It’s always Suni: American wins gymnastics thriller

With defending champion Simone Biles watching from the sidelines, American Sunisa Lee won the country's fifth straight women's all-around gymnastics Olympic champion today. Elsewhere, Caleb Dressel etched his name in Olympic lore by winning the 100-meter freestyle in the swimming pool.

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July 29, 2021 - 9:18 AM

Suni Lee of the United States trains on balance beam during Women’s Podium Training ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Lee won the gold medal today in the women’s all-around competition. Photo by Laurenca Griffeths / Getty Images / TNS

TOKYO (AP) — Sunisa Lee today became the fifth straight American woman to claim the Olympic title in the women’s all-around. She edged Rebeca Andrade of Brazil in an entertaining and hotly contested final while Simone Biles watched from the stands.

Lee’s total of 57.433 points was just enough to top Andrade. The Brazilian earned the first gymnastics all-around medal by a Latin American athlete but missed out on gold when she stepped out of bounds twice during her floor routine.

Russian gymnast Angelina Melnikova earned bronze two days after leading ROC to gold in the team final.

Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, July 29, 2021 -USA swimmer Caeleb Dressel celebrates after winning the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Men's 1009m Freestyle Final at Tokyo Aquatics Center. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Elswewhere, America’s Caeleb Dressel earned his first individual gold medal and the Chinese women put together a record-setting relay.

The biggest action of the day session on Day 6 of the Tokyo Olympics came in the pool where America’s successor to Michael Phelps won gold in the 100-meter freestyle and China’s women set a world record in 4×200-meter freestyle relay.

Dressel’s winning time was an Olympic record of 47.02 seconds — a mere six-hundredths ahead of defending champion Kyle Chalmers of Australia. That gave him a fourth career gold medal, with three previous ones coming in relays.

“It is a lot different. I guess I thought it would be, I just didn’t want to admit to it,” he said. “It’s a lot tougher. You have to rely on yourself, there’s no one to bail you out.”

The most dramatic race of the day came when China surprised the U.S. and Australia with a world-record performance in the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay.

Katie Ledecky took the anchor leg for the Americans in third place, nearly 2 seconds behind the Chinese and also trailing the Aussies.

Ledecky passed Australia’s Leah Neale and closed the gap significant on China’s Li Bingjie, but couldn’t quite catch her at the end.

Li touched in a world-record 7 minutes, 40.33 seconds. She also set an Olympic record in winning the 200-meter butterfly before the relay.

“I didn’t know I was doing it until I’d finished the 200 butterfly and our coach told me, ‘You’re in the relay,’” she said through an interpreter. “I didn’t even know how to swim the 200 free, although I have the training qualities and levels for the 200 distances.”

The Americans claimed silver in 7:40.73, while Australia took the bronze in 7:41.29. All three medalists broke the previous world record of 7:41.50 set by the Aussies at the 2019 world championships.

KNOCKED OUT

American world champion pole vaulter Sam Kendricks will miss the Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

Kendricks’ dad posted on social media that his son had no symptoms but was informed while in Tokyo that he tested positive and was out of the competition.

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