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OLYMPICS

Denmark gets first gold as Blume wins 50m freestyle

Pernille Blume, who quit swimming after being told she was too short, gave Denmark its first gold in the Olympic pool for 68 years Saturday with a surprise win in the 50m freestyle.

Denmark gets first gold as Blume wins 50m freestyle
Denmark's Pernille Blume celebrates winning the Women's swimming 50m Freestyle Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 13, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / O
Despite going into the final as the fastest qualifier, the 22-year-old was not considered the favourite because she had primarily been a relay swimmer.
 
But she won her first individual title — Denmark's first gold in Rio — in grand style, getting her hands on the wall first after a blanket finish.
 
She made a flying start off the blocks and held on grimly in the final few metres to win the single-lap sprint in a time of 24.07 seconds.
 
Blume became just the third Danish women to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming and the first since Greta Andersen won the 100m freestyle and Karen Harup took the 100m backstroke at London in 1948.
 
Standing 1.71 metres tall, Blume briefly gave up the sport after being told she was not tall enough to succeed in her favourite event.
 
“I enjoy swimming the 50m free, it's so much fun but I'd always been told I'm too small to be a 50m free swimmer and I should probably be a 200m swimmer,” Blume said.
 
“So I had to take a break from all this and just figure out how I wanted things to go. If I was going to spend so much time doing this, I was going to enjoy it so that's why I came back.”
 
American Simone Manuel, who dead-heated for gold in Thursday's 100m final and won a second gold in the medley relay, collected the silver, just 0.02 behind Blume.
 
“The 50m free is a work in progress for me but just coming off the 100m I was pretty confident that hopefully I can get a medal,” Manuel said. “I was super excited with second pace and a best time, I couldn't really have asked for any better.”
 
Bronze went to Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus, who was swimming from the outside lane. 
 
Still ecstatic from the gold medal, Blume later claimed bronze in the 4×100 medley. The team of Blume, Mie Østergaard Nielsen, Rikke Møller Pedersen and Jeanette Ottesen finished behind the US and Australia with a time of 3:55:01.
 

Denmark's bronze medallist team Mie Nielsen, Rikke Møller Pedersen, Jeanette Ottesen and Pernille Blume pose during the podium ceremony of the Women's swimming 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro onSaturday. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP/Scanpix

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OLYMPICS

Denmark joins calls to postpone Tokyo Olympics until pandemic over

Denmark has joined the chorus of countries, including Norway, the UK, Croatia, and Brazil, calling for the Olympics to be postponed for a year.

Denmark joins calls to postpone Tokyo Olympics until pandemic over
Morten Mølholm, Director General of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark, at a press conference, back in 2018. Photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix
Morten Mølholm, Director General of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF), said that he believed the Summer Olympics in Tokyo should be held in 2021 instead.  
 
“We have great respect for the complicated situation the IOC are in, because the Olympics are a big thing,” he told Danish state broadcaster DR. “But we are having a hard time seeing us having an Olympics in the current situation. That's why we think the right solution is to postpone them.” 
 
The decision comes after Norway on Friday sent a formal letter to the IOC, calling for them to postpone the games until the the pandemic is “under firm control on a national scale”. 
 
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The IOC on Sunday responded to mounting pressure with a statement promising to “step up scenario planning” for the games. IOC President Thomas Bach last week said it was “premature” to consider postponing them. The DIF on Wednesday echoed this position, saying that it was “too early to decide”. 
 
But Mølholm told DR on Sunday that even putting the risk of reigniting the pandemic on hold, he did not see how an Olympics held in today's conditions could be fair on athletes. 
 
“At the moment we are in a totally chaotic situation, where many athletes do not have the opportunity to train, and participate in qualifying rounds. Therefore, the only right thing is to create clarity about the situation by taking the decision to postpone it.” 
 
“We do not believe that we can have a fair Olympics this year, as the conditions will be so different for the different athletes.” 
 
He said that difficulties re-booking venues would probably make it practically difficult to postpone by only a few months, making a postponement of a full year the best option. 
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