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Bolt's Star Shines Again In Rio As U.S. Swim Team Scandal Simmers

  • RFE/RL

Usain Bolt of Jamaica won a ninth gold medal at the Rio Olympics, equaling the record set by American track legend Carl Lewis.

Usain Bolt of Jamaica won a ninth gold medal at the Rio Olympics, equaling the record set by American track legend Carl Lewis.

Star sprinter Usain Bolt riveted the world's attention again as the Rio Olympics neared an end on August 19, winning his ninth gold medal in a feat that barely overshadowed another day of controversy involving the U.S. swim team.

Anchoring Jamaica's 4 x 100-meter relay team, Bolt and his teammates ran the course in 37.27 seconds, beating Japan, which took silver, and Canada, which took bronze.

Bolt's gold medal haul now matches American track legend Carl Lewis' record of nine Olympic golds. Turning 30 in two days, Bolt said it would be his last Olympics. He has also claimed world championship titles 11 times in his career.

"There you go. I am the greatest," he said, borrowing a phrase made famous by one of his idols, boxing great Muhammad Ali, who died earlier this year.

While Bolt basked in the spotlight, other lesser known athletes also accomplished notable achievements on the Olympics' 14th day.

Allyson Felix became the first female Olympian to get five track gold medals when she won the women's 4 x 100-meter relay together with U.S. teammates, posting the second fastest time ever in the event.

Their medals added to the largest-ever U.S. Olympic track medal haul of 27 medals, including 10 gold, with two days to go before the games end.

The U.S. women's water polo team also won gold again, becoming the only two-time winner of the event.

Russia's synchronized swimming team won a fifth straight gold medal for a country that has dominated the sport for years and seen no gold-medal challengers since 2000.

Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikistan won the men's hammer title to capture the first gold medal ever for his country. Britain won its first gold medal in women's hockey.

Serbia reached the men's basketball final after beating Australia 87-61 and will play basketball superpower the United States for the gold medal on August 21.

While these achievements were notable, as occurred previously during the week, they were often drowned out by the commotion over a scandal involving four members of the U.S. swim team.

Apologies from gold medalist Ryan Lochte and other swimmers who had wrongly claimed to be victims of a robbery in Rio earlier in the week failed to keep the incident from gaining the most media attention.

The International Olympic Committee set up a disciplinary commission to investigate the incident, which could result in sanctions on the athletes.

That put in doubt the future of much-decorated Lochte, who was dubbed the "Ugly American" by some tabloids.

Lochte also got fingered by one of the other three swimmers, Gunnar Bentz, as having precipitated the incident by destroying property at a Rio gas station and then arguing with the station's armed security guards when they apprehended him.

Meanwhile, Brazilian prosecutors made a last-ditch effort to increase the amount of money that American swimmer James Feigen would have to pay before leaving the country.

A judge had allowed Feigen to pay $10,800 to a Rio charity before he boarded a flight and left for home.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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