Rio 2016: Top 5 stars and flops

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

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

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