Rio 2016 Review of Day 16
A new power emerged in Uzbekistan. It almost doubled its all-time gold medal count in Rio, and was the most successful nation in boxing. Uzbekistan’s neighbour Kazakhstan has also had great success in recent years, assisted by a state capitalist funding model.
It overtook Cuba’s tally in its final bout, featuring Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (above. in red) against Lorenzo Sotomayor of Azerbaijan, ironically born in Cuba. Sotomayor was taller but less accurate and, though he took the first round, Gaibnazarov won a split decision.
The final day also saw a number of long overdue victories. Denmark, where handball originated, won men’s Olympic gold for the first time, its first global title after several recent near misses. Nino Schurter of Switzerland finally won mountain bike gold after his bronze medal in 2008, and a silver after being pipped to the finish at London 2012.
Eliud Kipchoge won the men’s marathon, which was surprisingly only Kenya’s second title, while Galen Rupp took bronze, the first medal for the United States since 2004.
The one the hosts wanted was men’s volleyball, which Brazil had not won since 2004, having lost the last two finals. After struggling in the pool, including a defeat by Italy, it had no such trouble this time and won in straight sets, to add to its football gold medal.
The final total can be announced. Team World won seven gold medals, six silver medals and one bronze medal. It experienced everything: a surprising victory, a shock defeat, an injury drama, controversial judging, and even, but perhaps inevitably, a doping scandal.
Following Team World certainly changed my experience of the Games. Without it, I may have learned about the Olympic Nan but not about the other Mavis, the one who grew up in an orphanage in Zimbabwe. I might well not have witnessed an exciting race walk.
And had I not been following Elisa di Francisca, I would have missed one of my favourite hidden stories of Rio 2016, the tale of Tunisia’s first ever Olympic medallist in fencing.
That’s it for the blog. It is time for me to get back to my day job. And, as for Toyko 2020, I am hoping to be there to watch it in person. But it’s been a lot of fun. Thanks for reading.