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Alaskan teen lives the dream

TOKYO (AP) — Alaska, of all places, has an Olympic champion at the pool.

Seventeen-year-old Lydia Jacoby gave the United States a victory in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke, knocking off teammate and defending champion Lilly King on Tuesday.

Jacoby was the first swimmer from the Arctic state ever to make the U.S. Olympic swimming team.

Now, she’s heading back to giddy Anchorage with a gold medal, rallying to win in 1 minute, 4.95 seconds..

South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker claimed the silver in 1:05.22, while King gave the Americans another medal by taking the bronze in 1:05.54.

Jacoby’s stunning win salvaged what had been a disappointing morning for the American team. The U.S. had only managed a pair of bronze medals before the high schooler came through.

Jacoby was only third at the turn, trailing Schoenmaker and King. But, with her head bobbing furiously out of the water, the teenager surged past King and glided past the South African on the final two strokes to touch first.

Looking at the scoreboard with a bit of disbelief, the enormity of her accomplishment finally hit when Schoenmaker reached across the lane rope for a hug. Then it was King bounding over from two lanes away to congratulate America’s new breaststroke queen.

On the men’s side, the U.S. team lost a backstroke race at the Olympics for the first time since 1992.

Russia swept the top two spots in the 100-meter back Tuesday, with Evgeny Rylov claiming the gold medal in 51.98 and teammate Kliment Kolesnikov taking the silver in 52.00.

Defending Olympic champion Ryan Murphy settled for the bronze in 52.19.

It was the first backstroke defeat for the U.S. men at the Olympics since the Barcelona Games. They won 12 straight golds at the last six Olympics, including Murphy’s sweep of the 100 and 200 back at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

It was a good morning for Australia and Britain.

World record-holder Kaylee McKeown gave the Aussie women another gold medal with a victory in the women’s 100 backstroke, setting an Olympic record.

Her winning time of 57.47 was just off the world mark she set this year of 57.45. The silver went to Canada’s Kylie Masse in 57.72, while former world record-holder Regan Smith of the United States grabbed the bronze at 58.05.

Coming into the Olympics, Australia had not won an individual women’s title since 2008. Now they have two, with McKeown’s gold coming after Ariarne Titmus’ victory Monday in the 400 freestyle.

Britain went 1-2 in the men’s 200 freestyle. Tom Dean captured the gold in 1 minute, 44.22 seconds, while teammate Duncan Scott picked up the silver in 1:44.26. The bronze went to Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer at 1:44.66.

American Kieran Smith settled for a sixth-place showing after capturing a bronze in the 400 free.

Defending 200 free champion Sun Yang was banned from the Tokyo Olympics for a doping violation. He is serving a more than four-year ban, though he could be eligible to return for the 2024 Paris Games.

Titmus and Katie Ledecky both advanced to Wednesday’s final of the 200-meter freestyle, setting up another showdown after their thrilling race in the 400 free.

Titmus was the top qualifier in the 200 semis at 1:54.82, while Ledecky — the defending Olympic champion — cruised to the third-best time in 1:55.34. The Aussie Terminator will be looking for her second straight gold after rallying to beat Ledecky in the 400 free.

Storm coming

First, the sun. Now: the wind and the rain.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed by the pandemic and opened under oppressive heat, are due for another hit of nature’s power: a typhoon arriving Tuesday morning that is forecast to disrupt at least some parts of the Games.

“Feels like we’re trying to prepare for bloody everything,” said New Zealand rugby sevens player Andrew Knewstubb.

Don’t worry, Japanese hosts say: In U.S. terms, the incoming weather is just a mid-grade tropical storm. And the surfers at Tsurigasaki beach say Tropical Storm Nepartak could actually improve the competition so long as it doesn’t hit the beach directly.

But archery, rowing and sailing have already adjusted their Tuesday schedules. Tokyo Games spokesman Masa Takaya said there were no other changes expected.

“It is a tropical storm of three grade out of five, so you shouldn’t be too much worried about that, but it is a typhoon in Japan interpretation,” Takaya said. “This is the weakest category, but this is still a typhoon so we should not be too optimistic about the impact of the course.”

On the beach about 60 miles east of Tokyo, the competitors want the change in weather so long as the rain and wind don’t make total landfall. The surfing competition was delayed Monday because of low tide. But if the storm hits as expected, it could deliver waves twice as high as expected.

“As a homeowner I say, ‘Oh no, stay away!'” said Kurt Korte, the official Olympic surfing forecaster. “But as a surfer, ‘OK, you can form if you stay out there,’ Everybody can agree a storm out in the distance is the best.”

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Nepartak was headed northwest over the Pacific Ocean east of Japan on Monday with landfall expected Tuesday afternoon. The storm could bring strong winds, up to 5.9 inches (150 millimeters) of rainfall and high waves as it cuts across Japan’s northeastern region.

In advance, organizers made the first major alterations to the Olympic archery schedule because of weather. There was an hour delay at the Beijing Games in 2008. Here, the Tuesday afternoon sessions have been postponed until Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’ve heard that storm could be anything from rain or 80-mph wind,” said American archer Jack Williams.

Added Brady Ellison, his teammate: “Unless there’s lightning, right here, we’ll shoot it. We’ll deal with whatever it’s going to be. Rain just starts to suck in general.”

Beach volleyball plays in everything but lightning. Both the women’s final at the Beijing Games and men’s final at the Rio Games were held in heavy rain.

At Ariake Tennis Park, center court has a retractable roof that can be closed for inclement weather, but play on outer courts would have to be suspended.

“They can move every match, I think, if there is really going to be a typhoon with rain,” said Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 player in the world. “We never know. I guess they will maybe try to move six matches, but it depends how long the matches will be.”

Any sort of rain — typhoon, tropical storm, or even light sprinkling — will be a wild swing from the first three days of the Games.

Svetlana Gomboeva collapsed from heatstroke on the first day of archery but recovered to win a silver medal. Top-seeded Novak Djokovic and Medvedev, who who complained his first round match was “some of the worst” heat he’d ever played in, successfully leaned on the International Tennis Federation to give Olympics players extra time during breaks to offset the high temperatures.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had resorted to shoving bags of ice up her skirt, and fiddled with a tube blowing cold air next to her seat. At skateboarding, the intense sun turned the park into a furnace, radiating off the light concrete with such blinding effect that skaters complained the heat was softening the rubber joints on their wheel axles and making the boards harder to control.

July and August in Japan are notoriously hot and humid. Japan has faced criticism for not accurately describing the severity and instead, during the bidding process, calling it mild and ideal.

Daytime highs regularly hit 95 degrees (35 Celsius) but have exceeded 104 degrees (40 Celsius) in some places in recent years. The Environment Ministry began issuing heatstroke alerts in July 2020 for the Tokyo areas and in April for the entire nation.

Japan reported 112 deaths from June to September last year, as well as 64,869 people taken to hospitals by ambulance for heat-related issues. Tokyo logged the largest number of heat stroke sufferers at 5,836 during the three-month period.

Australian canoeist Jessica Fox, the gold medal favorite in the kayak slalom, said the wild weather swings have been a disruption to the Olympic event. “It is like a bath,” she said. “It is like paddling in bathwater.”

And the impending typhoon disruption?

“I am a bit concerned about that,” Fox said. “I saw the surfers and they were all excited about the weather, which isn’t ideal for us.”

If Tuesday’s bronze medal softball game is postponed, the Canada team worries it could get stuck in Japan because members had flights the following day.

“We very much hope that the game goes (Tuesday) so that we can get on a plane and go home,” coach Mark Smith said. “As you probably know, with the pandemic, that flights are very hard to come by.”

The weather extremes are just another obstacle Olympic organizers have faced during these beleaguered Games, already delayed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Asked on Monday if Tokyo officials feel they can’t catch a break, Takaya said they’ve had to be flexible.

“I mean, you know, we’re supposed to react to any situation, that’s one of our jobs,” he said. “This is absolutely a regular exercise we have to face.”

——

Associated Press reporters Andrew Dampf, James Ellingworth, Pat Graham, Sally Ho, John Leicester, John Pye, Jim Vertuno, Ronald Blum and Mari Yamaguchi and freelancer Syd Fryer contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

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