Final Medal Count:
USA: 104 (46 gold, 29 silver, 29 bronze)
China: 88 (38, 27, 23)
Russia: 82 (24, 26, 32)
After a frantic first week during which records fell in the pool and on the gymnasium floor, the second week of the Olympics gave us even more thrills. The women’s soccer team faced tough tests against Canada and Japan, U.S. track and field faced the pressure after a disappointing finish in Beijing, and the U.S. men and women felt the heat while trying to win consecutive gold medals on the basketball court.
A record 80,203 fans packed iconic Wembley Stadium to watch the U.S. women’s soccer team defeat Japan 2-1 to claim its third consecutive Olympic gold medal. Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and the other stars of the triumphant Americans avenged their loss to the Japanese squad that had beaten them in the World Cup final a little over a year ago.
Not to be forgotten was Alex Morgan’s stellar goal in the 123rd minute of the U.S.’s semifinal matchup against Canada, a thrilling match that sent the U.S. into the gold medal game.
Track and Field
While Jamaica’s Usain Bolt deservedly garnered the most attention for his dominance of the men’s 100m and 200m sprints, the U.S. quietly had one of their finest Olympic Games in track and field. The U.S. won 29 total medals, the most since earning 30 in Barcelona in 1992.
The biggest highlight may have been the performance in the women’s 4x100m relay. Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter combined to post a time of 40.82 seconds, smashing a 27-year-old world record and finishing under 41 seconds for the first time ever. The women also took gold in the 4x400m relay, led again by Felix and anchor Sanya Richards-Ross.
The men had their share of success – which is no small feat when facing Bolt, who is considered perhaps the fastest man in history. While Bolt and Jamaica took control in multiple events, the U.S. men still medaled in the 100m and the 110m hurdles. Gold medals were hard to come by, but Ashton Eaton provided a huge thrill by dominating the decathlon. Fellow American Trey Hardee earned silver in the event.
The U.S. men went down to the wire against a determined Spanish team, but the superior Americans wore down the opposition in the fourth quarter and eked out a 107-100 win to secure a second-consecutive gold medal. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and company won every game by an average of over 30 points. Superstar Kevin Durant broke a longstanding American record by becoming the highest scoring Olympian in the history of the Games.
On the women’s side, DePaul’s own Doug Bruno — as assistant coach — helped lead a dominant American squad to its fifth-consecutive gold medal. The U.S. women dismantled France 86-50 to win gold. They haven’t lost an Olympic game since 1992 – over 40 wins in a row.
Women’s Volleyball: The women’s team took silver after losing to Brazil. It was the second straight gold for Brazil and a shocking conclusion to a dominant run by the Americans. Favored to win gold, the women won every match in qualifying as well as the tournament until Brazil finally put an end to it.
Women’s Water Polo: 19-year old Maggie Steffens led the U.S. women to their first ever gold medal in water polo, defeating Spain 8-5. Steffens led the tournament with 21 total goals.
By the Numbers
• The Americans took home 104 total medals, and there’s no doubting where they succeeded the most. Swimming earned 31 medals (16 gold) and track and field earned 29 (nine gold). That accounted for a little over 57 percent of the total medal count for the U.S.
• These Olympics were about the performance of the U.S. women. Not only did the women earn 29 gold medals, they also earned 58 total – compared to 45 from the men.
• Once again, the great Michael Phelps stole the show on swimming’s biggest stage. He medaled six more times (four gold) and retired as the most decorated Olympian in history: 22 total medals and 18 gold medals. For all of the attention given to fellow American Ryan Lochte, Phelps won the most medals of any Olympian once again in 2012.