Rio 2016: Top 5 stars and flops
RIO DE JANEIRO — Who hit — and missed — at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Despite coming into Rio with concerns over his fitness, the superstar crowd pleaser romped to a “triple triple” of gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m. The Jamaican also sealed his status as track and field’s greatest showman, posing for numerous selfies while even trying his hand at javelin in an eerily quiet Olympic Stadium once the crowds had left. “There you go. I’m the greatest,” said Bolt, who kissed the finish line on the Olympic Stadium track on his final Games appearance. In a perfect finish, Sunday was also his 31st birthday.
The US swimmer also had his doubters on the eve of Rio, but left with five more golds to take his total to a stunning 23. “I don’t think you’re going to see another Michael,” said coach Bob Bowman. Phelps, watched by fiancee Nicole and baby son Boomer, ended his career with no regrets after flirting with retirement coming away from the London Games four years ago. “It definitely was a lot more emotional than I was in 2012,” said the 31-year-old.
Britain’s Mo Farah, born in Somalia but nurtured in London, captured a “double double” of 5 000m and 10 000m golds to emulate Finland’s Lasse Viren, who did the same double at the 1972 and 1976 Games. Farah (33) last lost a race at a major competition when he was beaten by Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeilan in the 10 000m at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea.
American gymnast Simone Biles marked her Olympic debut with a record-equalling four golds but just short of the record five she sought. “It’s been a long journey, but I’ve enjoyed every moment,” said the 19-year-old Texan whose early life struggles had not set her out as the future face of women’s gymnastics. The only blip standing between her and history was a slip on the beam on the penultimate day of competition, which gave her bronze. She was the fifth woman to win four gold at the same Games after Hungarian Agnes Keleti (1956), Soviet Larissa Latynina (1956), Czech Vera Caslavska (1968) and Romanian Ecaterina Szabo (1984).
The Barcelona superstar scored in the 1-1 draw in the final against Germany and then converted the winning penalty to give the hosts a first ever football gold. With Bolt looking on from the stands at the Maracana, Neymar marked his wonderful freekick opener by mimicking the sprinter’s ‘Lightning Bolt’ pose in front of the delighted Jamaican. Neymar then stood down as captain. “This is one of the best things that has happened in my life . . . now the critics have to swallow what they said,” said Neymar.
World tennis number one Djokovic, looking to complete a career ‘Golden Slam’ of Olympic gold and the four majors, was knocked out in the first round by a rejuvenated Juan Martin del Potro who went on to make the final. Djokovic left the arena in tears and at 29 years old, his Olympic haul remains a modest bronze from Beijing in 2008.
Malaysia’s Lee suffered a third consecutive badminton final defeat after China’s Chen Long beat the world number one in straight games. “Today leaves me with some regrets,” said Lee, putting on a brave face following his defeat to second-ranked Chen, who became Olympic champion for the first time. The Malaysian has never won a world or Olympic title and will retire without that elusive gold medal. His country is also still waiting for a first gold medal in any sport.
Double Australian swim disappointment for McEvoy and Campbell, the overwhelming favourites in the 100m freestyle. McEvoy was the man widely tipped to seize gold after posting a world-leading 47.04sec in April but was relegated to seventh — failing to break 48 seconds. In the women’s event, world record holder Campbell faded to finish sixth after leading the field at the turn.
The former British number one in taekwondo represented Moldova and was seeded second in the welterweight competition. But he crashed out in the first round. It was his first Olympics since Beijing in 2008 after being controversially overlooked by British selectors for London 2012. “I’m absolutely devastated — all that hard work and sacrifice by myself and my parents, I just feel I’ve let everyone down,” he shrugged.
Defending champion and world record holder in pole vault, the Frenchman slumped to a shock loss to Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva. He was booed when he competed and booed when he stood on the podium holding the consolation of a silver medal. He didn’t help his case by comparing the Rio jeers to the treatment received by Jesse Owens at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin. — AFP
Usain Bolt congratulates Wayde van Niekerk