Entering Day 7 of the Olympics, the biggest stories for the United States and the biggest stars have become plain to see, with a group of swimmers leading the way for Team USA's Olympic fortunes.
After what turned into a dramatic week for the group with Simone Biles pulling out of the competition, the women's individual all-around final ended up being Suni Lee's time to shine. Representing Team USA, Lee beat out Rebecca Andrade of Brazil and Angelina Melinkova of Russia to take home the gold with a score of 57.433. Lee's 15.300 score on the uneven bars was the highest of any athlete in the all-around final, and she was able to hold on to her stake to a gold medal after an error by Andrade in her final rotation.
Lee now becomes the fifth American in a row to win gold in the women's all-around final, preserving a streak that dates back to the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
U.S. Women's Volleyball won their third-straight match of the Olympics to guarantee themselves a place in the quarterfinals, but they had to work for that distinction. Team USA had to survive a five-setter against Turkey, eventually prevailing 25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 20-25, 15-12 after letting Turkey back in the match after winning the first two sets. The U.S. now joins Italy at 3-0 in Pool B, with wins over Argentina, China, and now Turkey.
In addition to the U.S., other teams to have clinched a spot in the quarterfinals include Italy, Serbia, and Brazil. The U.S. team will continue group play against the Russian Olympic Committee on Saturday.
U.S. Women continued to make their presence felt with an excellent start in rugby sevens competition, as the United States opened with a 2-0 record in pool play matches. The Americans first picked up a 28-14 win over China before handling Japan by a score of 17-7, assuring them a top 2 finish in Pool C. The United States is set to play Australia next in their Friday pool match, giving them a shot at the defending gold medalists in women's rugby sevens.
Swimming delivered yet again as one of the most exciting events of the Olympics, with Team USA earning a pair of gold medals in men's competition. Headlining America's outing was Caeleb Dressel, who edged Australia's Kyle Chalmers by just .06 seconds to win gold in the men's 100-meter freestyle final and set a new Olympic record at 47.02 seconds. Another thrilling race took place in the 800-meter freestyle, as American Bobby Finke made a remarkable charge in the final 50 meters to beat Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri for the gold.
While it wasn't good enough for a gold medal, women's swimming also saw a strong last spurt from Katie Ledecky, who made up an enormous amount of time to help the United States earn silver in the 4x200 relay final.
Compared to the intensity of swimming, Olympic Golf offered a decidedly calmer product at Kasumigaseki Country Club -- albeit one just as wet. Golf competition was delayed for more than two hours by rain before Austria's Sepp Straka was able to take an early lead at 8-under. Straka shot a 63 with no bogeys and a positive strokes-gained number in every category.
As of Thursday morning, Straka leads Jazz Janewattananond, Thomas Pieters, Carlos Ortiz, and Joachim B. Hansen among others. Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffle are currently the top Americans on the board at -3 (T12).
Here are highlights from today's slate of Olympic events as well as the Day 7 schedule (All Times Eastern).
Day 7 - July 29
- Track and field heats - Women's 800m, Men's 400m hurdles, Women's 100m - 8:50 p.m. In the men's 400m U.S. medal hopeful and 2019 World Championships silver medalist has first heat race. Also, in the women's 800m, Ajeé Wilson and Raevyn Rogers will open their medal quests.
- Men's golf round two - 6:30 p.m. Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas will have some work to do to close in on leader Sepp Straka in Round 2.
- Swimming finals - Women's 200m breaststroke, Men's 200m backstroke, Women's 100m freestyle, Men's 200m individual medley - 9:30 p.m. Team USA's Ryan Murphy (200m backstroke) Abbey Weitzel (100m freestyle) will be deep in the mix for medal contention in the pool