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After a day of glory for France yesterday, when the country claimed its first two gold medals of the 2016 Olympics, Wednesday proved to be something of a disappointment.
Judo world champion Gévrise Emane suffered a surprise defeat to Britain’s Sally Conway in the last 16 of the under 70kg category, while France’s rugby sevens team was knocked out by underdogs Japan in the quarter-final of the men’s tournament.
It fell to Parker to give French fans something to cheer and the four-time NBA champion delivered in some style, scoring the game-winning jump shot with 31 seconds remaining to give France a 76-75 victory over Serbia.
Parker, a 34-year-old guard for the San Antonio Spurs, capped a game-ending 10-2 run by the French, which also featured four points each by Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo.
“It’s awesome,” Parker said. “It’s not everyday you hit a game-winning shot. It was great.”
After defeat to Australia in their group-stage first match, the vital win means France are likely to finish third in the table and face a possible semi-final against a US team packed with NBA stars.
The USA themselves suffered a scare in their match against Australia in another thrilling encounter Wednesday, overturning a 70-72 deficit in the fourth quarter to claim a 98-88 victory and keep their 100 percent record alive.
Uchimura claims gold
Meanwhile, history was being made inside the Rio Olympic Arena, where Uchimura became the first gymnast in 44 years to win back-to-back Olympic all around titles.
Uchimura had to wait until his final performance on the horizontal bar to snatch the top prize with a total of 92.365. Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev had to settle for silver while Britain’s Max Whitlock finished third.
The 27-year-old Uchimura is considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time and had already helped Japan to a team gold two days ago.
Silver medalist Verniaiev compared Uchimura to other Olympic greats such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt as he paid homage to the victor. But a humble Uchimura said he was happy for the sport, rather than himself, to take the limelight.
“Everybody knows these names, but Kohei Uchimura, who is this man? I don’t think I am well-known in the world,” Uchimura said.
“I hope that people in the world enjoyed watching us and watching gymnastics. Not my name, but gymnastics, which should be as swimming is with Michael Phelps and athletics is with Usain Bolt.”
Froome vanquished, drug row rumbles on
It was a less successful day for another superstar of his sport, Chris Froome, who had to settle for third place in the men’s cycling time trial.
Fresh off his third Tour de France win, Froome had been hoping to complete a rare cycling double by also claiming an Olympic gold, but had to settle for another bronze to add to the one he won in the same event in 2012.
Instead it was the Swiss Fabian Cancellara who claimed top spot, beating Hollande’s Tom Dumoulin by 47 seconds.
Set to retire from the sport at the end of the year, it was a fitting end to the 35-year-old’s glittering cycling career.
But in an Olympics that has been overshadowed by allegations of doping, it was inevitable that day five of the Rio Games would not pass without controversy.
This time it came in the weightlifting, where Kazakhstan’s Nijat Rahimov shattered the world record to take gold in the men’s 77-kilogram class.
Rahimov served a doping ban between 2013 and 2015 and had been in doubt for the Olympics after the International Weightlifting Federation tried to exclude the entire Kazakh team over repeated doping positives, but the procedure was not completed in time for Rio.
However, Rahimov put his performance down to nothing more than hard work.
“It is the most amazing feeling. There was a chance Kazakhstan would not be allowed to compete in these Olympic Games. I have been practising for two years,” Rahimov said.
“I have been practising in Azerbaijan and when I returned to Kazakhstan I continued to practise.”