Was there actually a curse upon the 2012 Olympic flag-bearers?
Stephen Kiprotich won the men’s marathon Saturday, earning Uganda its first Olympic medal since 1996 and only its second gold.
He won with a time of 2 hours 8 minutes 1 second, well ahead of silver medalist Abel Kirui (2:08:27) and third-place finisher Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (2:09:37), both of Kenya.
The lone American to finish the race was 37-year old Meb Keflezighi, who finished in fourth and posted a time of 2:11:06. His U.S. teammates Ryan Hall and Abdihakem Abdirahman both dropped out of the marathon less than halfway through Sunday’s race.
Kenya’s Kiprotich led the race by nearly 20 seconds in the first half of Sunday’s marathon. But after 16 1/2 miles, he was caught by Kirui and Uganda’s Kiprotich, and the trio ran neck and neck.
Kenya’s Kiprotich led for more than half of Sunday’s race and might have set too quick of an early pace. With about four miles remaining, he fell slightly behind the Ugandan and Kirui. Less than a mile later, Uganda’s Kiprotich pulled slightly ahead and took sole possession of the lead.
Uganda has competed in the Olympics since 1956 but had won only six medals, none since 1996. The country’s lone gold came in the men’s 400-meter hurdles in 1972.
At the 20-mile mark, the Olympic men’s marathon appeared to be a three-man race.
Kenyan Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich was in front for most of the race’s first half, leading at one point by nearly 20 seconds. But about 16 ½ miles in, as he approached Big Ben on the race course, Kiprotich was joined by fellow Kenyan Abel Kirui and Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich.
The trio was running about 35 seconds ahead of the fourth-place runner.
The lone American remaining in the race, Meb Keflezighi, was running about two minutes behind the race’s leaders.
Americans Ryan Hall and Abdihakem Abdirahman both dropped out of the men’s marathon less than halfway through Sunday’s race.
Both Hall and Abdirahman, a four-time Olympian, made it about 10 miles through the course before pulling out of the race. Hall, the 10th-place finisher at the Beijing Games, appeared to grab the back of his leg as he left the course and later said he’d hurt his hamstring.
“It’s a real bummer to have such a bad day when it’s such an amazing atmosphere out there,” Hall said. “There was the potential to do something really special today.”
Kenyan Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich set the early pace and led a small chase group of seven runners by about 15 seconds at the 10-mile mark.
The lone American remaining in the race was Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist who was about 30 seconds behind the leader through 10 miles.
Racing under a warm sun, six runners had dropped out before the race reached its midpoint.
The U.S. men's basketball team faces Spain in a rematch of the 2008 gold medal game and the London Olympics wrap up with the Closing Ceremonies.
Keshorn Walcott won Trinidad and Tobago’s first-ever gold medal in a field event today when he won the men’s javelin competition with a throw of 84.58 meters (277 feet 6 inches). Oleksandr Pyatnytsa of the Ukraine won silver, and Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen claimed bronze.
Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen, who won gold in Athens and Beijing, finished sixth.
American Brigetta Barrett won the silver medal in the women’s high jump with a top clearance of 2.03 meters (6 feet 8 inches). She is the first American to medal in the event since Louise Ritter won the gold medal in 1988 in Seoul.
Russia’s Anna Chicherova won the gold medal with a leap of 2.05 meters (6 feet 8 3/4 inches). Chicherova, who won the bronze medal in Beijing, took the 2010 season off to have a baby, then returned to win the world title in 2011.
Svetlana Shkolina took the bronze medal; she finished at the same height as Barrett, but had more misses.
Jamaican Usain Bolt finished his Olympics with a blistering relay leg that led to his third gold medal of the meet and a world record in the men’s 4×100-meter relay for Jamaica.
Bolt sprinted across the line in 36.94 seconds with American Ryan Bailey unable to keep up in the homestretch.
The Americans actually went under the U.S. record they had set last night with their finish in 37.04, matching the previous world record set by the Bolt-led Jamaican team in 2008.
But Trell Kimmons, 100 bronze medalist Justin Gatlin, former 100 world champion Tyson Gay and Bailey were no match for Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, 100 silver medalist Yohan Blake and Bolt.
For the first time during these Olympics, Bolt ran hard through the finish line. He received the baton about even with Bailey, but accelerated away without difficulty or strain.
Canada thought it had won the bronze, but was disqualified, leaving that honor to Trinidad and Tobago, which came home in 38.12. The Canadian team members had gotten out their flag and begun a victory lap when the result flashed on the scoreboard.
When Sanya Richards-Ross got the baton for the last leg of the women’s 4×400 relay final Saturday night, the question wasn’t whether the U.S. team would win the gold medal, the question was: By how much?
Richards-Ross got the baton with a giant lead over Russia and Jamaica, and she showed she hadn’t won gold in the women’s 400 earlier in the week for nothing. DeeDee Trotter, Allyson Felix, Francena McCorory and Richards-Ross secured the gold in 3 minutes, 16.87 seconds, the fourth-fastest time ever and best in 24 years.
It was also the second-fastest American time ever, falling just short of the record 3:15.51 notched by a team anchored by Florence-Griffith Joyner at the Seoul Summer Games in 1988. The world record is held by the Soviet Union, which ran a 3:15.17 in Seoul.
Russia won the silver medal in 3:20.23 and Jamaica took bronze with a 3:20.95.
Russian Mariya Savinova used a dominant finish to win the women’s 800-meter final with ease as South African Caster Semenya sprinted from seventh place to the silver medal over the last 200.
Savinova, the 2011 world champion and European woman athlete of 2011, finished in 1 minute, 56.19 seconds as Semenya, the 2009 world champion, crossed the line in 1:57.23. The two rivals embraced at the finish line.
Russian Ekaterina Poistogova came home in 1:57.53. American Alysia Montano Johnson finished fifth in 1:57.93.