Thursday , September 20 2018

Rio flames out as Tokyo takes baton – US, BRITAIN 1 & 2 IN MEDAL RACE; CHINESE FALL SHORT

Dancers perform during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Aug 21. (AFP)
Dancers perform during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Aug 21. (AFP)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 22, (Agencies): The Rio Olympics ended in a blaze of colour with an exuberant closing ceremony on Sunday as Tokyo took up the baton promising to host the best Games yet in 2020.

After a rollercoaster fortnight which mixed off-field hitches with compelling sporting drama, Olympics chief Thomas Bach hailed a “marvellous” Games in the Brazilian city.

“These were marvellous Olympic Games in the marvellous city!” said Bach, as he declared the Games closed and the Olympic flame was extinguished.

“These Olympic Games are leaving a unique legacy for generations to come. History will talk about a Rio de Janeiro before and a much better Rio de Janeiro after the Olympic Games.”

At the closing ceremony, thousands of fans and athletes donned ponchos on a wet and windy night for a colourful festival of Brazilian culture and music with bursts of spectacular fireworks.

Smiling and waving athletes danced into the Maracana Stadium taking selfies as Rio’s 16-day Summer Games closed ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a comical cameo as Nintendo video game character Super Mario as Tokyo set out its stall for 2020.

“The Japanese government will … work hard so it will be the best Olympics ever”, Abe said as he met Japanese medal-winners earlier.

Security scares and logistical problems were a feature of South America’s first Olympics, held against the backdrop of Brazil’s political and economic crisis.

The Rio Games, the first in South America, were a 16-day spectacle that combined numerous highlight reel moments with ugly and even bizarre episodes that sometimes overshadowed the competitions. And Rio residents, known as Cariocas, were not about to let sporadic rains and strong wind gusts get in the way of a final hurrah.

While the stadium erupted in applause at that designation, a few minutes later there were boos of sadness when he announced: “I declare the Games of the XXXI Olympiad closed.”

But Sunday’s party was all about Brazil, designed to be more low-key than the opening, which focused heavily on Rio.

Meanwhile, the US Olympic Team made itself right at home in Rio.

The British, they had a Games to savor as well.

The host Brazilians got soccer gold that they craved, the Russians struggled on the heels of the exposure of a state-sponsored doping program, and the Chinese finished well below expectations.

So went the medal race at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where the Americans — with women leading the way — dominated both the gold and overall totals. The US finished with 46 gold medals and 121 medals overall, its 51-total-medal margin over second-place China the largest in a non-boycotted Olympics in nearly a century.

“This experience has been the dream of a lifetime for me,” said US gymnast and closing ceremony flagbearer Simone Biles, who won five medals, four of them gold, in her first Olympics.

For the fourth consecutive games, US swimmer Michael Phelps left with more medals than anyone else. He won six in Rio, while Biles and US swimmer Katie Ledecky each won five to lead to lead a big haul from American women.

US women left Rio with 27 golds — by far the most among any team of female Olympians at these games — and 61 medals total. US track star Allyson Felix, now a six-time gold medalist and a winner of nine medals in all, was particularly delighted to learn that women are bringing more medals home to American than the men.

By now, the Americans winning the medal race is almost commonplace. But the significance in Rio were the sheer amounts of hardware.

The previous record for US medals at a fully attended Olympics was 110, set at Beijing eight years ago. And the margin between first and second in the overall medals race this year tops all others (the boycotted games of 1980 and 1984 excluded) since the Americans won 67 more medals than Italy did at the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

Even with far fewer athletes competing in Rio than it had in London four years ago — and no home-field advantage this time, either — Britain got more medals than ever in the modern games. The British won 67 medals in Rio, 27 of them gold.

“The atmosphere at the GB house has been amazing in the village”, said Mo Farah, who won gold for Britain in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races to match the feat he pulled off at London in 2012. “Winning medals and just one after the other. Gold, silver, bronze. The atmosphere has been brilliant. To be able to go even further than London, I think as a nation we should be proud.”

The Russians and the Chinese probably didn’t feel the same.

Final Olympics Medals Table

Nation                 G      S      B          T

USA                    46     37     38       121

Britain                  27     23     17         67

China                  26     18     26         70

Russia                 19     18     19         56

Germany             17     10     15         42

Japan                  12      8     21         41

France                 10     18     14         42

South Korea         9      3       9         21

Italy                       8     12       8         28

Australia                8     11     10         29

Netherlands          8      7       4         19

Hungary                8      3       4         15

Brazil                     7      6       6         19

Spain                    7      4       6         17

Kenya                   6      6       1         13

Jamaica                6      3       2         11

Croatia                  5      3       2         10

Cuba                     5      2       4         11

New Zealand         4      9       5         18

Canada                 4      3     15         22

Uzbekistan            4      2       7         13

Kazakhstan           3      5       9         17

Colombia               3      2       3          8

Switzerland           3      2       2          7

Iran                       3      1       4          8

Greece                  3      1       2          6

Argentina              3      1       0          4

Denmark               2      6       7         15

Sweden                2      6       3         11

South Africa          2      6       2         10

Ukraine                 2      5       4         11

Serbia                   2      4       2          8

Poland                  2      3       6         11

North Korea          2      3       2          7

Belgium                 2      2       2          6

Thailand                2      2       2          6

Slovakia                2      2       0          4

Georgia                 2      1       4          7

Azerbaijan             1      7     10         18

Belarus                 1      4       4          9

Turkey                   1      3       4          8

Armenia                1      3       0          4

Czech Republic     1      2       7         10

Ethiopia                1      2       5          8

Slovenia                1      2       1          4

Indonesia              1      2       0          3

Romania               1      1       3          5

Bahrain                 1      1       0          2

Vietnam                1      1       0          2

Taiwan                  1      0       2          3

Bahamas              1      0       1          2

Côte D’Ivoire         1      0       1          2

IOA                       1      0       1          2

Fiji                         1      0       0          1

Jordan                  1      0       0          1

Kosovo                 1      0       0          1

Puerto Rico           1      0       0          1

Singapore             1      0       0          1

Tajikistan               1      0       0          1

Malaysia                0      4       1          5

Mexico                  0      3       2          5

Algeria                  0      2       0          2

Ireland                  0      2       0          2

Lithuania               0      1       3          4

Bulgaria                0      1       2          3

Venezuela            0      1       2          3

India                     0      1       1          2

Mongolia               0      1       1          2

Burundi                 0      1       0          1

Grenada               0      1       0          1

Niger                     0      1       0          1

Philippines            0      1       0          1

Qatar                    0      1       0          1

Norway                  0      0       4          4

Egypt                    0      0       3          3

Tunisia                  0      0       3          3

Israel                     0      0       2          2

Austria                  0      0       1          1

Dominican Rep      0      0       1          1

Estonia                 0      0       1          1

Finland                  0      0       1          1

Morocco                0      0       1          1

Moldova                0      0       1          1

Nigeria                  0      0       1          1

Portugal                0      0       1          1

Trinidad & Tobago 0      0       1          1

UAE                      0      0       1          1

Total                 307   307   360       974

Note: Table reads as gold, silver, bronze and total.

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