LONDON – 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.
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.
The United States topped the medals table with 46 golds and a total of 104 medals overall.
Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania was crowned women’s modern pentathlon Olympic champion here on Sunday, the last of the 302 gold medals to be awarded at London 2012.
Great Britain’s Samantha Murray took the silver medal with Brazil’s Yane Marques coming in third.
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.
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.
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.