Rio Recap: Day 15

The United States had a pretty fabulous day on Saturday, winning 11 medals–the second-highest total for a single day these Olympics. Here’s some of the highlights from the second-to-last day of competition:

Star of the day: Gwen Jorgensen, USA, Triathlon

SHE DID IT! Wisconsin native Gwen Jorgensen won the first ever gold medal for the United States in triathlon. In 2012, Jorgensen suffered a flat tire and finished 38th, but came back with a vengeance to win in Rio. She is the first person to win gold in both the Olympic Test Event and at the actual Olympic Games.

Also shining brightly: Matthew Centrowitz Jr., USA, Track & Field

Matthew Centrowitz Jr. is the first American since 1908 to win gold in the 1500m. He upset Kenya’s Absel Kiprop, a three-time world champion in the distance.


#FreeChelimo turns to #ChelimoSilver: Paul Chelimo had a hell of a half hour last night. After first taking the silver medal in the 5,000m, he was then told (ON LIVE TV! BY A REPORTER! WHAT.) that he had been disqualified for stepping on the inside of the track. Twitter erupted with #FreeChelimo hashtags, arguing that the disqualification was unjust and that his one step on the line didn’t give him any sort of unfair advantage. The U.S. officially appealed the disqualification, and Chelimo’s silver was reinstated. He’s the first American to medal in the 5,000m since 1964. Born in Kenya, Chelimo ran track in college in the United States, and joined the U.S. Army to receive expedited citizenship. He became a citizen in 2014 and currently serves as a Water Treatment Specialist.

Team USA makes (really graceful) history: The sport of rhythmic gymnastics (the one with the ribbon on a stick stick and the ball) has been dominated by Eastern Europeans since basically the dawn of time. In the United States, the discipline of rhythmics plays second fiddle to the far more successful “artistic” gymnastics (the one with the flips and the balance beam and Simone Biles). The United States had never qualified a rhythmic gymnastics group to the Olympics (except for 1996 when the host country received an automatic bid)–until Rio. Although mistakes in their first routine meant the Americans finished in last place in qualifying, they performed their second routine very cleanly and were by all accounts thrilled with the progress the sport has made in the USA. Success has to begin somewhere.

Falling with style: USA’s David Boudia won the bronze medal in the 10m platform, bringing his total medal haul to four. This is the second-highest medal total for an American diver, trailing only Greg Louganis. Boudia also won a silver medal in the synchronized event in Rio. He also has a new book out.

Pretty relay-table: In what is beginning to sound really redundant, Team USA continues to dominate track and field events. Both the men and women won the gold medal in the 4x400m relay. Allyson Felix, who anchored the women’s race, has now won an astounding six gold medals, putting her behind only swimmer Jenny Thompson for most-ever by an American woman.

American ladies shine on a variety of courts: The U.S. ladies had a fantastic day yesterday on the volleyball and basketball courts. Team USA Women’s Basketball easily demolished Spain to win their sixth-straight gold medal. Over on the volleyball court, the United States defeated the Netherlands for bronze.

Fighting for medals: Americans did well yesterday in various fighting sports. Shakur Stevenson took silver in men’s bantamweight boxing, Jackie Galloway took bronze in women’s +67kg taekwondo (and has a hilarious Twitter handle), and  J’den Cox won the bronze in men’s freestyle 86kg wrestling. Stevenson’s silver is the highest medal the U.S. has won in men’s boxing in 12 years.

Brazil gets redemption: Brazil hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and fell to Germany in a 7-1 loss that is best described as a “dumpster fire.” Given that Brazil is the most soccer-mad nation in the world, the blowout loss was a national shame. In Rio, the gold medal game was once again Brazil vs. Germany, and this time, the Brazilians came out on top in penalty kicks to win their first-ever Olympic soccer gold.