Claire Curzan got her medal after all, and in doing so helped the United States women finish the Olympic Games on a positive note with a second-place finish in the 4x100-meter medley relay late Saturday.
Curzan, of Cary, a rising senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School, swam in the preliminary round of the 4x100 for the U.S., and she had a front row seat to watch as teammates Regan Smith, Lydia Jacoby, Torri Huske and Abbey Weitzeil swam in Saturday night’s finals. The team finished 0.13 seconds behind Australia.
In the preliminary round, Curzan and fellow North Carolinian Erika Brown of Charlotte helped the U.S. to a second-place finish in the second heat of qualifying, making both swimmers eligible for a medal.
Earlier in the Games, Curzan swam the 100-meter butterfly individual event and finished in 57.42 seconds, good for tenth overall in the semifinal round, meaning she just missed out on the final by two positions.
In three seasons at Cardinal Gibbons, Curzan has won six state championships and has been named the MVP of the championship meet twice.
Curzan wasn’t the only athlete with local ties to compete in Tokyo this weekend.
Bronze in BMX
Nikita Ducarroz of Switzerland took bronze in the BMX Freestyle event as it made its Olympic debut. Ducarroz, who calls Holly Springs home while she trains, earned an 89.2 in her second run to finish with the bronze medal behind Great Britain’s Charlotte Worthington and American Hannah Roberts.
Roberts, a three-time world champion at age 19, set the bar in her opening run, landing a backflip with a tailspin for a 96.1.
Worthington crashed on her first run but pulled out all the stops in her second. The 25-year-old added a front flip to her 360 backflip and closed with another backflip for a 97.5.
Roberts, the top seed, had a chance to top the Brit, but she landed hard off an early jump and waved off the rest of her second run.
Surprises in the 400
The fastest man in the world at 400 meters this year didn’t make it through the first round of Olympic competition at that distance late Saturday night.
Randolph Ross, the Garner native and star runner for North Carolina A&T, missed out on qualifying in the 400-meter dash in Tokyo on Saturday after appearing to pull up early in his heat race while among the top three runners.
That allowed Switzerland’s Ricky Petrucciani to edge Ross by three-hundredths of a second for the third and final automatic qualifying position from their heat, and his time — 45.67 seconds — was not fast enough to be among the top six non-automatic qualifying times.
Ross turned heads earlier this year when he helped NC A&T to a solid finish in the NCAA meet with his blistering time in the 400, and he backed that performance up by finishing third at the U.S. trials to make the Olympic squad.
His two U.S. teammates, Michael Cherry and Michael Norman, did advance into the semifinals of the 400, as did Steven Soloman of Australia, a former Duke University athlete.
NC State swimmers shine
Incoming N.C. State swimmer Noe Ponti earned a bronze medal in what was the first-ever 100-meter butterfly finals appearance by a Swiss swimmer.
Ponti established a new national record in the event at 50.74. NC State has now had a medalist in each of the last four Olympic Games. Ponti’s performance followed Ryan Held’s gold medal in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay from 2016, Cullen Jones’ pair of silver medals from 2012 and Jones’ 4x100-meter freestyle relay gold from 2008.
Nyls Korstanje joined Ponti in Thursday night’s butterfly semifinal race, ranking in the top 16 in his individual Olympics debut.
Friday’s earlier session also marked the prelims for the 4x100-meter medley relay. Sophie Hansson (1:05.61 breaststroke split) helped her Swedish team advance to the finals.