West News Wire: Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra entered India’s history book by delivering a first-ever Olympic track and field gold medal for his country as the Tokyo Games athletics competition drew to a close.
“It feels unbelievable,” Chopra said on Saturday as his overjoyed team-mates and coaches watched from the stands devoid of fans because of COVID-19 restrictions. The 23-year-old claimed the athletics gold with an 87.58-metre second throw.
It ended India’s 121-year wait for an athletics gold. The previous best had been two silver medals won at the 1900 Paris Games.
“This is our first Olympic medal for a very long time, and in athletics, it is the first time we have gold, so it’s a proud moment for me and my country,” he added.
On a pulsating final night of action, Dutch distance runner Sifan Hassan completed an incredible double with victory in the 10,000 metres and in the 5,000 metres while US star Allyson Felix brought the curtain down on her 17-year Olympic career with a record-extending relay gold.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Hassan had taken bronze in the 1,500 metres final, part of an audacious bid for an Olympic treble. The athlete was in action on five days of the nine-day schedule of track and field, running more than 61 laps in total on the way to her three-medal haul.
“I am just so thankful, and I don’t think I could have done any better than this,” said Hassan. “During the medal ceremony I was thinking: ‘It is over. Now you can sleep!’”
In the 10,000 metres, Hassan clocked 29 minutes 55.32 seconds for gold, with Bahrain’s Kalkidan Gezahegne, also born in Ethiopia, claiming silver in 29:56.18.
There was another superb tactical performance in the men’s 1,500 metres as Norway’s Ingebrigtsen won in an Olympic record of 3:28.32. The 20-year-old added Olympic gold to his European title, easing home after passing longtime leader Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya, who took silver in 3:29.01. Britain’s John Kerr claimed bronze.
“I have been dreaming of this for my whole life,” said Ingebrigtsen. “It feels great.”
Mixed fortunes for US
Team USA claimed the 4×400 metres relay title with a decisive win, sparing them the ignominy of failing to get a title on the track for the first time in any Olympics they have entered in the games’ 125-year history.
The Americans won their 16th Olympic gold medal in men’s basketball, but the Olympic hosts foiled their attempt to bring the title home to baseball’s birthplace.