A Tearful Goodbye to Rio + What to Watch on the Last Day
Lots of medals and lots of tears as the Games wind down
It was the last full day of competition, and Team USA continued to bring home the medals — continuing their domination, especially in Track & Field. The Men’s team won the 4x400m, reclaiming gold after taking silver in London … And the Women’s team won both the 4x100m and the 4x400m — which brings that tally to six golds in a row. Allyson Felix earned six golds herself —making her the most decorated woman in track & Field history.
And speaking of domination, Team USA Women’s Basketball earned their sixth straight gold, cruising by Spain 101–72. Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whelan each scored 17 a piece, and Taurasi, Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings won their fourth golds, joining Lisa Leslie and Teresa Edwards. (Not getting ahead of ourselves, but if Team USA wins their seventh gold in Tokyo 2020, they will tie the men for their “Dream Team” gold streak in the ‘90s.)
Even though the USA Men’s Team is playing for the gold today at 2:15pm ET against Serbia — many people (and when we say “people” we mean Twitter) is/are freaking out because the men aren’t winning by great margins like the women, and the men have in the past. Let’s not forget that this year’s team does not feature many of the best players in the world (no LeBron, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook). We know LeBron is having serious FOMO, and you know Ayesha (if she hadn’t been busy filming the new season of her cooking show) would have been hanging with the Final Five and had plenty to say about “immature” Ryan Lochte’s interview with Matt Lauer last night! Sigh, maybe in Tokyo.
Back to the Medals: American Matthew Centrowitz, in a historic upset win, earned gold in the men’s 1,500m — the first gold medal in this event for Team USA in 108 years. (Did you hear that Cubby fans?! Maybe this is your year!)
In a bit of a crazy race, Great Britain’s Mo Farah won gold in the 5,000m and the 10,000m in consecutive Olympics. And that ladies and gents is what we call a DOUBLE DOUBLE. For about 10 minutes, USA’s Bernard Lagat earned bronze because teammate Paul Chelimo was disqualified for elbowing opponents, stripping him of the silver. But wait wait, Chelimo was reinstated, giving him back the silver. Zip for Lagat.
Diver David Boudia (we reviewed his new book here) took bronze with an incredible performance in the Men’s 10m Platform — and he got emotional when talking about his wife and daughter. We’re not crying, you’re crying.
Gold medal-winning Triathlete Gwen Jorgenson was minding her own business, working as an accountant in a cubicle at Ernst & Young in Milwaukee. Sure, she was a runner and swimmer in college, but when she got the call seven years ago from USA Triathlon asking if she would become a Triathlete, she had never really done it before. Now, the 30-year-old is a gold medalist, winning the first gold in this event for the USA.
File under: It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. With heart. Sure, Korean Inbee Park won gold in women’s golf. New Zealander Lydia Ko took silver. And China’s Shanshan Feng took bronze. And yes, Park had been sidelined with a wrist injury, and took time off from the US Women’s Open and the Women’s British Open (both big paycheck events) to train for this very important Olympics. (Thank you, AnyaAlvarez … Hear that men’s golfers?)
But it was really USA’s Gerina Piller, finishing 11th out of 60, who stole our hearts yesterday. Her tearful exit that shows the power of the Olympics: She didn’t even expect to qualify two months ago, but she did — and her dreams of gold began. She didn’t land on the podium, leaving her heartbroken. And ours broke right with her. A gracious Ko said this about Piller:
“I think Gerina still had a fantastic week, and I think she made the whole of the U.S. proud,” Ko said, adding: “Sometimes I think we can get carried away by just the results, but I said the Olympics is about celebrating each and every player, celebrating obviously the medalists at the end of the tournament. But I think Gerina, when she looks back, she’ll say, ‘Wow, that was a great week.’”
And now we move onto an emotional ending for our host country of Brazil. Finally, something the residents of Rio could get behind — the men’s soccer final vs. Germany. The house was packed (after complaints of empty stadiums throughout the Games). This was finally something Brazilians cared about, after apathy and even protests.
It was about pride and a sport that defines their country. If, like Diana Taurisi says, “America bleeds basketball,” then Brazil bleeds soccer. This game was much more than a game.
And when the country’s hero Neymar hand-delivered that gold (foot-delivered?) with a winning goal in a heart-attack-inducing shootout to defeat the Germans, the entire stadium (and possibly country) erupted in the most emotional win you’ll see in a long time. (Unless those Cubbies really do pull it off this year, that is.) Check it the amazing call of the gold-winning goal:
What to watch today — the last day of the Rio Olympics:
>Men’s marathon, NBC
> Men’s volleyball, gold medal match, Italy vs. Brazil, NBC
> Men’s wrestling, including the USA’s Kyle Snyder, who last year at 19 became the youngest to win a world title, in the freestyle 97kg class, NBCSN
> Women’s boxing, including USA middleweight Claressa Shields defending her Olympic title vs. The Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn NBCSN
> Men’s basketball, gold medal match, Serbia vs. USA, NBC
> Closing ceremonies, NBC
And, just for fun on a Sunday: