Puerto Rico wins first Olympic gold in athletics, Belarusian sprinter ‘sure’

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Tokyo (AFP)

Hurdler Jasmine Camacho-Quinn won Puerto Rico’s first Olympic gold in track and field on Monday, but Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya was absent from the women’s 200m after claiming her country forced her out of the Games .

Also on day four of athletics in scorching Tokyo, Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou left late to win the men’s long jump while Dutch long-distance runner Sifan Hassan held on to his bid for an unprecedented treble on the track despite a fall.

Elsewhere on day 10 of the competition, track cyclists begin their campaign with British rule under threat and transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard prepares to make competitive women’s weightlifting history.

The Olympic stadium had a dramatic evening on Sunday as Italian sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs won a gold in the men’s 100 meters in 9.80 seconds.

Attention shifted Monday to the finals in the women’s 100m hurdles and the men’s long jump as well as the qualifications for the 200m and 1,500m women.

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Camacho-Quinn, 24, who had set an Olympic record of 12.26 seconds in the 100m hurdles semi-final, returned home to win her first major title in 12.37 seconds.

World record holder Keni Harrison of the United States took silver in 12.52 seconds while Jamaican Megan Tapper took bronze.

“For such a small country, it gives hope to few,” said Camacho-Quinn. “I’m just glad I’m the one to do this.”

In the men’s long jump, European champion Tentoglou improved 8.41 meters in his sixth and final attempt to snatch victory from Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria, who also jumped 8.41m but had a second best lower jump.

“What an incredible competition,” said Tentoglou. “What an amazing jump, the last jump. I didn’t manage to do it right at first. But in the end I managed to pull something off to get the medal.”

Reigning 200m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah continued her daring bid for an unprecedented women’s Olympic sprint “double-double” as the Jamaican advanced to the semi-finals of the 200m.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, dominated by her teammate in the 100m final, also advanced, but 100m bronze medalist Shericka Jackson, also of Jamaica, failed to qualify after slowing down inexplicably with 40 meters to run.

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Christine Mboma of Namibia, who has to run this distance because her high testosterone levels mean she is excluded from the 400m, clocked the fastest time, 22.11 seconds, to finish ahead of hot American favorite Gabby Thomas.

Belarusian Timanovskaya was supposed to compete in the 200m qualifiers but instead spent the night in a hotel at Tokyo airport.

Officials said the 24-year-old sprinter, who claimed her team was forcing her home after criticizing the athletics federation, spent the night in protection and could seek asylum.

Long-distance runner Sifan Hassan kept her hopes of an unprecedented 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000m Olympic treble alive after rising to win her 1,500m series from a potentially catastrophic fall.

Away from the action, US shot putter Raven Saunders risked disciplinary action after making the first protest on an Olympic medal podium.

The 25-year-old African-American athlete crossed his arms in an “X” gesture during the medal ceremony on Sunday after winning silver.

US media reported that Saunders, who is black and a strong supporter of LGBT rights, said her gesture was made in solidarity with “the oppressed.”

– Transgender focus –

Weightlifting is in the spotlight this Monday due to the participation of New Zealander Hubbard.

The 43-year-old, who was born male and competed as a male before making the transition, is making her Olympic debut in the women’s +87 kg category.

The International Olympic Committee said she was the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Games, hailing them as a historic moment and her supporters said her appearance was a victory for inclusion and trans rights.

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But critics argue that she has an unfair advantage over her rivals because of physical attributes locked into her body during her decades as a man.

Later in Tokyo, reigning Chinese Olympic champion Chen Long faces formidable Dane Viktor Axelsen in the men’s badminton final.

Women’s football is also coming to an end with reigning world champion Megan Rapinoe’s United States facing Canada while Australia faces losing finalist Sweden in the Rio 2016 Olympics.

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