‘My heart was totally broken’: The agony of the Olympics and how we measure athlete success

By George Ramsay, CNN

Published
3:50 AM EDT, Sat July 31, 2021

winning gold and breaking his own world record in the process.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210730215037-33-olympics-073021-swimming-dressel-live-video.jpg”>

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American swimmer Caeleb Dressel competes in the 100-meter butterfly on July 31. He finished in 49.45 seconds, winning gold and breaking his own world record in the process.

Kenya's Mercy Moim attacks against the Dominican Republic during a preliminary match on July 31.

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Kenya’s Mercy Moim attacks against the Dominican Republic during a preliminary match on July 31.

Ledecky won the event for the third straight Olympics.</a> Titmus took the silver.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210730221836-35-olympics-073021-swimming-ledecky-live-video.jpg”>

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The United States’ Katie Ledecky leads Australia’s Ariarne Titmus during the 800-meter freestyle on July 31. Ledecky won the event for the third straight Olympics. Titmus took the silver.

Shoichiro Mukai of Japan, top, and Germany's Eduard Trippel compete in their elimination round match in team judo on July 31.

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Vincent Thian/AP

Shoichiro Mukai of Japan, top, and Germany’s Eduard Trippel compete in their elimination round match in team judo on July 31.

The United States' Kendra Harrison races a 100-meter hurdles heat on July 31.

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The United States’ Kendra Harrison races a 100-meter hurdles heat on July 31.

Great Britain's Charlotte Worthington competes in the cycling BMX freestyle  seeding event on July 31.

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Great Britain’s Charlotte Worthington competes in the cycling BMX freestyle seeding event on July 31.

goggles fell off</a> while the American was competing in the mixed 4×100-meter medley relay on July 31. The US team finished fifth in the event. Great Britain won the gold.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210730231420-38-olympics-073021-swimming-jacoby-live-video.jpg”>

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Lydia Jacoby’s goggles fell off while the American was competing in the mixed 4×100-meter medley relay on July 31. The US team finished fifth in the event. Great Britain won the gold.

Sweden's Armand "Mondo" Duplantis competes in the pole vault on July 31. He holds the world record in the event.

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Sweden’s Armand “Mondo” Duplantis competes in the pole vault on July 31. He holds the world record in the event.

Great Britain's Jessica Learmonth competes in the mixed relay triathlon on July 31. Great Britain won gold in the event, which was the first of its kind in Olympics history.

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Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth competes in the mixed relay triathlon on July 31. Great Britain won gold in the event, which was the first of its kind in Olympics history.

US golfer Xander Schauffele hits a tee shot during the third round on July 31. He came into the round with a one-shot lead.

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Toby Melville/Reuters

US golfer Xander Schauffele hits a tee shot during the third round on July 31. He came into the round with a one-shot lead.

Dominican baseball players Gustavo Nunez, left, and Julio Rodriguez collide as Rodriguez catches a ball during their 1-0 win over Mexico on Friday, July 30.

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Dominican baseball players Gustavo Nunez, left, and Julio Rodriguez collide as Rodriguez catches a ball during their 1-0 win over Mexico on Friday, July 30.

US players celebrate after they defeated the Netherlands in a penalty shootout July 30 to advance to the semifinals in women's football.

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Silvia Izquierdo/AP

US players celebrate after they defeated the Netherlands in a penalty shootout July 30 to advance to the semifinals in women’s football.

Swimmers compete in the 1,500-meter freestyle on July 30.

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David Goldman/AP

Swimmers compete in the 1,500-meter freestyle on July 30.

A robot shoots a free throw during halftime of a women's basketball game between Belgium and Puerto Rico on July 30.

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A robot shoots a free throw during halftime of a women’s basketball game between Belgium and Puerto Rico on July 30.

quest for a "Golden Slam."</a> Djokovic has already won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon this year. He was looking to add an Olympic gold and then a US Open title later in the year. The only person in history to win all five in one calendar year was Steffi Graf in 1988. ” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210730202747-28-olympics-073021-tennis-djokovic-live-video.jpg”>

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The world’s top-ranked tennis player, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, reacts during his semifinal match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev on July 30. Zverev won 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, ending Djokovic’s quest for a “Golden Slam.” Djokovic has already won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon this year. He was looking to add an Olympic gold and then a US Open title later in the year. The only person in history to win all five in one calendar year was Steffi Graf in 1988.

won the 10,000 meters</a> on July 30 after a thrilling sprint on the final lap.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210730082155-19-olympics-073021-barega-restricted-live-video.jpg”>

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Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega won the 10,000 meters on July 30 after a thrilling sprint on the final lap.

Australian diver Esther Qin competes in the 3-meter springboard event on July 30.

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Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

Australian diver Esther Qin competes in the 3-meter springboard event on July 30.

Olympic debut</a> of the 4×400-meter mixed relay on July 30. ” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210730080529-17-olympics-073021-relay-restricted-live-video.jpg”>

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Athletes compete in the Olympic debut of the 4×400-meter mixed relay on July 30.

Lea Yanitsas, a goalkeeper for Australia's water polo team, tries to block a shot during a match against Spain on July 30.

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Lea Yanitsas, a goalkeeper for Australia’s water polo team, tries to block a shot during a match against Spain on July 30.

The United States' Raven Saunders competes in shot put qualification on July 30.

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The United States’ Raven Saunders competes in shot put qualification on July 30.

The Czech Republic's Jiri Prskavec reacts after winning gold in the kayak final on July 30.

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The Czech Republic’s Jiri Prskavec reacts after winning gold in the kayak final on July 30.

Russian rugby player Anna Baranchuk reaches for the ball during a match against New Zealand on July 30.

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Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Russian rugby player Anna Baranchuk reaches for the ball during a match against New Zealand on July 30.

From left, Gambia's Gina Bass, Nigeria's Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha, Switzerland's Ajla Del Ponte and Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce compete in a preliminary heat for the 100-meter dash on July 30. Fraser-Pryce, who won the event at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, finished in first.

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From left, Gambia’s Gina Bass, Nigeria’s Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha, Switzerland’s Ajla Del Ponte and Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce compete in a preliminary heat for the 100-meter dash on July 30. Fraser-Pryce, who won the event at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, finished in first.

winning gold in the 200-meter breaststroke</a> on July 30. She broke the world record, finishing with a time of 2:18.95.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210729220631-03-olympics-073021-swimming-schoenmaker-live-video.jpg”>

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South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker is congratulated by some of her fellow competitors — from left, American Lilly King, American Annie Lazor and South African Kaylene Corbett — after winning gold in the 200-meter breaststroke on July 30. She broke the world record, finishing with a time of 2:18.95.

Morocco's Mohamed Tindouft falls while competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on July 30.

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Matthias Schrader/AP

Morocco’s Mohamed Tindouft falls while competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on July 30.

a crash in the BMX racing semifinal</a> on July 30. She was leading the race when she went down. American BMX racer Connor Fields was also injured in a semifinal race.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210729235423-05-olympics-073021-bmx-sakakibara-injury-live-video.jpg”>

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Australia’s Saya Sakakibara receives medical attention after a crash in the BMX racing semifinal on July 30. She was leading the race when she went down. American BMX racer Connor Fields was also injured in a semifinal race.

Lee is the fifth straight American to win gold in the event</a> going back to the 2004 Olympics.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210729103520-29b-sunisa-lee-olympics-2020-unf-live-video.jpg”>

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US gymnast Sunisa “Suni” Lee competes on the balance beam during the individual all-around final on Thursday, July 29. Lee is the fifth straight American to win gold in the event going back to the 2004 Olympics.

Indonesian badminton players Apriyani Rahayu and Greysia Polii react after winning their quarterfinal match on July 29.

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Indonesian badminton players Apriyani Rahayu and Greysia Polii react after winning their quarterfinal match on July 29.

Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade performs on the uneven bars during the individual all-around on July 29.

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Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade performs on the uneven bars during the individual all-around on July 29.

withdrew from the event</a> because of mental-health concerns. <em>Correction: This caption has been updated to include Grace McCallum, who was previously misidentified by Getty Images.</em>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210729093346-15-sunisa-lee-olympics-2020-unf-live-video.jpg”>

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From left, US gymnasts Grace McCallum, Jordan Chiles, Simone Biles and MyKayla Skinner cheer for teammate Suni Lee after her gold-medal performance on July 29. Biles, the defending champion, withdrew from the event because of mental-health concerns. Correction: This caption has been updated to include Grace McCallum, who was previously misidentified by Getty Images.

British field hockey players prepare to defend a penalty corner during a match against the Netherlands on July 29.

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Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

British field hockey players prepare to defend a penalty corner during a match against the Netherlands on July 29.

Olympic record time</a> of 47.02 seconds, he won his fourth career gold medal and his second in Tokyo. He won the race by just .06 seconds.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210728232137-07b-olympics-072921-swimming-caeleb-dressel-live-video.jpg”>

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American swimmer Caeleb Dressel, top, competes in the 100-meter freestyle final on July 29. With an Olympic record time of 47.02 seconds, he won his fourth career gold medal and his second in Tokyo. He won the race by just .06 seconds.

American gymnast Suni Lee takes a selfie with silver medalist Rebeca Andrade, center, and bronze medalist Angelina Melnikova after winning the individual all-around on July 29. Andrade is the first Brazilian to ever medal in women's gymnastics. Melnikova is Russian.

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American gymnast Suni Lee takes a selfie with silver medalist Rebeca Andrade, center, and bronze medalist Angelina Melnikova after winning the individual all-around on July 29. Andrade is the first Brazilian to ever medal in women’s gymnastics. Melnikova is Russian.

Tunisia's Mohamed Hammed picks an arrow during archery competition on July 29.

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Tunisia’s Mohamed Hammed picks an arrow during archery competition on July 29.

US beach volleyball player Sarah Sponcil stretches out for a ball during a match on July 29.

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US beach volleyball player Sarah Sponcil stretches out for a ball during a match on July 29.

putting the medal on their teammates.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210729020238-14-olympics-072921-womens-freestyle-relay-live-video.jpg”>

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US swimmer Katie McLaughlin places a silver medal around the neck of teammate Katie Ledecky after the 4×200-meter freestyle relay on July 29. The International Olympic Committee created a contactless medal ceremony, asking athletes to put their medals on themselves. Some athletes have been putting the medal on their teammates.

Canadian fencer Eleanor Harvey, left, competes against France's Ysaora Thibus in a foil team quarterfinal on July 29.

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Canadian fencer Eleanor Harvey, left, competes against France’s Ysaora Thibus in a foil team quarterfinal on July 29.

Italy's Cristina Chirichella serves the ball during a match against Argentina on July 29.

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Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Italy’s Cristina Chirichella serves the ball during a match against Argentina on July 29.

Brazil's Bruna de Paula is defended by  Spain's Lara González Ortega during a preliminary round handball match on July 29.

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Brazil’s Bruna de Paula is defended by Spain’s Lara González Ortega during a preliminary round handball match on July 29.

Japanese golfer Rikuya Hoshino tees off to start his first round on July 29. The Olympic golf is taking place at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan.

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Japanese golfer Rikuya Hoshino tees off to start his first round on July 29. The Olympic golf is taking place at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan.

From left, the United States' Bobby Finke, Ukraine's Mykhailo Romanchuk and Germany's Florian Wellbrock dive in the water at the start of the 800-meter freestyle final on July 29. Finke won gold after a late rally.

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From left, the United States’ Bobby Finke, Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk and Germany’s Florian Wellbrock dive in the water at the start of the 800-meter freestyle final on July 29. Finke won gold after a late rally.

China's Sun Yingsha waits for a serve from Japan's Mima Ito during a table-tennis semifinal on July 29. Sun won to advance to the final.

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Kin Cheung/AP

China’s Sun Yingsha waits for a serve from Japan’s Mima Ito during a table-tennis semifinal on July 29. Sun won to advance to the final.

BMX racers compete in the women's quarterfinals on July 29.

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BMX racers compete in the women’s quarterfinals on July 29.

Spain's Cristina Ouviña, center, is defended by a group of Serbian players during a preliminary round basketball game on July 29.

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Spain’s Cristina Ouviña, center, is defended by a group of Serbian players during a preliminary round basketball game on July 29.

Japanese badminton player Arisa Higashino, top, hits a shot toward China's Huang Dongping in a mixed-doubles semifinal on July 29.

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Japanese badminton player Arisa Higashino, top, hits a shot toward China’s Huang Dongping in a mixed-doubles semifinal on July 29.

crushing the field in the 1,500-meter freestyle</a> on Wednesday, July 28. It was her sixth career gold medal and her eighth Olympic medal in all.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727232154-06-olympics-072821-ledecky-swimming-live-video.jpg”>

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US swimmer Katie Ledecky celebrates after crushing the field in the 1,500-meter freestyle on Wednesday, July 28. It was her sixth career gold medal and her eighth Olympic medal in all.

Ledecky led the field for most of the 1,500-meter freestyle, and she finished the race more than four seconds ahead of silver medalist Erica Sullivan, a fellow American.

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Ledecky led the field for most of the 1,500-meter freestyle, and she finished the race more than four seconds ahead of silver medalist Erica Sullivan, a fellow American.

Hashimoto won the gold.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210728195305-34-olympics-072821-gymnastics-live-video.jpg”>

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Japanese gymnast Daiki Hashimoto competes during the individual all-around on July 28. Hashimoto won the gold.

to ask what would happen if he died.</a> Medvedev went on to win the match over Italy’s Fabio Fognini.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210728073616-12-olympics-072821-tennis-medvedev-live-video.jpg”>

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Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev receives medical treatment during his third-round singles match on July 28. Midway through the match, the Russian — known for his dry humor and sarcasm — approached the chair umpire to ask what would happen if he died. Medvedev went on to win the match over Italy’s Fabio Fognini.

Poland's Lukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski compete in the 49er sailing competition on July 28.

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Poland’s Lukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski compete in the 49er sailing competition on July 28.

Serbia's Dusan Domovic Bulut, left, competes for the ball with Belgium's Rafael Bogaerts, center, and Thibaut Vervoort during a 3-on-3 basketball game on July 28. Serbia won the game for a bronze medal.

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Serbia’s Dusan Domovic Bulut, left, competes for the ball with Belgium’s Rafael Bogaerts, center, and Thibaut Vervoort during a 3-on-3 basketball game on July 28. Serbia won the game for a bronze medal.

American divers Michael Hixon, left, and Andrew Capobianco compete in the synchronized 3-meter springboard event on July 28. They won silver. China's Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi won gold.

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American divers Michael Hixon, left, and Andrew Capobianco compete in the synchronized 3-meter springboard event on July 28. They won silver. China’s Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi won gold.

they won gold in 3-on-3 basketball</a> on July 28. This was the first year that 3-on-3 was an Olympic event.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210728100138-23-olympics-072821-basketball-live-video.jpg”>

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From left, Jacquelyn Young, Stefanie Dolson, Kelsey Plum and Allisha Gray celebrate after they won gold in 3-on-3 basketball on July 28. This was the first year that 3-on-3 was an Olympic event.

Swiss cyclist Marlen Reusser competes in the time trial event on July 28.

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Swiss cyclist Marlen Reusser competes in the time trial event on July 28.

Fiji players celebrate after winning gold in rugby sevens on July 28.

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Fiji players celebrate after winning gold in rugby sevens on July 28.

a new world record total of 364 kilograms.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210728102527-28-olympics-072821-weightlifting-shi-restricted-live-video.jpg”>

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Chinese weightlifter Shi Zhiyong celebrates July 28 after winning gold in the 73-kilogram weight class. He lifted 166 kilograms in the snatch and 198 kilograms in the clean-and-jerk, setting a new world record total of 364 kilograms.

Kazakhstan's Bekzad Nurdauletov gets hit by Russian boxer Imam Khataev during their light-heavyweight match on July 28. Khataev won 4-1.

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Kazakhstan’s Bekzad Nurdauletov gets hit by Russian boxer Imam Khataev during their light-heavyweight match on July 28. Khataev won 4-1.

Japan's baseball players celebrate a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Dominican Republic on July 28. It was the first baseball game of these Olympics.

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Japan’s baseball players celebrate a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Dominican Republic on July 28. It was the first baseball game of these Olympics.

Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini reacts after losing a point to Russian Daniil Medvedev during their third-round match on July 28.

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Patrick Semansky/AP

Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini reacts after losing a point to Russian Daniil Medvedev during their third-round match on July 28.

Japan's Megumi Murakami competes in a beach volleyball match on July 28.

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John Sibley/Reuters

Japan’s Megumi Murakami competes in a beach volleyball match on July 28.

A crowd watches equestrian action on July 28.

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A crowd watches equestrian action on July 28.

set a new Olympic record,</a> finishing in 1:53.50. It is her second gold of these Olympics, as she also won the 400-meter freestyle.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727220637-04-olympics-072821-swimming-titmus-live-video.jpg”>

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Australia’s Ariarne Titmus swims her way to gold in the 200-meter freestyle on July 28. She also set a new Olympic record, finishing in 1:53.50. It is her second gold of these Olympics, as she also won the 400-meter freestyle.

Egyptian fencer Ziad Elsissy celebrates a team sabre win on July 28.

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Andrew Medichini/AP

Egyptian fencer Ziad Elsissy celebrates a team sabre win on July 28.

she pulled out of the team all-around competition</a> on Tuesday, July 27. Biles withdrew after stumbling on the vault, Team USA’s first apparatus of the night. She cited mental-health concerns for her withdrawal. "I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being," she told reporters.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727075612-32-olympics-072721-gymnastics-biles-live-video.jpg”>

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Dylan Martinez/Reuters

US gymnast Simone Biles wears her warm-up gear after she pulled out of the team all-around competition on Tuesday, July 27. Biles withdrew after stumbling on the vault, Team USA’s first apparatus of the night. She cited mental-health concerns for her withdrawal. “I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” she told reporters.

are sporting a wide range of ink.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727200527-45-olympics-072721-tattoo-live-video.jpg”>

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A tattoo of the Olympic rings is seen on the back of South African swimmer Brad Tandy on July 27. Many of this year’s athletes are sporting a wide range of ink.

A man sits among rows of empty seats as he watches table tennis at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on July 27.

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Thomas Peter/Reuters

A man sits among rows of empty seats as he watches table tennis at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on July 27.

withdrew right after that,</a> saying she wasn’t in the right frame of mind to compete. "It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head," she told reporters.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210728233400-04-simone-biles-072721-live-video.jpg”>

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Natacha Pisarenko/AP

US gymnast Simone Biles performs on the vault during the team all-around event on July 27. She stumbled on the landing and withdrew right after that, saying she wasn’t in the right frame of mind to compete. “It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head,” she told reporters.

An underwater view shows the United States' Delaney Schnell, left, and Jessica Parratto after a dive in the the synchronized 10-meter platform event on July 27.

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An underwater view shows the United States’ Delaney Schnell, left, and Jessica Parratto after a dive in the the synchronized 10-meter platform event on July 27.

Turkish archer Yasemin Anagoz competes on July 27.

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Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Turkish archer Yasemin Anagoz competes on July 27.

French slalom canoeist Marie-Zélia Lafont competes in the K-1 semifinal on July 27.

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French slalom canoeist Marie-Zélia Lafont competes in the K-1 semifinal on July 27.

Japan won 2-0.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727112845-43-olympics-072721-softball-japan-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Japan’s softball team celebrates with head coach Reika Utsugi after winning the gold-medal game against the United States on July 27. Japan won 2-0.

won the gold medal</a> along with her teammates Vladislava Urazova, Angelina Melnikova and Lilia Akhaimova. Russian athletes at these Olympics are officially recognized as members of ROC, an abbreviation of the Russian Olympic Committee. That’s because in 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/26/sport/what-is-roc-olympics-explainer-spt-trnd/index.html" target="_blank">banned Russia</a> from all international sporting competitions, including the Olympics, for doping non-compliance. Russian athletes can’t compete under their country’s name, flag and national anthem until December 2022.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727091509-37-olympics-072721-gymnastics-roc-live-video.jpg”>

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Morry Gash/AP

Russian gymnast Viktoria Listunova performs on the balance beam during the team all-around competition on July 27. She won the gold medal along with her teammates Vladislava Urazova, Angelina Melnikova and Lilia Akhaimova. Russian athletes at these Olympics are officially recognized as members of ROC, an abbreviation of the Russian Olympic Committee. That’s because in 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from all international sporting competitions, including the Olympics, for doping non-compliance. Russian athletes can’t compete under their country’s name, flag and national anthem until December 2022.

German table-tennis player Timo Boll serves during a match on July 27.

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German table-tennis player Timo Boll serves during a match on July 27.

Taiwanese weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun reacts after winning gold in the 59-kilogram category on July 27.

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Taiwanese weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun reacts after winning gold in the 59-kilogram category on July 27.

A man in Yokohama, Japan, walks past the Olympic rings lit up at dusk on July 27.

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A man in Yokohama, Japan, walks past the Olympic rings lit up at dusk on July 27.

she won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in surfing</a> on July 27.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727071057-27-oolympics-072721-surfing-moore-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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The United States’ Carissa Moore celebrates after she won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in surfing on July 27.

American Regan Smith swims the final of the women's 100-meter backstroke on July 27. She won the bronze.

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Matthias Schrader/AP

American Regan Smith swims the final of the women’s 100-meter backstroke on July 27. She won the bronze.

American Haleigh Washington, left, spikes the ball during a volleyball match against China on July 27. The United States won in straight sets, 29-27, 25-22, 25-21.

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American Haleigh Washington, left, spikes the ball during a volleyball match against China on July 27. The United States won in straight sets, 29-27, 25-22, 25-21.

Norway's Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen compete in the 49erFX sailing competition on July 27.

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Norway’s Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen compete in the 49erFX sailing competition on July 27.

the synchronized 10-meter platform event</a> on July 27.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727062545-24-olympics-072721-synchronized-diving-live-video.jpg”>

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Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

US diver Jessica Parratto cries after she and teammate Delaney Schnell won a silver medal in the synchronized 10-meter platform event on July 27.

Estonian fencer Katrina Lehis, left, squares off against Italy's Mara Navarria in the team epée semifinals on July 27.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Estonian fencer Katrina Lehis, left, squares off against Italy’s Mara Navarria in the team epée semifinals on July 27.

Rylov won the 100-meter backstroke.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727062541-23-olympics-072721-backstroke-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Russian swimmer Evgeny Rylov wears a cat-themed mask as he waits to receive his gold medal on July 27. Rylov won the 100-meter backstroke.

He won gold despite his board breaking on his first wave.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727062535-21-olympics-072721-surfing-ferreira-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Brazilian surfer Italo Ferreira competes in the gold-medal final on July 27. He won gold despite his board breaking on his first wave.

her third-round loss</a> to the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova on July 27. Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony, had 32 unforced errors in the match. It’s the first time she has lost in a hard-court tournament since the 2020 Australian Open.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210727062524-18-olympics-072721-osaka-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka reacts during her third-round loss to the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova on July 27. Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony, had 32 unforced errors in the match. It’s the first time she has lost in a hard-court tournament since the 2020 Australian Open.

winning the 100-meter breaststroke</a> on July 27. Jacoby, 17, is the first-ever Olympic swimmer from Alaska, and she was not expected to win the event. King, a race favorite who won the event at the 2016 Olympics, finished with the bronze this time.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726225225-04-olympics-072721-jacoby-breaststroke-live-video.jpg”>

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Lydia Jacoby, left, is congratulated by fellow American swimmer Lilly King after winning the 100-meter breaststroke on July 27. Jacoby, 17, is the first-ever Olympic swimmer from Alaska, and she was not expected to win the event. King, a race favorite who won the event at the 2016 Olympics, finished with the bronze this time.

Brazil's Ana Paula Rodrigues Belo attempts to shoot during a handball match against Hungary on July 27.

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Brazil’s Ana Paula Rodrigues Belo attempts to shoot during a handball match against Hungary on July 27.

gold in the triathlon</a> on July 27. It’s the first-ever Olympic gold medal for an athlete representing Bermuda.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726211326-01-olympics-072721-triathlon-flora-duffy-live-video.jpg”>

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Bermuda’s Flora Duffy celebrates after she won gold in the triathlon on July 27. It’s the first-ever Olympic gold medal for an athlete representing Bermuda.

From left, Hungary's Katinka Hosszú, the United States' Alex Walsh and China's Yu Yiting take part in a semifinal race for the 200-meter individual medley on July 27. Walsh won the race.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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From left, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszú, the United States’ Alex Walsh and China’s Yu Yiting take part in a semifinal race for the 200-meter individual medley on July 27. Walsh won the race.

France's Endy Miyem is defended by Japan's Himawari Akaho during a basketball game on July 27. Japan defeated France 74-70.

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France’s Endy Miyem is defended by Japan’s Himawari Akaho during a basketball game on July 27. Japan defeated France 74-70.

winning the 100-meter backstroke</a> on July 27. His countryman Kliment Kolesnikov won the silver.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726233132-06-olympics-072721-swimming-mens-backstroke-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Russian swimmer Evgeny Rylov celebrates after winning the 100-meter backstroke on July 27. His countryman Kliment Kolesnikov won the silver.

Members of the media are pictured in the foreground as Indonesia's Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, bottom left, and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo play a badminton match against Taiwan's Lee Yang, top left, and Wang Chi-lin on July 27.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

Members of the media are pictured in the foreground as Indonesia’s Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, bottom left, and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo play a badminton match against Taiwan’s Lee Yang, top left, and Wang Chi-lin on July 27.

South Korean fencer Kang Young-mi, right, is congratulated by her teammates after they defeated the United States in the epée quarterfinals on July 27.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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South Korean fencer Kang Young-mi, right, is congratulated by her teammates after they defeated the United States in the epée quarterfinals on July 27.

US water polo player Johnny Hooper takes a shot during the team's 20-3 win over South Africa on July 27.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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US water polo player Johnny Hooper takes a shot during the team’s 20-3 win over South Africa on July 27.

winning gold in the team all-around</a> on Monday, July 26.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726100522-17-olympics-072621-gymnastics-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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From left, Russian gymnasts David Belyavskiy, Artur Dalaloyan, Nikita Nagornyy and Denis Ablyazin react after winning gold in the team all-around on Monday, July 26.

their dramatic victory</a> over China in the mixed-doubles final on July 26. Mizutani and Ito came back from two sets down to win 4-3, clinching the final set 11-6. The win ended years of Chinese dominance in the sport. China had won every Olympic title in table tennis since South Korea’s Ryu Seung-min triumphed in the men’s singles competition at the 2004 Athens Games.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726202444-30-olympics-072621-table-tennis-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Jung Yeon-je/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese table-tennis players Jun Mizutani, left, and Mima Ito celebrate their dramatic victory over China in the mixed-doubles final on July 26. Mizutani and Ito came back from two sets down to win 4-3, clinching the final set 11-6. The win ended years of Chinese dominance in the sport. China had won every Olympic title in table tennis since South Korea’s Ryu Seung-min triumphed in the men’s singles competition at the 2004 Athens Games.

first-ever Olympic gold medal.</a> Prior to Diaz’s gold, the Philippines had claimed three silvers and seven bronzes. Diaz won one of the silvers in the 2016 Olympics.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726100951-20-olympics-072621-weightlifting-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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The Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz reacts after winning the 55-kilogram weightlifting competition on July 26. It’s her country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal. Prior to Diaz’s gold, the Philippines had claimed three silvers and seven bronzes. Diaz won one of the silvers in the 2016 Olympics.

The sun sets in Tokyo on July 26 as Belgium plays the Netherlands in a men's 3-on-3 basketball game. The event is making its Olympic debut this year.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Charlie Riedel/AP

The sun sets in Tokyo on July 26 as Belgium plays the Netherlands in a men’s 3-on-3 basketball game. The event is making its Olympic debut this year.

Volunteers sit in mostly empty stands during archery competition on July 26.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Volunteers sit in mostly empty stands during archery competition on July 26.

The Czech Republic's Lukas Rohan competes in a canoeing semifinal on July 26.

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The Czech Republic’s Lukas Rohan competes in a canoeing semifinal on July 26.

Fencers Sofia Pozdniakova and Sofya Velikaya, both representing the Russian Olympic Committee, compete against each other in the individual sabre final on July 26. Pozdniakova, a two-time world champion and daughter of Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdniakov, defeated Velikaya 15-11.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Hassan Ammar/AP

Fencers Sofia Pozdniakova and Sofya Velikaya, both representing the Russian Olympic Committee, compete against each other in the individual sabre final on July 26. Pozdniakova, a two-time world champion and daughter of Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdniakov, defeated Velikaya 15-11.

Spain's Adrian Gavira Collado waits for a serve during a beach volleyball match on July 26.

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Spain’s Adrian Gavira Collado waits for a serve during a beach volleyball match on July 26.

Hong Kong’s first gold</a> at the Summer Olympics in 25 years.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726142555-28-olympics-072621-fencing-gold-medal-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung looks at his gold medal after beating Italy’s Daniele Garozzo in the men’s foil final on July 26. It was Hong Kong’s first gold at the Summer Olympics in 25 years.

to win the 400-meter freestyle</a> on July 26. It’s the first Olympic medal for Titmus, the defending world champion in the event. Ledecky won the event at the 2016 Olympics, where she set a world record that still stands today.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210725223729-03-olympics-072621-titmus-ledecky-live-video.jpg”>

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David J. Phillip/AP

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus edges the United States’ Katie Ledecky to win the 400-meter freestyle on July 26. It’s the first Olympic medal for Titmus, the defending world champion in the event. Ledecky won the event at the 2016 Olympics, where she set a world record that still stands today.

winning the 4×100-meter freestyle relay</a> on July 26. Not pictured is teammate Zach Apple, who swam the anchor leg.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726002314-04-olympics-072621-swimming-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Jon Olav Nesvold/Bildbyran/Reuters

Three US swimmers — from right, Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni and Bowen Becker — celebrate after winning the 4×100-meter freestyle relay on July 26. Not pictured is teammate Zach Apple, who swam the anchor leg.

won gold in the new event,</a> a day after fellow Japanese skateboarder Yuto Horigome won gold on the men’s side. She is one of the youngest gold-medal winners in Olympic history. She is just months older than the current female record-holder, American diver Marjorie Gestring, who was 13 years and 267 days old when she won gold at the Berlin Games in 1936.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726012101-07-olympics-072621-skateboarding-nishiya-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Japanese skateboarder Momiji Nishiya grinds a rail during the women’s street competition on July 26. The 13-year-old won gold in the new event, a day after fellow Japanese skateboarder Yuto Horigome won gold on the men’s side. She is one of the youngest gold-medal winners in Olympic history. She is just months older than the current female record-holder, American diver Marjorie Gestring, who was 13 years and 267 days old when she won gold at the Berlin Games in 1936.

Iran's Meisam Salehi spikes the ball during a volleyball match against Venezuela on July 26.

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Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Iran’s Meisam Salehi spikes the ball during a volleyball match against Venezuela on July 26.

British divers Tom Daley, left, and Matty Lee compete in the synchronized 10-meter platform event on July 26. They won the gold.

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British divers Tom Daley, left, and Matty Lee compete in the synchronized 10-meter platform event on July 26. They won the gold.

Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt lies on the ground wrapped in finish-line tape after he won the triathlon on July 26. On the right, silver medalist Alex Yee of Great Britain hugs bronze medalist Hayden Wilde of New Zealand.

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Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt lies on the ground wrapped in finish-line tape after he won the triathlon on July 26. On the right, silver medalist Alex Yee of Great Britain hugs bronze medalist Hayden Wilde of New Zealand.

Norway's Richard Andre Ordemann is kicked in the face by Jordan's Saleh Elsharabaty during a taekwondo bout on July 26. Elsharabaty won 5-4.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Norway’s Richard Andre Ordemann is kicked in the face by Jordan’s Saleh Elsharabaty during a taekwondo bout on July 26. Elsharabaty won 5-4.

The US softball team celebrates its 2-1 win over Japan on July 26. The two teams will meet again in the gold-medal game July 27.

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The US softball team celebrates its 2-1 win over Japan on July 26. The two teams will meet again in the gold-medal game July 27.

Eldric Sella Rodriguez, a middleweight boxer with the Refugee Olympic Team, lies on the ground after being knocked down by the Dominican Republic's Euri Cedeno Martinez on July 26. The fight was stopped in the first round, and Cedeno Martinez was declared the winner.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Eldric Sella Rodriguez, a middleweight boxer with the Refugee Olympic Team, lies on the ground after being knocked down by the Dominican Republic’s Euri Cedeno Martinez on July 26. The fight was stopped in the first round, and Cedeno Martinez was declared the winner.

forcing a restart.</a> It was the first-ever call of its kind in an Olympic triathlon.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726025209-12-olympics-072621-triathlon-live-video.jpg”>

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Athletes dive into the water at the start of the men’s triathlon on July 26. A broadcast boat prevented all swimmers from starting, forcing a restart. It was the first-ever call of its kind in an Olympic triathlon.

Japan's Hifumi Abe celebrates after winning gold in judo on Sunday, July 25.

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Japan’s Hifumi Abe celebrates after winning gold in judo on Sunday, July 25.

France upset the United States</a> 83-76 in what was both teams’ opening games. The US team hadn’t lost an Olympic game since 2004.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210725094604-52-olympics-072521-mens-basketball-live-video.jpg”>

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The Tokyo 2020 logo is reflected in the backboard as France’s Evan Fournier rises for a shot on July 25. France upset the United States 83-76 in what was both teams’ opening games. The US team hadn’t lost an Olympic game since 2004.

Chinese weightlifter Chen Lijun celebrates on July 25. He won gold in his 67-kilogram weight class after lifting 187 kilograms — an Olympic record — in the clean-and-jerk. His total lift of 332 kilograms edged Colombia's Luis Javier Mosquera Lozano by one kilogram.

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Chinese weightlifter Chen Lijun celebrates on July 25. He won gold in his 67-kilogram weight class after lifting 187 kilograms — an Olympic record — in the clean-and-jerk. His total lift of 332 kilograms edged Colombia’s Luis Javier Mosquera Lozano by one kilogram.

thought she had won</a> the gold medal, not realizing that Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer had broken away from the pack and finished first. Cyclists race without earpieces at the Olympics, and that played a part in her confusion, she said. But she was still "really proud" of her silver medal.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210725200156-58-olympics-072521-annemiek-van-vleuten-live-video.jpg”>

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Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten celebrates after completing the road race on July 25. She thought she had won the gold medal, not realizing that Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer had broken away from the pack and finished first. Cyclists race without earpieces at the Olympics, and that played a part in her confusion, she said. But she was still “really proud” of her silver medal.

US equestrian Adrienne Lyle rides Salvino in the dressage competition on July 25.

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US equestrian Adrienne Lyle rides Salvino in the dressage competition on July 25.

went on to win gold in the final.</a> He also won the event at the 2016 Olympics.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726000123-66-olympics-072521-swimming-peaty-live-video.jpg”>

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Great Britain’s Adam Peaty competes in a semifinal of the 100-meter breaststroke on July 25. Peaty, the world-record holder in the event, went on to win gold in the final. He also won the event at the 2016 Olympics.

finished second in qualification for the all-around.</a> "Obviously, there are little things we need to work on, so we’ll go back and practice and work on that just so we can do our best performance at team finals (on Tuesday), because that’s what matters," Biles said.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726000117-62-olympics-072521-gymnastics-biles-live-video.jpg”>

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US gymnast Simone Biles stumbles on a balance beam dismount during the qualification event on July 25. She still qualified for the event finals, and the United States finished second in qualification for the all-around. “Obviously, there are little things we need to work on, so we’ll go back and practice and work on that just so we can do our best performance at team finals (on Tuesday), because that’s what matters,” Biles said.

winning gold in taekwondo</a> on July 25. She is the first US woman to win Olympic gold in the event.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726000120-64-olympics-072521-taekwondo-zolotic-live-video.jpg”>

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American Anastasija Zolotic celebrates after winning gold in taekwondo on July 25. She is the first US woman to win Olympic gold in the event.

Staff members prepare for judo competition at the Budokan arena in Tokyo.

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Staff members prepare for judo competition at the Budokan arena in Tokyo.

Spanish judoka Alberto Gaitero Martin is bandaged during his bout against Ukraine's Georgii Zantaraia on July 25.

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Spanish judoka Alberto Gaitero Martin is bandaged during his bout against Ukraine’s Georgii Zantaraia on July 25.

China's Zhang Changning spikes the ball in a preliminary-round volleyball match against Turkey on July 25.

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China’s Zhang Changning spikes the ball in a preliminary-round volleyball match against Turkey on July 25.

Mexico's Dallas Escobedo warms up before a softball game against Italy on July 25. Softball is back at the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

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Matt Slocum/AP

Mexico’s Dallas Escobedo warms up before a softball game against Italy on July 25. Softball is back at the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

American gymnast Simone Biles performs on the vault during the qualification round on July 25. The team all-around final is Tuesday, and the Americans will look to defend the gold they won at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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Mike Blake/Reuters

American gymnast Simone Biles performs on the vault during the qualification round on July 25. The team all-around final is Tuesday, and the Americans will look to defend the gold they won at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

winning gold in the 400-meter individual medley</a> on July 25. It was the first medal for the United States in this year’s Olympics.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210725003040-35a-olympics-072521-swimming-kalisz-live-video.jpg”>

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Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

American swimmer Chase Kalisz celebrates after winning gold in the 400-meter individual medley on July 25. It was the first medal for the United States in this year’s Olympics.

Brazilian surfer Italo Ferreira rides a wave during an early heat on July 25. This is the first year that surfing is in the Olympics.

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Olivier Morin/Pool/AP

Brazilian surfer Italo Ferreira rides a wave during an early heat on July 25. This is the first year that surfing is in the Olympics.

Japan's Naomi Osaka hits a forehand during her first-round match against China's Zheng Saisai on July 25. Osaka won 6-1, 6-4.

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Edgar Su/Reuters

Japan’s Naomi Osaka hits a forehand during her first-round match against China’s Zheng Saisai on July 25. Osaka won 6-1, 6-4.

she defected last year</a> amid searing criticism of the regime in Tehran. Alizadeh defeated Chandeh 18-9.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210724234422-38-olympics-072521-taekwondo-live-video.jpg”>

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Kimia Alizadeh, a taekwondo athlete representing the Olympic Refugee Team, kicks Iran’s Nahid Kiyani Chandeh during her first match on July 25. Alizadeh was born in Iran and became the country’s first female athlete to win an Olympic medal when she won bronze at the 2016 Games. But she defected last year amid searing criticism of the regime in Tehran. Alizadeh defeated Chandeh 18-9.

Marina Nekrasova, a gymnast from Azerbaijan, competes on the uneven bars during the qualification round on July 25.

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Marina Nekrasova, a gymnast from Azerbaijan, competes on the uneven bars during the qualification round on July 25.

Italy's Alessandro Velotto moves the ball during a water polo match against South Africa on July 25.

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Italy’s Alessandro Velotto moves the ball during a water polo match against South Africa on July 25.

the first-ever Olympic gold medal in skateboarding.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210726003619-68-olympics-072521-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Japan’s Yuto Horigome competes in street skateboarding on July 25. Horigome went on to win the first-ever Olympic gold medal in skateboarding.

Hungarian fencer Flora Pasztor, left, competes against Algeria's Meriem Mebarki on July 25.

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Hungarian fencer Flora Pasztor, left, competes against Algeria’s Meriem Mebarki on July 25.

first-round loss </a>to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo on July 25. Sorribes Tormo won 6-4, 6-3.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210725012510-43-olympics-072521-tennis-barty-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Hiroto Sekiguchi/The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP

Australian tennis star Ashleigh Barty, the world’s top-ranked player who won Wimbledon earlier this month, reacts during her first-round loss to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo on July 25. Sorribes Tormo won 6-4, 6-3.

They also set a new world record (3:29.69).</a> Clockwise from left are Meg Harris, Emma McKeon, Bronte Campbell and Cate Campbell.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210724234557-39-olympics-072521-swimming-relay-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Morry Gash/AP

Australian swimmers celebrate together after they won gold in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay on July 25. They also set a new world record (3:29.69). Clockwise from left are Meg Harris, Emma McKeon, Bronte Campbell and Cate Campbell.

German beach-volleyball players Julia Sude and Karla Borger play Switzerland's Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Joana Heidrich in an empty Shiokaze Park on Saturday, July 24.

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German beach-volleyball players Julia Sude and Karla Borger play Switzerland’s Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Joana Heidrich in an empty Shiokaze Park on Saturday, July 24.

Hend Zaza, the youngest Olympian this summer, competes in table tennis on July 24. The 12-year-old Syrian was knocked out in the preliminary round, losing 4-0 to Austrian Jia Liu.

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Hend Zaza, the youngest Olympian this summer, competes in table tennis on July 24. The 12-year-old Syrian was knocked out in the preliminary round, losing 4-0 to Austrian Jia Liu.

Fans wait at the finish of the men's cycling road race on July 24. The Fuji International Speedway, in Oyama, Japan, is one of the five Olympic venues open to fans this year.

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Fans wait at the finish of the men’s cycling road race on July 24. The Fuji International Speedway, in Oyama, Japan, is one of the five Olympic venues open to fans this year.

Nigerian gymnast Uche Eke competes on the horizontal bar on July 24.

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Nigerian gymnast Uche Eke competes on the horizontal bar on July 24.

Chinese fencer Sun Yiwen celebrates with her coach Hugues Obry after winning gold in the épée on July 24.

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Chinese fencer Sun Yiwen celebrates with her coach Hugues Obry after winning gold in the épée on July 24.

set an Olympic record</a> in her 49-kilogram weight class, lifting 94 kilograms in the snatch round and 116 kilograms in the clean-and-jerk.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210724081833-09-olympics-072421-hou-zhihui-weightlifting-live-video.jpg”>

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Chinese weightlifter Hou Zhihui competes on July 24. She set an Olympic record in her 49-kilogram weight class, lifting 94 kilograms in the snatch round and 116 kilograms in the clean-and-jerk.

China's Yang Qian, the first gold-medal winner of these Olympics, celebrates on July 24. She finished first in the 10-meter air rifle.

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Alex Brandon/AP

China’s Yang Qian, the first gold-medal winner of these Olympics, celebrates on July 24. She finished first in the 10-meter air rifle.

Badminton players compete amid rows of empty seats on July 24.

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Dita Alangkara/AP

Badminton players compete amid rows of empty seats on July 24.

A staff member picks up the mouthguard of Great Britain's Peter McGrail during a boxing match on July 24.

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A staff member picks up the mouthguard of Great Britain’s Peter McGrail during a boxing match on July 24.

Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz</a> won the race after breaking away in the final 10 kilometers.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210724210040-31-olympics-072421-cycling-road-race-live-video.jpg”>

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Cyclists compete in the men’s road race on July 24. Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz won the race after breaking away in the final 10 kilometers.

cools down</a> with a mobile air conditioner and a towel with ice cubes. "It was some of the worst (heat) I’ve ever had," he said after he beat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210724090444-10-olympics-072421-tennis-daniil-medvedev-live-video.jpg”>

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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During a break in his first-round match, Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev cools down with a mobile air conditioner and a towel with ice cubes. “It was some of the worst (heat) I’ve ever had,” he said after he beat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron at the end of the opening ceremony on Friday, July 23.

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Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron at the end of the opening ceremony on Friday, July 23.

Fireworks go off after Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron.

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Fireworks go off after Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron.

An overhead view of Osaka lighting the cauldron. The cauldron was designed in the shape of a cherry blossom.

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An overhead view of Osaka lighting the cauldron. The cauldron was designed in the shape of a cherry blossom.

The Olympic flag is raised near the end of the opening ceremony.

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Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

The Olympic flag is raised near the end of the opening ceremony.

pictograms</a> were acted out by the performers.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210723110416-92-olympics-072321-opening-ceremony-restricted-live-video.jpg”>

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Live performers pose as the triathlon pictogram during the opening ceremony. There are 50 sports taking place this year in the Tokyo Olympics, and all of their pictograms were acted out by the performers.

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, makes a speech during the opening ceremony. At left is Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

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Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, makes a speech during the opening ceremony. At left is Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

Japanese jazz composer Hiromi Uehara plays the piano during the opening ceremony.

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Japanese jazz composer Hiromi Uehara plays the piano during the opening ceremony.

The Olympic flag is carried toward the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony.

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The Olympic flag is carried toward the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito delivers a speech and formally opens the Olympic Games.

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Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito delivers a speech and formally opens the Olympic Games.

Members of the Refugee Olympic Team march during the parade of nations.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Antonin Thuillier/AFP/Getty Images

Members of the Refugee Olympic Team march during the parade of nations.

Tongan flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua made headlines for going shirtless at the 2016 and 2018 opening ceremonies, and he was at it again in Tokyo. He will be competing in taekwondo.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Tongan flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua made headlines for going shirtless at the 2016 and 2018 opening ceremonies, and he was at it again in Tokyo. He will be competing in taekwondo.

Athletes from the United States march during the customary parade of nations.

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PHOTO:
David J. Phillip/AP

Athletes from the United States march during the customary parade of nations.

During one portion of the opening ceremony, there were 1,800 drones flying over the stadium to form a globe in the night sky. As the glowing drones soared over the stadium, performers sang "Imagine" by John Lennon.

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During one portion of the opening ceremony, there were 1,800 drones flying over the stadium to form a globe in the night sky. As the glowing drones soared over the stadium, performers sang “Imagine” by John Lennon.

Athletes from various nations sit during the opening ceremony.

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Martin Rickett/PA Images/Getty Images

Athletes from various nations sit during the opening ceremony.

Athletes from Team Norway take part in the parade of nations.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Athletes from Team Norway take part in the parade of nations.

The Olympic teams from every country watch performers on stage.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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The Olympic teams from every country watch performers on stage.

US athletes hold an American flag during the parade of nations.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

US athletes hold an American flag during the parade of nations.

Russian athletes pose for a photo during the opening ceremony.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images

Russian athletes pose for a photo during the opening ceremony.

A police officer is seen in the mostly empty stadium on July 23. Organizers said that for the opening ceremony, only 950 VIPs would be present in a stadium that can seat nearly 70,000 people.

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Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

A police officer is seen in the mostly empty stadium on July 23. Organizers said that for the opening ceremony, only 950 VIPs would be present in a stadium that can seat nearly 70,000 people.

French athletes march during the opening ceremony.

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Leah Millis/Reuters

French athletes march during the opening ceremony.

A member of Egypt's delegation enters the stadium during the parade of nations.

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A member of Egypt’s delegation enters the stadium during the parade of nations.

British flag-bearers Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi lead out the team during the opening ceremony's parade of nations. Sbihi, a rower, made history as Great Britain's first Muslim flag-bearer.

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Joe Giddens/PA Images/Getty Images

British flag-bearers Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi lead out the team during the opening ceremony’s parade of nations. Sbihi, a rower, made history as Great Britain’s first Muslim flag-bearer.

Greece's athletes march into the stadium to kick off the parade of nations.

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Greece’s athletes march into the stadium to kick off the parade of nations.

Dancers take part in the start of the opening ceremony.

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PHOTO:
David J. Phillip/AP

Dancers take part in the start of the opening ceremony.

People perform during the opening ceremony.

Photos&colon; The best photos from the Tokyo Olympics

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People perform during the opening ceremony.

The Japanese flag is carried during the opening ceremony. After the Japanese National Anthem was sung, a moment of silence was called to remember the global victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Morry Gash/AP

The Japanese flag is carried during the opening ceremony. After the Japanese National Anthem was sung, a moment of silence was called to remember the global victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A performer acts during the opening ceremony.

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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

A performer acts during the opening ceremony.

The start of the ceremony reflected the isolated training that many athletes had to do during the pandemic.

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The start of the ceremony reflected the isolated training that many athletes had to do during the pandemic.

Jill Biden, the first lady of the United States, takes part in a moment of silence during the opening ceremony.

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Jill Biden, the first lady of the United States, takes part in a moment of silence during the opening ceremony.

A lone performer is seen during the start of the opening ceremony.

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Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A lone performer is seen during the start of the opening ceremony.

opposes holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic.</a>” loading=”lazy” src=”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210723102329-74-olympics-072321-opening-cremony-live-video.jpg”>

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A police officer gestures toward a small group of people who were protesting the Olympics outside the National Stadium on July 23. A significant portion of the Japanese public opposes holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic.

Fireworks explode over the stadium as the opening ceremony got underway.

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Fireworks explode over the stadium as the opening ceremony got underway.

Tokyo
CNN
—  

After years of dominance that equated to a glut of 20 medals across the past three Olympic Games, Great Britain’s rowers reached choppy waters in Tokyo.

They leave these Games with two rowing medals – silver in the men’s quadruple sculls and bronze in the men’s eight – and, agonizingly, six fourth-place finishes.

“Fourth is just an awful place to come,” said Graeme Thomas after missing out on third by three seconds in the men’s double earlier this week.

The results pages will likely make grim reading for the British rowing team. But amid the disappointing results, some of the athletes, namely Helen Glover and Polly Swann, have found perspective.

Glover, a two-time gold medalist from the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, returned to rowing earlier this year having become a mother of three since her last Games, while Swann has been working as a doctor at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. They finished fourth in the women’s pair on Thursday.

“For Helen, she was looking after three kids. For me, I was working in a hospital a year ago today,” said Swann. “I don’t think there’s many people in the Olympic athlete setup that can say these things and be in a final.”

Helen Glover and Polly Swann compete in the women's pair semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics.

Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Helen Glover and Polly Swann compete in the women’s pair semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics.

Olympians are so often defined by medal counts that our perception of success can be easily clouded – an argument Cath Bishop, a former British rower and author of “The Long Win: The Search for a Better Way to Succeed,” has propounded.

Bishop remembers the moment she and Katherine Grainger finished second in the coxless pair at the 2004 Olympics; at the time, commentators observed that they were “only in silver.”

“I left thinking: have I failed at the last hurdle?” Bishop told CNN Sport.

“I always feel that everything is defined by the split second of crossing the line, when the story of my career is about all of the things I went through beyond that, before that, the things that I actually carry with me.

“I don’t carry the medal around, I carry the experiences I had … the expectations and the definitions that we give to what the medal means, and, in fact, what fourth place means, or sixth place means – that’s what determines what we take with us.”

For many athletes, the Olympics are viewed as the pinnacle of sporting achievement, and many will judge themselves against the number next to their name once the competition is over.

But Bishop has argued for a “broadening of success criteria.”

“The purpose of sport isn’t just about medals. It’s about connecting communities; it’s about exploring human, physical, and mental boundaries,” she said. “And we need to get back to that.”

Cath Bishop (left) and Katherine Grainger celebrate winning silver at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Cath Bishop (left) and Katherine Grainger celebrate winning silver at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

The ‘privilege’ of perfecting a craft

Another Olympian who has mulled the concept of success is former American cyclist Mara Abbott.

On the opening weekend of the 2016 Rio Olympics, Abbott led the women’s road race with 100 meters to go and the finish line in sight. At that point, she was caught by a chasing group of three riders and finished the race without a medal.

As fourth-place finishes go, this seemed particularly brutal. Yet Abbott, her body and mind emptied of all energy reserves, found perspective and gratitude after crossing the line in Rio.

“My heart was totally broken that night, but at the same time, that was everything I had mentally, physically, emotionally; those four hours were living everything that I was possibly capable of, and everything that I had worked towards,” she told CNN Sport last year.

“It didn’t work out, and that was heartbreaking, but it is so rare to have all the experiences of your life culminate in a single moment. And it is so rare to have the privilege of working to perfect a craft and to see how good you can become at something.”

Abbott crosses the finish line of the road race at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images South America/Getty Images

Abbott crosses the finish line of the road race at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Rio Olympics was Abbott’s last race as a professional cyclist having always planned to retire after the Games. That, in turn, shaped her outlook on her Olympic experience.

“Even when I was sitting there talking to my coach at the race, part of the heartbreak was realizing that I would never probably in my life ever have the opportunity to feel that vast experience of emotion and accomplishment again,” she added.

“I felt like I got everything I needed out of the sport. It was really sad, but I felt a sense of closure. I felt that I got in the learning and I’ve gotten the experience that I wanted.”

Re-framing success

During the London 2012 Olympics, a UK bookshop owner decided to hand out specially-designed medals to athletes who finished fourth at the Games. David Mitchell told the BBC that he started the project to compensate for “an increase in competitiveness and higher standards” at the Olympics.

How an athlete processes their performance of course depends on their own standards and expectations; the same finishing position could be despair for one and joy for another.

“I feel a little bit dead inside and it’s killing me,” British taekwondo athlete Bianca Walkden said after winning her second Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo. “It’s a medal, just not the color I wanted. I might paint it over when I get home, no one has to know.”

According to Bishop, the conflation of success with the color of an Olympic medal is partly driven by the media and the language that surrounds the Games – as evidenced during her own silver-medal-winning race – and partly by the value governments confer on medal-winning athletes.

02:47 – Source: CNN

‘You have to train your brain as much as any muscle’

Indeed, the irony that her own medal has given her a platform to challenge perceptions of sporting success doesn’t escape her.

“I’m obviously not against trying to do your best and trying to deliver your best performance,” she said. “I have nothing against that, it’s a great human pursuit. But to do that in isolation is where it becomes less fulfilling.”

The Tokyo Olympics – which have so far seen gymnast Simone Biles withdraw from events to protect her mental health and tennis player Naomi Osaka speak of the pressure of performing in front of a home crowd – perhaps provide an opportunity to re-frame the concept of success.

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 23 gold medals, has described experiencing “a major state of depression” after each Olympics. Today, Phelps is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness.

“Those moments and those feelings and those emotions for me are light years better than winning the Olympic gold medal,” Phelps has said of being able to help others by sharing his experience of depression.

That the Olympics are ongoing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic may also allow athletes to view their performances in a new light.

02:20 – Source: CNN

How Michael Phelps is feeling not participating in Tokyo

“I think in many ways, athletes are grateful that they have the opportunity to race,” Bishop said.

“Gratitude is a great frame of mind to take into a sporting event. It’s a privilege; nobody dies; it’s not a life and death situation. And we’ve seen lots of life and death situations over the last year.”

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