The moments I will treasure from a Games like no other
The first Olympics to be staged in South America offered sun, sea and samba as a backdrop to some wonderful sporting feats
Brazil’s medals on the beach
Every Games has its unique atmosphere. Sun, sea and samba made South America’s first Games like no other. Rio, the city of beaches, not surprisingly embraced the beach volleyball, the sport’s natural habitat, with two medals their reward.
Connecting athletics with those Rio rhythms was Noca de Portela, the 83-year-old samba guitarist and singer who I met. He lives opposite the Olympic Stadium and came with his samba school colleagues to watch his hero Usain Bolt win the 200 metres – it was a bucket list for him.
The local inspiration
Thiago Braz’s unexpected pole vault win was Brazil’s athletics moment without doubt. He will be an inspiration nationally for fans and athletes alike.
Football comes home
Football is a religion in Brazil, to which five World Cups testify. Yet a gold medal had eluded Brazil in its national sport since it joined the Olympic movement in 1920. That was until Saturday night. How appropriate that the frustrating wait for Olympic glory should have ended in Rio – you could feel the whole of the city, probably the whole of Brazil, rock as Neymar’s goal hit home.
Saluting a superstar
“Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt” reverberating around the Olympic stadium will be the resonating memory of the Games.
Three athletics world records
Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana’s 10,000 metres world record opened the first session in the Olympic Stadium, South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk’s 400m run so nearly upstaged Usain Bolt on 100m final night, while Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk improved her own hammer-throw mark.
Gemili’s near miss
Adam Gemili was captain of the British athletics team and a popular choice for the role. A miss is as good as a mile. He went home without a medal but with the same time as the bronze medallist. No shame – there was nothing more he could have done that night – but I know the hollow feeling.
As someone who failed twice to win, let alone retain, an Olympic 800m title, I found David Rudisha’s defence of his laurels was impressive.
Punching the air Living legends Fantastic Farah
With my British Olympic Association chairman’s hat on, Mo Farah’s historic 5,000m and 10,000m ‘double-double’ was special. His psychological, let alone physical, dominance of his opponents makes him an icon.
Britain vying on the medal table with US and China is brilliant – four years on from London 2012 it does not get much better.
Clockwise from left: Adam Gemili, the Brazil beach volley ball team, Neymar and David Rudisha