canada (1-0-2 in group play) in a rematch of the 2012 Olympic semifinal match. The last time the US and Canada faced off in this round of the Olympic game, Alex Morgan scored the dramatic golden goal winner just moments before the match was going to be decided by penalties. Watch Morgan retell that dramatic match and moment below.
You may also watch the full match below.
The Canadian team is led by striker Christine Sinclair, who currently holds the record for the most international goals with 187 (male or female, although arguably there are more meaningful international matches for the women, such as the Summer Olympics). Cal alum Alex Morgan is currently 9th on the women’s list with 111, she only tallied one goal in Tokyo thus far. Morgan actually fell one spot behind her club team, Orlando Pride, teammate Marta during this tournament as Marta had scored 3 goals to pull ahead of Morgan by a goal. Of course, one would expect a player of her quality to really rise up in both this match and the next one, with a medal at stake.
While the USWNT needed penalties to get past the Netherlands in their quarterfinals, the Canadian also defeated Brazil via penalties after a scoreless regulation plus extra time. As much as I would love for this match to be decided long before penalties, a penalty shootout may again decide who will get to play for Gold on Friday, August 6th (the Bronze medal match will be played on August 5th).
Australia and Sweden will face off in the other semifinal, scheduled to start after this North American matchup.
Camryn Rogers (Canada) advances to Women’s Hammer Throw final
The qualification for women’s throw at the Olympics was a distance of 73.50m. Technically, everyone who can meet that distance would have advanced to the final. If less than 12 athletes met that standard, they go by the best distance until they get 12 athletes.
With three chances to meet that standard, Cal senior Camryn Rogers hit it on her first throw. Rogers did not look particularly pleased with her toss, but it did go a distance of 73.97 meters. She is only one of 5 Tokyo Olympians to meet that standard in qualification and the 73.97m mark is good for 4th.
Poland’s Anita Włodarczyk who holds the World Record of 82.98m as well as the Olympic Record of 82.29m from Rio 2016 is the clear favorite for the Gold medal. Chinese thrower Zheng Wang and American Brooke Anderson both have better career-best distance than Camryn Rogers but I would still give Rogers a decent odds of possibly earning a medal in the final, where the top-8 throwers (after the first three throws) will get a total of 6 throws to set their best distances.
The final for Women’s Hammer Throw is on Tuesday morning at 4:35 AM PT.
Water Polo Knockout Stage Field to be set soon
We are nearly at the end of the group play for Water Polo. All of the teams with Cal alum have clinched a spot in the knockout stage.
USA Men (Luca Cupido and Johnny Hooper) - USA (2-2-0) are locked into the 4th and final spot of Group A despite having one more prelim match against Greece (on Sunday night, so likely already done when you read this). The agonizing loss to Italy in their 3rd match meant that the Americans will face either Spain or Croatia in the quarterfinal round. Both would be a tough match, but by advancing to the knockout stage, Team USA has already improved on their Rio 2016 performance.
The Women’s Knockout field has already been set.
Spain Women (Roser Tarrago) - Spain (3-1) earned the top spot of group A (thanks to goal differential) and will play China in the quarterfinal.
Hungary Women (Anna Illes) - Hungary (2-1-1) finished 2nnd in group B
Netherlands Women (Kitty Lynn Joustra) - Netherlands (3-1) finished 3rd in group A by tiebreaker (goal differential)
The Hungarian and the Dutch will play each other in the quarterfinal. The winner will take on the winner between Spain and China. Barring a shocking upset of Spain by China, there will be two Calympians in the semifinal and a Calympian mathematically guaranteed to get into the Gold medal match.
Quarterfinals - Spain vs. China (Monday night, 11:30 pm PT)
Quarterfinals - Netherlands vs Hungary (Tuesday, 3:20 am PT)
Canada Women (Emma Wright, Kindred Paul, Kelly McKee) - Canada (1-3) got the 4th and final spot in group A and will draw Team USA in their quarterfinal match. It will be a tall order for the Canadians, but the USA somewhat shockingly dropped a match in the prelim round to Hungary.
Quarterfinals - Canada vs. USA (Monday night, 10 pm PT)
So close to a medal
4th place for Collin Morikawa after a final day charge and crazy 7-way Bronze tiebreaker
Collin Morikawa saved his best for the final round when he shot a 63, tied for the second-best score of that round with Washington alum CT Pan (more on him later) and behind Arizona alum Rory Sabbatini’s 61.
Sabbatini’s great score earned him the Silver medal behind American (San Diego State alum) Xander Schauffele. After Pan first got to the -15 score, Morikawa was able to match him to give himself a chance. Somewhat improbably, five other golfers also finished with the -15 score, so that there was a crazy 7-way sudden-death playoff for the Bronze medal that also included two other Major champions in Japanese player Hideki Matsuyama and Irish player Rory McIlroy.
Pan, representing Taiwan, and Morikawa were the first two to shoot in the playoff. The first playoff hole on the 18th only eliminated two golfers. Everyone again earned a par on the second hole on the 10th. Three golfers were eliminated on the third hole on the 11th where Morikawa really applied a lot of pressure on the field with a fantastic iron shot that hit the pole.
On the fourth playoff hole, it was an all Pac-12 showdown between Pan and Morikawa back on the 18th hole. Morikawa had a slightly better first shot but shanked his second shot to have his ball plugged in the bunker. Even with a solid effort to get that ball onto the green, Morikawa just could not make the ensuing 20+ feet long putt. Pan was able to make his putt to claim the Bronze medal.
Put everything I had out there for @teamusa 🇺🇸. The Olympics brought out the best in me and although I came up a little short, I can’t wait for more opportunities like this. Pretty cool to be called an Olympian for life!
Congrats @xanderschauffele, bring home the gold!
On the topic of Taiwan vs the US at this Tokyo Olympics, the Taiwanese Women’s Table Tennis team also eliminated Calympian Lily Zhang and her US teammate in the Women’s Team Table Tennis Round of 16 earlier today.
The list of Calympians who have just missed out on the podium at Tokyo increases with Morikawa - also placing 4th were Rowan McKellar and her Great Britain crew in Women’s Four, coxswain Julian Venonsky and his USA crew in Men’s Eight, Bryce Mefford (USA) in Men’s 200 Back, as well as USA Swimming’s 4th place in Men’s 4x200m Free relay causing Andrew Seliskar, who swam in the prelims, a medal. We still love these Calympians for giving their best efforts.
5th place for Team USA in Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay
The inaugural mixed 4x100 Medley Relay was an interesting event that drastically showcased the different strategies. No longer is the USA so dominant that they can run out with any lineup and expect the Gold.
Calympians Tom Shields (butterfly) and Abbey Weitzeil (freestyle) both swam for Team USA in the prelims to be in line for the medals. Ryan Murphy was tapped as the leadoff guy in the final for backstroke. Murphy was followed by Tokyo Gold medalist Lydia Jacoby before another teenager, Stanford-commit Torrie Huske swim the butterfly. Caeleb Dressel swam the anchor leg.
Murphy put the Americans ahead after the first 100m, but Jacoby did not have her best swim with her goggles out of place. Interestingly, Jacoby’s goggles are a discontinued model and a gift from former Calympian Jessica Hardy when Hardy visited Alaska years ago. The problem here is that even had Jacoby had her best time, breaststroke is still the slowest event and consequently the one with the greatest male-to-female time difference. By the time that Jacoby and Huske were done, Dressel was so far behind that even he could not bring Team USA to the podium.
Then again, it is easy to understand why Dave Durden and the USA coaching staff would want to have both Ryan Murphy and Caeleb Dressel in this final. Things simply did not work out and the Cal medal count is three fewer as a result.