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Ninety-two years after the last Olympic rugby final (rugby 15s, in Paris in 1924), and in the first sevens tournament and the first women’s competition in this sport at the Games, Australia won the final against New Zealand on the Deodoro pitch. After three superb days of competition, better organisation and technical proficiency allowed the Australians to methodically overcome the New Zealanders, who had nonetheless scored first. Australia saw three tries, from Charlotte Caslick and the extremely fast Ellia Green in the first half, then from Evania Pelite and Emma Tonegato in the second 10-minute period, for a historic 24-17 win. The Australian win was great promotion for the sport on the continent, but also more widely, thanks to the world’s focus on the Olympic stage. “It’s incredible; I’m so proud,” team captain Shannon Parry announced. Canada took the bronze medal by beating the British team (33-10).
After coming second to China twice (2008 and 2012), Japan took the Olympic crown in Rio, with “King” Kohei Uchimura finally realising his dream of winning a team title at the Games in the men’s artistic gymnastics! Russia took the silver medal, with the bronze for China. The competition was open right to the end, with the Japanese making the difference in the floor exercise during the final rotation. “Our team has finally won the gold. Winning at the Olympic Games is incredibly difficult, and that’s what I’ve done. As these are the Games, I am very satisfied with this win,” Kohei Uchimura declared, getting ready to defend his individual title in the all-around competition.
Hungary’s “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu continued her own personal festival in Rio, winning the final of the 100m backstroke the day after her victory and world record in the 400m medley. America’s 19-year-old Lilly King achieved success at her first Games. In the 100m breaststroke, she held off Russia’s Yulia Efimova all the way to win the gold medal in 1:04.93, 0.57 seconds ahead “Tonight has been so crazy. My life is changing right now. I’m a gold medallist and it’s what I’ve always wanted to be and it’s an incredible feeling!” she declared. After losing his 400m freestyle 48 hours earlier, China’s Sun Yang won the final of the 200m freestyle in 1:44.65, ahead of South Africa’s Chad le Clos, while America’s Ryan Murphy took gold in the 100m backstroke, in the world record time of 51.97. For his part, Michael Phelps continued his comeback by qualifying for the final of the 200m butterfly, with his compatriot, Katie Ledecky, doing the same in the 200m freestyle.
Carioca judoka Rafaela Silva, who grew up in a favela, delighted the whole of Brazil with a home win in the -57kg, the Games host country’s first gold medal. “It’s great for kids who are watching judo now. Seeing someone like me who left the City of God (a famous Rio favela), who started judo at five years of age as a joke. To be world champion and Olympic champion is something inexplicable. If these children have a dream, they have to believe it can be done. I dedicate this medal to the Brazilian people, my family, my friends,” she said. Silva, 24, beat Mongolia’s Sumiya Dorjsuren, the world number one, with a waza-ari after a minute, and held on to her advantage riding the wave of home crowd support. The audience in the Carioca Arena 2 also saw a great win by Japan’s Shohei Ono in the -73kg category, making amends for the Japanese fiasco on the London tatamis in 2012, where his country failed to win a single men’s judo title. Ono, aged 24, won the final against Azerbaijan’s Rustam Orujov thanks to a splendid ippon.
On the diving boards of the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre, Chen and Lin led right from the start in the final consisting of six rotations, and never looked back. They sealed their victory with their fifth dive, a daring forward 4.5 somersault, which earned them marks of 9.5 and 10 from the amazed judges. The Chinese pair finished with a comfortable lead of 39.87 points over American silver medallists David Boudia and Steele Johnson, with British pair Tom Daley and Daniel Goodfellow taking third place. With this victory, Lin became the first diver ever to win two titles in the 10m synchronised event. He previously won with Huo Liang in Beijing, in 2008.
In the women’s sabre competition, on the five-piste star in the Carioca Arena 3, Russian team mates Yana Egorian and Sofya Velikaya fought their way to the final. But it was the younger and less experienced of the two who won. Velikaya, the 2015 world champion and world number one, quickly took the lead, before slowing down just before the break (8-5). Egorian, 22, then fought back to level the score at 8-8 and worry the world number one. Then it was 12-12, 13-13 and finally, with the suspense at its height, 14-14, before Egorian got the decisive hit and leapt for joy. “It's the biggest win in one's life. It's something that everybody wants to achieve,” she exclaimed.
The London 2012 10m air rifle silver medallist, Italy’s Niccolo Campriani, reached the top step of the podium at his third edition of the Games. He began his journey gently, taking the lead when there were just three shooters and five shots left. In the final against Ukraine’s Serhiy Kulish, Campriani scored 10.6, then 10.7 to beat his opponent by 1.5 points with an Olympic record final score of 206.1. In the men’s trap, Croatia’s Josip Glasnovic and Italy’s Giovanni Pellielo faced each other in a shoot-off after both scoring 13 (two out of 15 targets missed) in their final duel. Glasnovic managed to keep his nerve and won 4-3. “I just focus on the target, keep it simple,” Glasnovic explained after his victory.
Thailand’s Sukanya Srisurat won the Olympic 58kg weightlifting title, beating her compatriot Pimsiri Sirikaew, resulting in a third medal in the discipline for her country in Rio. She lifted a total of 240kg (110kg in the snatch and 130kg in the clean-and-jerk), beating Pimsiri by eight kilograms. Chinese Taipei weightlifter Hsing-Chun Kuo took the bronze. Colombia’s Oscar Figueroa won in the men’s 62kg competition, four years after his silver medal in London, becoming Colombia’s first male gold medallist in this discipline. Figueroa, aged 33, dropped to his knees and started crying immediately after winning the Olympic title with a total of 318kg. He took the lead by snatching 142kg (then trying unsuccessfully to lift 145kg), completing his win with 176kg in the clean-and-jerk, again trying to do better, with three attempts at the world record weight of 179kg. Indonesia’s Eko Yuli Irawan took the silver medal (142kg + 170kg for a total 6kg lower), while the Kazakh Farkhad Kharki won the bronze (135kg + 170kg for a total of 305 kg).