Olympics-Biles withdraws from two finals, Djokovic goes empty-handed again

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FILE PHOTO: Gymnastics - Artistic - Women's Team - Final
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By Steve Keating, Simon Evans and Nick Mulvenney

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from two more finals https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/gymnastics-american-simone-biles-withdraws-event-finals-vault-uneven-bars-us-2021-07-31 in Tokyo on Saturday, leaving it unclear whether she will compete again at the Games, and a listless Novak Djokovic failed to take bronze in tennis after his dream of a "Golden Slam" was dashed.

The surprising setbacks for stars such as Biles and Novak have been in a way fitting for the improbable Games, taking place without spectators and amid a widening pandemic. Minutes after his singles defeat, Djokovic withdrew from the mixed doubles bronze match.

New COVID-19 infections hit 4,058 in Tokyo, a new record and the first time above 4,000. The government has extended a state of emergency https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/japan-proposes-adding-four-regions-covid-19-emergency-minister-2021-07-29 in the capital and expanded it to neighbouring prefectures.

Swimmers Katie Ledecky and Caleb Dressel recovered some lost lustre https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/swimming-more-gold-dressel-mckeown-does-backstroke-double-2021-07-31 for America, while Lyu Xiaojun took gold in men's weightlifting, bringing China's haul in the medal tally https://graphics.reuters.com/OLYMPICS-2020/MEDALTALLY/rlgpdynkjvo/media-embed.html to 21. Japan has 17 gold and the United States is at 16.

In the first instances of doping at the Games, two sprinters, Kenya's Mark Otieno and Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare, were provisionally suspended https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/athletics-nigerian-sprinter-okagbare-banned-after-failed-drugs-test-2021-07-31 after testing positive for banned substances.

American BMX racer Connor Fields was moved out of intensive care after suffering a brain bleed https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/cycling-fields-suffered-brain-bleed-crash-out-icu-says-mother-2021-07-31 during his horrific crash a day earlier. Originally one of the big favourites for gold, Fields went down hard in a first-corner crash during the semi-finals.

Much of the focus at the Games has been on superstar Biles, who this week stunned the world when she dropped out of the team competition after a poor opening vault and then declined to defend her all-around crown, citing concern for her mental and physical well-being.

"Today, after further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars," USA Gymnastics said, adding she would continue to be evaluated daily to see whether she would compete in the finals for the floor exercise and balance beam.

Her candour has pushed the issue of athlete mental health into the spotlight and triggered an outpouring of global support. She has spoken about the "twisties", incidents of disorientation https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/i-had-twisties-just-like-simone-2021-07-30, during some of her gravity-defying skills.

"It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind & body in sync," Biles wrote on Instagram on Friday.

TOUGH RUN

Djokovic, who won a singles bronze medal in Beijing in 2008 but has failed to earn a place on the podium at the London, Rio and now Tokyo, withdrew from the mixed doubles bronze medal match, minutes after his defeat by Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta in the singles bronze match.

On Friday the Serbian lost to Germany's Alexander Zverev in the singles semi-finals, killing his hopes of winning all four Grand Slams this year as well as the Olympic gold for a 'Golden Slam'.

His withdrawal from the mixed doubles means women's world number one Ashley Barty and John Peers bag a bronze medal for Australia

In swimming, Ledecky and Dressel added to their medal haul and took some sting off what has been a disappointing Games so far for the U.S. swim team, whose eight golds are just half their tally from Rio.

Ledecky, who lost her 200 and 400 metre titles to Australia's Ariarne Titmus before beating her in the 1,500, on Saturday became the first female swimmer to win six individual golds, cruising home in the 800 metres.

Taking control from the start, Ledecky increased her lead over Titmus from the 500 mark and came home more than a second ahead of her rival, winning the event for a third straight Games, another first.

"She made it tough and so it was a lot of fun to race," Ledecky said.

World champion Dressel stormed to the 100m butterfly title in world record time, picking up his second individual gold to add to the gold he won in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

Britain won the Olympics' inaugural mixed 4x100 medley relay for their fourth swimming gold delivering a world record time. Britain's four swimming golds marks their best return in more than a century.

In women's volleyball, the United States' hope of winning a first gold took a hit when they lost ace spiker Jordan Thompson to injury in a straight sets defeat by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team.

In baseball, Japan slugged their way past Mexico 7-4 to advance to the quarter-finals.

DOPING, ACCIDENT CAST SHADOW

Kenya's Otieno tested positive for a banned substance, Team Kenya said, while Nigeria's Okagbere, a sprinter and long jump silver medallist at the 2008 Olympics, was also provisionally suspended.

More than half of the expected 5,000 doping tests at the Games have already been conducted, the International Testing Agency has said.

Doping came to the fore when U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy on Friday said his 200m backstroke final was "probably not clean" following the loss of his title to the Russian Olympic Committee's Evgeny Rylov.

Murphy, who won three golds in Rio, later backed away from any implication that his rivals had cheated.

"The Russian state and sport officials put the dark cloud over themselves and in the process, tragically, pushed their athletes out in the storm," Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency told Reuters.

U.S. BMX racer Fields was moved out of intensive care after a night in the unit but remains in hospital.

"The doctors reported that Fields sustained a brain haemorrhage at the venue," USA Cycling said.

Organisers reported 21 new COVID-19 cases related to the Games, bringing the total to 241 since July 1, a miniscule number given the tens of thousands of people involved in the event.

(Reporting by Steve Keating, Simon Evans, Martyun Herman, Karolos Grohmann, Paresh Dave, Yuka Obayashi, Omar Mohammed, Nick Mulvenney and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Christian Radnedge)

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