Good day on beach and courts for US women in Tokyo

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TOKYO (AP) — American women had a good day at the beach and on the courts in Tokyo on Friday, with one Olympic gold medal won and a couple more set up for the taking.

The United States beach volleyball team of April Ross and Alix Klineman won gold in beach volleyball and the American women’s basketball and volleyball teams won to advance to the gold medal finals in both sports.

For Ross, the gold medals she and Klineman draped around each other’s necks completes a full set. She won silver in London in 2012 and bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Klineman won gold in her first Olympics.

“That was a product of COVID, but it actually feels really special when you’re up there. I was like, ‘We get to award the medals to each other and in my head, I was like, ‘Thank you, Alix,'” Ross said of the medal ceremony

“It’s kind of a fairytale story like, ‘Oh, you know I’m going at 39 to try and get my gold medal,’ and the fact that it actually happened feels so special and surreal,” Ross said.

The U.S. pair was dominant throughout the Olympic tournament. They lost just one set in seven matches and swept Australia 21-15, 21-16 in 43 minutes in the final.

The U.S. women’s volleyball team avenged a gold-medal match loss to Serbia in 2016 with a 25-19, 25-15, 25-23 victory that sends them back into the final. The Americans have made three previous gold medal finals, but have never won.

“It wasn’t like, ‘Oh we have to get redemption of this or that,’” U.S. star Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson said. “It was we just want to win a gold medal and whatever that’s going to take, we’re going to do that.”

The U.S. has been one of the top teams in the world for much of the past two decades but has been unable to attain the ultimate prize, losing to Brazil in the gold medal match in both 2008 and ’12. The U.S. also lost the gold medal game to China in 1984.

The U.S. women’s basketball team will play for its seventh consecutive gold medal after rolling over Serbia 79-59 behind 15 points and 12 rebounds from Brittney Griner. If the Americans win the final, they would match the seven consecutive Olympic titles won by the U.S. men from 1936-68.

And for Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, it would be five career gold medals, the most ever by a basketball player in the Olympics.

“I think everybody here wants to win gold for them, for us, for everybody that’s started this streak that got us here,” Griner said.

GOLF

American Nelly Korda finished with 12 straight pars for a 2-under 69 to maintain her overall lead in pursuit of the gold medal in women’s golf at Kasumigaseki Country Club. She had a three-shot lead over Aditi Ashok of India, who had a 68.

And for now, there will be a final round. Olympic golf officials plan to start play as early as possible Saturday and take advantage of a window they hope is big enough to squeeze in 72 holes before a forecasted tropical storm.

BOXING

Heavyweight Julio César La Cruz won Cuba’s third gold medal in boxing in a final 5:0 victory over Russian athlete Muslim Gadzhimagomedov. La Cruz won the eighth heavyweight gold medal for the vaunted Cuban team, but the first since Odlanier Solis claimed the glamour division’s title in 2004.

LAST TANGO IN TOKYO?

Dawid Tomala of Poland won what might be the last 50-kilometer race walk at the Olympics. Tomala won in 3 hours, 50 minutes and 8 seconds in Sapporo for the gold medal. He won only the second 50-kilometer race he had ever completed.

The 50-kilometer walk has been dropped from the schedule for the next Olympics in Paris in 2024 and may not return. It was first introduced at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and has been held at every Games since with the exception of Montreal in 1976.

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