Rio Olympics: U.S. runs away with medal race
Rio de Janeiro — The U.S. 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 Olympics, where the Americans — with women leading the way — dominated the gold and overall totals. The U.S. finished with 46 gold medals and 121 medals overall, its 51-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 U.S. gymnast and closing ceremony flagbearer Simone Biles, who won five medals, four gold, in her first Olympics.
For the fourth consecutive Games, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps left with more medals than anyone else. He won six in Rio, while Biles and U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky each won five to lead to lead a big haul from American women.
U.S. women left Rio with 27 golds — by far the most among any team of female Olympians in Rio — and 61 medals total. U.S. track star Allyson Felix, 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.
“Got ’em,” Felix said, smiling.
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 U.S. 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.
“We weren’t sure we were going to have that kind of success coming in,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, noting the track and swimming teams had plenty of first-time Olympians.
But, Blackmun was thrilled by the results, and he wasn’t the only one leaving Rio happy.
Even with far fewer athletes competing in Rio than it had in London four years ago — and no home-field advantage this time — Britain got more medals than ever in the Modern Games. The British won 67 medals in Rio, 27 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.
China won 26 golds, just over half as many as it won in Beijing in 2008. Russia - with its track team told to stay home because of the doping probe and a cloud hovering over its athletes who were in Rio — some of whom got publicly called out by competitors — finished with 19 golds and 56 medals overall, both well below its normal showings.
Make it double gold for the first couple of the Olympic boxing tournament.
French fighter Tony Yoka joined fiancee Estelle Mossely as gold medal winners, defeating Britain’s Joe Joyce in a super heavyweight bout.
Mossely won lightweight gold on her 24th birthday last Friday and was in the stands shouting encouragement for Yoka.
She left her seat and rushed toward the stairs before pausing on the steps to hear the decision announced to the crowd. Mossely took off and made a golden leap into Yoka’s massive arms, just as she did after her victory.
… Fazliddin Gaibnazarov defeated Azerbaijan’s Lorenzo Sotomayor in the light welterweight final to become the third Uzbekistan boxer to win gold in Rio.
Uzbekistan had won one gold in Olympic history before Rio.
American wrestler Kyle Snyder became the youngest Olympic wrestling champion in U.S. history, beating Azerbaijan’s Khetag Goziumov, 2-1, at 97 kilograms.
Snyder, 20, is the second straight American wrestler to win Olympic gold in his weight class. (Jake Varner, 2012.)
… Two Mongolian wrestling coaches took off their clothing, one all the way to his underwear, to protest the result of a bronze medal match.
Uzbekisatn’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov appeared to have lost to Mandakhnaran Ganzorig, 7-6, at 65 kilograms, but Uzbekistan officials challenged the scoring, likely because the Mongolian began running around in celebration with less than 10 seconds left rather than engaging.
Navruzov won his challenge and the match on criteria as the last wrestler to score.
Ganzorig, who had started celebrating, fell to his knees in disappointment.
The Mongolian coaches went further.
Byambarenchin Bayoraa took his shoes and shirt off and threw them to the mat in disgust in front of the officials.
Tsenrenbataar Tsostbayar stripped all the way down to his blue briefs.
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge sloshed his way to the gold medal in the men’s marathon.
Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lelisa finished second, and American Galen Rupp took bronze in his second marathon and Olympic debut.
Denmark surprised two-time reigning champion France 28-26 to win the men’s handball gold medal.
… Switzerland’s Nino Schurter pulled away from reigning champion Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic on the penultimate lap to win the mountain bike gold.