Olympic Daily News: 21 July 2020

Get your daily update of Olympic news: Trivia, trends, and talking points – LeBron remembers Kobe, Harimoto Tomokazu interview, Teddy Riner on break, FINA unveils Covid-19 support plan

By ZK Goh

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LeBron James remembers Kobe Bryant

Ahead of the restart of the National Basketball Association season, the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James has been sharing his memories of the late Kobe Bryant, who died alongside daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash in January.

"A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about him," James told reporters during a video conference. "They’re a part of this family, just as big as anybody in this organisation’s history."

The NBA season resumes in a bubble environment at Walt Disney World in Florida at the end of July, with the Lakers leading the Western Conference. However, the team has not won an NBA title since 2010 – Bryant's fifth and final NBA championship.

Harimoto Tomokazu reflects on progress

Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics medallist Harimoto Tomokazu broke records in 2017 when aged just 14 he became the youngest man to win an ITTF World Tour event, and again the following year when he triumphed in the World Tour Grand Finals.

One of Japan's big hopes for a table tennis medal at their home Olympic Games next year, Harimoto suffered a rocky 2019 season after promising early progress in the two years prior.

Speaking to the Tokyo 2020 website, Harimoto said he realised where he was going wrong. "I need more than my backhand to win.

"I tried to work on my lower body, increase training of my footwork and legs, and focus on maintaining a good form to reduce errors."

Teddy Riner talks about his break from judo and weight battle

Double Olympic champion Teddy Riner has spoken about his 18-month-long break from judo and his ongoing struggle to control his weight.

The only man to win 10 world championships, the Frenchman – who was unbeaten for 10 years from 2010 until February this year – spoke candidly in a documentary titled Teddy, which aired on France 3.

"Having that break allowed me to breathe and spend some time with my grandparents, my family," Riner said. "I'm glad I could have some quality time like that for the first time in 14 years."

Riner also admitted he struggled with his weight during his break, which affected his return earlier this year.

"Weight is a constant issue for me because very simply, without taking care of it, I cannot play my best judo, I cannot be dynamic as I have always been on my fights, I cannot start a move and I cannot be that guy with fire in the legs.

"I suffered, I look like a tank! When you start coming back, you’re straight into action… Now I regret all the food excesses I had."

However, his defeat – at the hands of Kageura Kokoro at the Paris Grand Slam – has had a positive effect on Riner.

"You have no idea how much I feel relieved. It's weird as well. I am proud of what I did, but after 10 years [undefeated], it weighs really heavy on your shoulders. And for Tokyo, I really need to have the least possible pressure. So now it’s clearly less weight on my shoulders."

Aquatics federation announces Covid support

The world governing body for aquatics, FINA, has announced a support package for athletes and national swimming federations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

FINA's support plan includes U.S. $4 million in grants for national federations, U.S. $2 million for athletes, as well as U.S. $460,000 for continental federations.

"The primary objective of this programme is to provide direct assistance to athletes preparing to compete in Tokyo," said FINA president Julio Maglione.

Today's trivia

Yesterday we asked you: Which was NOT previously an event at the Olympic Games? Tug-of-war, individual artistic swimming, cricket, or lawn bowls?

The first three have all been medal events at the Olympic Games – the correct answer is lawn bowls.

Here is today's brain teaser: Equestrian events at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games were held in Europe due to horse quarantine laws. Which city hosted them? Was it:

  1. Oslo
  2. Stockholm
  3. Helsinki
  4. Copenhagen

We'll have the answer tomorrow.