Samurai Japan will look to seal the deal and give the baseball-mad country its first Olympic gold in the sport, while one of Japan’s flagbearers at the opening ceremonies finally gets her chance to leave another mark on the Tokyo Games.
Here are the key events to look out for on Day 15.
If you’re wondering where to watch the action in Japan, check your local TV listings or make use of this handy streaming guide from The Japan Times.
Athletics: How about those shoes?
After “brutal” conditions on Friday morning for the men’s 50-km race walk, the heat is bound to be a story in Sapporo for the women’s marathon, which was moved up to 6 a.m. to allow runners to race in cooler conditions.
But how about the footwear?
Runners’ shoes have become a talking point in the world of distance running, the JT’s Kaz Nagatsuka writes, with the emergence of thick-soled sneakers with embedded carbon plates helping athletes win races and set records.
Not all are happy about this new focus on footwear for what is usually considered one of the world’s most accessible sports.
One former Olympic marathoner believes that the impact of the sneakers could result in recent track achievements being devalued over time — especially with the frequent pace of new records.
“Now it’s a sport that is a mixture of human endeavor and technology,” said Mara Yamauchi, who competed for Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games. “And those two things determine the outcome of competition.”
Mao Ichiyama represents Japan’s best chance at a medal while Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei is favored for gold.
Back in Tokyo, a busy night of finals will be capped by the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay finals. The action at the National Stadium kicks off at 7:35 p.m. with the women’s high jump.
Golf: Korda has one hand on gold
World No. 1 Nelly Korda backed up her stunning 62 on Thursday with a two-under 69 to give herself a three-shot cushion heading into the final round.
With a tropical storm headed to the Tokyo area, tournament organizers moved up tee times to give golfers a better chance of completing their rounds.
Lurking three shots behind Korda is a surprising name in India’s Aditi Ashok, the world No. 200, while a group of four, including Japan’s Mone Inami and former No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand — sit five shots off Korda’s pace.
Korda, Ashok and Ko tee off at 8:18 a.m., with Inami beginning her round at 8:06 a.m.
Basketball: Once again the Dream Team?
After a sluggish start to the men’s basketball tournament, the U.S. is within sight of yet another gold medal.
Kevin Durant and company have reeled off four-straight wins since dropping their opening game to France and come into the gold medal game after convincing wins over Spain and Australia in the knockout round.
The only problem? Undefeated France is still in the way and hungry for a first men’s basketball gold.
Tip-off is at 11:30 a.m.
Baseball: For all the marbles
After an exciting tournament, albeit one with a rather confusing structure, it’s down to one game to decide who will take home gold as Japan takes on the U.S.
Japan already beat the U.S. in a thriller on Monday to force the Americans to take the scenic route to the final. Samurai Japan followed that up with another tight win over rival South Korea on Wednesday to punch their ticket for the gold medal match. The U.S., meanwhile, had to battle through the Dominican Republic and South Korea after Monday’s loss, meaning Japan has a much fresher lineup heading into the final.
That rest could be particularly beneficial for Japan’s pitching staff, which has received key contributions from young hurlers like Masato Morishita and Yoshinobu Yamamoto — as well as a surprisingly healthy Kodai Senga — on their way to the final. Yamamoto pitched 5⅓ innings on Wednesday, so he may not be ready for the gold medal game, but the rest of the pitching staff should be well-rested.
At the plate, Tetsuto Yamada and Hayato Sakamoto have powered the offense, making up for Seiya Suzuki’s struggles thus far. The Hiroshima Carp slugger is just 1/15 at the dish, although his one hit did leave the yard.
For the U.S., Tyler Austin of the Yokohama BayStars has been a key cog offensively and is batting .429 with a pair of homers.
First pitch goes at 7 p.m. at Yokohama Stadium. The bronze medal game between the Dominican Republic and South Korea is slated for 12 p.m.
Wrestling: Flagbearer to Olympic champion?
Japan’s women’s wrestling team has dominated the mat at Makuhari Messe Hall over the past three nights, with the Kawai sisters each taking gold on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, and Mayu Mukaida doing the same on Friday.
Yui Susaki, one of Japan’s flagbearers at the opening ceremonies, blazed her way through the competition in the 50 kg division on Friday, earning a spot in the gold medal match against China’s Sun Yanan on Saturday.
Japan’s men’s wrestling team hasn’t been able to match that success, but Takuto Otoguro guaranteed the male freestyle team won’t go without a medal at these Games and he’ll look to make sure it’s gold when he takes on Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan.
Otoguro’s match is scheduled for around 7:45 p.m. with Susaki’s to follow shortly after 9 p.m.
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