Latter-day Saints in the Olympics, day 7: Gold in rugby sevens, plus swimming, shot put, volleyball, basketball, soccer and shooting

It’s a golden end to the men’s rugby sevens team from Fiji as they defended their gold medal from 2016. Also, Olympians with connections to the Church qualified to move to the next round of competition in shot put, swimming and beach volleyball on day seven of the Olympic Games on Friday, July 30. However, others in soccer and rugby sevens saw dramatic ends to their chances for medals in Tokyo. 

Here are updates in those competitions, plus those in pistol shooting and volleyball.  

Rugby sevens 

Japan's Kameli Raravou Latianara Soejima, right, is tackled by Fiji's Semi Radradra during their men's rugby sevens match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo.
Japan’s Kameli Raravou Latianara Soejima, right, is tackled by Fiji’s Semi Radradra during their men’s rugby sevens match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. Credit: Shuji Kajiyama, Associated Press

Fiji’s Semi Radradra, 29, was called in from England, where he plays with the Bristol Bears, to be part of the rugby sevens Olympic team. Radradra was part of the Fijian national rugby league team that was third in the 2013 World Cup and he’s played professional rugby union and rugby league. He started playing when he was 6 years old in Somosomo, Fiji.  

He helped Fiji defend its gold medal from 2016, when rugby sevens debuted at the Olympics in Rio. In Tokyo, the team was undefeated, beating Japan 24-19, Canada 28-14 and Great Britain 33-7 in the preliminary Pool B tournament. They shutout Australia 19-0 in quarterfinals and Argentina 26-14 in the semifinals. They played New Zealand in the finals, winning 27-12. 

Also on the women’s rugby paddock, Team USA, including forward Jordan Gray Matyas, beat Australia 14-12 in the preliminary Pool C matches, leaving the Americans undefeated and the top team in Pool C. The 12 teams were divided into three pools and each team plays the other three in the pool. The top two teams in each of the three pools plus the next two third place teams moved on to the quarterfinals. 

Team USA faced Great Britain in the quarterfinals match and lost 21-12. They will play China on Saturday, July 31, in the bracket to determine places 5-8. The winner will play who triumphs in the match between the Russia Olympic Committee and Australia.  

This is the first Olympics for Matyas, 28, a Nevada native raised in Alberta, Canada. She played rugby at BYU and moved on to playing rugby professionally.  

Shot put  

Valerie Adams, of New Zealand, competes in the qualification rounds of the women's shot put at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo.
Valerie Adams, of New Zealand, competes in the qualification rounds of the women’s shot put at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo. Credit: Matthias Schrader, Associated Press

New Zealand’s Valerie Adams is moving on to the shot put finals with her third throw of 18.83 meters. Those with throws of 18.80 meters or at least the top 12 advance to the final. Adams’ other throws were 18.75 meters and 18.59 meters. Of the more than 30 competitors, she was sixth overall, and the top eight had throws of 18.80 meters or better in the qualifying round on Friday, July 30. 

The Tokyo Games are her fifth Olympics, and the 36-year-old won gold medals in 2008 and 2012 and a silver in 2016.  

The shot put finals are on Sunday, Aug. 1.   

Swimming  

USA’s Rhyan Elizabeth White, 21, is headed to the 200-meter backstroke finals after coming third overall in the semifinals on Friday, July 31, with a time of 2:07.28. She’s behind Australia’s Emily Seebohm (2:07.09) and USA’s Phoebe Bacon (2:07.10). The three women were in the same semifinal heat. White was in the lead on the first turn, with Bacon close behind. Bacon was just ahead for the next two 50-meter pool lengths, as Seebohm slid into second at 150 meters and nearly tied as one hundredth of a second separated their times.  

The fastest eight swimmers from the two semifinal heats move onto the final, which is Saturday, July 31.  

Tokyo is the first Olympic Games for the Utah native and University of Alabama student.

Read more of Church News’ coverage of athletes connected to the Church competing in the Olympics

Beach volleyball 

Tri Bourne, left, of the United States, celebrates with teammate Jacob Gibb during a men's beach volleyball match against Qatar at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tri Bourne, left, of the United States, celebrates with teammate Jacob Gibb during a men’s beach volleyball match against Qatar at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: AP

Team USA’s Jake Gibb and teammate Tri Bourne lost 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) to the duo from Qatar in the preliminary Pool C match on Friday, July 30. Prior to this match, both teams were undefeated in pool play.  

In beach volleyball, the teams are divided into seven four-team pools, and each team plays all of the other teams in the pool. The top two ranked teams from each pool, plus the two best third-ranked teams, qualify to compete in the round of 16.  

The Qataris, Ahmed Tijan and Cherif Younousse, were 3-0 and came in first in Pool C. Gibb and Bourne were in second (2-1) and both teams will move on to the round of 16. The round of 16 matches start Sunday, Aug. 1.  

This was the third match Gibb and Bourne have played together as Gibb’s partner, Taylor Crabb, tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Japan. Gibb, 45, is originally from Bountiful, Utah, and is competing in his fourth Olympic Games. Gibb, along with other beach volleyball players from the USA, are following isolation protocols due to close contact as they sat in proximity to Crabb on the plane.  

Volleyball 

United States’ Taylor Sander blocks a ball during a men’s volleyball preliminary round pool B match between Brazil and United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
United States’ Taylor Sander blocks a ball during a men’s volleyball preliminary round pool B match between Brazil and United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Manu Fernandez, Associated Press

Team USA, which includes outside hitter Taylor Sander, lost 3-1 to the reigning gold medal team from Brazil in their fourth game in preliminary Pool B play on Friday, July 31. They won the first set 32-30 and lost the next three  25-23, 25-21 and 25-30.  

In volleyball, the 12 teams are divided into two pools of six, and each team plays the other five in the pool. The top four teams in each pool qualify to go to the quarterfinals.

Team USA, which won bronze in 2016, is 2-2 in pool play and faces the team from Argentina (2-2) on Sunday, Aug. 1. Like Team USA, Argentina has also lost to the teams from Russia and Brazil and beat France and Tunisia.  

Sander, 29, started in each set. The BYU alumnus was part of the bronze-winning team in 2016.  

Basketball 

Australia’s Leilani Mitchell, left, defends China’s Siyu Wang, right, during a women’s basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Saitama, Japan, Friday, July 30, 2021.
Australia’s Leilani Mitchell, left, defends China’s Siyu Wang, right, during a women’s basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Saitama, Japan, Friday, July 30, 2021. Credit: Eric Gay, Associated Press

Australia, including guard Leiland Mitchell, narrowly lost 76-74 to China in the preliminary Group C game that ended with a pair of successful free throws by China.  

The 12 basketball teams are in three groups, and each plays the other three teams in the group. The top eight teams will move on to the quarterfinals. Australia is 0-2 in Group C play and faces Puerto Rico (0-2) on Monday, Aug. 2.  

Mitchell played for nearly 19 minutes and scored nine points — two 3-pointers and three free throws. It’s the second Olympics for the 36-year-old Washington native and WNBA player.  

Soccer 

Canada's Deanne Rose, right, and Brazil's Bruna Benites (13) battle for the ball during a women's quarterfinal soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Rifu, Japan.
Canada’s Deanne Rose, right, and Brazil’s Bruna Benites (13) battle for the ball during a women’s quarterfinal soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Rifu, Japan. Credit: Andre Penner, Associated Press

The Brazilian women’s team, including defender Bruna Benites, tied Canada 0-0 in the quarterfinal round match on Friday, July 30. The game dramatically then went to a penalty-kick shoot-out, and the Canadian women won 4-3. Canada will go on to play USA, which beat the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.  

The Brazilian women are sixth overall of the 12 teams in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  

This is the third Olympics for the 35-year-old professional soccer player. The Brazilian women’s team was fourth in 2016 in Rio.  

Pistol shooting  

Alexis "Lexi" Lagan, of the United States, competes in the women's 25-meter pistol at the Asaka Shooting Range in the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Alexis “Lexi” Lagan, of the United States, competes in the women’s 25-meter pistol at the Asaka Shooting Range in the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Alex Brandon, Associated Press

USA’s Alexis “Lexi” Lagan was 18th overall of 44 competitors in the 25-meter pistol shoot on Friday, July 30. She was 21st after the precision round on Thursday, July 29. There were 60 shots total split among the six targets between the two rounds. There’s 100 points for each target. In Friday’s rapid round, she earned 292 points, and combined with Thursday’s precision round’s score of 288, she had a total of 580. Those with the top eight combined scores moved to the finals. 

It’s the first Olympics for the 28-year-old University of Utah alumna and Nevada native. The 25-meter pistol shoot was the third of her three events in Tokyo.  

Competing this weekend 

Events Saturday, July 31, are White’s 200-meter backstroke swimming final along with Team USA’s rugby sevens match against China. Australia’s Peter Bol is scheduled to compete in the men’s 800-meter qualifying heats on Saturday, July 31, with the semifinals the following day.  

The round-of-16 beach volleyball matches are scheduled to start Sunday, Aug. 1. Team USA’s final Pool B volleyball match is against Argentina, and the shot put finals for Adams are on Sunday.  

Also this weekend is the gymnastics apparatus competitions, including the vault final. USA’s MyKayla Skinner was fourth in the vault qualifying, but was behind two other USA gymnasts Simone Biles, who was first, and Carey Jade, who was second, and only two per country are allowed. Biles pulled out of the team final and all-around competitions due to mental health concerns.  

Skinner’s coach, Lisa Spini, said that they were asked to stay, according to news reports. The 24-year-old former University of Utah All-American gymnast is continuing to train. A final decision for the roster is due 24 hours before the competition.