The U.S defeated hosts Japan 90-75 in the final of the women’s basketball at the Tokyo Games on Sunday to win a seventh straight Olympic gold.
U.S great Sue Bird opened the scoring less than a minute in, giving the Americans a lead which they never relinquished.
“It really is hard to wrap your head around it, to grasp what it is,” said the 40-year-old Bird, who along with 39-year-old Diana Taurasi, 39, now has five gold medals —- the most ever in Olympic basketball.
“Twenty years of staying true to the game, making sure you’re at the top of your game, so much sacrifice.”
Two fellow Americans, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, share the record for most gold medals won by a male player with three.
“We’ve ignored the ‘five gold’ talk because we just want to be in the moment, and we want to really enjoy our last Olympics and make it about the team,” said Taurasi.
“It’s 20 years of sacrifice. It’s a lot of time on the court, it’s a lot of time away from your family, and we’ve been able to do it together (her and Bird) which means probably more than any medal that we’ve won.”
There was intense defensive pressure and some good three-point shooting from the Japanese, with Nako Motohashi lighting it up from the distance with 4/5.
But the Americans’ size and skill proved too much for the hosts.
Brittney Griner led the U.S in scoring with 30 points —- on 78 per cent shooting from the floor —- to which she added five rebounds and three blocks in an impressive statline.
U.S players A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart added respectively 19 and 14 points and a combined eight blocks.
Maki Takada and Motohashi were the only two Japanese players in double figures with 16 and 17 respectively.
The U.S ,have now won nine of 10 Olympic gold medals available since 1984 and are unbeaten at the Games since the last of their three losses came in 1992.
This was their 55th consecutive win at the Olympics.
Durant secured his third gold on Saturday, when the U.S defeated France 87-82 in the men’s final.
A few of the new Olympic champions were at Saitama Super Arena to cheer the women’s side on, as was women’s football team star Megan Rapinoe, who is engaged to Bird.
In the women’s bronze medal game, France beat Serbia 91-76 on Saturday.(dpa/NAN)