Hindustan Times (Delhi)

American Centrowitz stuns favourites for 1500m gold


- Agencies sportm@hindustant­imes.com

RIO DE JANEIRO: Matthew Centrowitz produced a stunning gun-to-tape 1500m run on Saturday to claim the United States’ first gold in the event since 1908.

Centrowitz, fourth in the London Games four years ago and twice a world championsh­ip medallist, timed 3min 50.00sec.

Algerian defending champion Taoufik Makhloufi added silver to second place in the 800m, in 3:50.11, while New Zealand’s Nicholas Willis claimed bronze (3:50.24).

The last American to win the 1500m in the Olympics was Mel Sheppard in the 1908 London Games.

Centrowitz and Spain’s David Bustos set a slow early pace, Makhloufi boxed in the chasing pack with Kenyan favourite Asbel Kiprop.

The opening two laps were timed at a relatively pedestrian 66 and 69.7sec respective­ly.

Kiprop saw his teammate Ronald Kwemoi take a tumble that left him at the back of the pack, effectivel­y leaving him unable to offer the 2008 Olympic gold medallist and threetime defending world champion any tactical help in the closerun race.

Kiprop decided to move, and motored up through the field as the pace accelerate­d.

Morocco’s reigning world and Olympic bronze medallist Abalaati Iguider and Djibouti’ Aynaleh Souleiman pushed Centrowitz through the bell for the last lap, with all eyes on Kiprop and Makhloufi. The US dominated the medal count, a rare romp in a nonboycott­ed games — the margin of overall victory could be the most in a fully attended games in 68 years. Swimmer Michael Phelps won six medals, five of them gold, to increase his career gold to 23 Olympic titles and 28 medals overall. Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles each won five medals; Biles will carry the US flag into the closing ceremony. And US shooter Kim Rhode has now won a medal in six consecutiv­e Olympics — and she might not be done. Due respect to Mike Krzyzewski, Geno Auriemma, Martha Karolyi and the Japanese wrestling coach who found himself getting body-slammed twice in celebratio­n by women’s gold medallist Risako Kawai (above), this one goes to Ans Botha — the 74-year-old greatgrand­mother who guided South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk to Olympic gold and a world record in the men’s 400 sprint. Her style is simple. When the smile goes away and the voice gets stern, it’s time to get serious. Sort of like most greatgrand­mothers.

“She’s an amazing woman,” Van Niekerk said. “Her work ... I think it speaks for itself.” Usain Bolt kissing the finish line after his ninth and final Olympic gold — in nine final races — was a perfect ending. He ran the anchor leg of the 4x100-metre relay for Jamaica, won emphatical­ly to become the third athlete ever with nine gold medals in track and field, and insists that this will be the end of his Olympic career. “Nothing left to prove,” Bolt said. He’s right. “I am the greatest,” he added. Right again. When the US women’s football team was ousted by Sweden (and former US coach Pia Sundhage), American goalkeeper Hope Solo raised eyebrows with her assessment of the match. But her former coach had the perfect rebuttal. “We lost to a bunch of cowards,” Solo said.

“It’s OK to be cowards if you win,” Sundhage countered. In the women’s 5,000-metre heat, Abbey D’Agostino (right) of the US and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin — strangers before that day — were involved in a tumble. D’Agostino helped Hamblin up, encouragin­g her to finish the race. D’Agostino tore a knee ligament in the fall and obviously couldn’t finish. Hamblin wound up finishing last of 17 in the 5,000 final, so neither left with a medal. Instead, they got so much more. Decathlon champion Ashton Eaton of the US and his wife, heptathlon bronze medallist Brianne Thiesen-Eaton of Canada, would be a very easy selection here. But what Kate Richardson-Walsh (right) and Helen Richardson-Walsh did was even more rare. They’re married, and played for the same gold-medal winning British women’s field hockey team. In a Games that had more openly gay athletes than ever before, theirs was a moment that surely resonated with many around the world.


Stand up and cheer, City of God. One of your own is now an Olympic champion.

Slums, or favelas, are everywhere in Rio — none more infamous than the City of God, which rose to fame through the 2002 movie of the same name that depicted life in the slum. Rafaela Silva grew up there, and she won gold in judo at these Rio Games.

Now that’s a made-for-Hollywood story.

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Matthew Centrowitz
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