CURTAIN FALLS ON 2012 OLYMPICS / GAMES OVER: POP PARTY EXTRAVAGANZA



[PHOTO - A general view of the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 12, 2012. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski (BRITAIN)]

LONDON, AUGUST 13, 2012 (ABS-CBN)  By Rebecca Bryan, AFP - America's basketball Dream Team delivered Olympic gold on cue Sunday, the United States basking in a golden glow as London prepared to bring down the curtain on the 2012 Games.


[PHOTO -Britain's Prince Harry (L) and Dutchess of Cambridge Kate Middletonapplaud as they view the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS TPX ]

The US team stocked with such NBA stars as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James seemed pre-ordained to grab basketball gold, but European champions Spain stayed within reach until the final minutes of America's 107-100 victory.

Kevin Durant led the US stars with 30 points while "King" James had 19 and Bryant added 17 to add yet more gold to the United States' leading haul.

The Americans gathered in a huddle and began jumping for joy seconds after the victory, celebrating with US flags in the moments after a hard-fought triumph.

[PHOTO -British actor Russell Brand performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)]

With women's modern pentathlon the only event still to be completed, the United States topped the medals table with 46 golds and a total of 104 medals overall.

Fifteen medal events were contested Sunday, but by afternoon attention was turning from the wrestling mat and boxing ring toward the anticipated revelry of the closing ceremony.

"We want it to be the best after-show party there has ever been," artistic director Kim Gavin said of the extravaganza in the Olympic Stadium.

He coyly declined to reveal too many details lest he "spoil the surprise" making for tantalizing speculation over just which British musical institutions would be performing alongside the Spice Girls, George Michael, Muse and Ed Sheeran in a show featuring more than 4,000 performers.

The closing ceremony typically offers athletes a chance to let their hair down after their exertions, but it will also see the serious business of the handing over of the Olympic Flag from London to 2016 host Rio, and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge's always anticipated assessment of London's performance as host.

[PHOTO-SPICE GIRLS REUNITED, (Reuters)]

The last day of the Games started in traditional style with the men's marathon, with Stephen Kiprotich delivering only Uganda's second ever Olympic gold medal in a race that finished in the shadow of Buckingham Palace.

Kiprotich timed 2hr 08min 01sec on the spectacular course around the streets of central London, with two-time defending world champion Abel Kirui claiming silver in 2:08.27.

Kenya's Wilson Kipsang, winner of this year's London Marathon, took bronze in 2:09.37.

"I am very happy to win a medal for my country. I love my people. Uganda are very happy because we haven't won a medal," said Kiprotich.

Rogge, meanwhile, declared the London Olympics had been a "dream for sports-lovers", praising organisers for delivering an "athletes' Games."

"London promised an athletes' Games and that's exactly what we got. History has been written by many, many athletes -- the double treble of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Sir Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Andy Murray winning his first major title... I could go on."

Fittingly for a Games in which Great Britain exploded to seize third place in the medals table behind the United States and China, Sunday's events produced more gold for the hosts.

[PHOTO -Musician Annie Lennox performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)]

Anthony Joshua handed Britain the perfect end to the Olympic boxing tournament with his super heavyweight triumph as Britain sealed their best performance for 104 years.

After Nicola Adams earned women's flyweight gold on Thursday, team-mate Luke Campbell took Saturday's bantamweight final before Joshua's finale of a dramatic countback win over defending champion Roberto Cammarelle.

As Welshman Freddie Evans lost Sunday's welterweight final to take silver and Anthony Ogogo's middleweight bronze, Britain enjoyed their best Olympics in the ring since the 1908 London Games when they won 14 of the 15 boxing medals.

Joshua's gold came amid drama as he clawed back a three-point deficit going into the third round to level the bout at 18-all before being awarded the contest on count-back -- the decision standing up on appeal.

Ukraine's lightweight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko won a second successive Olympic gold medal when he added the lightweight title to the featherweight crown he captured in Beijing four years ago.

Teenager Robeisy Ramirez joined the long list of Cuban Olympic ring kings with a victory in the flyweight final over Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar.

"The moment I heard I won I fell on the floor because it was overwhelming. I am 18 years old and I am already an Olympic champion," said the teenager, who danced around the ring when the result was announced.

"I am becoming part of my country's history along with past Cuban champions," he said. © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse

GAMES OVER: Olympics closes with pop party extravaganza By Paul Haven Associated Press


[PHOTO -‘PARTY. PARTY. PARTY’ The Olympic Stadium is shown during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. AP PHOTO/DAVID J. PHILLIP]

[PHOTO - Fireworks explode during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in London. AP/Alastair Grant]

LONDON—British rock stars are seizing the stage to close the Olympics with an extravaganza that promises to keep a worldwide audience entertained well into the night — and dancing all the way to Rio.

The Who, the surviving members of Queen and the Spice Girls were expected to headline a fun and frivolous closing ceremony, celebrating the remarkable crop of pop icons the host country has given the world for decades.

The show, which organizers estimated was being broadcast to more than 300 million people, opened with a segment showcasing a day in the life of the British capital, and an actor playing Winston Churchill, quoting Shakespeare from atop a mock Big Ben.

Prince William’s wife, Kate, and Prince Harry took seats next to Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee. They sang along to “God Save the Queen.”

Artistic director Kim Gavin has promised “the best after-show party that’s ever been,” and as details of the lineup leaked in the British press days ahead of time, there was no reason to doubt him.

The ceremony had something for everyone, from tween girls to 1960s hippies. George Michael, Muse, Fatboy Slim and the One Direction, the British cotton-candy boy band of the moment, were all expected to perform.

The best seats were for the 10,800 Olympic athletes, set to march in as one and form what Gavin has described as a human mosh pit on the field. Queen Elizabeth II, who made a memorable mock parachute entrance at the opening ceremony, will be on hand.

[PHOTO -The cauldron burns during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. AP/Charlie Riedel]

Eight minutes have been turned over to Brazil, host of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, which promises an explosion of samba, sequins and Latin cool. Following tradition, the mayor of London will hand the Olympic flag off to his Rio counterpart.

There will also be speeches by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and London organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe, and the extinguishing of the Olympic flame.

What a way to end a games far more successful than many Londoners expected. Security woes were overcome, and traffic nightmares never materialized. The weather held up, more or less, and Britain had its biggest medal haul since 1908.

The United States edged China in both the gold medal and total medal standings, recapturing the gold-medal title it lost four years ago, but Britain will finish third in golds.

And while the games may have lacked some of the drama and grandeur of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, there were some unforgettable moments.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became an Olympic legend by repeating as champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints. Michael Phelps ended his long career as the most decorated Olympian in history.

British distance runner Mo Farah became a national treasure by sweeping the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races, and favorite daughter Jessica Ennis became a global phenomenon with her victory in the heptathlon.

Female athletes took center stage in a way they never had before. American gymnast Gabby Douglas soared to gold, the US soccer team made a dramatic march to the championship. People packed houses to watch the new event of women’s boxing. And women competed for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei took part for the first time.

And then there was Oscar Pistorious, the double-amputee from South Africa running on carbon-fiber blades, who didn’t win a medal but nonetheless left a champion. And sprinter Manteo Mitchell, who completed his leg of the 4×400 relay semifinal on a broken leg, allowing his team to qualify and win silver.

All of it took place in the coming-of-age of the Twitter-era, with athletes posting their every thought, from drunken celebrations to royal crushes to frowned-upon shout-outs to sponsors.

“It was a dream for a sports-lover like me,” Rogge said of the two weeks of competition.

Coe refused to anoint the games “the best ever,” in the phrase former IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch used to describe almost every games. But he declared himself “very, very pleased.”

He said the closing ceremony didn’t aim to be profound, not even the irreverent romp through British history offered by Danny Boyle’s $42 million spectacle on opening night.

The theme for the close, Coe said, could be summed up in three words. “Party. Party. Party.”

In a switch from opening night and what appeared to be a concession to its vocal critics, NBC decided to stream the ceremony live online, in addition to broadcasting it during prime time.

London organizers tried to keep the ceremony under wraps, but photographs of their rehearsals, in an old car plant in east London, made the British papers almost daily.

The show will include performances of 30 British hit singles from the past five decades — whittled by Gavin from a list of 1,000 songs.

Gavin said Saturday the show would open with a tribute to the “cacophony” of London life, with a soundtrack ranging from late Edward Elgar, composer of the “Pomp and Circumstance” march, to The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset.” Frontman Ray Davies is expected to perform the 1960s song, a love letter to London.

While creators of the opening ceremony could rehearse for weeks inside the stadium, Gavin and his team had less than a day between the end of track and field competition and Sunday’s ceremony. Not a lot of time to practice a show with multiple sets, pyrotechnics and 3,500 volunteer performers.

Some athletes who skipped the opening ceremony in order to rest for upcoming competitions said they wouldn’t miss the closing extravaganza for the world.

“I am so excited,” said American teen sensation Missy Franklin, who took home five swimming medals, including four golds. “I think it is the perfect way to end the entire journey.”

Added Brenda Villa, a member of the gold-winning US water polo team: “We just want to have fun and kind of put an end to this magical tournament.”

 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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