LONDON - The U.S. basketball men sank Spain in one of the last finals of the London Games on Sunday, sealing their dominance of the sport and that of the entire American team which won 46 Olympic gold medals to second-placed China's 38.
"This is the disco at the end of a wedding," artistic director Kim Gavin said of the ceremony, at the conclusion of which the Olympic Flame is extinguished and all eyes turn from London to 2016 hosts Rio de Janeiro. Britain's best medal haul for a century, the record-breaking exploits of swimmer Michael Phelps and sprint pyrotechnics of Usain Bolt, who won his third London gold when Jamaica smashed the 4x100 metres world relay record on Saturday, have made for a memorable Olympics.
On the final day of competition, Britain, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine picked up golds for boxing and Japan and the United States for wrestling.
The women's modern pentathlon was the final medal to be decided, and Lithuanian Laura Asadauskaite beat Briton Sam Murray to the gold to round off London's extravaganza of sport. Few moments could top Saturday night's spectacle on the track when Bolt added the relay crown to the 'double double' he won in the 100 and 200, defending both after his Beijing triumphs and writing his way into Olympic history as one of the finest - and zaniest - sprinters the world has known. Bolt went straight on to a London nightclub to delight dancing fans with a turn as a DJ, shouting out "I am a legend" to the packed dancefloor. The United States clawed back to the top of the Olympic medal table at the London Games, waving goodbye to Michael Phelps its greatest ever medal producer, and saying hello to a brigade of young newcomers who will carry the torch onto Rio. To fully appreciate Phelps contributions to the US cause, if the American swimming sensation were a country his 18 gold medals would place him 47th among Olympic nations.
After China led the medal standings with 51 gold at the Beijing Games, the two sporting superpowers clashed on neutral ground in London and it was the United States coming out on top in both total medals (104 to 87) and gold (46 to 38). For the first time the US sent a team that featured more women and it was girl power that carried the Americans to the top of the charts claiming almost twice as many gold (29) as the men (17). From archery to wrestling, Americans pulled medals from 21 sports but as always the foundation for their success was built around the pool and athletics which accounted for nearly two-thirds of their medal haul.