And so, it ends. You’ll be four years older when the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo takes place. Rio de Janeiro, which hosted the football World Cup in 2014, has now hosted the largest global sporting event in the universe – and it has been quite a spectacle. While one watched the closing ceremony, one couldn’t help but imagine how these 16-odd days passed by, with the cream of athletes participating and competing in some of the most grueling sports in the world.
Here’s what we can take back from Rio 2016, final memories et al:
END OF AN ERA
Legends Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, the two greatest Olympians of all time, with nine and 23 gold medals respectively, competed in Rio for the final time in their Olympic careers. Bolt swept all three track golds again, and Phelps, now 31 and a father, won five golds and a silver. It will take years before athletes of their pedigree grace the Olympic stage, and Tokyo organizers will already be fretting – how does one pack in the crowds if not for these two?
The other legends who also finished Rio as their final bow: Sir Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain’s most decorated Olympic cyclist with eight medals), the ever-radiant Jessica Ennis-Hill (the 2012 Heptathlon gold medalist who became a mother and won a silver this time), Justin Gatlin (the sprinter who is already on his last legs at 34), Lin Dan (the legendary Chinese shuttler who defeated Srikanth Kidambi in the quarters, but failed to win a medal this time), Lee Chong Wei (Lin’s long-time Malaysian rival, who won his third straight silver medal), Abhinav Bindra (shooter; India’s only solo gold medalist), Serena Williams (there’s no way she will be back at 38 for Tokyo), Russia’s champion pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva (banned from Rio as part of the Russian track-and-field contingent), Allyson Felix (who won two golds and one bronze medal at Rio, aged 30) and two-time 50m freestyle gold medalist Anthony Ervin.
A new generation will rise, as always, but it’ll take a while before anybody can come close to these legacies. Already, we look forward to watching gymnast Simone Biles, swimmer Katie Ledecky and a new group of field athletes to take forward from the dope-tainted last few generations.
At long last, the Brazilian football team, who had never won an Olympic gold medal after reaching the final thrice (1984, 1988, 2012), won their first after defeating Germany on penalties in the final in front of a packed Maracana stadium – many of who will consider this to be some kind of revenge after being humiliated 7-1 two years ago in the World Cup. Inspired by captain Neymar, Brazil won a tournament they should have won multiple times by now, adding the last missing piece to their trophy cabinet.
The volleyball team also won a gold medal on the last day of the Olympics, defeating Italy 3-0, adding to the host country’s most successful Olympic tally (19, including seven golds) of all time.
AN INSURMOUNTABLE WORLD POWER
The final medals tally read for shocking reading: China, traditionally the most fierce competitor of the USA in every Olympic edition, finished third this time behind Great Britain in the final medals tally with 26 gold medals. GBR won 27 gold medals and a total of 67 medals to better their London 2012 achievement, finishing second and lifting a nation out of political Brexit gloom from recent months.
USA, of course, finished on top by a mile again, with 46 gold medals (26 only from Texas!) and a total of 121 medals. That’s right. USA became the first-ever country to win a total of 1000 gold medals in Olympic history. They won 18 more medals in total than they won in London 2012, and finished 51 medals ahead (another record) of second-placed Britain. That’s insane!
MARATHONERS BEYOND GLORY
The men’s marathon was a special event, given that its Kenyan winner, Eliud Kipchoge, won the silver in the 5000m race at Beijing eight years ago and the bronze for the same distance 12 years ago at Athens. He then transitioned to long-distance running, and is now perhaps the greatest Marathoner in the world – winning seven of the eight major marathons over the last two years (including London, Berlin and Chicago), and topping it off with an Olympic gold medal at Rio. He made his marathon debut in 2013 at Hamburg, winning it with a new course record, finding his calling almost a decade after winning his first Olympic medal. Another like him, the USA marathoner Galen Rupp, who won a bronze at Rio, had won a silver in London for the 10k race; when he qualified as part of the USA team this time, it was his first marathon ever. Rio was only his second attempt at this distance.
10 countries won their first-ever gold medals this time: Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet won the women’s steeplechase, Fiji’s Rugby sevens team took gold, Fehaid Al Deehani won a double-trap shooting gold representing ‘independent’ contingent (his home nation Kuwait was suspended), Ivory Coast’s Cheick Sallah Cisse won gold in taekwondo, Jordan’s Ahmad Abughaush won gold in taekwondo too, Kosovo’s Majlinda Kelmendi won the women’s judo gold, Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig won the women’s singles tennis gold medal, Singapore’s Joseph Schooling famously beat Michael Phelps in the 100m fly to win gold, Tajikstan’s Dilshod Nazarov won the men’s hammer throw gold and Vietnam’s Hoang Xuan Ving won the 10m air pistol event.
In total, a new Olympic record: 59 National Anthems were played this year, which means that 59 separate nations won a gold medal. India failed to win a gold, finishing with just two medals, five lesser than its all-time best London performance. India finished dead last on the list of medals per capita. India need more PV Sindhus, Dipa Karmakars and Sakshi Maliks if they are to do anything about their dismal sporting culture.