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Olympic Breakfast: McIlroy beaten in dramatic medal play-off on anything but a super Sunday for Team Ireland

Catch up on what you missed overnight in Tokyo.

Updated Aug 1st 2021, 9:25 AM

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE been a Super Sunday for Team Ireland in Tokyo has proved to be anything put, laden with drama, heartbreak, near-misses and outrageous misfortune. Here’s what you may have missed overnight…

Kurt Walker came agonisingly close to securing Ireland’s second medal in the boxing ring, but was beaten in his quarter-final by American Duke Reagan in a cigarette-paper-thin split decision. Walker lost the first round on all five scorecards but rallied superbly from then, taking the majority judgement in the second round but was ultimately deemed to have lost narrowly, 3-2.

Despite the fact he returns home without a medal, Walker can reflect with pride on his Olympic Games, given he caused one of the upsets of the Games in beating the world number one in the quarter-final. 

Aidan Walsh, meanwhile, was unable to fulfil his opportunity to upgrade his bronze medal in his semi-final against Britain’s Pat McCormack. Walsh injured his ankle celebrating the quarter-final win that secured him his medal, and while the Irish team held out hopes he would be able to take to the ring, his withdrawal was announced late last night.

rory-mcilroy Rory McIlroy. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Rory McIlroy missed out on an Olympic bronze medal in absurdly dramatic circumstances, falling at the third hole of a seven-man play-off. McIlroy missed a 10-foot putt for birdie before Collin Morikawa and CT Pan sank theirs to bring an end to his Olympic challenge. 

But what a challenge it was: a final-round 67 sent McIlroy into a tie for third with Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Collin Morikawa, CT Pan, Sebastien Munoz, and Mito Pereira, which led to a play-off split into a four and a three. Matsuyama and Casey were knocked out on the first hole, the remaining quintet all parred the second hole, until Morikawa and Pan birdied the third to knock out McIlroy along with Munoz and Pereira. 

It was CT Pan who lasted the pace, beating Morikawa on the fourth hole to seal bronze for Taiwan. 

Xander Schauffele endured a late wobble to win gold, one shot clear of Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia, who shot a mildly daft 61. 

Shane Lowry did not contend today however, shooting 71 to finish in a tie for 22nd place. 

On the track, Michelle Finn and Eilish Flanagan failed to progress to the final of the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Their early starts meant they ran in sweltering Tokyo heat: Flangan ran a PB of 9:34.86 to finish 12th in her heat, while Finn finished ninth in  9:36.26. 

It was a better day for the Irish eventing team: a fine performance by Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue in the cross-country phase lifted Ireland five places to eighth. 

Who else is making the headlines? 

Australia’s Emma McKeon today became the first female swimmer to win seven medals at a single Olympic Games, adding golds in the 50m freestyle and the women’s 4x100m medley relay to her burgeoning collection. 

American Caleb Dressel added another another couple of medals, too: he won the 50m freestyle and then contributed to the USA’s victory in the men’s medley relay. 

Simone Biles’ return to these Games is looking increasingly unlikely, as she has withdrawn Monday’s women’s floor final. She is, for now, scheduled to appear in the beam final on Wednesday. 

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rhys-mcclenaghan-before-performing-on-the-pommel-horsee Rhys McClenaghan. Source: Photosport/John Cowpland/INPHO

All eyes will be on Rhys McClenaghan as he competes in the final of the men’s pommel horse from 10.44am. McClenaghan is a bona fide medal contender: his semi-final score was bettered by only one other gymnast and was better than a field that included reigning Olympic champ Max Whitlock. 

Elsewhere, Thomas Barr runs in the semi-finals of the men’s 400m hurdles at 1.05pm.

Also, there’s the small matter of the men’s 100m final. The three semi-finals are run from 11.15am Irish time, with the final slated for 1.50pm. 

Quote of the Day 

“They only see us once every four years but a lot more people will know my name after these Olympics” – Kurt Walker’s valedictory words at the Tokyo Games. 

 Updated at 09.25 with result of McIlroy’s play-off.  

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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