Olympics

Ugandan Wins Men's Olympic Marathon

Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold in the men's marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Aug. 12, 2012, London.
Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold in the men's marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Aug. 12, 2012, London.
The London 2012 Olympics drew to a close on Sunday with Russia winning three golds, the United States extending its lead in the gold medal standings by two and a Ugandan scoring an upset victory in the men's marathon.
 
Day 16 of the games began under sunny skies with the staging of the men's marathon through the streets of central London. Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich won the race in a time of 2 hours, eight minutes and one second, beating Kenyan favorite and world champion Abel Kirui by 26 seconds. 
 
Another Kenyan, Wilson Kipsang, took the bronze, while Eritrean-born American Meb Keflezighi finished fourth, eight years after claiming the Olympic silver medal in Athens. Kiprotich overtook the two Kenyans 32 kilometers into the race and held the lead to the end, earning Uganda only its second Olympic gold medal. 
 
Russian athletes had the best day, winning Olympic titles in men's volleyball, men's boxing and the women's rhythmic gymnastics group competition.

Photo Gallery: Day 14 of Competition
 
  • Meseret Defar of Ethiopia, after she won the women's 5000m final, Friday, August 10, 2012.
  • Jordan Ernest Burroughs of the U.S. (in red) fights with Canada's Matthew Judah Gentry in the Men's 74kg Freestyle wrestling.
  • Montenegro's water polo players watch the final seconds of their team's loss to Croatia.
  • Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli swims on his way to gold during the men's 10-kilometer swimming marathon
  • Spain's team performs in the synchronized swimming free routine final.
  • Israel's Neta Rivkin competes using the ribbon in her individual all-around gymnastics qualification match.
  • Australia's Jesse Phillips, left, and Stephen Bird paddle through the men's kayak double 200m semifinal.
  • Sweden's team players celebrate after defeating Hungary in their men's semi-final match at the Basketball Arena.
  • Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia reacts after winning gold in the men's 10km marathon swimming at Hyde Park.
  • Visitors' shadows cast as they stroll through the ExCel arena in London.
  • Latvia's Maris Strombergs bows after winning the men's BMX event.

Team USA also finished strongly, taking gold in men's freestyle wrestling and men's basketball. The U.S. National Basketball Association stars held off a strong challenge by Spain to win by 107 points to 100, repeating their victory over the Spaniards in the 2008 Olympic final. 
 
The United States ended the games with 104 medals including 46 golds, staying ahead of runner-up China, whose final tally was 87 medals, 38 of them gold. China had topped the standings four years ago in Beijing with 51 Olympic titles. 
 
Team China chief Liu Peng said the Asian sporting power has much room for improvement. 
 
"We know we are far behind the world in popular team ball games and other events of a high professional level," said Liu. "Although overall we did well in disciplines in which we traditionally excel, as these events become more popular and commonplace internationally, competitors from other countries and regions are becoming better, and we are facing more severe challenges in these fields."
 
Host nation Great Britain was third in the gold-medal table with 29, followed by Russia with 24 and South Korea with 13. 
 
Team GB's total of 65 medals, including a men's boxing gold on Sunday, marked the best British Olympic performance in more than a century. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will maintain government funding for Olympic sports until the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro to help British athletes achieve more success. 
 
"I think you only need two words to sum up these games: Britain delivered," said Cameron. "We showed the world what we're made of. We reminded ourselves of what we can do, and yes we demonstrated you should never ever count Team GB down and out."
 
Cameron appointed London Games organizer Sebastian Coe as Britain's legacy ambassador for the Olympics. In that role, Coe will advise the government about how to secure long-term economic rewards from hosting the games. London's target is $20 billion in monetary benefits. 
 
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said London has lived up to its promise of hosting an Olympics designed for athletes, calling the athletes' village "splendid" and the sports venues "state of the art." He also highlighted some of the record-breaking performances of the games.
 
"I think of the double/[triple medal winners], [Jamaican sprinter] Usain Bolt of course," said Rogge. "I think of [American swimmer] Michael Phelps surpassing [Soviet gymnast] Larisa Latynina [as the winner of the most Olympic medals]. I think of [British track cyclist] Chris Hoy and six medals. I think of [British sailor] Ben Ainslie and five medals. [Italian fencing champion Valentina] Vezzali and five consecutive medals. [British tennis player Andy] Murray winning his first major title. And I could go on for the rest of the day."
 
Sunday's other gold medal winners include Cuba, Kazakhstan and Ukraine in men's boxing, Croatia in men's water polo, the Czech Republic in men's mountain bike cross-country, France in men's handball and Japan in men's freestyle wrestling.
 
In the day's last competition, Lithuania's Laura Asadauskaite won the women's modern pentathlon, setting an Olympic record for an event that combines fencing, horse riding, shooting, swimming and running. 
 
The games were concluding Sunday evening with a closing ceremony featuring some of Britain's best-known pop stars, including the Spice Girls and George Michael. Brazilian performers also were due to take the stage to celebrate London's hand-over of the summer games to Rio, where the Olympic flame will appear again in four years. 

Photo Gallery: Track & Field Stars

  • Usain Bolt celebrates winning gold alongside silver medalist Yohan Blake, both of Jamaica, following the men's 100-meter final.
  • Usain Bolt also won the men's 200m final on Thursday.
  • Germany's Robert Harting celebrates winning the men's discus throw final by grabbing a German flag, running a lap of the track over the hurdles, and trying to wrench one of the burning torches from the Olympic cauldron.
  • Ashton Eaton, a 24-year-old from Oregon, wins in the men's decathlon 100m heat. Brazil's Luiz Alberto de Araujo is on the left, and Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine on the right.
  • Dayron Robles (center), of Cuba, pulls up after injuring his leg while competing with Aries Merritt (L) and Jason Richardson of the U.S. during the men's 110m hurdles final.
  • Sarah Attar, the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in Olympic track and field, runs in her women's 800m round 1 heat.
  • China's Liu Xiang falls after hitting a hurdle in his men's 110m hurdles round 1 heat, clutching the same right Achilles tendon that doomed his chances at the Beijing Games in 2008.
  • Australia's Sally Pearson won gold in the women's 100m hurdles final.
  • David Lekuta Rudisha (right), of Kenya, runs ahead of Puerto Rico's Wesley Vazquez. Rudisha shattered his own world record in the fastest ever 800m race.
  • Lolo Jones of the U.S. clears a hurdle with Canada's Phylicia George. Jones is the American record holder in the 60m hurdles with a time of 7.72. She came in fourth in the 100m hurdles final in London.
  • Aries Merritt of the U.S. celebrates after winning gold in the men's 110m hurdles final.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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