Cal at Tokyo Olympics: Sydney Payne and Canada 8 earn Gold, Ryan Murphy gets 2nd Tokyo medal

Canadian "Calympian" Caileigh Filmer earned a Bronze in women's pair

In addition to bumping up the Cal medal count daily, the list of Tokyo “Calympians” (again updated) has also steadily increased. We now claim 49 active Calympians after “discovering” that Rio 2016 Canadian Calympian rower Caileigh Filmer not only qualified for another Olympic Games but also won a medal on Day 5 (Wednesday night here in the US).

Cal Olympic Medals (2 Golds, 3 Silvers, 5 Bronzes)

Part 1 (Weitzeil, Murphy, Arioto, Popa, Cleary)

Part 2 (Sutton, McLaughlin)

8) BRONZE - Women’s Pair, Caileigh Filmer, Canada

For some reason, Cal did not list Caileigh Filmer as an Olympian this year. Filmer certainly spent time with Cal Women’s Crew although her rapid ascension within the Canadian rowing national team meant that her stint with Cal Rowing was brief (and possibly did not include any NCAA championships). Nonetheless, I recall writing about her for the 2016 Rio Games when she was on the Canadien Eight boat; I was surprised to see that Filmer not only made the Tokyo Games but also earned a Bronze medal in Women’s Pair.

Filmer and partner Hillary Janssen placed 3rd behind New Zealand and Russia. Janssen credits Filmer for “calling the perfect race” in an interview with CBC News.

Of course, what had led me to notice more about Canadian Women’s Rowing was the GOLDEN performance by another former Golden Bear.

9) GOLD - Women’s Eight, Sydney Payne, Canada

A Cal alum (‘19), Sydney Payne and her Canadian Women’s Eight crew were the surprise winner on Thursday night. The Canadian boat came out of the gate strong and held on to take the top spot on the podium ahead of New Zealand and China. The USA, favorites before the race, did not get on the podium.

Since I never got around to write a profile on Payne, a first-time Calympian, I will mention here that Sydney was an important part of two Cal National Championship titles - 2016 in her freshman year on the 2nd Varsity 8 boat and 2018 in her junior year when she was one of the main strokers on the Varsity 8 boat. Payne also skied competitively as a youth prior to settling on rowing.

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After just one Olympic medal in Rio from rowing, Payne’s Gold was the 5th medal from rowing in Tokyo, even with several close misses. The Tokyo rowing events are over now and one would expect Cal to gain several relay medals in swimming to again be the most decorated sport again. Nonetheless, this was a great Olympic showing for the perennial championship contending Cal Men’s and Women’s Rowing programs.

10) SILVER - Men’s 200m Backstroke, Ryan Murphy, USA

Murphy vs. Rylov round 2 again went to the Russian in Tokyo. Still, Cal alum Ryan Murphy picked up his 5th Olympic medal in his career and the very first Silver. The dream of being the first US man to repeat as double Gold medalists in the two backstroke events has turned into a still impressive Bronze and Gold.

Murphy will certainly be swimming the lead-off backstroke legs in both the Men’s 4x100m Medley and Mixed 4x100m Medley relay finals on Saturday and Friday nights (US time), respectively. Murphy might be able to get a Tokyo Gold to complete the set (and more) yet.

What was perhaps more heartbreaking was how close fellow Cal Bear Bryce Mefford came to the podium. Mefford finished a very close 4th behind Great Britain’s Luke Greenbank. This reminded me of Calympian Jacob Pebley in Rio 2016 in this same event. Pebley ended up being the lone US men’s swimming Cal Olympian at that game to miss out on a medal and frankly talked about how that disappointment caused him mental anguish when he announced that he would not pursue an Olympic berth this year.

  1. GOLD: Evgeny Rylov (ROC), 1:53.27 OR

  2. SILVER: Ryan Murphy (USA), 1:54.15

  3. BRONZE: Luke Greenbank (GBR), 1:54.72

  4. Bryce Mefford (USA), 1:55.49

While he was cordial in the post-race on-air interview with Cal alum Michele Tafoya, Ryan Murphy may have been too candid in the press room when asked about his thought on doping, particularly how the Russians still got to compete despite the country being banned for systematic doping.

The media fallout of those comments might add fuel to the Men’s (and possibly also Mixed) 4x100m Medley relay(s) between the USA and Russia (competing under the name of “Russian Olympic Committee”), even if Great Britain relay may be the bigger challenge for the Gold. The head-to-head “rematches” between Murphy and Rylov leading off the Medley Relays have just become that much more interesting.


Alex Morgan and USWNT advances to Women’s Soccer semifinals

In an extremely narrow match, the US Women’s National Team was able to prevail against the Netherlands in the must-win quarterfinal match that was also a rematch of the latest Women’s World Cup Final. USWNT head coach opted to use his offensive depth and played an entirely different front line for the first half.

Cal alum Alex Morgan did not enter the match until the 57th minute when the match was tied 2-2.

Morgan had several good runs to get open in the second half and both extra time periods but the Dutch defenders did a good job on the other US players with the ball that they could not take advantage of Morgan’s great positioning for the most part.

The hero of the match has got to be USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Naeher made a huge save late in regulation on a penalty attempt by Dutch star Lieke Martens to preserve the tie. Naeher also came up huge in the penalties.

Of course, the penalty shootout was how USWNT lost to Sweden in this same round back in Rio 2016 and missed out on a medal. Morgan’s shot then went over the crossbar; she was able to do better this time around.

Morgan’s penalty make is not a part of the match recap below, but her waved-off “goal” in extra time did make the NBC highlight. Megan Rapinoe sank the clinching penalty to send the Americans one step closer to become the first women’s team to win both the World Cup AND Olympic Gold.

Next up for the USWNT is a semifinal match against Canada on August 2nd at 1 AM PT. Sweden vs. Australia will take place in the other semifinal. A win over the North American neighbor would send Team USA to the Gold medal match; a loss would still allow the Americans to play for the Bronze medal (but let’s not think like that).


Cal Swimming at Tokyo

Three Cal Bears could earn a medal for Team USA in Friday night’s Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay (Fri. 7:43 PM PT)

Tom Shields and Abbey Weitzeil swam in this prelim yesterday to book a lane for the USA in the final tonight. Team USA obviously has the depth to go in several different directions for their final lineup, but expect Ryan Murphy to lead-off. I can also see Weitzeil swimming the anchor leg again, even if she does have the 50m Free semifinal also tonight.

Abbey Weitzeil qualifies for 50m Free semifinal on Friday night (7:32 PM PT)

Weitzeil is the lone Cal Bear to advance to the semifinal tonight. After placing 8th in the 100m Free final, Weitzeil should be able to make another Olympic final for the 50m Free. Egyptian Calympian alum Farida Osman ad Croatian Calympian senior Ema Rajic (more of a breaststroker) did not advance past the heat.

Tom Shields swam prelim for Team USA in Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay; Murphy should swim the final (Sat. 7:36 PM PT)

Team USA used an entirely second-string lineup including Tom Shields for the butterfly leg and nearly did not make the final. Shields split of 51.3 actually was needed for the Americans to get the 7th seed.

Weitzeil is a likely addition in the final lineup for Team USA in Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay (Sat. 7:15 PM PT)

Team USA used the same strategy for the Women’s Medley Relay prelim but got the 2nd seed behind Canada. Abbey Weitzeil should replace Erika Brown as the anchor sprinter for the final.


Cal alumni came up just short in Men’s Eight final

Although Cal has a representative in half of the field, it was the other half that claimed the podium spots. New Zealand edged Germany for the Gold while Great Britain just held off a charging USA crew led by Cal alum Julian Venonsky. Maarten Hurkmans and the Netherlands finished 5th. Angus Dawson and the Australia crew finished 6th.

  1. GOLD New Zealand 5:24.64

  2. SILVER Germany 5:25.60

  3. BRONZE Great Britain 5:25.73

  4. USA 5:26.75

  5. Netherlands 5:27.96

  6. Australia 5:36.23


Collin Morikawa update after Round 2 of Men’s Golf

Here is your Men’s Golf leaderboard at the halfway point.

Cal alum Collin Morikawa is not on the leaderboard but is still kind of in the mix at -3 after two rounds. Morikawa shot a -1 round after -2 in the opening round. He will certainly need a big day tonight to make a run at an Olympic medal.

By the way, I am somewhat disappointed that Team USA decided to wear red polo shirts rather than blue ones.


Other potential Cal medals after the next couple of days

We have two more days of swimming, coinciding with the final two days of men’s golf before the bulk of Tokyo Calympians are done.

Cal could pick up more medals from Water Polo with Golden Bears on USA men as well as Hungary, Spain, Netherlands, Canada women. Camryn Rogers (Canada) in women’s hammer is also on deck.

Don’t forget Lily Zhang (USA) in the women’s team table tennis action. Zhang was eliminated in the third round of women’s singles earlier this week.

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GO BEARS!