London hands over the Olympics to the next host, Rio de Janeiro
Team USA battles Spain for gold in men's basketball
Kenya and Ethiopia are favorites in the men's marathon
Men's boxing and women's pentathlon also take place Sunday
The 2012 London Olympics end Sunday with a music-filled closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, but there are still plenty of medals to be won. Fifteen events in 10 sports will take place across the capital on what is the last day of the competition.
Here are five things to watch for Sunday.
1) The closing ceremony: Goodbye London, Hello Rio
London Games organizers say musical performances will be the focus of the closing ceremony, titled “A Symphony of British Music.”
Among the British acts rumored to be taking part are the Spice Girls and the Pet Shop Boys, singer Jessie J. and rapper Tinie Tempah. George Michael says he will be performing, too, tweeting over the past week that he is “a bit nervous” and has been “rehearsing like crazy” for the ceremony.
And like the spectacular opening ceremony just more than two weeks ago, which was directed by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and characterized by a quirky exuberance, the closing will feature thousands of local volunteers and schoolchildren.
At the end will be the traditional Olympic flag handover to the next summer Olympic hosts, Rio de Janeiro. Artistic Director Cao Hamburguer said we’ll see “eight minutes of Brazil” with music, dancing and performances by musicians Seu Jorge, Marisa Monte, and BNegao.
The whole show, attended by many of the 10,500 athletes who competed at the Games, will likely be watched on television worldwide by about 750 million people, the London organizing committee says. It begins at 9 p.m. (4 p.m. ET).
2) Men’s basketball: Team USA goes for the gold
In a rematch of its gold medal match in Beijing four years ago, the USA men’s basketball team will play Spain, the current world No. 2, in the Sunday afternoon final.
The game will pit several NBA players against each other. Spain’s Pau Gasol is playing against his Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant of the USA, while Spain’s Serge Ibaka will play against his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook of the USA.
The U.S. men’s basketball team has won gold at four of the past five Olympic Games, with the exception being the 2004 Athens Games.
3) The men’s marathon: A scenic tour through London
The men’s marathon begins at 11 a.m. (6 a.m. ET) on The Mall near Buckingham Palace. Its scenic loop along the River Thames will take it past landmarks including the palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.
Ethiopia and Kenya, with three runners each, are the favorites to win the race this year. All six athletes have clocked personal bests of 2:05:04 or better, and one of them – Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang – achieved his best time of 2:03:42 last year. The International Association of Athletics Federations says Kipsang may be the hottest marathoner in the world this year.
A Kenyan win could pay tribute to Sammy Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist who died in a fall from his balcony last year.
4) Men’s boxing: Five golds up for grabs
Five of the 10 gold medals in men’s boxing were awarded Saturday, and the other five will be given out Sunday in men’s fly, light, welter, light heavy, and super heavyweight. Kazakhstan and Great Britain each have two athletes vying for gold.
Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko is seeking to defend his Olympic gold medal in the lightweight battle with South Korea’s Han Soon-Chul.
At 18, Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana is the youngest of the boxers competing Sunday, battling Tugstsogt Nyambayar of Mongolia in the fly.
The super heavyweight match pits 22-year-old Londoner Anthony Joshua, competing in his first Olympics, against defending Olympic champ Roberto Cammarelle of Italy, 10 years his senior.
5) Women’s modern pentathlon: An all-day affair
The first event to start Sunday will also be the last to finish. The women get going at 8 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) in the modern pentathlon, starting with fencing and swimming at the Olympic Park.
They move south of the river to Greenwich Park for riding and the combined event, in which the athletes begin at handicapped time intervals based on their results from the previous events. They must run to the shooting range, hit five targets in 70 seconds, then run 1,000 meters – and do it three times over.
The first athlete to cross the finish line at the end wins the gold.
Modern pentathlon is the creation of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.
“The choice of the five diverse and unrelated sports that make up the modern pentathlon arose out of the romantic, tough adventures of a liaison officer whose horse was brought down in enemy territory,” says Pentathlon GB, the national governing body. “Having defended himself with his pistol and sword, he swims across a raging river and delivers the message on foot.”
The sport originally took place over five days but changed to one day at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.