• REUTERS

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Another athletics world record was obliterated at the Olympics on Wednesday, as athletes coped with the heat of political and diplomatic controversy as well as Tokyo’s broiling summer weather.

American Sydney McLaughlin shattered her own record in the 400 meters hurdles while a Belarusian athlete left for Poland three days after refusing an order to come home against her wishes and seeking diplomatic protection.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was investigating the case of sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, while querying China over athletes who wore Mao Zedong badges on the medals podium but suspending a probe of American shot-putter Raven Saunders after the death of her mother.

McLaughlin trailed team mate Dalilah Muhammad coming off the last hurdle but sprinted past her to win gold in 51.46 seconds in a thrilling finish that chopped nearly half a second off her own June record.

“I saw Dalilah ahead of me with one to go. I just thought, ‘Run your race’,” McLaughlin said. “The race doesn’t really start until hurdle seven. I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had.”

Muhammad was also ahead of McLaughlin’s previous record time, reminiscent of Tuesday’s stunning men’s final in the same event, when Norway’s Karsten Warholm and silver medallist Rai Benjamin both beat Warholm’s previous record.

Elsewhere on the track, Canada’s Andre De Grasse added gold to a groaning collection of minor medals with victory in the 200 meters, Kenya went one-two in the men’s 800 meters and Peruth Chemutai made history for Uganda on another scintillating night of Olympic athletics on Wednesday. Chemutai became the first Ugandan woman to win an Olympic gold in any sport with a finely-judged performance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Women’s distance running continued to captivate, as newly-crowned Olympic 5,000 meters champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands progressed to the second of what she hopes will be three finals. However, she will have harder work ahead in the 1,500 meters in the form of defending champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya.

But despite the stellar performances in competition, even the fastest woman in the world could not outrun Tokyo 2020 broadcast rights holders.

Jamaica’s gold-medal sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah said she had been blocked on Instagram for posting videos of her wins in the 100 and 200 meters.

“I was blocked on Instagram for posting the races of the Olympic [sic] because I did not own the right to do so. So see y’all in 2 days,” she wrote on Twitter. The IOC said the removal was automatic as athletes may not “natively” post content controlled by rights holders.

Belarus’s Tsimanouskaya, who had taken refuge in the Polish embassy, left in the morning, escorted by officials and wearing a mask, blue jeans, a blue blouse and sunglasses with “I RUN CLEAN” written on them.

The IOC said it was investigating the case, which began after the sprinter publicly criticized her coaches during the Games, which end on Sunday.

The IOC also said it was awaiting a formal explanation from Chinese Olympic officials as to why two gold medalists wore badges featuring Mao, the founding leader of the People’s Republic of China, when Olympic rules bar political statements on the podium.

At the same time, the IOC expressed condolences to silver medalist Saunders after learning of her mother’s death.

“You will understand that given these circumstances the process is fully suspended for the time being,” said spokesman Mark Adams.

Saunders had crossed her arms in an “X” over her head on the podium on Sunday, a gesture she has said represented “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet”. She said she hoped to inspire fellow LGBTQ and Black people, and those struggling with mental health.

Away from politics, Italy set a second world record in as many days in the men’s pursuit, upsetting favorites Denmark at the Izu Velodrome with an electrifying finish powered by Filippo Ganna that clawed back almost a second in the closing laps.

Cuba went top of the boxing medals table as Arlen Lopez won his second Olympic title, taking the men’s light-heavyweight gold with a cool, skillful performance against the fast-punching and tenacious Ben Whittaker of Britain.

In Enoshima south of Tokyo, Matthew Belcher became Australia’s most successful Olympic sailor of all time as he and team mate Will Ryan of Australia stormed to gold in the men’s 470 sailing class, while Britain’s Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre won the women’s competition to close the regatta.

At Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo Bay, Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil won gold in the women’s 10km marathon swimming race, edging out the pack, including 2016 Rio winner Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands.

“I didn’t plan it to happen this way, but I’m extremely happy,” said Cunha, sporting a shock of fluorescent green and yellow hair perfectly color coordinated with her Brazilian uniform.

Athletes not in the water or indoors continued to roast in the brutal Japanese summer.

With trackside temperatures at the athletics stadium having hit 40 degrees Celsius and an archer having collapsed, Sweden and Canada asked organizers to push back the start of Friday’s women’s gold medal soccer match, which is now scheduled for 11 a.m.

“It is primarily about the players’ health,” said Marika Domanski Lyfors, the head of Sweden’s women’s team. “There’s a pretty big difference between playing in the afternoon or evening.”

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