Track and Field is such a time-consuming sport. One can spend hours and hours training, and then one can watch hours and hours of the most excruciatingly painful sport ever created, the marathon. What makes this time-consuming sport even more awful is that it only lasts 1.5 hours in the Olympics!

The Rio 2016 Olympics were supposed to be a celebration of sport, but the games have been marred by doping controversies and graft. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, were no exception. The American track and field team dominated the field for the first time since 1996 while the team repeated the same feat in men’s basketball. The team’s success, however, was marred by doping scandals which led to the withdrawal of several medal-winning athletes.

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Scott Cacciola

TOKYO — It had been a week and a half of polar opposites.

Extremely hot weather. Extreme spikes and an extreme track, two technical advancements that worked together to create extreme times. But there was also a significant lack of spectators, a void that the competitors attempted to fill with extraordinary displays.

The track and field events of the Tokyo Olympics helped fill the last ten days of the Olympic calendar, and the five-year wait was well worth it in so many ways. Members of the old guard returned to the spotlight, some for the last time, while a new generation came out, many of them in events that had previously been overlooked.

These were the Shot-Put Games, which Ryan Crouser of the United States turned become must-see television. As a postscript to his gold-winning effort, Mondo Duplantis, a Louisiana native, barely missed vaulting higher than any person in history.

These were the Olympic Games for the 400-meter hurdles, a resurgent sport. Karsten Warholm of Norway and Sydney McLaughlin, 22, of the United States, shattered their previous world records by staging noon spectacles in Tokyo that were aired in prime time in the United States — a knowing acknowledgment from the television executives that hurdling had never been cooler.

Of all, these were the Games of Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, a one-of-a-kind athlete who had come to Tokyo with the goal of winning three medals in three arduous sports. She departed with Olympic gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters for women, bronze in the 1,500, and a strong belief that the impossible is achievable.

“I believe I’m a little crazy,” she said.

But relief was her most palpable emotion, she said: relief that she had made it through the maze of pandemic-related protocols; relief that she had made it through the humidity and qualifying rounds; relief that she had been able to put the pieces together at the most crucial moments possible, even if the Olympic Stadium resembled a cavernous sound stage.

Many of those emotions were shared by many people. Athletes wept and rejoiced with one another. During the epidemic and the yearlong Olympic delay, several of them trained in relative solitude, citing it as the most difficult 18 months of their life. Now was their chance to express their silent anguish.

Noah Lyles, who won bronze in the men’s 200 meters, stated through tears, “It’s by far been my toughest year, emotionally and physically.”

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8:43 p.m., August 8, 2021 ET

But there was also pleasure, as shown by Gianmarco Tamberi, an Italian who leapt into the arms of Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim when the two decided to share the Olympic high jump championship. Barshim described him as “one of my dearest pals.”

Allyson Felix, who won two gold in her last Olympics at the age of 35, became the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history.

She said, “I’m a warrior.” “I’ve been doing it for the last few of years. “All I needed was a chance.”

Felix was on FaceTime with her little daughter, Cammy, when she won bronze in the women’s 400 meters, despite being away from her family and friends. It added to the weirdness of the event, which was made more stranger by the absence of family and friends waiting to hug their loved ones at the finish line.

Just the marathoners and racewalkers were allowed to compete in front of spectators, but they did so in Sapporo, some 500 miles north of Tokyo, where people lined the streets to cheer on competitors like Molly Seidel, a 27-year-old American who won bronze in only her third marathon.

She said, “I simply wanted to put my nose where it didn’t belong and go after it.” “Since the Olympics only come along every four years, you may as well go for it.”

But it was Eliud Kipchoge, the soft-spoken Kenyan who continues to push the limits of human performance as the greatest marathoner of all time, who had the last say. On Sunday, he won his second consecutive gold medal in the men’s marathon and his fourth Olympic medal overall, continuing a legacy that began in Athens in 2004 as a 5,000-meter runner.

Kipchoge expressed his post-race comments on Twitter, characterizing the Olympics as a unique fantasy for athletes. He compared sports to life. You win some of the time and lose part of the time.

“But today was a day when I won,” he wrote.

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