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Golf makes Olympics return as Aussie teen stars in pool

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Australia's Kyle Chalmers poses with his gold medal on the podium of the Men's 100m Freestyle Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016.   / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

Australia’s Kyle Chalmers poses with his gold medal on the podium of the Men’s 100m Freestyle Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

Golf prepared to make its controversial return to the Olympics on Thursday after another dramatic day in the pool which saw Australia’s new teenage sensation Kyle Chalmers win the blue riband 100m freestyle gold.

Brazilian professional Adilson da Silva was due to hit the first Olympic golf shot for 112 years at 7:30 am (1030 GMT) on a Rio course that has a caiman crocodile or two hiding among the traps.

The world’s top four players — Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy — have all controversially stayed away citing fears about the Zika virus, already raising doubts about the sport’s future in the Games but making for a wide open field.

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“It’s great they have given an exemption to the gold medal winner to the four majors,” said reigning Masters champion Danny Willett, among this week’s favorites.

On Wednesday, Chalmers, the 18-year-old swimming sensation, became the first Australian in 48 years to win the prestigious 100m freestyle.

The teenager hit the wall in 47.58 seconds, just 22 hundredths ahead of Belgium’s Pieter Timmers and American Nathan Adrian, the 2012 champion, who took bronze.

Chalmers is the first Australian to win the 100m free since Mike Wenden in Mexico City in 1968. But he did not realize it had been so long.

“I actually had no idea about that to be honest with you,” he said. “I’m someone that probably doesn’t follow swimming too much.

“I kind of stay away and follow basketball and soccer and football. I know that we’ve been beaten a few times.”

His victory came as American Katie Ledecky sealed her third gold medal of the Games, anchoring the United States team home in the 4x200m relay.

She already has the 200m and 400m freestyle titles in Rio.

Elsewhere in the pool, Michael Phelps returned from his heroics in winning his record 20th and 21st gold medals, to safely reach the final of the 200m individual medley on Thursday.

There was also a rare gold medal for Kazakhstan in the 200m breaststroke, where Dmitriy Balandin won his country’s first Olympic swimming title since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

It was one of two golds for Kazakhstan on the fifth full day of Olympic action. Kazakh weightlifter Nijat Rahimov won the other in the men’s 77kg category.

– Brazil into quarters –

Elsewhere, Japanese star Kohei Uchimura underscored his dominance in gymnastics as he clinched a second straight all-around gold medal on Wednesday.

Uchimura snatched victory by just 0.099 points with a daredevil routine on the horizontal bar.

“I remained calm and controlled. This calmness I think was the key to my success,” Kohei said.

In football, Gabriel Barbosa struck twice as hosts Brazil finally sparked into life with a 4-0 win over Denmark to secure a place in the quarter-finals against Colombia.

The men’s rugby sevens saw a day of upsets, with New Zealand losing to Japan in the groups before being eliminated in the quarter-finals by Fiji, who are chasing their country’s first Olympic medal. Japan scored a shock win over France to reach the last four.

In fencing, Tunisia’s Ines Boubakri became the first African woman to win a medal in the sport with a bronze in the individual foil, dedicating her achievement to “the Arab woman… who has her place in society.”

Her French husband Erwann Le Pechoux could get a medal in the individual foil event.

Veteran cyclists Fabian Cancellara and Kristin Armstrong hammered home their Olympic superiority with wins in the men’s and women’s time trial.

It was Armstrong’s third consecutive win in the race, a day before her 43rd birthday.

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“When you’ve already been two times at the pinnacle of the sport, why risk coming back for the gold medal? The best answer I can give is that I can,” said Armstrong, who retired after each of her two previous Olympic wins.

The star-studded US men’s basketball team had to dig deep against Australia before pulling away for a 98-88 win.

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points and Kyrie Irving added 19, including 12 in the final period as the Americans subdued their rivals.


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