Recapping the Final Day of the 2012 Olympics
Back to the Top Prior to the Games, everyone anticipated a gold medal rematch between the United States and Spain, and it did not disappoint. The game was tight throughout, albeit with a whistle happy official. At the half, the US led by one point, and after the third quarter, the lead remained one. In the fourth quarter though, Team USA started to take over, and gradually the lead grew. The charge was led by, of course LeBron James, but also Kevin Durant (leading scorer with 30 and now the US's leading scorer through an entire Olympics) and Chris Paul. The result was a 107-100 victory for the United States and yet another gold medal in men's basketball. This is end for Jerry Colangelo and Coach K as the cognoscenti of USA Basketball (a plus regarding Coach K, easily the ickiest part of rooting for this team). The 12 gold medalists now go back to the circus that is the NBA, a couple of them with new teams.
One More Gold Officially, men's basketball for the last gold won by Team USA, but we also picked up one more individual gold today. That came courtesy of Jake Varner in the freestyle wrestling 96kg class.
A New Country Conquers the Marathon I doubt many had Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda on their list of favorites in the marathon, but his move on Mile 23 proved decisive in winning the race by 26 seconds in a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 1 second. Thus, the national anthem of Uganda will be heard during the Closing Ceremony. Silver went to Able Kirui of Kenya, and bronze to another Kenyan, Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (no relation best I can tell). Meb Keflezighi of the United States, running his final Olympic marathon at age 37, finished fourth, albeit 29 seconds back from third place.
Today in Handball If there's one negative to handball, its that it's apparently the one thing where France doesn't surrender in. The French defended their gold from Beijing in men's handball, defeating Sweden 22-21. While France never could fully put away the Swedes, at no point in the match were the French behind. Croatia dominated Hungary 33-26 to win the bronze. Goodbye and thanks for the fun, handball. See you in Rio.
More Team GB The gold wasn't quite over for Great Britain. In what might have been the top boxing fight of the Games, Anthony Joshua defeated Roberto Cammarelle of Italy in the super heavyweight final. The fight went to total punch count back after the score was tied at 18. It may have been a bit of a hometown decision, but it's still a gold medal for the hosts, their 29th of these Olympics.
Team Sport Finals Brazil looked like they would cruise to gold in men's volleyball after taking the first two sets against Russia. The Russians stormed back though, taking the third set 29-27 and following up with a 25-22 victory in the fourth. The fifth set was almost a foregone conclusion as Russia romped the shell shocked Brazilians 15-9 to take the gold. Italy defeated Bulgaria in four sets for bronze. In men's water polo, Croatia defeated Italy 8-6 for gold. Serbia held off former countrymen Montenegro 12-11 for bronze. The United States officially finished eighth in the tournament after losing the 7th place match to Australia 10-9.
The Last Gold Medal At around 1:00 pm eastern, the final part of the women's modern pentathlon began, the combined shooting and running portion. Lithuania's Laura Asadauskaite and Brazil's Yane Marques were tied after the first three events and went off together. Marques led early, but Asadauskaite ran her down and won the gold easily, the 302nd gold medal awarded these Olympics. The British fans got one last thrill with Samantha Murray took the silver. Marques won bronze, holding off American Margaux Isaksen, who finished fourth. Despite the disappointment of just missing the medals, it was still an impressive performance given that, well, it's modern pentathlon. Isaksen is just 20 years old, so look for her in Rio. That is, if modern pentathlon hasn't been kicked out of the Olympics by then.
Final Medal Count We did it! We won the medal count! USA! USA! USA! (Sorry, I'm not very good at jingoism). The United States finishes these Games with 104 medals: 46 gold, 29 silver, and 29 bronze. In total, 85 nations won medals (with Bahrain, Botswana, Cyprus, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, and Montenegro winning their first ever), and 54 nations won at least one gold. The rest of the top 10 and some other notables:
1. United States 104 (46 G, 29 S, 29 B)
2. China 87 (38 G, 27 S, 22 B)
3. Russia 82 (24 G, 25 S, 33 B)
4. Great Britain 65 (29 G, 17 S, 19 B)
5. Germany 44 (11 G, 19 S, 14 B)
6. Japan 38 (7 G, 14 S, 17 B)
7. Australia 35 (7 G, 16 S, 12 B)
8. France 34 (11 G, 11 S, 12 B)
9. South Korea 28 (13 G, 8 S, 7 B)
10. Italy 28 (8 G, 9 S, 11 B)
Canada 18 (1 G, 5 S, 12 B)
Spain 17 (3 G, 5 S, 9 B)
Brazil 17 (3 G, 5 S, 9 B)
Cuba 14 (5 G, 3 S, 6 B)
Iran 12 (4 G, 5 S, 3 B)
Jamaica 12 (4 G, 4 S, 4 B)
Kenya 11 (2 G, 4 S, 5 B)
Mexico 7 (1 G, 3 S, 3 B)
North Korea 6 (4 G, 0 S, 2 B)
Greece 2 (0 G, 0 S, 2 B)
Obviously a fantastic Olympics for Great Britain. Russia also improved from Beijing, as did Japan in total medals (although they had less golds this time around). France was the opposite, doing better in gold medals but worse in total medals. Australia though, has been apoplectic about their performance, as they won 10 less medals than Beijing, and only half the number of golds. Canada had problems finding the top step of the podium, but ended up wtih the exact same total number of medals as 2008. Finally, ouch for Greece.
On Tap Tomorrow Nothing. The Games are over. We can all back to obsessing over preseason football and the baseball pennant races. We can put away our interest in swimming and track and gymnastics and fencing and all the other sports for another 4 years. A final thoughts column will come later this week. Thanks for reading, and on to Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016.