From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
The pandemic-ridden Tokyo Olympics are over and, despite eerily empty stadiums and scattered cases of COVID-19 in and around the Olympic Village, the two-week Games provided plenty of thrilling moments.
Here’s a quick look at the best of the best:
n Best Achievement by a U.S. Male Athlete: Caeleb Dressel won five gold medals in swimming, tying Michael Phelps’ total in the 2016 Rio Games. Though no one may never match Phelps’ all-time individual and team golds to 13 and 23, respectively, the torch has been successfully passed to Dressel.
n Best Achievement by a U.S. Female Athlete: Allyson Felix earned her 10th and 11th career medals at the Games — the most all time by a U.S. track athletes, passing Carl Lewis, who has been track’s “gold” standard.
n Best Race (Part One): Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus outdueled the U.S.’s Katie Ledecky, with a fantastic push near the end, in the women’s 400-meter freestyle.
n Best Race (Part Two): Tokyo provided one of the greatest races in track history when Norway’s Karsten Warholm dueled American Rai Benjamin in the 400 hurdles. Benjamin broke the world record, but Warholm shattered the event’s 46-second barrier.
n Best Rising Stars: USA’s Benjamin, track and field standouts Sydney McLaughlin, Athing Mu and Dalilah Muhammad, and gymnast Suni Lee, who became the fifth consecutive U.S. gold medalist in the women’s all-around. They all will be on center stage for Paris in 2024.
n Best Nose to the Grindstone Performance: U.S. men’s basketball team, which endured a rocky exhibition slate, lost its opener in pool play, and then recovered to win its fourth straight gold medal. Kevin Durant became the most decorated U.S. Olympian scorer along the way and head coach Gregg Popovich shrugged off criticism.
n Best Steady as a Machine Performance: The U.S. women’s basketball team, with mainstays Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, won its seventh straight gold, with the pair each earning their fifth gold. The team now owns an Olympic 55-game winning streak.
n Most Dominating Olympic Theme: Mental health exemplified by gymnast Simone Biles, who missed all of the Games but mustered enough to compete on the balance beam, where she earned a bronze medal.
n Most Disappointing Performance: The U.S. women’s soccer team and its aging stars settled for bronze, after losing its chance for gold following a penalty-shootout semifinal defeat to Canada.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com