Highlights and Results from Day 15 of the The London Olympics 2012
Who would believe that the second Saturday in the Athletics stadium could come close to the first? But close it came. It didn’t yield three Gold medals for the host country, like the first Saturday, but there was a remarkable second Gold for long distance man Mo Farah, a new world record for the 4 x 100M Relay and more entertaining antics from Usain Bolt and Mo Farah.
Things really kicked off with the first track event of the night, the Men’s 500 Metres. Mo Farah was a warm favourite and the hope for most of the 80,000 in the stands. But could he back up after the 10,000 metres and a heat for the 5,000? The man was on 20,000 metres of competitive running. The race started at a really slow pace and after a couple of laps Farah decided he needed to take the pace on himself. So he led from the front for a while. There were lots of lead changes with the Kenyans, Ethiopians and Bernard Lagat of the USA all trying to find the best position for the finish. With about 750 metres remaining Farah kicked very early for home. There was a lot of competition for the front spot over the last two laps, but coming into the home straight Farah opened his stride and no one was going to catch him. Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia was right behind Farah and Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa of Kenya beat Bernard Lagat to the Bronze.
The Women’s 800 Metres was next on the track. There was much talk of Caster Semenya, the South African who has mainly been in exile since her World Championship win 3 years ago and the allegations and questions of her gender that followed. Semenya spent most of the race at the back of the pack and the Russians led. She kicked with about 130 metres to go but had let the lead runners get too far away it seemed. But she did manage to catch and pass all but Mariya Savinova of Russia, who won Gold. Semenya could certainly have won the Olympic title had she ran a smarter race.
The US team for the Women’s 4 x 400 metres Relay were firm favourites and led the race from beginning to end. They finished more than 3 seconds ahead of the Russians, who claimed silver. Jamaica beat off a strong challenge from Ukraine to win the Bronze. This was the fifth successive Gold for the American women in this Olympic event, the third Gold medal at these games for Allyson Felix and the second for Sanya Richards-Ross. Is that domination or what?
The Men’s 4 x 100 metres Relay set up another showdown between the big guns of Olympic sprinting, Jamaica and the USA. Nesta Carter and Michael Frater gave Jamaica a good start, but they were marginally behind the USA when Yohan Blake took the baton. The Jamaican changeover was better than the Americans and Blake ran a great bend to catch them and takeover. When Bolt took the baton Ryan Bailey was pretty much level with him, but only at the start. Bolt exploded down the home straight, he showed no signs of slowing at the finish and even dipped for the line. It was all worthwhile; the Jamaicans had set a new world record by two-tenths of a second. Bolt and Blake led the celebrations, throwing their regular poses and shaking hands and hugging everyone around the track. There was a minor dispute with an official as Bolt wanted to keep the baton, but the official insisted it was returned. But this is not a games of bureaucracy and it was presented back to him before the night was over. Bolt mimicked Mo Farah’s hands on head celebration, as Farah had imitated Bolt’s celebrations with some sit ups after the 5,000 metres. They later posed together as the two stars of the night at this London Olympics.
That finished the events in the stadium. Many people are sad to see the London games come to an end and I am one of them. It has been nothing short of magnificent.
Events were finishing all around London. The Football (Soccer) had a surprising end at Wembley with the favourites Brazil being beaten 2-1 by Mexico. The defending of the Brazilians was atrocious, giving away the ball carelessly in dangerous areas. The first time was only 30 seconds after the kick off and Mexico capitalised through Oribe Peralta, who put away his chance for the fastest ever goal in an Olympic final. Other Brazilian mistakes saw Mexico hit the bar and no one was really marking Peralta when he scored his second, heading in from a corner. The Brazilians scored on 90 minutes through Hulk and they had a few minutes of injury time left to equalise and take the game into extra time. But they hardly deserved to and justifiably Mexico took the Gold.
The USA convincingly beat France 86-50 in North Greenwich to take the Women’s Basketball Gold. US forward Candace Parker top scored with 21 points. Earlier Australia had beaten Russia 83-74 to take the Bronze.
Germany retained the Olympic Men’s Hockey title with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands. It was a close finish but with two minutes remaining, Rabente scored the winner from close range. Australia again claimed Bronze beating Great Britain 3-1 in the play off.
In Boxing 5 titles were decided at the Excel arena. Great Britain’s Luke Campbell beat Irishman Joe Nevin in front of a rapturous home crowd to claim the Bantamweight (56Kg) Gold. But the most impressive celebrations of the night came from Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk after beating Clemente Russo of Italy for the Heavyweight (91Kg) Gold medal. Usyk wound up events with some Cossack dancing, which could have been mixed with some break dancing, it was hard to tell. But it was the only celebration in this Olympics I have seen that has come close to Usain Bolt’s.
There are several events that wind up on this final day of the London Olympics The Men’s Marathon should finish around 1:40PM. Men’s Basketball has the play off for Bronze between Argentina and Russia, Spain face the might of the USA Dream Team for the Gold. There are five medal deciding Boxing bouts. Mountain Bike Racing, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Handball, Modern Pentathlon, Volleyball, Water Polo and Wrestling all come to a conclusion today. So the London games will go out with a bang not whimper.
This will of course all be followed by the closing ceremony, surprises have been promised. If they dragged out Paul McCartney for the opening, I am expecting a full Beatles reunion for the closing.
We will be back tomorrow to wrap up this magnificent London Olympics.