Caster Semenya carries SA flag (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - The
Rio Olympics ended in a blaze of colour with an exuberant closing
ceremony on Sunday as Tokyo took up the baton promising to host the best
Games yet in 2020.
GALLERY: Winners of Team SA's 10 medals in Rio
After a rollercoaster fortnight which mixed off-field hitches with
compelling sporting drama, Olympics chief Thomas Bach hailed a
"marvellous" Games in the Brazilian city.
"These were marvellous Olympic Games in the marvellous city!" said
Bach, as he declared the Games closed and the Olympic flame was
"These Olympic Games are leaving a unique legacy for generations to
come. History will talk about a Rio de Janeiro before and a much better
Rio de Janeiro after the Olympic Games."
Caster Semenya, South Africa's winner of the 800m gold - and the 10th Team SA medal in Rio - carried the SA flag at the closing ceremony.
Oscar Pistorius had done likewise in London four years previous.
Just a few hours earlier, the United States basketball squad won the
last gold of the Games, boosting their country's place on top of the
At the closing ceremony, thousands of fans and athletes donned
ponchos on a wet and windy night for a colourful festival of Brazilian
culture and music with bursts of spectacular fireworks.
Smiling and waving athletes danced into the Maracana stadium taking
selfies as Rio's 16-day Summer Games closed ahead of the 2020 Olympics
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a comical cameo as Nintendo
video game character Super Mario as Tokyo set out its stall for 2020.
"The Japanese government will... work hard so it will be the best
Olympics ever," Abe said as he met Japanese medal-winners earlier.
Security scares and logistical problems were a feature of South
America's first Olympics, held against the backdrop of Brazil's
political and economic crisis.
Swathes of empty seats caused disquiet but the Games also witnessed
the last hurrahs of both Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, who both lived
up to their billing.
Bolt sealed the sprint "triple triple" in his final Games, reaching a
record-equalling nine gold medals with his third consecutive 100m, 200m
and 4x100m sweep.
Swim legend Phelps took his unmatched career haul to 23 gold medals
with another five in Rio - plus a silver, after his loss to former
childhood fan Joseph Schooling.
Brazil came late to the party but the country celebrated long and
loud when Neymar won a gold-medal penalty shoot-out against Germany to
erase memories of their 7-1 World Cup semi-final humiliation in 2014.
On a sodden final
day, Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge, 31, shone with his seventh win in eight
marathons, timing 2hr 8min 44sec to win by more than a minute.
The USA's basketball 'Dream Team' of NBA stars claimed the 306th and
final gold of the Games with a crushing 96-66 win over Serbia.
With the basketball win, America matched its tally of 46 golds from
London four years ago to lead the medals table from Britain, who sealed
surprise second place ahead of China with 27 golds to 26.
"We are one of those sporting superpowers now," beamed UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl.
For China, the world's most populous country, it was the worst
Olympics for 20 years -- especially sobering after topping the standings
at Beijing 2008 and finishing second in 2012.
China brought to Rio a youthful team with an average age of 24, the lowest of the last three Olympics.
This points to a rebuilding phase ahead of the 2020 Olympics in
Tokyo, the capital of China's war-time rival and former colonial power
which still evokes bitter resentment among many Chinese.
A string of below-par performances saw India win just two medals,
fewer than the six clinched during their best-ever performance in London
four years earlier.
There was also controversy as Mongolia's Chagnaadorj Usukhbayar became the sixth weightlifter in Rio to fail a drugs test.
And police seized passports, phones and computers in a raid on the
Irish Olympic office, following the arrest of Irish International
Olympic Committee member Patrick Hickey over an alleged black market
Brazil added a final flourish as they beat Italy 3-0 to win the men's
title in volleyball, one of the country's most popular sports.
French fighter Tony Yoka won a split-decision against Britain's Joe Joyce to take the super-heavyweight title in boxing.
Switzerland's world champion Nino Schurter, third in Beijing and
second in London, competed his ascent of the podium by winning the men's
mountain bike competition.
And there were furious scenes when a Mongolian coach stripped down to
his underwear to protest a decision against wrestler Ganzorig