Early Sunday at the Olympic Games, Simone Biles and the U.S. gymnastics team competed for the first time in a long evening of gymnastics qualifications, while swimmer Katie Ledecky got closer to defending her gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle event by finishing in the top spot following her heat. Then, Kevin Durant & Co.'s quest for a fourth consecutive gold medal started with a hearty dose of adversity.
Also, the first Olympic gold medal in skateboarding was awarded, two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and her new partner Alix Klineman won their first match in beach volleyball, and the United States broke its one-day medal drought with six medals in the pool. (Here's the lowdown on the Team USA athletes to watch.)
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U.S. men's basketball upset by France
It wasn't completely shocking given Team USA's bumpy exhibition game stretch in the lead-up to Tokyo -- the U.S. lost to Nigeria and Australia, marking the first time it has lost back-to-back exhibition games since professionals began playing in 1992 -- which revealed this team is not infallible. But the Americans' loss to France was still notable -- and jarring -- in that it snapped their 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004 in Athens.
Final.#Basketball #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/qDLZtikMC7— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 25, 2021
Evan Fournier led the way for France with 28 points in what Brian Windhorst called "one of the finest games he has played in his career." For the U.S., it was an entirely different story as Durant shot just 4-of-12 and Damian Lillard was 3-of-10. Sunday's contest was Durant's 17th Olympic game for Team USA, and his 10 points were the fewest he has scored in any of them.
Team USA now probably needs to win their final two pool-play games against Iran and the Czech Republic to advance to the medal round.
Here's Windhorst's recap of the action.
Wobbly start for U.S. women's gymnastics
The U.S. women's gymnastics team's hold on the gold in the team event might be in trouble. Having won the title in the previous three Olympics, the Simone Biles-led squad had appeared all but unbeatable.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN ✨ pic.twitter.com/6jYpzT0min— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) July 23, 2021
But the team showed signs of vulnerability during qualifying. With a score of 170.562, the Americans are in second place, 1.067 points behind the Russian Olympic Committee team. Eight teams advanced to Tuesday's team final.
It was an uncharacteristically sloppy day for Biles, who stepped out of bounds during her floor routine and her first vault. Still, she had the best all-around score (57.731) as well as on vault (15.183) after three subdivisions. Teammate Sunisa Lee had the second-best all-around tally and the highest score on bars at 15.200.
Despite Sunday's results and occasional struggles, the Americans remain the favorite to win the team title on Tuesday, and Biles is still expected to defend her all-around title, as well as her titles on vault and floor. -- D'Arcy Maine
The real drama for the Americans was who would place second, joining Biles in the finals. Here's a breakdown.
Going for the All-Around 👑.@Simone_Biles and @sunisalee_ advance for #TeamUSA. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/ZyCByKouEh— Team USA (@TeamUSA) July 25, 2021
Kalisz becomes first American gold medalist
THE FIRST GOLD MEDAL FOR @TeamUSA! @chasekalisz takes the gold, as @j_litherland completes the 1-2 finish for the Americans! 🇺🇸 #TokyoOlympics x @NBC pic.twitter.com/A8jgw9NQ7g— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 25, 2021
Capturing the first medals for @TeamUSA by winning gold AND silver?— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
Yeah, you bet that's a FLEX. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/FkJX97vA2T
Chase Kalisz took one step up the podium from his silver-medal Olympic finish in 2016, winning gold in the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:09.42. His dominating performance was the first overall medal for the United States in these Olympic Games, but only by fractions of a second. Teammate Jay Litherland took the silver in the event, as well.
And Kalisz's family went wild watching.
.@TeamUSA watch parties are going CRAZY for the 🇺🇸's first Olympic medals of the #TokyoOlympics.— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
📱 NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/MirYUnN5Kc
Kalisz became the only swimmer (male or female) to win both gold and silver medals in the 400-meter individual medley. The United States has won nine of the 15 gold medals in the men's 400-meter individual medley. Team USA went 1-2 at the event for the first time since Athens 2004, when Michael Phelps, who called Sunday's race for NBC, won gold and Erik Vendt took silver.
Later in the pool, Kieran Smith earned a bronze medal for Team USA in the 400-meter freestyle.
The host nation's Yui Ohashi wins Olympic gold for Japan in the women's 400m IM.@TeamUSA's Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger win the silver and bronze. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/lSYry8m76K— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
Team USA got another 400-meter individual medley double when Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger took the silver and bronze medal. Japan's Yui Ohashi won the gold.
Australia shatters the world record in the women's 4x100m relay to claim Olympic gold!@swimone anchors @TeamUSA and leads to them to the bronze. #TokyoOlympics— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
📱 NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/1zNJdL668h
Australia set the world record in the women's 4x100 meters (3:29.69), but the Americans added another medal with a bronze medal in the event to give them six on the night.
World records were falling early Sunday in the pool.
It's just a RECORD BREAKING day! 📚— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
South Africa's @TRSchoenmaker broke an OLYMPIC RECORD in the women's 100m breaststroke. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/7WGY1F7FqZ
An OLYMPIC RECORD for 🇦🇺 Kaylee McKeown in the women's 100m backstroke‼️ 🤯 #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/5cY1dY6yHQ— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
Olympic swimming records were set in each of the last three preliminary heats of the women's 100-meter backstroke. Canadian Kylie Masse first set the mark at 58.17 in heat 4 before American Regan Smith lowered the Olympic mark to 57.96 in heat 5. Australian Kaylee McKeown, who set the world record last month in 57.45, lowered the Olympic record once more to 57.88 in the 6th and final heat. These three, plus American Rhyan White, will join 12 other qualifiers in tonight's semifinals in hopes of reaching the finals Monday night (ET).
Huston off the podium as skateboarding makes its debut
Japan's Yuto Horigome is the first Olympic skateboarding champion in HISTORY! #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/b6iDt4uZuJ— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 25, 2021
In one of the biggest surprises of the Games so far, six-time world champion street skateboarder Nyjah Huston of Team USA, the hands-down favorite to win his sport's Olympic debut, finished off the medal podium in seventh place. Instead, Jagger Eaton, 20, of Mesa, Arizona, became the first U.S. skateboarder to earn an Olympic medal. Eaton finished third behind current street skate world champion Yuto Horigome of Tokyo, Japan, and Kelvin Hoefler of Sao Paolo, Brazil.
In a final filled with multiple bails and tough slams, Eaton skated loose throughout, grooving to whatever he was rocking in his ear pods.
Eaton has been a contest staple since making his X Games debut in 2013 as the youngest competitor in the history of the event (his record was beaten last week), but he skated in Huston's shadow in the lead-up to the Olympics. Eaton's consistency in the event landed him on the Olympic podium. Huston, unwilling to play it safe despite falling behind early in the contest, attempted one of his toughest tricks three times during the best trick portion of the final but failed to land it. With the seventh and final round in the books, headlines about Eaton's medal wrote themselves. -- Alyssa Roenigk
MOVES LIKE JAGGER.@TeamUSA x #TokyoOlympics— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
📱 NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/xlSMnaPoFY
Elsewhere, skateboarding royalty was on hand with a face of the future.
13-year-old skateboarder Rayssa Leal will make her Olympic debut tomorrow. That did not stop her to take the time to talk to a fan 🙌 (who kind of looks like @tonyhawk by the way)— Olympics (@Olympics) July 25, 2021
📸 @Rayssa_Leal_Sk8 pic.twitter.com/plY7n3uLNc
Plus, that had to hurt.
nooooooooooooooooooo pic.twitter.com/LRt3TFwGYf— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
American history made in fencing
Third Olympic Games. First Olympic medal. AND IT'S A HISTORIC FIRST #TEAMUSA GOLD! @leetothekiefer x #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/7NyjzmLEwU— Team USA (@TeamUSA) July 25, 2021
One for the history books.@leetothekiefer becomes the first U.S. woman to win Olympic gold in individual foil. @USAFencing x #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/XQIXlKq88F— Team USA (@TeamUSA) July 25, 2021
Lee Kiefer earned the third gold medal for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics by beating defending champion Inna Deriglazova of Russia 15-13 in the women's foil final.
Kiefer is a four-time NCAA champion at Notre Dame. She ripped off her mask after the final point and shouted, "Oh my God!'' She placed fifth at the 2012 London Games and was 10th at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Early exit for No. 1 in women's tennis
MAJOR UPSET.— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo knocks off the World No. 1, Australia's Ash Barty in the first round. #TokyoOlympics
📺: Olympic Channel
NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/xqmPSz7ar8
Just two weeks after winning Wimbledon, top-seeded Australian Ashleigh Barty was knocked out of the Olympic singles tournament in her first-round match. Since tennis returned to the Olympic program in 1988, the top seed has won the women's singles tournament just twice: Steffi Graf in 1988 and Justine Henin in 2004.
🙁 Out of the men's singles— Team GB (@TeamGB) July 25, 2021
😊 Carrying on in the doubles#TeamGB #Tokyo2020
Naomi Osaka also started her Olympic competition with a win.
And on the men's side, former Olympic champion Andy Murray withdrew from singles competition because of a thigh strain.
USA softball advances to gold-medal game
WALK-OFF ALERT! 🇺🇸 @chiddy3 gets it through and @TeamUSA wins in extra innings! #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/RiYznpJ3WV— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 25, 2021
Amanda Chidester's two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning kept Team USA undefeated in these Olympics at 4-0 and sent them to the gold-medal game, where they will meet host Japan on Monday. The U.S. got 13 strikeouts from Monica Abbott in the 2-1 victory over Australia.
French president, U.S. first lady on hand at 3x3
It was one of the highlights of Day 1 for #3x3— FIBA3x3 ➡️ #3x3 #Tokyo2020 (@FIBA3x3) July 25, 2021
🇫🇷 French President @EmmanuelMacron and the 🇺🇸 First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden @FLOTUS in the bleachers of the 3x3 Olympic venue #Tokyo2020
Dr. Jill Biden enjoyed a tour of sports, watching Team USA on Saturday.
Team USA's A-Team starts strong
REJECTED!— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
Alix Klineman with the block! #TokyoOlympics x @TeamUSA
💻 : https://t.co/jrwdAqVr4x
📱: NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/7MOTMckqge
It's called VOLLEYball for a reason.— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
Check out this overhead look of a point for @AlixKlineman and @AprilRossBeach. #TokyoOlympics x @USAVBeach
💻 : https://t.co/jrwdAqVr4x
📱: NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/VTeM6tQ7Vw
Hear from @AprilRossBeach and @AlixKlineman after their win!— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
For Klineman, it was her first match and WIN in Olympic competition. #TokyoOlympics x @USAVBeach pic.twitter.com/6OHtnG2P2D
Teammates Alix Klineman and April Ross -- nicknamed the A-Team -- started off right with a Pool B beach volleyball win over China's Wang Xinxin and Xue Chen, 21-17, 21-19. Ross is in her third Olympics after pairing with Jennifer Kessy in 2012 and winning silver, before winning bronze with Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2016. Ross is seeking to join Jennings and Misty May-Treanor as the only players to win at least three medals in women's beach volleyball.
For Klineman, it was her first Olympic experience. "I was a little nervous but really excited for this match," she said.
Men's gymnastics reaches team final
YUUUUUULLLLLL@Yul_Shin0122 x @TeamUSA | #TokyoOlympics— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
📱 NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/qjK1Ze7fBt
SAM. MIKULAK.@SamuelMikulak x @TeamUSA | #TokyoOlympics— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021
📱 NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/luxHJLB4RO
The U.S. men's gymnastics team advanced to the team final with a fourth-place finish in qualifications.
Forever an Olympian
While Simone Biles and her U.S. teammates were competing across the gym during women's gymnastics qualifying, Jamaica's Danusia Francis was just thrilled to make her Olympic dream come true.
Despite sustaining a serious left knee injury this week during training, she was determined to be an Olympian and briefly competed on bars with a few skills on the low bar. She received a 3.033 for her efforts but earned the loudest ovation of the day -- including from the American team.
After narrowly missing out on making Great Britain's Olympic team in 2012 and Jamaica's in 2016, Francis stepped away from the elite scene to compete for UCLA but never gave up on her lifelong ambition. She retired from the sport after graduating but came back in 2018 with her focus squarely on Tokyo.
While the circumstances were far from ideal, the 27-year-old finally made her dream come true on Sunday. -- D'Arcy Maine
Watch the birdie
Getting in the zone! 😎🏸#StrongerTogether— Olympics (@Olympics) July 25, 2021
🎥: kimastrup on Instagram pic.twitter.com/FL9QuWbvrx