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Team USA off to slow start at Tokyo Olympics

After the first weekend of competition at the Tokyo Olympics, China leads the overall medal count with 18, followed by the U.S. with 14. So far, Team USA is being led by American swimmers, who have won eight medals.

There is also growing concerns that Team USA’s basketball team might be losing its way. The star-studded men’s basketball team suffered a stunning seven-point defeat to France — its first loss since 2004.

“It’s a little bit unfathomable. It’s a lot alarming. And I think certainly for the players and for fans of this team, it’s frustrating because they should be better than this,” said Dan Wolken, who covers basketball for USA Today.

USA Men’s Basketball came into the Games on shaky ground, having lost two out of four exhibition matches prior to the start of the Olympics. The assumption, or hope, that they would just flip a switch once the real tournament began turned out to be false. 

The team, led by superstars like Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, were outscored by France 16-2 to close out their first game. Team USA is an undersized squad compared to some of their international opponents — France’s Rudy Gobert stands over 7 feet tall — and they needed quality perimeter shooting to make up for their inability to get to the rim and free throw line or win on the offensive glass. But they shot just 36% from the field and 31% from behind the arc, according to CBS Sports.

Zach Lavine, Jrue Holiday, Bam Adebayo, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Head Coach Gregg Popovich of Team United States of America on July 25, 2021.

Gregory Shamus/Getty

The American men have winnable matchups against Iran and the Czech Republic coming up, but it seems clear the rest of the world is closing the gap between the once-dominant squad.

Katie Ledecky, who won four gold medals in 2016, had to settle for silver in the 400-meter freestyle — losing to Australia’s Ariarne “The Terminator” Titmus. “It’s never an easy journey to the podium, and so it’s not something I take for granted being up there,” Ledecky said.

Even USA Gymnastics is feeling the pressure, finishing second to the Russians in the qualifying round for the first time in more than a decade. Simone Biles wrote on Instagram, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.”

Biles did finish first in vault and in the all-around during qualifiers, but only managed second for her floor exercise, third in the balance beam, and eighth in the uneven bars. Still, she has a chance to win a record five gold medals.  

“Certainly there have been some early disappointments and we’ll just have to see as we go along,” Wolken told CBS News. “It’s still very, very early in this process.”

But there were bright spots. Among them: gold for the men’s relay, keeping Caleb Dressel’s dream of winning seven gold medals at his first Olympics alive.

A typhoon-turned-tropical storm tracking north of Tokyo postponed several events. And COVID cases continue to mount, with at least 153 positive tests connected to the games, including Spain’s golf superstar Jon Rahm.

As the gymnastics team looks toward a rebound in competition in the next round, they are down one of their own. Mykayla Skinner, the squad’s oldest member at 24, is headed home after failing to qualify for an event finals. It was her first Olympics.


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