Nolan Arenado Helps Lead Team USA to World Baseball Classic Win Over Great Britain

Nolan Arenado is proving to be Team USA’s not-so-secret weapon…

After helping the U.S. win the tournament in 2017, the 31-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban American professional baseball player had three hits and several highlight-reel defensive plays in Team USA’s opening-round World Baseball Classic win, a 6-2 victory over Great Britain on Saturday night. He set the tone after the U.S. got down 1-0.

Nolan Arenado“The intensity with which he works pregame is, honestly — I’m not sugarcoating it — like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Team USA manager Mark DeRosa said after the game. “He’s intense in ground balls. He’s intense in his cage work.”

Arenado’s pregame routine was actually thrown off because of the length of the previous contest Saturday between Colombia and Mexico. It’s one of the things he learned while playing in the tournament in 2017. You have to be able to adjust on the fly.

“We were taking ground balls in the outfield today,” Arenado said. “I haven’t taken ground balls in the outfield since I was in Little League. While I was doing it, I made sure to focus and do it the right way. It prepared me. I was ready to go.”

The same can be said of Arenado at the plate, after the team wasn’t able to take batting practice on the field. He adjusted his routine again, then a couple of hours later, he doubled home the tying run in the second inning before scoring the go-ahead run a few moments later.

He added another double and a single and also made several on-the-run throws across his body to first base.

“I’ve played with some great fielders,” said Adam Wainwright, Arenado’s Cardinals teammate and Saturday’s starter. “I don’t know if I’ve ever played with somebody behind me like that. I’ve played with the best defensive catcher of all time and I had Scott Rolen at third base. Not a shot at him, but Nolan Arenado is just a special, special player that I don’t know if you can compare him.”

Even with Arenado’s heroics, it was a tight game until Kyle Schwarber launched a ball into the right-field stands for a three-run home run in the fourth inning. It ignited a pro-U.S. crowd as Schwarber gave it a salute while rounding the bases.

“That’s going to be our little celebration for us this year,” Schwarber said. “Get back to a little salute to our men and women, too.”

DeRosa admitted his players needed to settle in a little with many playing in their first WBC game. They quickly found their footing, proving they’re the favorites to come out of the preliminary round games in Arizona.

The U.S. takes on Mexico on Sunday after it was upset by Colombia.

“Just a great first day,” DeRosa said. “I just think for a lot of us, and the coaches included, was a chance for us to — I don’t want to say knock the cobwebs off — but a chance for us to kind of experience it (the intensity) ourselves.”

Richard Torrez Jr. Gives USA First Olympic Medal in Super Heavyweight Division in 30+ Years

Richard Torrez, Jr. was thisclose to gold, but still made history with silver…

The 22-year-old Mexican American amateur boxer lost his super heavyweight gold medal bout to Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov, who was heavily favored going into this Olympics to win gold.

Richard Torrez Jr.

Torrez, who had a strong run to the final, did better than the last time he met Jalolov, when he was brutally knocked out by the Uzbek in 2019. He had a solid game plan of careful pressure, bursts of attack, and staying very low, as he was giving up a lot of height and reach to Jalolov in the first place, and looked to make it as tough as possible for Jalolov to establish an easy rhythm with the jab and set up power shots.

Richard Torrez Jr.

Torrez did win the majority in the first round, taking three of five cards, but Jalolov found his rhythm in the second, landing good shots every time Torrez got one in and then some. The length of Jalolov, combined with the fact that he’s also very good and not simply tall, was just too much.

Torrez’s silver medal is the first medal the U.S. has had in this division since Riddick Bowe’s silver in 1988.

Richard Torrez Jr.

But the denial of gold means that Andre Ward in 2004 remains the last U.S. men’s gold medalist in boxing.

The Team USA men did claim three silver medals this year. Along with Torrez, silvers went to lightweight Keyshawn Davis and featherweight Duke Ragan.

Fernanda Garay & Brazil Claim Silver in Women’s Volleyball at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo GamesIt’s a silver lining for Fernanda Garay

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional volleyball player and her Brazil teammates lost to Team USA in the gold medal match of women’s volleyball tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Games, settling for the silver.

Fernanda Garay & Team Brazil

Brazil lost the match in straight sets to the Americans, 21-25, 20-25,- 14-25.

Garay was a member of the Brazil team that won the gold medal at the 2012 London Games.

Fernanda Garay

It’s the first-ever Olympic gold for Team USA.

After the match, Garay recognized the strategic superiority of the Americans on the court, but asserted that the Brazilians gave their all.

Fernanda Garay & Team Brazil

“I think our preparation was the best possible, we knew the difficulty of this game, as it is an Olympic final. We knew that they would give their all, I have no doubt that we also gave our all. Maybe strategically they were able to play better than us, they were very aggressive on the serve, and we had to keep holding and behind the score many times. I’m very proud of our group, of what we’ve done so far,” she told TV Globo.

“They had more adversity than us, who managed to impose themselves in more games, this may have strengthened them at this time. We had no doubt that we could have a great game, they were better, and that’s what sport is all about. One hour is gained, another is lost. Unfortunately, today was our turn to feel defeat, and it hurts like hell, but I’m really proud of what we’ve done. We fought a lot and left everything on the court”, she added.

Garay confirmed that this final was her last Olympics, taking the opportunity to exalt the group with whom he lived in recent years.

“It’s terrible now, because we couldn’t win. But the sport is like that, it was great to be with this group all this time. I enjoyed every moment with these girls, I am very proud of them. A group that came discredited and strengthened in times of difficulty, I return home proud of everything we’ve done and where we’ve come from”, she concluded.

Diana Taurasi Becomes First Latinx Basketball Player with Five Olympic Gold Medals

2020 Tokyo Games

Diana Taurasi is one of America’s Golden girls…

The 39-year-old Argentinian American professional basketball player and teammate Sue Bird have set a new Olympic record, alongside s the basketball players, men or women, with five gold medals.

Diana Taurasi & Team USA

Taurasi, Bird and their Team USA mates defeated Japan 90-75 in the women’s basketball final at Saitama Super Arena at the 2020 Tokyo Games, clinching a seventh straight Olympic gold medal for the U.S.

It was their 55th consecutive Olympic win.

Diana Taurasi & Sue Bird

“It’s been a tremendous journey,” Taurasi said. “It’s 20 years of sacrifice, of putting everything else aside and just wanting to win. It’s never easy playing on this team, the pressure, but this group found a way to win, and I am just happy that this group got to enjoy it.”

That’s an impeccable tour of Athens, Beijing, London, Rio de Janeiro and now Tokyo as they showed off a global desire for winning and longevity that has defined the program. Likely playing in their final game with the national team, Bird and Taurasi made the first two baskets and then symbolically handed it off to the younger generation to carry it home.

Brittney Griner capped off a memorable Olympic run with her best game in Tokyo, putting up 30 points on 14-on-18 shooting, to lead the offensive attack. It was the most points ever in a gold-medal game for an American, besting Lisa Leslie‘s record of 29. But the young star was more thrilled she helped Bird and Taurasi get their fifth.

“Anyone who knows me and knows [Taurasi] knows how much I look up to her,” Griner said. “Even on the court I am still in awe. Like, yo, I get to play with Diana Taurasi. So to be a part of this, her fifth, it means everything to me, honestly.”

But is Taurasi ready to try for number six?

“See you in Paris,” Taurasi said during an interview with NBC Olympics after the gold medal game.

Taurasi then walked away from the interview, leaving the NBC crew to ponder if they were breaking news just after the big win.

Cuba’s Andy Cruz Claims Gold in Men’s Lightweight Boxing at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

Andy Cruz is officially an Olympic gold medalist…

The 25-year-old Cuban boxer defeated Team USA’s Keyshawn Davis by split decision to claim the gold medal in the men’s lightweight boxing competition at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Andy Cruz

In a re-run of the 2019 World Championships, the 22-year-old American was forced to take silver after a split decision favored Cruz, who is also the reigning Pan-American champion.

Davis had set a quick pace from the opening bell by going out on the attack with Cruz biding his time before hitting the target. The top seed went back to his corner at the end of the round ahead by four judges.

Andy Cruz

The story reversed in the second round when Davis, buoyed on by the vocal support of his team in the Kokugikan Arena, landed a series of blows on Cruz to win all 10s from the judges.

There was everything to play for the in third round. Davis was a constant threat, but Cruz replied with killer jabs and by the end both raised their arms in celebration.

There was an agonizing wait for the result before it was announced that Cruz had won 4-1 and the Olympic title. The judges had preferred his ability to defend himself and reply with less frequent shots. On his way to final, he had demolished Australia’s Harry Garside 5-0 in the semifinal, and in the earlier rounds Brazil’s Wanderson de Oliveira 4-1 and Great Britain’s Luke McCormack 5-0.

“I’m very happy because I could reach my goal. It was my goal to reach gold and I accomplished that,” said an elated Cruz after the bout.

Davis, who took silver, also reacted positively to the fight: “I feel like it was a great fight. It was moving so fast, I barely remember it. But I felt like it was a 3-2 decision, it was a good technical fight, I think the fans loved it.” On winning a silver medal, he added: “Everything was worth it, man. Even though it’s a silver medal, I still learned a lot about myself in this tournament, leading up to the silver medal. I think I’m a better fighter now.”

The bronze medals were awarded to Garside and Armenia’s Hoyhannes Bachkov, who Davis had beaten in the semifinal 5-0.

Devin Booker & Team USA Beat France for Men’s Basketball Gold at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

It’s a first taste of Olympic gold for Devin Booker

The 24-year-old half-Mexican American professional basketball player, who plays for the Phoenix Suns, and his Team USA mates held off France 87-82 on Saturday to win the men’s basketball title at the 2020 Tokyo Games — ending a summer that started with sputters but closed with celebration.

Devin Booker

Nothing about the summer was easy for Team USA, including the gold-medal game.

The Americans expected nothing less.

And in the end, their Olympic reign lives on.

Devin Booker

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and joined Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time men’s gold medalists in Olympic history.

“Every championship is special, and the group you’re with is special, but I can be honest and say this is the most responsibility I’ve ever felt,” said U.S. coach Gregg Popovich, who adds this gold to five NBA titles he’s won as coach for the San Antonio Spurs.

Team USA Men's Basketball

“You’re playing for so many people that are watching, and for a country, and other countries involved. The responsibility was awesome. I felt it every day for several years now. I’m feeling pretty light now and looking forward to getting back to the hotel.”

Wine was awaiting, and so was a hero’s welcome from the U.S. women’s team — which plays for gold of its own Sunday — when the men returned to the team hotel. Later Saturday night, after Australia defeated Slovenia for the bronze, Popovich and the team returned to the arena for their gold medals. One player would drape the prize over another’s neck, then they watched the U.S. flag get raised and “The Star-Spangled Banner” blare for them one more time.

“Everybody was questioning us,” U.S. forward Draymond Green. “This is special.”

Durant sealed the win with two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, making the outcome academic. The lead was five, France’s final possession was irrelevant, and it was over. The U.S. players gathered for a hug at midcourt, Durant, Green and Bam Adebayo wrapped themselves in American flags, Popovich had a long hug with his assistants and the journey was complete.

Spain’s Pilar Peña Claims Second-Career Olympic Silver in Women’s Water Polo

2020 Tokyo Games

It’s a repeat performance for Pilar Peña

The 35-year-old Spanish water polo player and her teammates claimed the silver medal in women’s water polo at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

USA Women's Water Polo

Peña, the captain of the Spanish team, and her fellow teammates had to settle for silver after losing handily to Team USA 5-14.

Ashleigh Johnson, the first African American woman to make a U.S. Olympic water polo team, blocked 11 out of 15 shots from Spain during her time in goal – a rate of 73%. The main goalie for Spain blocked 19% of the shots.

Spain Women's Water Polo Team

It’s the second silver medal for Spain in the sport, after losing the gold medal match at the 2012 London Games to the United States. Peña was on that silver-winning team.

Eddy Alvarez Becomes First Latino Athlete to Win a Medal at Summer & Winter Olympics

2020 Tokyo Games

Eddy Alvarez has earned his place in Olympics history…

The 31-year-old Cuban-American speedskater-turned-baseball-player and his Team USA mates lost to Japan 2-0 in the 2020 Tokyo Games men’s baseball gold medal game at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, having to settle for silver.

Eddy Alvarez

But in the process, Alvarez – Team USA’s starting second baseman – has done something six people have ever accomplished – win a medal at the Summer and Winter Olympics. And, he’s the first Latino to accomplish the feat.

“Feels like déjà vu. Just as heavy as the other one. Same color. A little bit of a different design,” Alvarez said. “But it’s still an incredible journey, an incredible experience, a great group of guys I’ve created a bond with for the rest of my life so I can’t wait to enjoy this moment back home.”  

Team USA Men's Baseball

Only six others have accomplished the feat. Americans Eddie Egan (1920 – boxing, 1932 – four-man bobsled) and Lauryn Williams (2004 – 100-meter sprint, 2012 – 4×100 relay, 2014 – two-woman bobsled) are two of those on the list.

The others are Norway’s Jacob Tullin Thams (ski jumping in 1924 and yachting in 1936), East Germany/Germany’s Christa Luding-Rothenburger (speedskating in 1984, ’88 and ’92 and sprint cycling in 1988) and Canada’s Clara Hughes (cycling in 1996 and speed skating in 2002, ’06 and ’10).

“It’s hard to describe it, because it’s like bittersweet, but at the same time, it’s an unbelievable feeling,” Alvarez said.

“I had no idea this is where I was going to end up. Once I retired from skating, never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I would have the chance to come back to the Olympics.”

Alvarez won a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Games as a member of the 5,000-meter speed skating short-track squad.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow, when you come so close to winning and you fall short,” Alvarez said of his silver medals. “At the same time, it’s one of those things that I know will hit me eventually, of how incredible and blessed I am to be a part of this.”

But Alvarez isn’t the only Latino to earn a silver as part of the US men’s baseball team…

Triston Casas, the 21-year-old Latino first baseman; 28-year-old Puerto Rican infielder Jack Lopez; and 31-year-old Latino pitcher Nick Martinez are all part of Team USA at this year’s Games.

It’s the first Olympic hardware for the three.

Ariel Torres Gives Team USA First-Ever Olympic Medal in Karate at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

Ariel Torres has given America is first-ever Olympic medal in karate…

The 23-year-old Cuban-born American karateka took home the bronze in the men’s kata event, the non-fighting karate discipline known as “forms,” at the 2020 Tokyo Games in the sport’s Olympic debut.

Ariel Torres

Torres outscored Venezuela’s Antonio Jose Diaz Fernandez 26.72-26.34 for the bronze.

“All the Glory To GOD!” Torres wrote on Twitter shortly after winning his medal. “My family… WE DID IT!!!!!!!!! Thank you for always supporting my dream and for all the sacrifices you made for me to keep fighting.”

Japan’s Ryo Kiyuna won gold and Spain’s Damian Quintero took the silver, while Turkey’s Ali Sofuoglu beat South Korea’s Heejun Park for the second bronze of the event.

Scoring is based on 10 criteria. Athletes are evaluated on seven technical points (stances, techniques, transitional movements, timing, correct breathing, focus and conformance) as well as three athletic points (strength, speed and balance).

Ariel Torres

There are seven judges, each of whom gives a score between 5 and 10, in increments of 0.2 points, for both technical and athletic performance. The highest two and lowest two scores from each is dropped, and the remaining three scores are added together. Technical performance counts for 70 percent of an athlete’s final score. Athletic performance counts for the remaining 30 percent.

Karate was one of four new sports added to the sports programme for the Tokyo Olympics, joining skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing. Softball and baseball also made their return to the games for the first time since 2008.

Mariafe Artacho del Solar Takes Home Silver in Women’s Beach Volleyball at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

It may not be the color she’d aimed for, but Mariafe Artacho del Solar is officially an Olympic medalist…

The 27-year-old Peruvian Australian beach volleyball player and her partner Taliqua Clancy claimed the silver medal in women’s beach volleyball at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Mariafe Artacho del Solar i

Artacho del Solar and Clancy, who upset the World No. 1 and reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada, in the quarterfinals, lost their gold medal match to Team USA’s April Ross and Alix Klineman in straight sets (15-21, 16-21).

According to, the teams played against each other five times before meeting at the Olympics with the Australians holding a 3-2 edge. Artacho del Solar and Clancy won the most recent match on May 1 in the semifinals of the FIVB Cancun four-star tournament.

This is Artacho del Solar’s first Olympic medal. She made her Games debut at the 2016 Rio Games with then-partner Nicole Laird, where they finished in 19th place.