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Olympic Updates
The mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes holds the Olympic flag next to the mayor of London Boris Johnson (L) and president of the IOC Jacques Rogge at the Olympic stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games in London on August 12, 2012. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
The mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes holds the Olympic flag next to the mayor of London Boris Johnson (L) and president of the IOC Jacques Rogge at the Olympic stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games in London on August 12, 2012. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
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Gold Silver Bronze Overall

1 U.S. 46 29 29 104

2 China 38 27 22 87

3 Great Britain 29 17 19 65

4 Russia 24 25 33 82

5 South Korea 13 8 7 28

6 Germany 11 19 14 44

7 France 11 11 12 34

8 Italy 8 9 11 28

9 Hungary 8 4 5 17

10 Australia 7 16 12 35

Croatia wins first water polo title

Croatia won its first Olympic gold in men’s water polo, getting two second-half goals each from Miho Boskovic and Maro Jokovic to pull away from Italy for an 8-6 win Sunday.

With two of the best defenses and goalkeepers in the tournament, the final was a bitter defensive struggle. Croatia eventually grabbed control of the match early in the second half after Boskovic slotted home from long distance and then converted a penalty to take a 5-3 lead.

Maro Jokovic gave Croatia more breathing room in the fourth quarter with two more goals, setting the country’s fans, dressed in their traditional red-and-white checkered shirts, into a frenzy.

“The whole tournament, our team was playing excellent. All eight games we were dominating all the teams, and we were playing well all the tournament – so for sure we deserved this gold medal,” coach Ratko Rudic said.

With its stingy defense, anchored by goalkeeper Josip Pavic, Croatia rolled through the competition in London to finish with a perfect 8-0 record, with two of those victories against 2011 world champion Italy.

Croatia, which played in its first Olympics as an independent country in 1992 after the breakup of Yugoslavia, won silver at the 1996 Atlanta Games, but had never topped the podium until now.

“This is the first, I hope it’s not the only one,” center forward Niksa Dobud said.

After the final buzzer, Croatia’s players and coaches leapt into the pool, tearing the goal down and sitting on top of it in the water.

Italy fell just short of winning its fourth Olympic water polo title, but picked up its first medal in the sport since gold in 1992.

France edge handball thriller to win gold

Defending men’s handball champions France were pushed all the way in a gripping Olympic final Sunday but retained their crown, edging a tight contest to beat unfancied Sweden 22-21.

After their victory in Beijing in 2008, the powerful French side went on to become the first men’s team in history to hold the Olympic, world and European titles at the same time.

But Claude Onesta’s side had something to prove after a disappointing campaign at January’s European championships in Serbia, where they failed to reach the semifinals.

“We were superb. The players were outstanding and the fans incredible. What a magnificent game, atmosphere and occasion,” said Onesta.

“It is something I will never forget for the rest of my life. To win it four years ago was fantastic but to do it in London in the next Olympics was even better.”

“I thought my team played a hard, strong game both in defense and attack. We had our plan and it came off,” he added.

In a cagey opening at the Basketball Arena, the score was 3-3 in the 11th minute, with goalkeeper Johan Sjostrand impressing in the Swedish goal and neither side able to impose themselves on the contest.

The French team led 10-8 at the break but the tenacious Swedes pulled one back seconds after the restart.

Midway through the second half France still led by the narrowest of margins. With the noisy crowd belting out La Marseillaise, the Scandinavians failed to get back on level terms, with French goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer making some vital saves.

Amid mounting tension, a penalty for Sweden brought the scores back to 21-20 as the seconds ticked away but a strike by Luc Abalo restored a two-goal margin and that ultimately proved enough.

Michael Guigou top-scored for the French, with five goals. Niclas Ekberg was the top scorer for Sweden, with six goals.

Sweden, who were not expected to advance much further than the quarterfinals, also won silver in 1992, 1996 and 2000.

“We did not attack the way we can. Defensively we were strong but we could have been better in attack and scored more goals,” said Sweden coach Staffan Olsson.

“But we have to accept the defeat and think about the positive things. Even though it is hard right now to do that.”

Croatia came out on top in the bronze medal match, overcoming Hungary 33-26

Olympic chiefs to review ticketing process for Rio 2016

Olympic officials will review the ticketing process for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro after coming in for criticism over empty seats at the London Olympics and following accusations of unauthorized sales among some sellers. Ticketing has been the one grey cloud hanging over what has otherwise been regarded as a successful Games.

“We are definitely going to review the ticketing policy of the Games,” International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge told reporters Sunday.

The London organizing committee will work with the IOC and Rio on the issue, he said. Tickets are currently sold through National Olympic Committees and authorized ticket resellers.

A report in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper in June said numerous NOCs and resellers were offering to buy or sell tickets outside their territories, to sell tickets at inflated prices or sell tickets to unauthorized resellers. The IOC has launched an investigation into the claims.

Rogge said the sale of tickets was a “very complicated issue because you need a good balance” in the crowd of domestic and international fans. “But there is also, I would say, the fact that the distribution of tickets is done through National Olympic Committees or authorized ticket resellers and we are going to see whether this system will continue to work and how we can improve it.”

The ticketing process has been particularly frustrating for those sports fans who complained about spending hours online trying to get their hands on tickets only to be told they were sold out.

Their anger was only compounded when in the early days of London 2012 television footage showed swathes of empty seats in some stadiums, including high-profile sports and some finals.

International sports federations and National Olympic Committee members, as well as the media and athletes, were blamed for the gaps.

After criticism in the British media and from the British Olympic Association, London’s organizers swung into action by using off-duty soldiers and volunteers to sit in empty seats. Italso reclaimed some accredited seats and put them on sale to the public.

Russia fight back for gold in volleyball

Russia beat Brazil to win the Olympic men’s volleyball gold medal Sunday, fighting back from the brink of a straight-sets defeat to take the decider and seal a 3-2 victory.

Having lost the first two sets, Russia twice found themselves a match point down in the third but roared back to claim their first gold in the event for 32 years 19-25 20-25 29-27 25-22 15-9.

“I think that those people that did not believe in us turned their back and went away after the second set, but those who trusted, they are the most valuable. I think we have shown our character,” Russia’s Sergey Tetyukhin told reporters.

Brazil cruised through the first two sets, winning the first three points of the match and rarely surrendering the lead thanks to some inventive play that outfoxed a powerful and physically imposing Russian team.

The best of five-sets match looked to be heading toward an early conclusion but when Brazil squandered two gold-medal points a fired-up Russian side powered back into the game.

The 2.18 meter Dmitriy Muserskiy led the charge, upsetting the Brazilian side’s rhythm at the net with a series of key blocks and point-scoring spikes.

Russia then dominated the fourth set as Brazil lost the poise and guile that served them well early in the contest.

“I think their coach had a very good idea in placing Muserskiy in his position. After that, it was just the game we played. I think that we weren’t able to handle their spikes and that left us a bit anxious,” said Brazil’s Lucas Saatkamp.

The younger and taller Russian team then won by six clear points in the decider to claim their first Olympic gold since victory on home turf in the 1980 Moscow Games.

Japan and U.S. win wrestling gold on final day

Japan won their fourth wrestling gold of the Olympics Sunday to record their best finish since 1968, while the U.S. clinched a second to end the Games in fifth spot.

Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu ended India’s dream of their first Olympic wrestling gold when he beat railway worker Sushil Kumar in the 66kg freestyle final.

Japan’s dominant women wrestlers won three golds and the men also picked up two bronzes to finish second in the final medal table, just behind Russia.

“I was lucky. It is impossible to do it just with my strength,” Yonemitsu said. “It’s because of a combination of luck, good condition, good performance and everything.”

India’s Kumar took India’s first silver in Olympic wrestling and said a stomach illness took the edge off his performance.

“Without the stomach infection, I could have tried harder,” said Kumar, who was India’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.

U.S. wrestler Jake Varner dominated Ukraine’s Valerii Andriitsev to win the 96kg final and give the Americans their first pair of wrestling golds since Sydney in 2000.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I expect to win every time I step on the mat. I smiled more than I usually do.”

Asked how he would celebrate, Varner added: “I don’t know, probably some chocolate milk or something like that.”

After winning the bout, the California-based wrestler sank to his knees as supporters in the packed arena roared and waved the Stars and Stripes.

It was an upbeat end to the Games for the U.S. team after they missed out on gold in the Greco-Roman discipline and in the women’s freestyle. Jordan Burroughs won the other gold in the 74kg freestyle.

“Greco had a rough tournament and women had a rough one, but that’s how it goes – that’s how the cookie crumbles,” Varner said. “We went out there and did our job.”

Kulhavy wins men’s Olympic mountain bike gold

Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic won the men’s Olympic mountain bike gold after an epic seven-lap race which left Swiss Nino Schurter in a close second place Sunday.

Italian Marco Fontana finished third to take the bronze at 25 seconds behind Kulhavy’s winning time of 1:29.07.

Schurter and Kulhavy were expected to be in the fight for the medals. The pair were among a leading group of riders who, as early as the first lap, left their many of their rivals trailing with a ferocious pace over the technical Hadleigh Farm site.

World champion Kulhavy, Schurter and Fontana turned the screw in the final few laps and after a brief attack by the Italian on the last lap, the Czech and the Swiss pulled away. Kulhavy and Schurter attacked each other several times on the way up the final climb and it was the Swiss who crested going into the descent which would lead to the final, small climb before the finish line.

The Czech, however, pulled ahead of Schurter on the way around the Olympic rings on the grass to leave the Swiss in his wake by a few bike lengths at the finish.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 13, 2012, on page 15.
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