Sport Tokyo Olympics: Pair chases golden legacy after Australia’s finals heartbreak

Tokyo Olympics: Pair chases golden legacy after Australia’s finals heartbreak

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Australia’s Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy aim to create a golden legacy on the sand on Friday, after a heartbreaking night for the Aussies at the Tokyo Olympics.

Artacho del Solar and Clancy will take on Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman in the women’s beach volleyball gold medal match, hoping to win Australia’s second gold in the sport.

It comes after Thursday night’s tragic defeats in both hockey and soccer, which saw the Kookaburras and the Matildas come agonisingly close to gold.

Ashley Moloney carried the torch for the green and gold on the night of disappointments, winning Australia’s first athletics medal of the Tokyo Olympics in a gruelling decathlon.

Belgium claimed the men’s hockey gold medal against Australia after a dramatic penalty shootout decided the enthralling contest, 3-2.

Meanwhile, the Matildas fell short in securing a medal at the Olympics in Tokyo, losing to the United States 4-3 in the women’s soccer bronze medal match.

Tokyo Olympics
Sam Kerr shows her dejection after the Matildas’ loss in the bronze medal match. Photo: Getty

Artacho del Solar and Clancy hope to turn Australia’s fortune on day 14 and join the likes of Kerri Pottharst and Nat Cook, the last Aussie combination to win gold in the sport – 21 years ago at Bondi Beach during the Sydney Olympics.

“It means a huge amount, we want to get our sport back on the international stage. In Australia we want to inspire the next generation,” Artacho del Solar said.

“This is where my dream started by watching them (Cook and Pottharst) … that’s how simple these moments can be.”

For Clancy, an Indigenous athlete from rural Queensland, the Sydney Olympics provided a different yet equally poignant motivator.

“I’m so proud of who I am. And I want to let all my people feel the same way,” Clancy said.

“My journey started from watching Cathy Freeman and the Sydney Olympics. As an eight-year-old, that was me.

Tokyo Olympics
Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy after their semi-final win over Latvian opponents. Photo: Getty

“When we get to have these opportunities, we hope we inspire the future to become Olympic athletes.”

One more gold medal would make this Australia’s most successful Games, and they will have a triple threat in the women’s javelin final with reigning world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber, 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kathryn Mitchell and MacKenzie Little all involved.

It is the first time in Olympic history that Australia will have a full complement of three athletes in any throwing final.

Unexpected canoeing and skateboarding triumphs in Tokyo propelled Australia to equal its best-ever gold-medal haul at an Olympics, with 17 gold.

The green and gold will also be well represented in the women’s 1500m title race by Jessica Hull and Linden Hall, who have taken it in turns to hold the national record over the past couple of years.

The record currently sits with Hull, who took it back from Hall with a time of three minutes 58.81 seconds in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

Tokyo Olympics
Jessica Hull and Linden Hall will compete for Australia in the 1500m finals. Photo: Getty

In the men’s 1500m, Australian national record holder Stewart McSweyn has hung tough to give himself the chance to race for a medal in the Olympic men’s 1500m final on Saturday – and he will have fellow Australian Ollie Hoare for company.

Elsewhere, Australian diver Melissa Wu secured her first individual Olympic diving medal at her fourth Games with a composed performance on Thursday.

The event was dominated in incredible fashion by 14-year-old gold medallist Quan Hongchan.

Meanwhile, the Boomers joined the agonising list of defeats for Australia on Thursday, losing against the US in the semi-final of the basketball, 78-97, after a sensational first half to lead by as many as 15 points.

The United States got back in front in the third quarter and never looked like relinquishing the lead again.

Already guaranteed a medal, Harry Garside will take on Cuban Andy Cruz in the men’s lightweight semi-final for the right to fight in the gold medal bout.

Australia has never won boxing gold at the Olympic level, the best result being Grahame ‘Spike’ Cheney’s silver in 1988.

Hannah Green and Minjee Lee remain in contention heading into the third round of the women’s golf, Sam Fricker and Cassiel Rousseau will begin their campaign on the 10m diving platform, while Marina Carrier is mid-field heading into the last day of the modern pentathlon.

– with AAP