Tokyo: There were some athletes who were tipped to be the stars in their events, but failed to do so. Here is a look at the ten big disappointments from the Tokyo Olympics:
1. Kento Momota (badminton)
The biggest medal hope for the host nation, the world number one Momota failed to live up to the expectations. The 26-year-old was knocked out from the group stages of men’s singles in badminton. He won in straight games against Timothy Lam of USA. But lost to Heo Kwang-Hee of Korea, leading to his exit from the Olympics.
2. Naomi Osaka (tennis)
The 23-year-old Japanese tennis star had the honor of lighting the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony and was one of the biggest hopes for the hosts. Touted as an overwhelmingly favourite for the gold medal in women’s singles, Naomi’s journey was shockingly cut short in a third-round loss to the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova. Marketa, ranked 42 in the world, defeated Osaka, the world number 2, in straight sets. Eventually, Marketa won the silver medal.
3. Novak Djokovic (tennis)
After winning Wimbledon, his third Grand Slam of the year, Novak Djokovic landed in Tokyo with just one ambition: an Olympic gold medal in men’s singles and complete a Golden Slam. All went well for him till he entered the semi-finals. Djokovic was beaten by Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the eventual gold medal winner. The world number one went empty-handed from Tokyo as Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta defeated him in the bronze medal match. Later, he withdrew from the mixed doubles bronze medal match.
4. Kohei Uchimura (artistic gymnastics)
The Japanese gymnast entered as one of the star attractions in the Olympics. The gold medallist in all-around event of 2012 and 2016 chose not to defend his title due to shoulder issues. His preference to focus on horizontal bars turned into a horror show when he slipped off the bar on day one of the qualifications and failed to qualify for the final. The dejected 32-year-old didn’t retire immediately and would take a call after the World Championships in October in Japan.
5. Jade Jones (taekwondo)
Great Britain’s Jade Jones arrived in Tokyo with hopes of becoming taekwondo’s first three-time gold medallist in the Olympics. But the world No.1 was knocked out in the opening round of her 57 kg event 16-12 by Kimia Alizadeh of the Refugee Olympic Team. Alizadeh, who won bronze while competing for Iran in 2016 Rio Olympics, defected from her home country in 2020 and became a member of the Refugee Olympic Team. The loss left Jade in tears, marking it the first time she left Olympics without a medal.
6. Trayvon Bromell (athletics)
Marked as a favourite to win the men’s 100m by none other than Usain Bolt, Bromell was the overwhelming favourite for the gold medal for the competition in Tokyo. The American, however, barely made it to the semi-finals, with a 10.05s in his heat and finishing fourth. Eventually, he was not even able to qualify for the final as he recorded 10 seconds in the semi-finals. He finished third as he was one millisecond behind second-place holder Enoch Adegoke of Nigeria.
7. Russian Olympic Committee (rhythmic gymnastics)
Since 2000, Russia had established itself as a force which can’t be defeated in rhythmic gymnastics. At Tokyo, the tables flipped. Under a new name, Russian Olympic Committee’s 21-year-old streak came to an end when Israel’s Linoy Ashram won the individual all-around competition on Saturday. On Sunday, Bulgaria won the all-around group competition. On back-to-back days, it marked the first time a Russian rhythmic gymnast won’t return with a gold from the Olympics, settling for silver in both events.
8. Johannes Vetter (athletics)
The German, who arrived in Tokyo eyeing a gold medal, made a shock early exit from the final of the javelin throw on Saturday. He finished ninth out of the 12 competitors and didn’t make the cut to compete for the last three attempts. The 28-year-old opened with 82.52m but fouls on the next two attempts didn’t do anything good to him as others surged past him. After Neeraj Chopra won the gold, Vetter posted on his social media with a picture of him while throwing and wrote “#Paris 2024!”.
9. Nyjah Huston (skateboarding)
The highest paid skateboarder in the world, with more than four million Instagram followers, was seen as a favourite for gold in men’s street skateboarding making its debut in the Olympics. In the final, the world number one, considered as the world’s best street skater with a record 10 street gold medals and 16 medals overall at the X Games, finished seventh in Tokyo, to the dismay of many.
10. Timothy Cheruiyot (athletics)
The 2019 World Champion in men’s 1500m was a late addition for the Olympics after Kenya dropped four athletes due to doping issues. In the final, he dictated the pace for a major part of the competition. But Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who was overtaken by Cheruiyot in the start, sped past him on the last lap to clock a personal best of 3:28.32 and clinch the gold medal.