CHIBA, Japan — U.S. wrestler Gable Steveson booked his place in the gold medal bout of the men's freestyle super heavyweight category without conceding a single point in his three bouts on Thursday.
Steveson, 21, first beat former Asian champion Aiaal Lazarev of Kyrgyzstan with a 10-0 victory by technical superiority after five takedowns before he stunned Rio Games gold medallist Taha Akgul of Turkey 8-0 in the quarterfinals.
The semifinal against Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur proved to be a tougher encounter, but the University of Minnesota athlete managed to get a single leg takedown early and finished with another takedown in the final 10 seconds to win 5-0.
"With little to no international senior experience, it's crazy that a young cat like me can come in here and shock the world so quick, have everybody notice that a 21-year-old kid in college is going to maybe take gold tomorrow," Steveson said.
"It's outstanding to me, my family back home... I'm going to do my job and try to come out victorious."
Steveson will face Georgia's three-times world champion Geno Petriashvili, whose experience shone through when he came back from 3-0 down against Iranian 20-year-old Amir Hossein Zare to win 6-3 and guarantee an improvement on his 2016 bronze medal.
Crouser breaks own record in shot put win
Chasing the "bigger throw," Ryan Crouser of the United States retained his title in the men's shot put in Tokyo on Thursday, breaking his own Olympic record three times in the final as he grabbed gold with a mark of 23.30 meters.
He set the previous record of 22.52m at the Rio Games five years ago when he won the title.
His compatriot Joe Kovacs took silver and Tomas Walsh of New Zealand claimed bronze with a season's best mark of 22.47. The final results mirrored the 2016 final.
It was the first time in any individual sports event at the Olympics that the same athletes won gold, silver and bronze in a specific event at consecutive Games.
After he won, Crouser held up a card to a camera that read "Grandpa, we did it, 2020 Olympic champion."
Wearing shades and a hat with the U.S. flag emblazoned on it, Crouser, who broke the world record in June with a 23.37 mark, started the final in blistering fashion, breaking his Olympic record on his first attempt and then improving on it with his second.
"My mindset was really good going in," Crouser said. "The key was getting a big one (throw) early. I managed to do that."
The United States will play for a third consecutive women's water polo Olympic gold medal after edging a determined Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team 15-11 on Thursday to set up a possible revenge match against Hungary.
After demolishing the ROC 18-5 in group play, the U.S. were expected to waltz into Saturday's final but the Russians gave the reigning champions a fright before fading at the end.
Deadlocked at 11-11 late in the final quarter, the U.S. showed their gold medal pedigree down the closing stretch by scoring four unanswered goals, including two from Madeline Musselman.
"We're not done yet, obviously a great win and we'll probably celebrate for one meal and that's about it and it's onto the next game," Musselman told reporters. "That's just a testament to what this team wants to do.
"We've had a lot of success but this team hasn't done anything yet, we haven't won a medal yet I think we are looking for the opportunity at fighting for one."
US reaches basketball final
Kevin Durant and Team USA trounced Australia on Thursday in the men's basketball semifinals to move into the finals and just one victory away from a fourth straight gold in the Olympics.
The win was a measure of revenge against a team that had upset the United States at an exhibition game in Las Vegas last month. The Americans, champions at the previous three Games, got off to a rocky start, shooting poorly and racking up fouls that let Australia build a 15-point lead in the second quarter.
But the U.S. team rallied in the second half, led by Durant, opening with 12 unanswered points. A barrage of three-pointers and dunks widened the point gap to 97-78 by the final buzzer.