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Day 12 Olympic roundup: Rebounding from tragedy, record-setting races, skateboarding's future

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There's a whole lot going on every day at the Tokyo Olympics. Here, we'll keep you up-to-date with everything you need to know.

Olympic story of the day: From edge of tragedy to edge of gold

Kaleigh Gilchrist and the rest of Team USA's women's water polo team are in the hunt for a gold medal. But Gilchrist's road to reach Tokyo was long and torturous, in part because of a near-tragedy that forced her to recover both mentally and physically. Henry Bushnell brings the full details on how Gilchrist put her life back together after a single night that tore it apart:

Kaleigh Gilchrist remembers falling. Not precisely how, or to where. But she remembers the balcony giving way beneath her feet. She remembers, seconds later, being trapped. And she remembers lurching into survival mode.

Moments earlier, July 26, 2019, had been one of the happiest days of her life. She and her USA Water Polo teammates had won a world championship. They’d gone out to celebrate at a nightclub in Gwangju, South Korea.

Then, in an instant, it became terrifying. The balcony crumbled. Gilchrist and other athletes had been on it. They hurtled toward earth. She struck the ground. The balcony’s remnants struck her, and pinned her down, and gashed her leg.

Read the full story of Gilchrist's recovery here

Kaleigh Gilchrist of Team USA. (Marcel ter Bals/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Kaleigh Gilchrist of Team USA. (Marcel ter Bals/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Running on air?

These Olympic Games have seen two major hurdling records fall, and some are wondering whether the track, a new compound that returns a measure of energy to the hurdler, might have something to do with it. Or perhaps it's the heat, or the spikes, or any of a number of other justifications, Shalise Manza Young writes. Or maybe we're just witnessing what the Olympics are supposed to be: a time when the best prove they're the best. 

"The best thing about track and field is that athletes at any level can see their improvement in black and white. Their times get faster, their throws farther, their jumps higher or farther. Everyone here is running on the same track, using the same runways, and if there is an advantage to be had from the surface, they each have it. Let's just appreciate the greatness."

Read the full story here.

The Third Man

In 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the gold and bronze medalists in the 200, raised black-gloved fists to the sky to protest racial inequality while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played. It was a shocking moment of protest and made worldwide news. But what about the third man on the podium, Peter Norman of Australia? Jeff Eisenberg has the story.

"While Smith and Carlos risked their lives and careers to shine a spotlight on the discrimination that Black Americans faced," Eisenberg writes, "Norman also invited controversy by donning a badge on the medal stand in support of their cause. Peter returned home to Melbourne a pariah despite securing a silver medal in the 200 meters and clocking an Australian record that still stands 52 years later."

Read the full story of how one moment on a medal stand changed Norman's life here

Skateboarding: the future of the Olympics

It took 125 years for skateboarding to become an Olympic sport ... and then it was nearly won by a 12-year-old. Dan Wetzel brings us a story from Tokyo where the medalists also included a 13-year-old and an absolutely ancient 19-year-old. Skateboarding could well be the future of the Olympics, which desperately needs a strong infusion of youthful energy:

That two teens and a preteen owned the podium was perfect. The sport provided a much needed pop of youth, enthusiasm, coolness, supportiveness, fashion and sheer fun to the Olympics, which can too often be none of those things.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach even showed up and talked to the competitors after.

How was it speaking with such an important person, Sky?

“Who?” Brown answered.

Read the full story here

Japanese heat wilts competitors

How hot is it in Japan right now? Hot enough that Team USA golfer Lexi Thompson's caddie had to withdraw for the day after being overcome by the heat. Temperatures at the Kasumigaseki Country Club reached 93 degrees, but the heat index added at least another 10 degrees to the feel of the air. That's rugged just standing still. Carrying a 40-pound bag over miles of hills? Yeah, that's a rough go. Jack Fulghum wasn't the only caddie to suffer in the heat; several others had to be treated for dehydration. No word yet on if he'll continue for the remainder of the event. 

Who's really winning the medal count? 

Most medal tables in domestic media, like this one here at Yahoo Sports, put the good ol' U.S. of A. right at the top of the pack. The problem with that style of ranking is, it presupposes all medals are equal, and let's be honest, they aren't. In the rest of the world, the nation with the most gold medals ranks at the top, and that's China. So why do we continue with this total-medal-count ranking? Why, because it makes America look best, of course. 

Photo of the day

(Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
(Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Grant Holloway of Team USA awaits the gun in a men's 110m hurdles semifinal race. Long way to go from there to here. 

GIF of the day

(@NBCOlympics / Twitter)
(@NBCOlympics / Twitter)

Open-water swimmers had some company. Give that fish a medal!


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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