Looking to Tokyo

22 August 2016

TOKYO 2020: Tokyo here we come!

Perhaps they were Australia’s “almost but not quite” Games in many areas.

Right down to the last day, with the men’s basketball team’s one-point last-seconds loss to Spain in the bronze medal game typified, certainly for our teams at least, Rio.

They were beaten by a sole point; their women’s counterparts went down by one in the quarter-final; and our women’s football and water polo teams were beaten in penalty shoot outs, leaving just our women’s rugby sevens with a medal.

Individually, there is some real hope to the future too.

The adage “you’re only as good as your last game” could be adjusted for Rio to maybe say “you’re going to be as good as what you learned from your last Games” with several athletes showing here in Brazil, or in the lead-up, showing enough to suggest that - looking towards Tokyo in four years’ time - we certainly have some young athletes on the rise.

The examples are many.

In our 18-strong women’s football squad, only three members were older than 26: Lisa de Vanna at 31, Lydia Williams, 28, and Chloe Logarzo, 27. Yet they showed plenty of toughness and nerve to get through to a penalty shoot-out with host nation Brazil in front of a screaming crowd.

Our shooting team was the youngest ever with four members aged 20 or younger in Aislin Jones, 16, Mitchell Iles, 17, James Willett 20, and Jack Rossiter, 19. Then we have Laetisha Scanlan, 26, who made the final of the women’s trap.

Athletics threw up more finalists (nine in the top eight) and world class performances than many were expecting with the likes of Ella Nelson, 22, coming within one-one-hundredth of a second of giving us our first 200m sprint finalists since Melinda Gainsford-Taylor and Cathy Freeman in 2000.

Talking about the 400m, Morgan Mitchell, 21, made the semi-finals but 18-year-old Jessica Thornton ran the 400m relay and is one certainly to watch too.

In archery, Taylor Worth, after playing a major role in the bronze medal winning teams event, a measure of the potential of the 25-year-old is that if he had only landed a nine instead of an eight with his last arrow in the quarter-final, he would have beaten world champion and eventual gold medallist, Ku Bochan from Korea. The match went to a shoot-out.

Yet it is 20-year-old Alec Potts who showed that Tokyo may be his Games.

In diving we had Melissa Wu and 21-year-old Domonic Bedggood made the finals in their 10-metre platform event and Brittany O’Brien qualified for the semi-final after only being called in late to replace the injured Brittany Broben, who is still only 20 after being the youngest team member at 16 in London.

We always compete hard in kayak and rowing and Rio was no different.

Alyce Burnett (24) and Alyssa Bull (20), who made the A-Final in the K2 500m, had only just made the step up from under-23s level after winning bronze in that age group at last year’s world championships.

In the men’s, Riley Fitzsimmons (20) and Jordon Wood (23), both at their first Games and definitely aiming at benefitting from this experience in for Tokyo, are a pairing to mark down in the black book.

While our hockey team’s did not make the semi-finals as had been hoped, our women’s team had 12 debutants here in Rio, of which only one – Brooke Peris – had competed at a World Cup or Commonwealth Games before Rio. Another, exciting forward Kathryn Slattery, scored four goals while Georgie Morgan is a name to write down.

In the rowing regatta, Maddie Edmunds, Jennifer Cleary and Jessica Hall are an up and coming in the women’s sculling group. While they had a disappointing result in women’s quad finishing seventh they definitely ones to watch.

Golf made its first appearance at the Games and while Australian didn’t field any household names, our women’s pair certainly have a strong hint to the future. Minjee Lee and Su Oh, both 20, are quickly emerging on the pro circuit with Lee, particularly, converting her promise of the past 12 months on the flat Rio course.

The list goes on. But judging on results and potential shown here or previously, here are 10 athletes or pairings to mark down as those to remember when the team heads to Tokyo in 2020 – some obvious names, others perhaps not.

CHARLOTTE CASLICK (seven’s rugby)
The 21-year-old was absolutely brilliant in this gold medal winning team with her speed and evasive skills. With a touch football background, she has only had three years in the sevens code.

There is another beauty on the way through though. Demi Hayes only made her World Series debut as a 17-year-old in May and has enormous potential and time to develop before Tokyo.

ELLA NELSON (athletics)
The 22-year-old only competed here in the 4x400m relay with Morgan Mitchell getting the one spot in her signature event, the 200m. However she is certain to blossom in that event and set a personal best time of 22.53sec in February when she ran quicker than any Australian woman over 200m since Melinda Gainsford-Taylor at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Watch for which of the two events she emerges best in.

Also mark down 18-year-old Jessica Thornton whose only event was the 4x400m relay, helping the team make the final.

TALIQUA CLANCY (beach volleyball)
Clancy, the 24-year-old Queenslander, really made beach volleyball pundits stand up and take notice on the beach at Copacabana in her partnership with Louise Bawden. Aussie gold medallist Natalie Cook says she can be the best of all and she sowed enough here in going through to the quarter-finals, that this is certainly possible.

ALEC POTTS (archery)
And Alec Potts, a member of the team’s event that won bronze, has his best years ahead of him at 20 after only coming onto the international scene last year. He was beaten 6-4 in the 1/32 individual round but his best years are way ahead of him.

KYLE CHALMERS (swimming)
What needs to be said. An 18-year-old schoolboy at his first Olympic Games and he flies to the wall from seventh on the turn to win the 100m freestyle gold! And he seems to take everything in his stride and hardly even knew about his main rivals. Just what is possible if he retains his focus?

MACK HORTON (swimming)
What a Mac-Attack it was at Rio. Our 20-year-old bespectacled university student stood up for clean swimming, won the opening mind games with Chinese rival Sun Yang and won the gold on night one in the 400m freestyle in a personal best and Olympic record of 3:41.55. He’ll be even better in four years’ time.

JASON WATERHOUSE and LISA DARMANIN (sailing)
The cousins, both 24, almost took all before them in their first Games, beaten by an Argentinian pair led by 54-year-old six Olympic Games veteran!
Jake Lilley, 23, finished eighth in the heavyweight single finn after suffering for one bad race late in the event but is also one to watch.

TOM BURTON (Sailing)
You can’t do more than win gold in your first Games as Burton did at age 26 in the laser class and, as far as sailing goes, he’s still just a kid.

JOSH and NATHAN KATZ (judo)
The entire seven-person judo team were aged 25 or under. The Katz brothers Josh, only 18, and Nathan Katz, 21, may be the pick.

MAX ESPOSITO (modern pentathlon)
While everyone was naturally talking about the gold medal feats of his older sister Chloe (24), the 19-year-old could follow in her footsteps in Tokyo. Chloe was seventh in London four years ago, the same position Max held here so … who knows, history just may repeat.

Neil Cadigan
olympics.com.au

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