Olympic Roundup: U.S. men give Krzyzewski another gold
Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 12, 2012
LONDON — LeBron James stood with both arms in the air, then hugged Kevin Durant before they headed to the bench.
They were quite the combination all day long.
James had a huge dunk and a 3-pointer in the final 2:50 and Durant scored 30 points, helping the U.S. win its second straight Olympic title with a 107-100 victory over Spain on the final day of the London Games.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We didn’t want it easy,” James said. “A lot of teams have won gold easy. We didn’t want it that way. We’re a competitive team and we love when it gets tight. That’s when our will and determination kind of shows. It was the same way in ’08.”
Mike Krzyzewski, who has said he’s retiring as U.S. coach, emptied his bench in the final minute Sunday, then embraced James after the final horn sounded. The Americans hugged at midcourt, with guard James Harden holding a doll of the Olympic mascot.
Four years after beating Spain 118-107 in the Beijing final, the U.S. found itself in another tight one, unable to truly slow the Spanish down until the closing minutes.
James had 19 points on a day he joined Michael Jordan as the only players to win the NBA title, regular-season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and Olympic gold in the same year.
For Kobe Bryant, it was his last Olympic moment.
“This is it for me,” said Bryant, who scored 17 points and now has a second gold medal to go with his five NBA championships. “The other guys are good to go.”
Part of the U.S. winning total belonged to the men’s wrestling team, which had multiple gold medalists for the first time since 1996.
Jake Varner got the second one when he won four straight matches to take the 96-kilogram freestyle, beating Valerie Andriitsev of Ukraine 1-0, 1-0 in the final.
Varner fell to his knees once the clock ticked to zero, soaking in the fact he had just accomplished the biggest goal of his life. He soon found Cael Sanderson, a gold medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics who helped coach him to the title, and thanked him with a a leaping bear hug.
Russia won its first men’s volleyball gold in 32 years by rallying past Brazil in five sets.
Second-ranked Russia dropped the first two sets and faced two match points before putting together an impressive comeback in a 19-25, 20-25, 29-27, 25-22, 15-9 victory, paced by 7-foot-2 middle blocker Dmitriy Muserskiy’s 31 points.
Croatia won its first Olympic gold in men’s water polo, pulling away from Italy for an 8-6 win. The U.S. lost 10-9 to Australia to drop to eighth place.
France won its second consecutive Olympic gold medal in men’s handball with a 22-21 win over Sweden.
The Russians won their fourth straight Olympic gold medal in the group event, easily beating Belarus. With Evgeniya Kanaeva winning the individual all-around Saturday, Russia has now won both rhythmic titles at every Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games.
Uganda picked up its first and only medal of the games when Stephen Kiprotich easily captured the Olympic marathon. Kiprotich finished in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 1 second.
LONDON — Most medals, most gold medals. The U.S. got what it wanted from these Olympics.
So did Britain, riding the wave of home-field advantage for its best Olympic showing in over a century. Some of that may have come at the expense of China, which finished only five medals ahead of Russia, where the Winter Olympics are next, in 2014.
The competition is over. The U.S. was best — but the success stories from London truly spanned the globe.
“I think these games were absolutely fabulous,” International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said.
The final numbers: 104 medals for the United States, 46 of them gold, their highest total at a “road” Olympics. China won 87 medals, 38 of them gold, down from what they did as the home team in 2008. Britain won 29 golds, third-most of any nation, and 65 overall — fourth in that category behind Russia, a winner of 82 medals, 24 gold.
Grenada had its first gold medalist, and six other nations sent athletes to the Olympic podium for the first time. Meanwhile, Australia took another step back in its Olympic freefall after a scintillating show in Sydney 12 years ago.
In all, 85 nations won something in London, from the U.S. to Tajikistan and dozens of points in between.
“We are immensely proud of the success that our athletes had in London,” U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said Sunday.
With good reason.
Red, white and blue was everywhere in London over the last two-plus weeks, waved proudly and often.
The Union Jack of the British delivered on a promise of greatness in 2012 — and possibly set the stage for continued success.
“What I’ve witnessed in the last couple of weeks has been both uplifting and energizing,” London Games chief Sebastian Coe said. “I don’t think any country that has staged the games or any city that staged the games is ever the same afterwards.”