Team USA staged a thrilling comeback in the final hours of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to top the gold medal table for the third Summer Games in a row.
The U.S. entered Sunday’s final day of the Games trailing China 38-36 in that vaunted gold medal column. But the U.S. women’s basketball beat Japan in their final, and American cyclist Jennifer Valente won gold in her omnium points race, to pull the U.S. level, before 3 U.S. women’s volleyball won their first-ever Olympic title to clinch the nation’s spot atop the gold medal table for good.
The final U.S. total of 113 was by far the most of any nation here. But it paled in comparison to the American haul five years ago — 121 total, 46 of them gold, in roughly 30 fewer events in Rio.
The gold medal tally in particular, prior to this weekend, had been relatively underwhelming, and lagged behind China’s for much of the Games.
Host Japan’s record haul of 27 golds to finish third on the table has won hearts. Britain were fourth with 22 and the Russian Olympic Committee, the team for Russian athletes after their country was banned for systematic doping, were fifth with 20.
Meanwhile, IOC President Thomas Bach declared the Tokyo 2020 Games closed yesterday, ending the “most challenging Olympic journey” after a year’s pandemic delay and threats of cancellation.
Bach called them “unprecedented Olympic Games” as he addressed the 68,000-seat Olympic Stadium, which was bereft of fans as Japan battles to contain a record coronavirus outbreak.
“In these difficult times we are all living through, you give the world the most precious of gifts: hope,” the International Olympic Committee president told athletes at the ceremony.
“And now I have to mark the end of this most challenging Olympic journey to Tokyo: I declare the Games of the 32nd Olympiad closed,” he added.
It marked a low-key end to an extraordinary Olympics that have mostly played out in empty venues with only athletes, team officials and media present.