An Olympic gold medal would be most athletes' prized possession, but Alexander Zverev's ownership has perhaps been a little more carefree – or it was until he found himself wondering if his brother had sold it on eBay.

Zverev claimed arguably the biggest title of his career last year when claiming gold in Tokyo, adding that to his 2018 ATP Finals success – he went on to repeat that triumph at the year-end tournament in Turin.

The German beat Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals at the Olympics before going on to defeat Karen Khachanov in straight sets to win the tournament.

That made him the first German man to win a gold in the singles and first to win any medal since Tommy Haas got silver 21 years earlier.

While some might tend to their gold medal on a daily basis, polishing it generously as it takes pride of place on the mantelpiece, it turns out Zverev has not actually seen his for a while.

His older brother Mischa has had it for a few months, leaving the younger sibling not even sure if it is still in the family's possession.

After beating Australian's John Millman to reach the third round of the Australian Open, Zverev was asked where he keeps his gold medal, to which he replied: "That's actually a good question because my brother took it for a media appearance.

"He didn't give it back to me yet. I don't know where it is for the past five months. Hopefully he hasn't sold it on eBay or something."

 

Zverev will presumably be a little more attentive to any silverware he claims in Melbourne this year, with the 24-year-old still chasing his first major.

Seeded third this month, Zverev is certainly considered one of the favourites after an excellent 2021 in which he won six titles, more than anyone else on the ATP Tour.

Zverev was initially on course to meet Djokovic in the semis, but the Serbian's absence means many will consider him the favourite to reach the showpiece from his side of the draw and he has made a solid start.

After dispatching fellow German Daniel Altmaier, Zverev saw off the tricky Millman, a big-serving Australian who understandably had the crowd's backing on Rod Laver Arena, coming through both games in straight sets.

"My tactic today was to hit the ball as slow as possible," he said. "That was my mindset going into the match, but hopefully I can hit it even harder next match and harder the next match after that.

"I could really feel that you guys have been locked down for two years. I'm prepared that everybody will hate me after the match. It's quite accurate and that's my mindset.

"I'll get a lot of boos and hopefully everybody will cheer against me. I'm kidding."

Simone Biles is prouder of the mental health lessons she gave the world with her Tokyo Olympics withdrawal than any of the medals she has won.

The United States star withdrew from four individual events for which she had qualified after pulling out of the women's team competition after just one rotation in Japan in late July.

Biles cited a need to focus on her mental health as she chose not to contest the individual all-round, vault, uneven bars and floor exercise finals.

But she returned to action emphatically as she won the bronze medal in the women's balance beam final at the Games in early August, an achievement that she stated felt far more significant than her exploits in Brazil, in which she collected four gold medals in 2016.

Asked by MARCA if she was prouder of her achievements or the message sent by her withdrawal, the seven-time Olympic medallist said: "Most definitely the lesson that I gave the world in Tokyo, because nobody would have ever thought that would happen but everything that happened because of that has brought real good attention to mental health and the awareness that it brings.

"It was kind of a whirlwind of emotions, like 'oh my God, what's happening because I've trained five years for this?' 

"So, I was really sad, but I had to do what was right for the team and I knew that was the correct decision, but also what was right for me and my mental wellbeing.

"I am really proud that people are taking it more seriously. But I wish I could have gone out there and done a little bit more. But, with the cards I was dealt I'm not mad at the results."

 

Biles continued to reflect on mental health in sport as she pinpointed more athletes standing up to talk about a potentially sensitive topic as a positive for the future.

"I think it cost so much because everybody thought of us as entertainment and they feel entitled to our work and [wanted us to] just go out there and put on a brave face and compete," she said.

"But now you have these sports figures and heroes standing up for themselves and saying 'I'm not doing this competition, I don't get why it has an effect on you guys when I'm really the one that's being affected'. 

"To have that topic come to the forefront is really great, but it's sad that it's been silenced and forgotten for so many years and not as cared about. But, luckily we're bringing more attention to that."

Though she is proud of the impact of her experience in Tokyo, Biles admitted there are still some aspects of gymnastics that she is scared to perform.

"Some of the skills which I twist a lot on and flip a lot on, I am really scared to do just because of everything that happened," Biles added. 

"But, [my coaches] are really great every time I come into the gym if I want to play around. They make sure I'm doing all the proper steps, so they definitely make me feel a lot better."

While citing her coaches' help as a driving factor for her recovery, Biles also believes she would not have made it through the troubles in Tokyo without the help of her USA team-mates.

Despite a turbulent 2021, Biles remains happy as she continues on her indefinite break to rest and recover from a difficult year.

"What's next in my career right now is I'm obviously on a break," she concluded. "So, we have to see. I'm not sure if I'll continue with the sport. Right now, I think it's just relaxing taking quality time with family and with friends and just being normal for once.

"I think I'm happy with the way my life has turned out, especially starting gymnastics at six years old. 

"All I wanted was a college scholarship and I've been to five World Championships and two Olympic Games. So, I think I've achieved more than my wildest dreams, so I can't complain."

The Paris 2024 Olympics opening ceremony will be staged along the River Seine with bumper crowds of up to 600,000 expected to attend, organisers have confirmed.

It will be the first Games to have an opening ceremony not take place in a stadium.

There will be in excess of 160 boats carrying athletes and officials representing more than 200 nations, with a six-kilometre journey between the Pont d'Austerlitz and Pont d'Iena bridges in the French capital.

Organisers said there will be 80 giant screens, with tickets for the lower part of the bank but free entry for the upper parts.

The closing ceremony will take place at the gardens of the Trocadero that overlook the Eiffel Tower.

"The Games is a unique, once-in-a lifetime experience," said Tony Estanguet, head of the organising committee.

"We want people to feel it. [The boats] will pass along the iconic landmarks of Paris - Notre Dame, the Orsay and Louvre museums, the Pont Neuf [Paris's oldest bridge], the Pont Alexandre III, the Grand Palais, the Eiffel Tower.

"It will be the first time people have free access to the opening ceremony, and not just in a stadium. It will also be a popular event."

The Paris Games take place between July 26 and August 11.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is to investigate allegations that two Belarus coaches tried to force sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to board a flight home from the Tokyo Olympics.

Tsimanouskaya claimed Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich took her to the airport against her will after she criticised the coaches on social media.

The 24-year-old finished fourth in her 100 metres heat, before being pulled out of the Games by Belarusian officials.

Due to also compete in the 200m, she claimed a Belarusian coach entered her for the 4x400m relay despite her never having raced in the event before.

Tsimanouskaya said she did not feel safe returning to her homeland amid a crackdown on anti-government dissent following mass protests that erupted last year over a disputed election.

She flew to Warsaw rather than Belarus after being granted a humanitarian visa by Poland. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) revoked Shimak and Maisevichas' accreditation in August after launching an investigation into the saga.

The IOC and World Athletics on Thursday revealed that the AIU will look into the matter.

World Athletics and the IOC stated: "Further to the incident involving Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the decision taken by the IOC to cancel and remove the accreditations of the two coaches, Messrs A. Shimak and Y. Maisevich, as a provisional measure during the Games, the IOC and World Athletics have jointly agreed to continue the investigation and to open a formal procedure vis-à-vis the two aforementioned coaches. 

"To this effect, and given that the Olympic Games have now concluded, it has been decided that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) – the independent body created by World Athletics to manage all integrity issues (both doping-related and non-doping-related) for the sport of athletics – will conduct the procedure, with the full collaboration and support of the IOC. 

"The AIU will publish the outcome of its investigation when this has been finalised."

 

Eight-time Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt is not contemplating a return to athletics despite feeling the temptation for a comeback.

Bolt ended his career on the track in 2017, calling it quits at the age of 31 after a spate of hamstring injuries, one of which curtailed his efforts in what was supposed to be the Jamaican's final race at the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

Although it was not the glorious conclusion he may have hoped for, Bolt still left sprinting as the world record holder in the 100 metres, 200m and 4x100m relay and his exploits on the track saw him collect a remarkable eight Olympic golds.

Back in August 2018, Bolt begin training with Australian football club the Central Coast Mariners and he scored twice in a friendly before being offered a contract, which was to be partially funded by the A-League.

He ultimately left the Mariners in November and declared two months later that he was done with all sports – though the thought of a U-turn did cross his mind later in 2019.

However, his coach urged Bolt to resist such a temptation, seemingly denying the world another opportunity to see the legendary sprinter in action at another Olympic Games.

Asked if he was contemplating a comeback at the age of 35, Bolt told BBC Sport: "It's too late. If I was going to come back it would have been to be for this Olympics.

"When I told my coach I was going to retire he sat me down and said, 'when you retire, that's it. I'm not doing any comeback tours, nothing. So, make sure you are ready to retire'.

"I remember I went to him in 2019 and said, 'what do you think about coming back for the Olympics?' And he looked at me and said, 'don't even start'.

"So, if it's not my coach, I'm not going to do it, because I believe in him and if he says no, it's no - but I've got that itch though."

Neil Fachie and wife Lora claimed cycling golds within just over a quarter of an hour for Team GB at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Neil and pilot Matt Rotherham posted a world-record time of 58.038 seconds – smashing their previous record time – as they beat team-mates James Ball and Lewis Stewart to gold in the B 1,000m time trial.

Lora followed suit shortly afterwards; her and Corrine Hall set their own world record on the way to go retaining the B 3,000 pursuit title.

"There are days that are good in the relationship and there are days like today which we'll never forget," Neil told BBC Breakfast.

"We knew this day would be our big one. Finally, we've managed to both do it together, and to both break the world record as well is beyond our dreams.

"We hoped this would happen, but for it to actually come together is mind-blowing."

Rafa Mir has completed a full transfer to Sevilla from Premier League side Wolves.

The Spain youth international had been attracting reported interest from LaLiga giants Barcelona and Atletico Madrid after starring for Spain at Tokyo 2020 but it is Sevilla who have won the race for his signature.

Mir has signed a six-year deal with Julen Lopetegui's side and will wear the number 12 shirt. He played in all of Spain's fixtures at the Games as La Roja reached the final where they were beaten by Brazil in the gold medal match.

The 24-year-old, who has been on the books at Wolves since 2018 but has spent each of the past three seasons out on loan, scored hat-trick in a 5-2 win over the Ivory Coast.

He had spent the previous season-and-a-half on loan at Huesca, scoring nine goals in a successful promotion push in 2019-20, before netting 13 times in LaLiga last term.

Mir is Sevilla's fifth signing of the transfer window, after Erik Lamela, Gonzalo Montiel, Marko Dmitrovic and Ludwig Augustinsson.

Former hurdles star Edwin Moses believes he would have matched Karsten Warholm's world record time at the Tokyo Olympics had the same technology been available to him during his time on top.

One of the more remarkable moments of the 2020 Games was Warholm's victory in the men's 400 metre hurdles, the Norwegian knocking a huge 0.76 seconds off his record pace of 46.70s.

Warholm was not alone in setting a new Games best at this year's showpiece, with the United States' Sydney McLaughlin also doing so in the women's equivalent with a time of 51.46s.

That has prompted some concerns over the design of the Tokyo track, which is said to have given athletes a one to two per cent performance advantage compared to previous years.

The track technology, footwear and indeed training has come a long way since Moses dominated the men's 400m hurdles between 1977 and 1987 when winning 107 successive finals, during which time he set four world records in the sport.

And two-time Olympic gold medallist Moses, whose fastest time was clocked at 47.02s, has told Stats Perform that he could have held his own against today's crop if the playing field was level.

"I would like to think I could," he said. "When I ran 47.02 I had no competition, no one else was running under 49. It was very, very different," he said.

"I was reading an article recently about the track and technology and they built in a two per cent increase in performance. 

"It changes things. It makes it very difficult to look back at Kevin Young or mine that had no assist. With tracks and shoes it becomes a statistically significant difference. 

"If Kevin Young was running on that then he'd have had run 45.86, my 47.02 would have been a 46.08. 

"I wish I had the opportunity to run on that track and to have that competition. I was way out in front of everyone else. The track has been programmed for speed. They've changed the paradigm."

 

This year's Olympic men's 400m hurdle final was labelled arguably the greatest ever, with USA's Rai Benjamin hot on Warholm's heels to win silver having also beat the previous world record.

Brazil's Alison dos Santos took the bronze medal with a time of 46.72s, meaning three of the top four fastest times ever posted in the event were set in Tokyo.

"I thought it was a very good race," Moses said. "Rai Benjamin made a couple of errors that probably cost him. Warholm made no mistakes. It always comes down to who makes the least. 

"The race could have gone either way. Benjamin could have won by a metre.

"Not many races have come down to the wire like that, especially in a dramatic race like the hurdles. It was a great race, as was the women's."

Warholm may remain the world's best in his discipline, but Moses has tipped compatriot Benjamin to potentially set another world record time in the near future.

"It's possible," he said. "I think Rai could beat the world record this summer. He was still competitive even with those mistakes. Even second placed smashed the record."

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has confirmed no spectators will be allowed to attend events at the upcoming Games in Tokyo.

Japan is still in a state of emergency as it battles with a spike in coronavirus cases and the recent Olympic Games were held mostly behind closed doors as a result.

Similarly, the Paralympians competing in Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Shizuoka will not have the backing of the crowd when the Games start on August 24.

The IPC, along with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), and the Government of Japan, held a remote meeting on Monday to determine if spectators would be allowed to attend.

"We very much regret that this situation has impacted the Paralympic Games," the Games' organisers said in a statement.

"We sincerely apologise to all ticket buyers who were looking forward to watching the Games at the venues.

"We hope that you understand that these measures are unavoidable and being implemented in order to prevent the spread of infection. Everyone is encouraged to watch the Games at home."

 

Former hurdles star Edwin Moses questioned the Games going ahead in Tokyo but insisted time will tell as to whether the decision was correct.

Prior to the delayed Games, there was scepticism towards the safety of holding such an event amid a global pandemic, but Tokyo 2020 was completed without major incident.

Moses, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, agreed with the concern throughout Japan – and across the world – as he discussed the unusual competitive conditions.

"I was always very concerned," the former United States athlete told Stats Perform.

"I always wondered whether it was the right decision to expose the Japanese people to tens and thousands of people coming in. I guess we’ll see what the fallout is.

"I would have been compelled to go if I was 25 years old. [The] conditions are not normal for athletes. I can't imagine competing under them."

Paris awaits in 2024 before Los Angeles and Brisbane follow as the next hosts.

But Moses, who set the world record four times in 400 metre hurdles, was unsure as to whether the Olympic model has been too restrictive for a competition that prides itself on inclusivity.

"[It] was talked about trying to move the Olympics to different countries," the 65-year-old continued. "I think the set up and model now means that it will never be somewhere like Africa. They can't afford it.

"I think they're behind the eight ball in terms of moving it around. Right now they've restricted themselves to American, [Asian] and European countries. [The] model is not sustainable to diversify delivery."

Asked whether they can alter this issue and make the model more inclusive, Moses responded: "I don't know. I'm not sure if it was in somewhere like South Africa for example.

"People would want that amount of money spent on it. They've been trying but [I am] not sure theyve found a reasonable solution."

One leading light for the delayed games, however, is the conversations that have opened on mental health.

Simone Biles, who would later take to social media to further inform her audience as to her mental health struggles, made the headlines when she courageously withdrew from artistic gymnastic events before emphatically returning to secure bronze on the beam.

IOC president Thomas Bach praised the athletes for offering "hope" as one of the "most precious gifts" during Sunday's closing ceremony and Moses offered insight into the mental health aspects of being an athlete.

"It's intense," Moses added. "People have no idea what it takes. And in today's world with the commercialism, Simone Biles was expected to win five medals.

"I think it was a combo of physical and mental. Her internal GPS system disconnected from her motor system and she could have been in danger."

Moses, who credited athletes for removing the stigma of mental health by opening up on the topic, concluded: "At a certain level competition is competition and if you are not ready for it it's okay.

"The problem is big athletes are pulling out of events now. Athletes will have had deaths in the family, people ill, all kinds of situations."

As the Tokyo Olympics bade farewell Sunday a year later than planned, organisers of the 2024 Paris Games looked forward to welcoming the world to France in three years. 

Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet, a three-time gold medallist in canoe slalom, praised everyone involved with the Tokyo Games for managing to hold the event amid a global pandemic. 

As the Olympic flag was passed from Tokyo to Paris on Sunday, though, Estanguet talked up his team's plans to host their first Summer Games since 1924.

"We waited an extra year for this moment, but we are already waiting 100 years to bring the Olympic flag back to Paris, so the excitement is very strong in our team and back home in France,” Estanguet said.

The Paris bid, awarded in 2017, features venues familiar to any tourist, with competitions to be held at the Place de la Concorde, Champs de Mars, Les Invalides and the Palace of Versailles, among other high-profile spots.

"Every host city must bring something new and contribute to the evolution of the Games," Estanguet said. 

"With Paris 2024, our ambition is to offer a new model to open the Games to more people. This starts with offering the Games to the city.

"Our plan is based on taking sport out of its traditional spaces and putting competitions at the heart of the city, in front of the most famous Parisian landmarks; the Eiffel Tower for beach volleyball, wrestling and judo, and equestrian at the Chateau de Versailles.

"The ambition is simple: invite the world, including the hundreds of millions of viewers, into the very heart of Paris.”

Thanks to that one-year delay, the welcome will occur relatively quickly. On July 26, 2024, Paris will take centre stage. 

Swimmer Caeleb Dressel led the way with five golds as the United States finished top of the medal table at the Olympic Games for a third successive time.

Team USA's haul of 113 medals at the Tokyo Games – comprising 39 gold, 41 silver and 33 bronze – was 25 more than second-placed China, while Japan finished third.

The 58 medals won by the hosts set a record for the most they have ever won at a single Olympics, including 27 golds – 11 more than their previous record from 1964 and 2004.

Italy (40 medals), the Netherlands (36), Brazil (21), New Zealand (20), Turkey (13) and Chinese Taipei (12) also enjoyed their best ever Games showings.

In all, 93 different competing nations claimed a medal in Tokyo, which is more than any other edition of the global showpiece, surpassing the previous record of 87 set in 2008.

That includes first ever Olympic medals for Turkmenistan, San Marino and Burkina Faso in weightlifting, shooting and athletics events respectively.

Indeed, with a population of around 34,000 people, San Marino are now the smallest nation to win an Olympic medal.

 


MCKEON IN SEVENTH HEAVEN

Twenty of Australia's 46 medals came in the pool, with swimmer Emma McKeon responsible for seven of those – at least two more medals than any other athlete in Tokyo.

In doing so, the 27-year-old became the second female athlete to claim seven or more medals at a single Olympics after Maria Gorokhovskaya in 1952.

Dressel swept up five golds in the men's swimming events, meanwhile, to become the 10th athlete to reach that tally at a single Games.

Away from the Aquatics Centre, it was an Olympics to remember for Elaine Thompson-Herah as the Jamaican became the first woman to win both the 100 metre and 200m sprint at two Games.

Further success came for Thompson-Herah in the 4x100m relay, making her only the second woman to win five athletics golds after Allyson Felix (seven).

The Netherlands' Sifan Hassan also wrote his name in the record books by becoming the first athlete to win a medal in the 1500m (bronze), 5000m (gold) and 10,000m (gold) at the same Games.

Indeed, Hassan is the first track and field athlete to claim a medal in three individual disciplines since Carl Lewis and Heike Drechsler in 1988.

 


AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

Japanese skateboarder Momiji Nishiya became the youngest Olympic gold medal winner since 1960 – and third-youngest of all time – with victory in the women's street event at the age of 13 years and 330 days.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, 62-year-old Andrew Hoy of Australia became the oldest medallist at the Olympics since 1968 with a silver and bronze in the equestrian competitions.

Judokas Hifumi Abe and Uta Abe kept it in the family by becoming the first brother and sister combo to claim gold medals at the same Olympics when winning the men's -66 kilograms and women's -52kg events respectively.

July 28 proved to be a day to remember in more ways than one for Olga Frolkina and Evgeniia Frolkina, meanwhile, as the twin sisters took silver in the 3x3 basketball on their 24th birthday.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his men's marathon title and the United States added three more golds to their tally on the final day of Tokyo Olympics action.

Kipchoge crossed the line one minute and 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Abdi Nageeye to become the third athlete to win the event at back-to-back Games.

In doing so, the 36-year-old – who previously took 5,000 metre silver in 2008 and bronze in London four years later – believes he has inspired a generation of runners.

"It means a lot to me, especially at this hard time," he said. "Last year was postponed, and now it has happened.

"I think I fulfilled the legacy by winning the marathon for the second time. That's my total happiness, my inspiration for the next generation."

The final day of action at the 2020 Games ultimately belonged to the United States, though, as they collected three golds to finish above China at the top of the medal table.

 

USA TRUMP CHINA

Team USA trailed China by two gold medals heading into Sunday's events, but triumphs in basketball, volleyball and track cycling saw them top the standings.

USA's victory in the women's basketball would have come as little surprise given it is their seventh straight success in the competition.

Brittney Griner racked up 30 points and Breanna Stewart also impressed in the 90-75 win over Japan with 14 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi each picked up their fifth gold medals, while for Japan the silver was their first medal of any sort in the sport.

"The only thing about getting older, you know all the bad stuff that can happen," Bird said. "We lost in the 2006 World Cup. We tasted that and that's always been the driver. 

"So, when we actually have the medal around our necks, it just feels so good. It's a sense of relief in a lot of ways."

While success in the women's basketball is par for the course, overcoming Brazil in the volleyball final provided USA with their first gold medal in the event.

After finishing runners-up to Brazil in the 2008 and 2012 Games, USA exacted some revenge with a 25-21 25-20 25-14 victory in Sunday's final.

Jennifer Valente completed the hat-trick for the Americans in the women's cycling omnium, the 26-year-old delivering her country's first track cycling gold since 2000.

She led from start to finish, despite crashing in the final points race, with home favourite Yumi Kajihara taking silver.

"There were some bumps. It was actually quite a short day as far as omnium goes," Valente said. "That was something that was very much on my mind, that we played into.

"Crashing in the point races is never ideal. I was just trying to get back on my bike, make sure I was okay, and get back in the race as soon as possible."


BRITAIN RULE THE TRACK

Kelsey Mitchell won the women's sprint for Canada by beating Ukraine's Olena Starikova 2-0 in the best-of-three final.

But it was a familiar outcome in the men's keirin as Jason Kenny finished 0.763 seconds ahead of Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia to win his seventh Olympic gold medal.

That makes Kenny Great Britain's most decorated Olympian and ensured Team GB finished top of the cycling medals table with six golds, four silver and two bronze.

"It's a bit of shock, I think," Kenny said of his latest medal success. "I really wanted to cross the finish line. I am absolutely buzzing. 

"Going into the final I didn't expect anything other than a five, really. I was hoping to kind of get stuck in, and hopefully come away with some silverware. 

"To win at the corner on my own like that is absolutely buzzing."

AMERICA'S BOXING WAIT GOES ON

The final four boxing gold medals were up for grabs on Sunday and plenty of focus was on the super-heavyweight bout between Bakhodir Jalolov and the USA's Richard Torrez. 

Twenty-two-year-old Torrez started strongly with a ferocious assault in the first round, but Uzbekistani boxer Jalolov recovered and won unanimously.

Torrez's compatriot Keyshawn Davis earlier lost his men's lightweight clash with Cuba's Andy Cruz, meaning USA's wait for an Olympic men's boxing gold will reach 20 years come Paris 2024.

"I've never felt this much pressure in fights a day in my life," Davis said. "I'm glad I got to experience this because it did make me a better fighter.

"I'm not cool with winning silver, but it's something I've got to live with and I'm okay with that. I'm gonna live with it and we're just gonna take it to the next level."

In the female categories, Kellie Anne Harrington beat Brazil's Beatriz Ferreira in the lightweight final to earn Ireland their second gold of the Games, while GB's Lauren Price outclassed Li Qian to win the middleweight final on points.

USA football star Megan Rapinoe got to see her fiancee Sue Bird complete a stellar Olympic career with a fifth basketball gold medal - despite all crowds being banned in Tokyo.

Bird, 40, signed off her Games career in the United States' 90-75 win over Japan on Sunday.

At courtside was Rapinoe, who won a bronze on Thursday when she scored twice as the USA beat Australia 4-3 in the football third-place match.

Rapinoe, who won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the 2019 World Cup, first met Bird in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

They became a couple later that year and announced their engagement in October 2020.

When the USA clinched the basketball gold medal, Bird went to the side of the court and kissed Rapinoe, later revealing how her 36-year-old partner managed to gain access to the Saitama Super Arena.

"I'm very lucky," Bird said. "Obviously when your partner or your fiancee is also in the Olympics you would love to be able to go and support them, be around them, to give any kind of support possible.

"Megan somehow finagled a media credential and got herself in this arena today. We didn't really know it was going to happen until two days ago, it got confirmed. So I do I feel very lucky she was here to witness it, to share it with me."

Spectators have been blocked from attending venues at the Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with families of overseas athletes unable to travel to Japan for the Games, meaning Rapinoe was among the fortunate few to be in the arena.

"I just went over and obviously told her I loved her and told her I was tired," said Bird. "That was pretty much the extent of the conversation, and she told me she was happy and proud of me.

"Of course I'm so proud of her and her team for winning that bronze medal. The Olympics is hard. It's really hard. There's so much pressure involved and so to have both of us medal is something that I know we'll take that memory with us forever."

Rapinoe wrote on Instagram: "I am so proud of you @sbird10. As if I could love you any more. Congrats baby!"

Bird has ruled out playing on to Paris 2024, happy to settle for five gold medals, the first of which came in Athens at the 2004 Games.

"It really is hard to wrap your head around it, to grasp what it is," said the Seattle Storm star.

"Twenty years of staying true to the game, making sure you're at the top of your game, so much sacrifice.

"The only thing about getting older, you know all the bad stuff that can happen. We lost in 2006 [to Russia at the World Championship]. We tasted that and that's always been the driver.

"So when we actually have the medal around our necks, it just feels so good. It's a sense of relief in a lot of ways."

IOC president Thomas Bach hailed the athletes of Tokyo 2020 for offering the world "the most precious of gifts" in the form of "hope" before bringing the Games to a close on Sunday.

There was plenty of scepticism throughout Japan, and indeed across the globe, about the practicality of hosting an Olympics in the midst of a pandemic.

Bach and the Olympics organisers remained steadfast in their belief the Games – delayed by a year due to the proliferation of COVID-19 – should go ahead, though, and Tokyo 2020 has played out without major incident over the past two weeks.

Speaking at Sunday's closing ceremony, Bach reiterated the message of solidarity he heeded when opening the 32nd Olympiad a little over two weeks ago.

"Dear athletes, over the last 16 days you have amazed us with your sporting achievements, with your excellence, with your joy and with your tears. You created the magic of these Olympic games Tokyo 2020," he said.

"You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together in solidarity. 

"You were competing fiercely with each other for Olympic glory and at the same time you were living peacefully together under one roof at the Olympic village. This is a powerful message of solidarity and peace. 

"You inspired us with this unifying power of sport, this is even more remarkable given the many challenges you had to face because of the pandemic. In these difficult times you gave to the world the most precious of gifts. Hope. 

"For the first time since the pandemic began the entire world came together, sport returned to centre stage, billions of people around the globe were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration. This gives us hope, this gives us faith in the future, the Olympic games Tokyo 2020 are the Olympic games of hope, solidarity and peace. 

"You the best athletes of the world could only make your Olympic dream come true because Japan prepared the stage for you to shine. You the Japanese people can be extremely proud of what you have achieved. On behalf of all the athletes we say thank you Tokyo, thank you Japan.

"And now I have to mark the end of this most challenging Olympic journey. I declare the Games of the 32nd Olympiad closed."

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, added: "The athletic events of the past 17 days have inspired us, given us courage, and shown us hopes for the future.

"I would like to express my feelings of gratitude and respect to all the athletes, and to everyone else who overcame so many difficulties to so thoroughly prepare for these Games and deliver their absolute best performances."

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