Soufiane El Bakkali ended Kenya’s dominance in the men’s 3000m steeplechase by claiming a first Olympic gold medal for Morocco in any sport since 2004.
The Kenyans have set the standard in this event in recent times, winning gold at each of the previous nine Games.
But El Bakkali put paid to that streak, claiming victory ahead of Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma as Benjamin Kigen collected a bronze for Kenya.
The last Moroccan to claim prevail sport was Hicham El Guerrouj, who won the men’s 1500m and 5000m in Athens 17 years ago.
“I am so used to seeing Kenyans win, it’s a big accomplishment for me,” El Bakkali said.
“I have been aiming for this for years and this was my opportunity to show that Morocco is capable of winning this prize in front of the Kenyans.
“I have tried so many times to compare myself with the Kenyans and Ethiopians to see whether I could reach this gold, and I did.”
HASSAN HAT-TRICK BID ON TRACK
Sifan Hassan is aiming to become the first athlete to win a 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m treble at a single Olympic Games.
The Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman, who recovered from a fall to get through her 1500m heat earlier in the day, got her bid off to an outstanding start with victory in the 5000m on Monday.
“After I fell down, it cost me a lot of energy, I went home and I wanted to sleep,” said Hassan, who claimed the Netherlands’ first Olympic gold in athletics since 1992.
“Many people think I am crazy. I think also I am crazy. Many people think this is crazy and I am not even going to get one medal.
“Life is not about the gold, the winner; it’s also about following your heart.”
Not your typical Monday for @SifanHassan:
— Olympics (@Olympics) August 2, 2021
CANADA END TEAM USA HOODOO TO REACH FINAL
Canada sensationally ended a 36-game winless run against the United States, Jessie Fleming’s penalty securing a place in the women’s football final.
The Canadians had not beaten Team USA – four-time Olympic gold medallists – since March 11, 2001.
However, their luck changed with Fleming’s 74th-minute penalty settling the semi-final after VAR ruled that Tierna Davidson had fouled Deanne Rose.
Canada’s reward is a gold-medal showdown with Sweden, who beat Australia 1-0 thanks to Fridolina Rolfo’s second-half strike.
On a brighter note for the United States away from football, it was announced Simone Biles will take part in Tuesday’s balance beam final.
Mijain Lopez became the first male Greco-Roman wrestler to win four gold medals at the Olympics after defeating Georgia’s Iakobi Kajaia in the 130kg final.
His success saw him receive a congratulatory call from Cuba president Miguel Diaz-Canel, while he did not rule out carrying on through to Paris 2024 either.
“I feel happy, proud to be the best in the world and make history,” Lopez said.
“I’ve had a long career, working hard to make these goals and break this record.
“I’ve been working so hard to get to this point. Being able to break this record today for me is a great achievement, because I’ve faced the best and I can be proud.”
Mijain Nunez Lopez of #CUB wins his fourth Olympic gold – a first for any male wrestling athlete!
— Olympics (@Olympics) August 2, 2021
DEJA VU IN THE WOMEN’S HOCKEY
Having contested the 2016 final in Rio, Great Britain and the Netherlands will face off again at the Games – this time in a mouth-watering last-four showdown.
Team GB required a shoot-out to see off Spain following a 2-2 draw, with Hannah Martin and Sarah Jones scoring their efforts while goalkeeper Maddie Hinch produced heroics to seal a 2-0 success.
Martin said: “It’s a huge moment for us to get to those medal matches. We’re just over the moon.
“Maddie was absolutely exceptional in there. We knew she had it and the feeling was utter elation. I couldn’t get to her quick enough.”
As for the Netherlands, they enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over New Zealand.