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Only Olympic gold was needed to complete their wins in the major women’s tournaments, and the German team took it, beating Sweden (2-1) in the final at the Maracanã Stadium. The Swedes had caused a sensation by eliminating the triple title-holder, the USA, in a penalty shootout in the quarter-final, depriving them of a medal at the Games for the first time since women’s football was added to the programme in Atlanta in 1996. They caused turmoil for Brazil by dispatching the host team in the semi-final, also with a nil-nil score and penalties. For their part, Germany eliminated China 1-0 then Canada 2-0. In the final, the women’s “Mannschaft” scored twice in the second half through Dzsenifer Marozsán (48th minute) and an own goal by Sweden’s Linda Sembrant (62nd minute). The Scandinavians reduced the lead, thanks to Stina Blackstenius (67th minute), but it was too late. Germany, who had won two World Cups, eight Euros, and three bronze medals at the Games, finally took their first Olympic title. “This is something completely new, so this is definitely a new summit for German women’s football,” said coach Silvia Neid. Canada took the bronze medal after beating Brazil 2-1.
Spain’s Carolina Marin, world no. 1 and world doubles champion, confirmed her domination in women’s badminton, becoming the first female European Olympic champion of her sport. Victorious in three sets (19-21, 21-12, 21-15) against world no.10 Pusarla Sindhu of India, the 23-year-old Spaniard showed the same outstanding form that has made her virtually unbeatable since bursting on to the global scene in 2014. In beating defending champion Li Xuerui of China in the semi-finals, Marin ensured that the gold would not be won by a Far-Eastern or Southeast Asian player for the first time since the inclusion of the sport on the Olympic programme, in Barcelona, Spain. “I’m very excited, I don’t know how I’m feeling now, but it is amazing that my dream has come true. I just had to believe in myself,” said Marin. “It is more than a medal because of everything behind it. I have the best team behind me. They helped me a lot and were amazing.” Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara won the bronze in a walkover after defending champion Li Xuerui of China was forced to pull out of their medal play-off.
China’s Haifeng Fu and Nan Zhang saw off Malaysia’s Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong in the men’s doubles final by 2 sets to 1 (16-21 21-11 23-21). Saving two match points in a heart-stopping third set, the Chinese pair then converted one of their own to seal a dramatic 23-21 victory, giving Fu a second gold in the event to go with the one he collected with Cai Yun in London four years previously, while Zhang had won the mixed doubles in London in 2012 with Zhao Yunlei. Their stunning victory gave China its first gold medal in badminton in Rio. The bronze medal went to British pair Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge, who beat China’s Chai Biao and Hong Wei 21-18, 19-21, 21-10 the previous day.
The legs of Vlada Chigireva, Natalia Ishchenko, Svetlana Kolesnichenko, Alexandra Patskevich, Elena Prokofyeva, Svetlana Romashina, Alla Shishkina, Maria Shurochkina and Gelena Topilina sprung from the water to form the shape of hands clasped in prayer. The Russian synchronised swimming team won its fifth consecutive Olympic title in style at the Maria Lenk pool. Ishchenko and Romashina, winners of the duet three days earlier, racked up five gold medals each at the Games. Ishchenko declared: “I happen to believe that this particular programme was the best ever in the history of synchronised swimming”. Indeed, the judges awarded the Russian team a total of 196.1439 for the technical and freestyle programmes. China won the silver medal with a total of 192.9841 and Japan took the bronze with 189.056.
Usain Bolt succeeded in a bid for a new 100m, 200m and 4x100m triple, unmatched in the history of athletics, and signed off with an iconic farewell to the Olympic Games. He took the gold at the Olympic Stadium with Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade in 37.27, ahead of Japan (37.60 and an Asian record) and Canada (37.64), which placed third after the USA was disqualified for the first baton pass having been outside the zone. The giant Jamaican demonstrated once again his ability to delight the spectators after this success. Accompanied by his teammates, the sprint superstar paraded around the track to Bob Marley’s Jammin’, sending the crowd into raptures. “There you go, I’m the greatest. I am just relieved. It’s happened. I am just happy, proud of myself. It's come true. The pressure is real. I look at it as an accomplishment,” declared Bolt after his last golden race at the Games.
The USA’s Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie retained their Olympic title in the 4x100m relay, clocking the second best time in history (41.01), and allowing Felix to become the first woman to win five Olympic gold medals in athletics. The three Jamaican multi-gold-winning medallists Elaine Thompson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, along with Christiana Williams, took the silver medal in 41.36 ahead of Great Britain (41.77).
Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot was crowned Olympic 5,000m champion, preventing Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana (3rd) from taking the 5,000/10,000m double. In a time of 14.26:17, an Olympic record, Cheruiyot, who put on a spurt in the last 800m, beat her compatriot Hellen Obiri (14:29.77) and Ayana (14:33.59) to take the gold at her fourth Olympic Games. Sixteen years after her first Games in Sydney in 2000, the four-time world champion over 5,000m and 10,000m, two-time Olympic silver medallist (over 5,000m in London in 2012, and 10,000m at Rio 2016) and winner of a bronze medal (over 10,000m in London in 2012) thus finally got her hands on Olympic gold after a very long wait.
Ekaterini Stefanidi gave Greece its first medal of the Rio 2016 Games in athletics when she won the pole vault. With a winning jump of 4.85m, the 26-year-old Greek, the reigning Olympic champion, beat the USA’s Sandi Morris (also 4.85m, but with more failed attempts) and New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney (4.80m, a national record). “I think this year’s pole vault competition has been the most difficult ever. I wouldn’t have even had a medal at 4.80m. I think we’re going to keep getting higher and higher,” said Stefanidi, who only realised the scale of her achievement when the medals were awarded!
Two race walk finals were held on this day. In the women’s 20km, China’s Liu Hong, the bronze medallist in London in 2012, climbed two steps higher on the podium as she beat Mexico’s Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez (1.28:37) with a time of 1.28:35 in a thrilling last kilometre on the Pontal circuit. The bronze went to China’s Lu Xiuzhi (1.28:42). In the men’s 50km, Slovakia’s Matej Toth caught then overtook the reigning title-holder, Australian Jared Tallent, with perfect timing, 2km from the end, to add another Olympic gold medal to the world title he had won in 2015. Canada’s Van Dundee took the bronze. Having beaten his Australian rival to the finish line by 18 seconds in 3.40:58, Toth said: “So happy. It’s a great feeling. There was a great atmosphere, a lot of people, so I just pushed and it was from all my body, my heart, my brain, my head!”
What a day for boxing couple Estelle Mossely and Tony Yoka! Estelle first watched her boyfriend qualify for the men’s super-heavyweight final, then stepped into the ring at the Riocentro 6 Pavilion to compete in the lightweight final against China’s Yin Junhua, watched by Tony! The Chinese athlete took the lead in the first two rounds, but Mossely dug deep and went on to win (2-1). “I’ve written my name in history,” said Mossely, who, four years after the introduction of women’s boxing on the Olympic programme, became the first French woman to win, in the -60kg category. “It’s magical, just incredible. I didn’t know it would feel like this,” she said.
British equestrian athlete Nick Skelton won the gold medal in show jumping at the age of 58, in Deodoro, riding Big Star. The Olympic team champion from London 2012 won on time (42.82) in a six-way jump-off, beating Sweden’s Peder Fredricson (43.35) when both jumped clear. Canada’s Eric Lamaze, the 2008 Olympic champion, who knocked over a rail, took the bronze medal. Savouring his moment of glory after winning only the second medal of his long career, Skelton explained: “I waited a long time. I felt like he [Big Star] was hard done by in London. I am so pleased with this horse. He won his last big competition at the grand prix in Aachen in 2013. There were several problems and he took a long road back.”
BMX gold went to America, where the discipline was born, on the track in Deodoro, where Connor Fields, the “kid” from Las Vegas, won the Olympic title. Fields gave everything in the final, which he won easily ahead of the Netherlands’ Jelle van Gorkom, beaten by 0.68 seconds. Another American, Nicholas Long, thought he had won a medal. But after re-examining the photo finish, the jury granted the bronze medal to Colombia’s Carlos Alberto Ramirez, 0.005 seconds behind. “I can’t describe how great this feels. It’s a moment I’ve been dreaming of since I was 16. To finally hear the words ‘Olympic champion’ after my name is like a dream. But tomorrow I’m going to wake up and it will be real!” said Fields.
In the women’s race, title-holder Mariana Pajón reigned supreme. Cheered on by the noisy crowd of Colombian supporters, the final in Rio turned out to be a simple confirmation of her superiority. Credited with the best time in the qualifications, the Colombian from Medellin justified her world title acquired on home soil at the end of May by largely dominating the race. “This is better than anything. It’s so beautiful. Already to win two gold medals it’s just crazy. I raced well. I feel like I was at home with so many Colombian fans in the grandstands. It filled me with energy,” explained Pajon, who beat the USA’s Alise Post and Venezuela’s Stefany Hernandez to the finish line.
Australia’s Chloe Esposito, 24, who set off 45 seconds behind Poland’s Oktawia Nowacka, ahead before the combined run-and-shooting event, only missed the target once in 21 attempts with her laser pistol. This allowed her to move ahead with a 16-second lead over France’s Elodie Clouvel, the silver medallist, just like three months earlier at the World Championships in Moscow, and 23 seconds over Nowacka, who took bronze. Clouvel and Nowacka both had difficulties at the shooting range. Added to the Olympic programme in 2000 in Sydney, the women’s modern pentathlon thus saw a fifth different Olympic champion at as many Games. “I knew that the combined run/shoot was my strong point,” said the first female Australian medallist in this discipline. “I thought about the last four years of really hard work, especially this year. I had a lot of injuries. Today, the planets were all aligned!”
Seeing off Italy in the final at the Olympic Aquatics Centre, the USA became the first team to retain its women’s Olympic water polo title. The Americans won 12-5 in style and maintained their record of winning a medal at every Games since women’s water polo was added to the Olympic programme in 2000. The reigning world champions were never in trouble in a final that brought together the only two teams who had gone undefeated in all five of their previous games at Rio 2016. The mighty Americans broke the record for the most goals scored in an Olympic women’s final and also posted the highest winning margin for a final. Taking third place on the podium was Russia, who edged a tense penalty shootout 7-6 to complete a 19-18 win over European champions Hungary and consign them to fourth place for the third Games running.
Great Britain won its first women’s Olympic hockey gold when it dramatically beat the defending Olympic champions the Netherlands on the pitch in Deodoro. The British levelled twice in normal time, which ended with a 3-3 draw, and triumphed with a 2-0 score on penalties, thanks to a superb performance by keeper Maddie Hinch, who racked up four saves. “We’ve done it. We’ve trained so hard for so long. This is what we’ve dreamed of and now we’ve got it. We’ve now gone unbeaten through an Olympic tournament, which is unreal. We are just over the moon!” said midfielder Nicola White with her gold medal around her neck. Earlier in the day, Germany saw off New Zealand (2-1) to clinch the bronze medal.
What an incredible climax to the men’s -80kg in taekwondo, on the tatami at the Carioca 3 Arena! Côte d’Ivoire’s Cheick Sallah Cissé Junior clinched a stunning victory in the final at the expense of Great Britain’s Lutalo Muhammad, thanks to spin kick to the head in the last second of the bout. Losing 6-4 to the British fighter, Cissé earned four additional points – the maximum possible – in just one move. Spectacular! He won his country’s first Olympic gold medal. “I was able to realise this dream with courage and with passion. You just have to believe in your dreams and I am an example for it that you can achieve everything if you believe. The gold medal for me is the encouragement of two years of hard work. I started in 2013, and here I am. I am very proud of my medal.” said Cissé. Azerbaijan’s Milad Beigi Harchegani and Tunisia’s Oussama Oueslati shared the bronze.
The women’s -67kg final between Oh Hye-ri of the Republic of Korea and France’s Haby Niaré was another nail-biter. The Frenchwoman took the first round, but the Korean fought back in the second. Niaré caught up in the third and last round, but in the end Oh claimed victory with 13-12 points. “I've tried for the Olympics three times, and on my third attempt I've finally been able to participate in the Olympics, and on my first Olympic stage I've won gold. The feeling hasn't set in yet. I've been through a lot preparing for these Olympics, and this makes everything just perfect.” Côte d'Ivoire was again in the spotlight with a bronze won by Ruth Gbagbi, who stepped up to the third step of the podium with Turkey’s Nur Tatar, Olympic silver medallist at London 2012.
In the -57kg freestyle wrestling final, reigning world champion Vladimer Khinchegashvili beat young Japanese prodigy Rei Higuchi to take the gold. At the start of the final, the world no. 10, aged 20, took the lead over the Georgian 3-0. But Khinchegashvili proved that this had had little effect as he bridged the gap to triumph 4-3 and go one better than the silver he won at London 2012. “It’s the best feeling ever. My dream just came true,” declared the Georgian.
In the -74kg category, Iran’s Hassan Yazdani took the gold following a thrilling final against Russia’s Aniuar Geduev. Trailing by a wide margin at the end of the first period (6-0), the Iranian fought back and pulled level with only eight seconds remaining, earning a takedown that gave him the title on account of it being the last score of the bout.