How the near-impossible happened after Usain Bolt

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We volition ne'er spot different Michael Phelps. Nor different Usain Bolt, oregon 2016-level Simone Biles.

The Olympics spoiled america rotten for good implicit a decade. We tuned successful to spot greatness and they gave america the Greatest Of All Time.

Phelps won 23 golden medals, shattering the existing grounds of nine. Bolt did the sprint treble astatine 3 consecutive Games, with an aerial of axenic container office. Biles rewrote the possibilities of her sport.

The Tokyo Games had a near-impossible enactment to follow. They could person been a large letdown. A brutal clang backmost to earth, from the otherworldly to the simply excellent.


Usain Bolt with his 100m golden medal astatine the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Getty)

Somehow, that has not been the case. Sport has again managed to bash what it ever does: unearth caller heroes, present caller tales of wonderment, propulsion astatine our heartstrings with triumph and disaster. Give america escape, and hope.

A near-impossible enactment to follow? In sport, near-impossible is thing but a situation to those who would springiness everything to go legends.

In Australia, these Games person felt each the much poignant portion stuck astatine location nether lockdown. Our ain swimmers, inexplicably, surpassed the glory of Thorpe, Hackett, O'Neill, Jones and Rice.

They made america good with pridefulness successful a mode not felt since Sydney 2000. Emma McKeon and institution were genuinely magnificent; our greatest-ever swimming team.

Emma McKeon, Kaylee McKeown and Chelsea Hodges observe Australia's ninth swimming golden medal astatine the Tokyo Olympics, successful the 4x100m medley relay. (Getty)

They were pipped connected the swimming golden medal tally lone by the US, led by Caeleb Dressel. The tattooed improvement proved a worthy heir to Phelps, delivering 5 golden medals astatine a azygous Olympics; adjacent to the legend's haul astatine Rio 2016.

Dressel is simply a reluctant megastar but 1 nonetheless. Swimming has a caller look and the American's was not conscionable victorious but humble. His respect-filled conflict with Australian sprint king Kyle Chalmers, decided by conscionable 0.06sec successful the 100m freestyle, was marvellous and moving theatre.

And adjacent though we knew what was connected the cards for McKeon, who genuinely saw her coming? Whoever thought that the unassuming flyer from Wollongong would go arguably the top swimmer that Australia has ever produced?

From relay workhorse to world-beater, McKeon rewrote our swimming history. The lone Australian to triumph 4 golden medals astatine a azygous Games, conscionable the 3rd pistillate to triumph the 50-100 freestyle double, the archetypal pistillate swimmer to triumph 7 medals astatine a azygous Games, Australia's astir prolific medallist of each time.

The plaudits are galore and wholly deserved, adjacent if it took america immoderate clip to registry that she belonged with the likes of Dawn Fraser and Shane Gould arsenic immortals of the Olympic pool. That neither Ariarne Titmus, with a 200-400 treble implicit American icon Katie Ledecky, oregon Kaylee McKeown, with a historical 100-200 backstroke double, was Australia's best-performed swimmer of these Games is astonishing.

Gold medalist Emma McKeon of Team Australia poses during the medal ceremonial for the Women's 50m Freestyle Final. (Getty)

Australia's women person been heroic. Jess Fox earned a uncommon infinitesimal of justness by claiming canoe slalom gold, aft 3 'minor' medals successful the kayak event.

And pistillate athletes person dominated the communicative crossed the full Games successful profound ways. Biles astir of all.

It was hard to ideate that the American could person made a bigger interaction connected sporting popular civilization than she already had. For galore people, Biles is gymnastics.

Now, she is besides a formidable figurehead for intelligence wellness awareness. In a athletics wherever glamour papers implicit utter brutality, Biles enactment her well-being supra triumph connected the biggest stage. She changed the game, again. Afraid of the absorption erstwhile she entered the Olympic colony aft withdrawing from the squad final, she was alternatively thanked by chap athletes who felt her pain.

USA's Simone Biles successful the Women's Beam Final. (Getty)

Biles' bronze medal successful the beam was a touching post-script to her Games. She returned and she conquered her demons, if not a brace of superb Chinese rivals. She leaves Tokyo with her veneer of invincibility stripped yet someway a greater fig than ever.

And aft Biles exited the idiosyncratic all-round, teammate Sunisa Lee became a champion. Her golden medal triumph lifted an bonzer and marginalised community: Hmong-Americans.

Lee is the girl of refugees who fled Laos during its autumn successful the Vietnam war. Thanks to her golden medal, galore much radical astir the satellite cognize their story.

Sunisa Lee of Team United States competes connected equilibrium beam during the Women's All-Around Final. (Julian Finney/Getty)

On the track, the tone of Bolt was channelled successful a astir unexpected way: by a Norwegian moving the 400m hurdles.

Few - and surely not athletics casuals - could person imagined that Karsten Warholm would tally the astir electrifying contention of the Games, clocking 45.94 to slash 0.76 disconnected his ain satellite record; yet lone conscionable beating USA's Rai Benjamin. His uniform-ripping celebration, the stunned look connected his face, was elite way astatine its affectional peak.

Just a time later, America's Sydney McLaughlin ran the greatest-ever women's 400m hurdles, a 51.46 for gold. It was a wonderfully absurd sequel.

Norway's Karsten Warholm celebrates his astonishing 400m hurdles win. (Getty)

Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah proved a worthy sprint successor to Bolt, becoming the archetypal pistillate to triumph the 100-200 treble twice. Her icy narration with superstar teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce lone added to the theatre.

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs was the men's 100m champion that nary 1 expected, the slightest apt victor successful caller representation and the antithesis of the larger-than-life Bolt. His was a touching story; the antheral who had ne'er known his father, the converted long-jumper who for present is the fastest antheral connected the planet.

The underdogs person had their infinitesimal successful the prima astatine these Games. Perhaps the Australian Boomers, yet to triumph a medal successful their history, volition soon number among the improbable winners.

Patty Mills of the Australian Boomers. (Getty)

Olympic men's hoops is nary longer a foregone conclusion, a triumph procession for the USA. A full-strength American line-up - LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden et al - would person been a worthy descendent of the Dream Team. Instead, maligned megastar Kevin Durant heads a squad that mislaid its archetypal crippled to France. The tourney is the story, not the American container score.

Australia's Patty Mills has again proven himself a maestro of FIBA play; the NBA seat seasoned who is simply a free-scoring wide successful greenish and gold. Luka Doncic has taken his NBA superstar presumption and enactment the tiny federation of Slovenia connected his back, carrying it to the semi-finals against the USA-slaying French.

Mills has ne'er entered an Olympics saying that helium wanted to triumph a medal. He has ever insisted that Australia could triumph gold. The Boomers tin scope the golden medal crippled if they instrumentality down America successful the semis. It is simply a genuine anticipation and would number among Australia's astir celebrated moments astatine the Games.

Michael Phelps poses with his Rio 2016 medals. (Getty)

These are not the Olympic that we person go accustomed to successful the past decennary oregon so. No Phelps. No Bolt. No matter.

They person proven magnificent, unforgettably so, successful their ain way.

There has been nary fto down. The magic of the Games, contempt the immense contention of them being held mid-pandemic successful Japan, is undiminished.

Long whitethorn it beryllium so. Monumental moments are inactive to beryllium played retired successful coming days - and afterwards, we person conscionable 3 years to hold until Paris 2024.

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