*Insert crying and broken heart emojis here*
As brutally as the four-year wait between Olympics always is (and seems to get longer as I get older), the two-week competition schedule never fails to fly by. We have entered the final 24 hours of Rio 2016, and I did not lack for material for my final daily column of these Games thanks to an eventful Saturday.
My final Rio column will be Tuesday and will serve as a wrap-up of my thoughts on the Games. Thanks for reading and for your feedback. A little more than 15 months away from Pyeonchang 2018…
Today’s highlight: Bravo, Centro
I was half paying attention to BBC’s livestream on my laptop while packing to move my viewing party from home to the office Saturday afternoon when my eyes caught Matt Centrowitz maintaining his lead entering the bell lap of the men’s 1,500 meter final. I froze. By the last 200 with his lead getting shorter, I kept thinking ‘can he hold it?’ He looked to be as in much disbelief as me when he won by 11 hundredths of a second, arms outstretched, falling to the track and getting a hug from New Zealand’s Nicholas Willis.
I’ve covered track in eastern Idaho long enough to have met a good number of local high school athletes who admire Centrowitz, some of have attended his Oregon track camps. BBC commentators touched on my thoughts during the medal presentation: ‘I wonder how many American lads who like the 8 and the 15 have been inspired? The Americans are experiencing a resurgence.” An accurate assessment for a week full of multiple firsts and ended droughts, a week Centrowitz now shares in as the first U.S. man to win Olympic 1,500 gold since 1908.
So much greatness happened Saturday. USA women’s volleyball bouncing back to win bronze. Brazil winning men’s soccer gold in its home nation. David Boudia taking bronze — his fourth career Olympic medal — in a competitive men’s 10 meter platform diving final. USA women’s basketball winning its sixth consecutive gold. Mo Farah securing ‘GOAT’ status of his own by winning the men’s 5,000 to complete the first men’s 5k, 10k Olympic title double-double since legendary Lasse Viren. Americans Paul Chelimo and 41-year-old Bernard Lagat finishing second and sixth in that same drama-filled 5,000. The U.S. sweeping the 4×400 titles. However, I am giving the nod to Gwen Jorgensen for winning Team USA’s first triathlon Olympic gold four years after a flat tire kept her off the podium in London 2012. I’ve gained immense respect for triathletes after five years in eastern Idaho, and Jorgensen’s gold sounded like a fairytale ending to a win-filled couple of years.
What to watch for
I will catch what I can of men’s marathon and USA versus Russia for men’s volleyball bronze, both of which are very early. Later I will watch USA versus Serbia for men’s basketball gold before settling in for the closing ceremony, in which gymnast Simone Biles will serve as Team USA’s flagbearer. Now pardon me while I mourn the end of another spectacular Summer Olympics.
6 a.m., noon, 7 p.m. NBC; 6 a.m. USA Network