RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Brazil and the world bid farewell Sunday to the first Olympic Games in South America, a 16-day spectacle that combined numerous highlight reel moments with ugly and even bizarre episodes that sometimes overshadowed the competitions.
Thousands of fans braved strong winds and sporadic rains to watch the closing ceremony in iconic Maracana Stadium, a finale meant to be both one last bash and to take care of some business – namely signal the transition to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.
The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, accepted the flag from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, signaling the end of the 2016 games and the transition.
There’s widespread expectation that the games in Tokyo, one of the world’s richest, most recognizable, cosmopolitan cities, will run more smoothly than they have in Rio. But there’s also worry in Japan over whether the Olympics will eventually further drag down an economy that has been struggling for decades.
Whatever the future holds, Sunday’s party was all about Brazil, a final party designed to be more low-key than the opening, which focused heavily on Rio.
Other highlights from the final day of the Olympic Games:
U.S. HOOPS TEAM ROLLS: The U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team ended up right where expected.
The Americans got their gold, and they did it easily.
Saving their best for last in a tournament that had been tough, the U.S. convincingly won its third straight gold medal, beating Serbia 96-66 on Sunday.
After a few close calls earlier in the Olympics, this was no contest. Kevin Durant scored 30 points and helped the Americans jump out to a huge lead by halftime.
Paul George said he and his teammates took out their frustrations on Serbia after hearing all the talk about them being less talented than previous U.S. squads and not blowing teams out.
“We did a good job of bottling all that up and unleashed it on Serbia,” George said.
It was the final game with the national team for Mike Krzyzewski, who took the Americans back to the top and leaves with them there after becoming the first coach to win three Olympic gold medals.
Carmelo Anthony also picked up his third gold to go with a bronze, becoming the most decorated male in Olympic basketball history.
Anthony checked back into the rout in the final minutes so he could grab a seventh rebound, passing David Robinson for U.S. record with the 125th in his Olympic career. He had already become the leading scorer earlier in the tournament, capping an Olympic career that began with disappointment as a member of the U.S. team that finished third in 2004.
The Americans haven’t lost since, winning 25 straight in the Olympics.
SHIELDS REPEATS AS GOLD MEDALIST: Claressa Shields had Olympic gold around her neck and a secret keepsake in her warmup jacket pocket. She reached in her pocket, pulled out her first gold from London and slipped the medal over her head.
Two Olympics, two gold medals.
She beamed as she held the medals in her hands for the fans to see – a sparkling reminder that she stood atop the medal stand not only as the best in the world in her class, but as the only American two-time boxing gold medalist.
Shields had all the answers as she breezed through three unanimous decision victories in the tournament. The 21-year-old Flint, Michigan, native thumped Dutch fighter Nouchka Fontijn in convincing fashion to wrap up back-to-back middleweight gold.
SNYDER SURPRISES: American wrestler Kyle Snyder’s run to the world title in 2015 was so surprising that some wondered if it was something of a fluke.
Snyder showed he’s for real on Sunday, adding an Olympic title to his burgeoning resume.
Snyder, the youngest wrestling world champion in U.S. history, is now the sport’s youngest Olympic champion in U.S. history. The 20 year-old Snyder beat Khetag Goziumov of Azerbaijan 2-1 for gold at 97 kilograms during the men’s freestyle tournament.
“I don’t really have too big of a secret,” Snyder said. “I listen to my coaches. I train as hard as I possibly can.
“I think, if anything, my secret is that instead of thinking about winning and thinking about gold medals and stuff like that, I try to value just my effort, value my improvement and value the love that I have for the sport. That drives me every day.”
After Jordan Burroughs was knocked out in stunning fashion Friday, Snyder was the last real chance the Americans had at a gold medal.
Snyder came through with a brilliant run, knocking off the world’s best just a week before he heads back to class at Ohio State.
Snyder didn’t even win a Big Ten or NCAA title for the Buckeyes as a freshman. But he tore through the field to win at the worlds in Las Vegas in 2015, becoming the first American teenager to do so.
GOING OUT IN STYLE: Reid Priddy could take his Brazilian bow.
One of the biggest ambassadors in men’s volleyball for more than a decade, the 38-year-old American ended his fourth and final indoor Olympics in spectacular fashion Sunday, leading a five-set comeback that carried the U.S. to the bronze medal with a victory over defending champion Russia.
Yet Priddy will be remembered for far more than a medal. That he even suited up was an achievement. And it wasn’t lost on those who played alongside him, watching as he recovered from a career-threatening knee injury – especially important to the younger players, who relished the chance to learn from him.
“I won before this game started,” Priddy said.
He leapt high for kill after kill, blocked his heart out, dived to the floor all day to keep points alive. Priddy played the most he has in these Olympics on the final day at Maracanazinho arena, pulling his teammates into quick huddles between points, patting them on the back and high-fiving at every chance.
With chants of “U-S-A!,” the Americans rallied from two sets down to deny the 2012 London champs, 23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-13. Brazil won gold in a straight-set win over Italy later in the day.