Phenomenal Kipchoge golden as Rio Olympics set for close
Kenya’s phenomenal Eliud Kipchoge stormed to a runaway marathon win and Brazil celebrated volleyball gold as the chaotic but compelling Rio Olympics prepared for the final curtain on Sunday.
As the Games reeled from its latest doping case, just hours before the closing ceremony, Kipchoge shone through the rain as he grabbed his seventh victory in eight marathons on the biggest stage of all.
Kipchoge, 31, timed 2hr 8min 44sec on a wet but picturesque course that snaked below Rio’s mountain-top Christ the Redeemer statue, winning by more than a minute.
“This is the best medal that I’ve had in my life. It wasn’t really easy but I felt comfortable,” said Kipchoge, who is tipped for an assault on Dennis Kimetto’s world record.
“I am a man that believes in planning and preparation. I’m going back to Kenya and will sit down with my coach and plan for the future,” Kipchoge said.
Kipchoge’s victory rounds off an athletics programme which saw Usain Bolt seal the sprint ‘triple triple’ in his final Games, but also went ahead without Russia who were suspended for state-orchestrated doping.
Michael Phelps also capped his Olympic career in Rio, adding five gold medals to take his career haul to 23 — plus a silver, after his loss to Singapore’s Joseph Schooling, a former childhood fan of the US swimmer.
Brazil finished with a flourish as they beat Italy 3-0 to win the men’s title in volleyball, one of the country’s most popular sports, a day after Neymar guided the hosts to football gold.
Among other highlights on the final day, the United States’ NBA ‘Dream Team’ plays Serbia.
– Y-fronts protest –
With 301 of the 306 titles decided, the USA had 44 golds to lead the medals table from Britain, who sealed surprise second place ahead of China with 27 golds to 26.
“To win more medals than we did in London and to be ahead of China is a spectacular place to be,” UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl said.
“We are one of those sporting superpowers now,” Nicholl beamed.
America’s Claressa Shields successfully defended her middleweight title and Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov won men’s flyweight gold in a busy programme at the Rio Centro boxing arena.
Switzerland’s world champion Nino Schurter, third in Beijing and second in London, competed his ascent of the podium by winning the men’s mountain bike competition.
But there were furious scenes when a Mongolian coach stripped down to his underwear to protest a decision against wrestler Ganzorig Mandakhnaran.
It capped a poor day for Mongolia after Chagnaadorj Usukhbayar was kicked out for testing positive for testosterone — the sixth weightlifter to fail a drugs test.
The Rio Games took place under the shadow of the Russian doping scandal, and have also been hit by security and logistical problems and the unwanted spectacle of swathes of empty seats.
Athletes and officials from around the world will attend Sunday’s gala closing ceremony at the Maracana stadium, where Rio will pass the Olympic torch to Tokyo for the 2020 Games.
“The Japanese government will strive hard so you can participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics so you will be in your best condition, and work hard so it will be the best Olympics ever,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Japanese athletes in Rio.