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Mormons in the Rio Olympics, days 15 & 16: Bronze in volleyball, 6th in marathon & closing ceremony

It was a bronze medal finish for the U.S. men’s volleyball team on the last day of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The team includes Brigham Young University alumnus and wing spiker Taylor Sander, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They came from behind to win against Russia in a five-set match. Russia won the first two sets and the USA the last three.

“I’m going to the locker room and take a deep breath and just enjoy it,” Sander said after the match to the Deseret News’ Amy Donaldson (see “Priddy's prayer is answered in a 'far greater' way as he leads USA men to volleyball bronze”).

“This experience has been really hard, and it means a lot to me for sure,” he added.

Sander shared on Instagram a photo of the team with their medals and wrote, “So honored to be standing on the podium with these amazing people!”

Marathon: Utahn Jared Ward, a BYU statistics professor, was one of three U.S. runners in the marathon that had a field of 155 competitors.

Ward was sixth overall, with a personal best time of 2 hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds.

The gold medalist, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, had a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 44 seconds. Galen Rupp of the United States took bronze with a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 5 seconds.

“It was a dream to be in the race, to try and poke my head in there,” Ward said of the medalists in an interview with Donaldson after the race. “It got tough toward the end.”

He said when the 26.2-mile race got tough, he thought of the reasons he was running, including his wife, who is pregnant with their third child. (See “BYU All-American Jared Ward rallies to place 6th in Olympic marathon.”)

He tweeted his thanks for the support he’s received.

https://twitter.com/jwardy21/status/767431647306387456/photo/1Closing ceremony

Several LDS Olympians went to the closing ceremony and shared their thoughts and photos on social media.

Ward was one of many who took a photo with gymnast Simone Biles, who was the flag bearer for Team USA.

Race walker John Nunn tweeted, “It's raining and we don't care.”

Australian runner Peter Bol rode on the shoulders of a fellow athlete as they entered the stadium.

Gold medalist Sami Hill, who is a goal keeper for the USA women's water polo team, shared her excitement about the closing ceremony.

Bronze medalist weightlifter Sarah Robles was all smiles as she posed next to a couple of performers from the ceremony.

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See “Mormons competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio” for more on the LDS athletes in the games.

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com, Twitter: CTRappleye