Rio Roundup: Day Fifteen, Part Three
In what would be the last ever Olympics assignment in prime time for veteran NBC Sports announcer Bob Costas, Allyson Felix shines once more and China outlasts Serbia to win women’s volleyball gold
What a cool moment for Jenny Lang Ping. Some of you might remember her way back in Los Angeles during those fabulous 1984 Summer Olympics. She and her Chinese teammates won the gold medal on American soil that year.
With a mediocre 2-3 record in pool play, China got hot when they needed it most as their head coach was having way too much fun (even though NBC showed more track and NBCSN was mostly showing film footage thanks to a very long rain delay from NASCAR’s annual race stop at Bristol, Tennessee).
China ended up coming from behind to stun Brazil and then get revenge from an earlier loss by the Netherlands. On Saturday night, the Chinese beat Serbia by scores of 19-25, 25-17, 25-22, and 25-23. With the silver, Serbia earned its’ very first medal of any kind in that countries’ Olympic history.
For the Chinese, this was their third gold medal in indoor women’s volleyball–their first since securing gold in Athens in 2004.
Track once more takes center stage on final night of competition
Both 4 x 400 meter relays were something to behold. The American men held their own against the likes of Jamaica and Great Britain to win going away, but the women again made more history. Allyson Felix and her teammates dominated as she won her sixth straight gold medal in the event. Only Jenny Thompson won more golds in swimming (eight overall), but the lone individual winner that can say they won the most golds in any individual event was the pride of Champaign, Illinois when Bonnie Blair used her speed skating skills to great use in powering her way to five individual medals between Calgary in 1988 and Albertville, France in 1992.
Also worth noting was the gold medal won by Matthew Centrowicz, as he became the first American to win gold in the 1500 meter relay for the first time since 1908.
Final day of competition starts early through the streets of Rio
NBC will finish its’ eighth consecutive Summer Olympics bright and early, 8 a.m. Eastern time to be precise.
It is the tenth and the final leg of the decathlon, aka the 26.2 mile run through many cobblestone streets leading up to the most unique venue to end a men’s marathon, the iconic Sambadrome. No American has won this grueling event since Frank Shorter managed to come through amidst the very tragic circumstances that plagued the Olympics of Munich 1972. And yes, it is hard to believe but the former Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn Jenner) captured the nation’s hearts during the country’s Bicentennial year in 1976 winning the decathlon in then cash strapped Montreal, Quebec.
Regardless of the outcomes, the United States has the most overall medals won since Los Angeles in 1984. What an outstanding accomplishment for everyone involved in the sports that everyone excelled in during these rather interesting two weeks.
Small Personal Note
It has been simply an amazing ride doing all of this blogging in what I have been calling an almost Herculean effort in posting some key highlights over all 16 days of this the XXXI Summer Olympiad.
I have had a lot of fun, and luckily for most of you–the final recap will occur just before the East Coast settles in for Sunday dinner. I will briefly highlight the second Brazil/Italy matchup in men’s indoor volleyball. Also, longtime Duke head coach Mike Kryzyewski will ride off into the Olympics sunset before passing the international reigns to five-time NBA championship coach Gregg Popovich as Dream Team VII looks to clinch their third straight gold medal and 15th overall since basketball began as an Olympic sport way back in 1936 as they battle Serbia beginning at around 2:45 p.m. Eastern in the final live event of the Rio Olympics. A small side note, Serbia’s women did claim bronze earlier on Saturday beating up on France for the country’s second medal in their country’s history.
Just like during the Opening Ceremony, the Closing Ceremony will also be carried via tape delay from Maracana Stadium. The major difference this time around, the coverage is scheduled to last only 2 1/2 hours so NBC can resume its’ prime-time programming as major music stars Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus sit on the high chairs in taking over from very popular judges Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams on the hit reality music show The Voice.
See you all tomorrow, as I close out my 16 consecutive days of Olympic blogging with a special little surprise to put a nice bow on things and close out my final post in not talking about Brazilian jazz for a long time to come.
Epilogue: This night was also the final time that Bob Costas anchored the prime-time coverage for American audiences on NBC Sports. The veteran announcer decided on Thursday, February 9, 2017 to pass the torch to fellow Syracuse alum and former longtime ESPN announcer Mike Tirico–who will take over starting in PyeongChang, Korea on Friday, February 9, 2018.
Thanks to NBC Universal’s massive photo library for this final cool shot inside Rio’s International Broadcast Centre:
No question about it, Olympic coverage for Americans has changed a lot since the NBA featured its’ mega-popular “Dream Team” in Barcelona in 1992. What a run it was and what a legacy Bob Costas leaves behind after covering a record 12 Olympic games, with 11 of them in primetime and four more than the former record holder when Jim McKay was a steady presence on ABC from 1968 to 1988.