Sports: Oleksiak makes history with seventh Olympic medal, De Grasse wins 100m bronze

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a group of people on a court © Provided by The Canadian Press

TOKYO — The Canadian women finished their impressive medal haul in the pool – including a record-setting performance from Penny Oleksiak – and Andre De Grasse finally got Canada's men on the board with his second consecutive Olympic bronze in the men's 100 metres.

After finishing third in the medley relay, Maggie Mac Neil draped a bronze medal brimming with significance around Oleksiak's neck as their teammates Kylie Masse and Sydney Pickrem celebrated on the podium.

"Most decorated," they chanted in unison with their arms around each other during post-ceremony interviews with reporters.

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On the final day of swimming competition at the Tokyo Olympics, Toronto's Oleksiak took her place at the top among Canada's greatest Olympians. In helping the medley relay team win bronze, she earned her seventh career Olympic medal, and at just 21 became the most decorated Canadian Olympian of all time.

Masse of LaSalle, Ont.; Pickrem of Clearwater, Fla.; and Mac Neil of London, Ont., set Oleksiak up to swim the anchor freestyle leg into the history books.

"I love that," Oleksiak said.

"Knowing that I have the best girls in the world to race with, I pretty much had a medal in the back of my mind the whole race. I'm racing with three of the best swimmers in the world, so why should I worry?"

Meanwhile, De Grasse claimed bronze in the men's 100 metres for the second straight Olympics.

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The 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., overcame a rough start and raced to third in a personal-best time of 9.89 seconds and win Canada's first medal by a male athlete in Tokyo after the nation's women earned its first 13.

"I didn't even realize that," De Grasse said of getting Canada's men on the board. "That's awesome. That's cool."

With 14 medals (three gold, four silver, seven bronze), Canada sat 14th in the medal standings, behind the Czech Republic and ahead of Switzerland. In overall medals, Canada was 12th between the Netherlands and Switzerland.

China led the medal standings with 24 gold, four more than the United States. The Americans had the most overall medals at 59, eight more than China.

With her third medal of the Games, Oleksiak surpassed Canadian speedskater Cindy Klassen and speedskater-cyclist Clara Hughes at six medals apiece.

Oleksiak also anchored the 4x100 freestyle relay team to a silver medal and won bronze in the women's 200 freestyle.

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Australia's women captured gold Sunday in an Olympic-record time of three minutes 51.60 seconds ahead of the runner-up Americans in 3:51.73. Canada set a national record of 3:52.60 in third.

Oleksiak was a breakout star of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio winning 100-metre freestyle gold, butterfly silver and a pair of relay bronze at age 16.

The women's swim team amassed six medals in Tokyo — one gold, three silver and two bronze — to equal the half-dozen in Rio five years ago. This in spite of having to overcome numerous training hurdles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've had one of the strictest lockdowns in the entire world, so it was just putting the training that we've doing for the last 15 months in and showing the world what we have," Mac Neil said.

Mac Neil, 21, takes home a complete set of medals from her first Olympics with 100-metre butterfly gold, a freestyle relay silver and medley relay bronze.

Masse also collected three medals in Tokyo. She earned a pair of backstroke silver.

Oleksiak needed a few tries to get her record-breaking medal after getting her sixth in the 200 freestyle.

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She finished fourth in the 100 freestyle, and swam the anchor leg of the 4x200 freestyle relay team that also finished fourth.

"Once I got that sixth, there was a little bit of pressure on me to get that seventh medal," Oleksiak said. "My two other races I was really thinking about it, get that seven, get that seven. Then I came fourth and both of those hurt a little bit.

"But then, honestly, on the last race, I accepted it. I have six Olympic medals. I'm not going to complain if I leave here with six Olympic medals."

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs took the men's 100-metre gold in 9.80 seconds, followed by American Fred Kerley in 9.84 seconds. All three medallists ran personal bests.

It's Canada's first track and field medal at the Tokyo Olympics. It's also the latest piece of hardware in the event for De Grasse, who won bronze in the 100 in both the 2016 Olympics and 2019 world championships.

Two hours earlier, De Grasse ran 9.98 to finish second in his semifinal and seventh overall.

While he didn't improve on his bronze from five years ago in Rio, "to get back on the podium, it's a great feeling, especially when we didn't know last year if this was even going to happen," he said.

"So I'm just really happy to be here again. And, of course, the past couple of years is battling injuries. So, just really happy to be back out here again racing, I ran a personal best, so I can't complain. And every year, I'm just going to try to continue to get better."

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De Grasse will have a day off before he's back on the track for the 200 heats and semifinal on Tuesday. He captured silver in the 200 at both the 2016 Olympics and 2019 world championships.

There was no clear-cut favourite in the men's 100 this year with the retirement of Usain Bolt.

Also on the track, Edmonton's Marco Arop, 22, led most of the 800-metre semifinal but fell behind at the very end to finish seventh. He failed to qualify to the final.

In the men's high jump final, Toronto's Django Lovett could not clear the 2.33-metre mark and finished in seventh place. Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy tied Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim for gold.

Back in the pool, diver Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que., struggled in the final of the women's three-metre springboard and finished eighth.

Abel had finished third in Saturday's semifinals and looked ready to claim her first individual Olympic medal. But she missed her entry into the water on her third dive and that misstep put her in ninth position and ultimately ended her podium chances.

"It might sound strange, but I'm still happy," said Abel. "I'm happy because I prepared well, I came here telling myself that I would be physically and mentally ready, and I was.

"I've been really stable. Unfortunately I missed one (dive). I wish I would have missed it in the preliminary round or semifinal, and had the opposite happen (today), but that wasn't the case.

"The mistake I made cost me a podium spot. What I'm most proud of is I'm ending my day with a smile. That's something I would not have done before."

Wrestler Erica Wiebe lost her opening bout in the women's 76-kilogram competition and was eliminated later in the day, meaning she will not repeat as Olympic champion.

The grappler from Stittsville, Ont., who won gold in the women's 75 kg competition at the 2016 Rio Games, dropped a 5-4 decision to Estonia's Epp Maee in a round-of-16 matchup at the Makuhari Messe Hall.

In beach volleyball, Heather Bansley of Waterdown, Ont., and Brandie Wilkerson of Toronto advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 victory over Americans Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil. The Canadian pair dropped the first set, but came back to set up a date with Latvians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka in the next round.

Toronto sailor Sarah Douglas finished sixth in the women's laser radial competition, the best-ever result for Canada in that event. Douglas entered Sunday's medal race in fourth position, but dropped two spots after sailing to ninth in the final.

Canada's women's basketball team is on the brink after a 76-66 loss to Spain. The Canadians finished group play with a 1-2 record and will need to wait on other results to see if they advance to the quarterfinals.

In golf, Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., carded a final round of 6-under 65 to finish 13th overall. Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., ended up 50th after a final round of 4 over.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 1, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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