Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his men’s marathon title and the United States added three more gold medals to their tally on the final day of the Tokyo Olympics.
Kipchoge crossed the finish line one minute and 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Abdi Nageeye to become the third athlete to win the event in consecutive Games.
In doing so, the 36-year-old – who had already won silver in the 5,000 meters in 2008 and bronze in London four years later – believes he has inspired a generation of runners.
“It means a lot to me, especially at this difficult time,” he said. “Last year was postponed, and now it’s happened.
“I think I fulfilled the legacy by winning the marathon for the second time. It is my total happiness, my inspiration for the next generation.”
The final day of action at the 2020 Games ultimately belonged to the United States, as they won three gold medals to finish ahead of China at the top of the medal table.
UNITED STATES TRUMP CHINA
The United States was behind China with two gold medals heading into Sunday’s events, but triumphs in basketball, volleyball and track cycling allowed them to dominate the standings.
The United States’ victory in women’s basketball would not have come as a surprise considering it is their seventh consecutive success in the competition.
Brittney Griner had 30 points and Breanna Stewart also impressed in the 90-75 win over Japan with 14 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.
Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi each won their fifth gold medals, while for Japan, silver was their first medal of any kind in the sport.
“The only thing about getting old, you know all the bad things that can happen,” Bird said. “We lost the 2006 World Cup. We tasted it and that has always been the driving force.
“So when we actually have the coin around our necks, it’s so good. It’s a relieved feeling in so many ways.”
While success in women’s basketball is to be expected, defeating Brazil in the volleyball final saw the United States claim their first gold in the event.
After finishing second behind Brazil at the 2008 and 2012 Games, the United States took their revenge by winning 25-21 25-20 25-14 in Sunday’s final.
Jennifer Valente completed the Americans’ hat-trick in the women’s cycling omnium, the 26-year-old capturing her country’s first gold medal in track cycling since 2000.
She led from start to finish, despite falling in the points race final, home favorite Yumi Kajihara taking home silver.
“There were a few bumps. It was actually a pretty short day for the omnium,” said Valente. “It was something that was very close to my mind, which we played.
“Crashing in points races is never ideal. I was just trying to get back on my bike, make sure I was okay and get back into the race as soon as possible.”
GREAT BRITAIN RULES THE TRACK
Kelsey Mitchell won the women’s sprint for Canada, beating Ukraine’s Olena Starikova 2-0 in the best of three final.
But it was a familiar result in the men’s keirin as Jason Kenny finished 0.763 seconds ahead of Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia to win his seventh Olympic gold.
This made Kenny Britain’s most decorated Olympian and saw the GB team top the cycling medal table with six gold, four silver and two bronze.
“It’s a little shocking, I think,” Kenny said of his last medal won. “I really wanted to cross the finish line. I’m absolutely buzzing.
“Going into the final, I wasn’t expecting anything other than a five, really. I was hoping to get stuck and hopefully come away with silverware.
“Winning around the corner all by yourself like that is absolutely exciting.”
THE WAITING FOR BOXING AMERICA CONTINUES
The last four boxing gold medals were up for grabs on Sunday and the focus was on the super-heavyweight fight between Bakhodir Jalolov and American Richard Torrez.
Torrez, 22, started off strong with a fierce assault in the first round, but Uzbek boxer Jalolov recovered and won unanimously.
Torrez’s compatriot Keyshawn Davis had lost his lightweight clash against Cuban Andy Cruz, meaning the United States’ expectation for an Olympic gold in men’s boxing will reach 20 years in Paris 2024.
“I have never felt so much pressure in fighting a day in my life,” said Davis. “I’m glad I went through this because it made me a better fighter.
“I’m not okay with making the money, but it’s something I have to live with and that’s fine with me. I’m going to live with it and we’ll just take it to the next level.”
In the women’s categories, Kellie Anne Harrington defeated Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira in the lightweight final to win the second Games gold medal in Ireland, while Britain’s Lauren Price outclassed Li Qian to win the final of the average weights at points.