Recap: Olympics week 1 in review

Medal Count (as of 8/4):
USA: 54 (26 Gold, 13 Silver, 15 Bronze)
China: 53 (25 Gold, 16 Silver, 12 Bronze)
Great Britain: 29 (14 Gold, 7 Silver, 8 Bronze)

The Opening Ceremonies in London took place July 27 and the world has been following the athletes who represent their respective countries with rabid anticipation ever since Sir Paul McCartney struck his final note in “Hey Jude.” The storylines are everywhere: can the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams take gold as heavy favorites? Can Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings three-peat as gold medalists in women’s beach volleyball? And after winning 22 overall medals, 18 of them gold, is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian ever?

Here are some of the highlights from week one of the 2012 London Olympics.

Sixteen-year old Gabby Douglas won the gold medal for the U.S. in a dominant display of athleticism, withstanding challenges from Russia to became the first African-American to win the women’s gymnastics all-around event. Fellow American Aly Raisman failed to medal after falling victim to heart-wrenching tiebreak rules that declared Aliya Mustafina from Russia the bronze medalist.

In the women’s team gymnastics event, Team USA – Douglas, Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross – was dominant, beating Russia 183.596 to 178.530 to claim the first U.S. team gold medal in the event since 1996.

On the men’s side, costly mistakes knocked Team USA out of medal contention in the team event, finishing a disappointing fifth. In the all-around event, Danell Leyva, with the undying support of his stepfather and lucky towel, claimed bronze.

As per recent Olympic tradition, records are falling all over the place. But the real story coming into London was the battle for gold between American teammates Michael Phelps and up-and-coming phenom Ryan Lochte. After Lochte dominated in the 400 Individual Medley to win gold (and subsequently sent the media in an uproar over the Fall of Phelps), his rival showed the world why he’s the best Olympian in history: Phelps took home four gold and two silver medals, running his total medal count up to 22.

On the women’s side, the world is abuzz about new star Missy Franklin. The 17-year old Colorado native won two individual gold medals in both the 100m and 200m backstroke events, setting an American record and world record, respectively, and won two more golds in the 4x100m medley and 4x200m backstroke relays. She rounded out her record-setting Olympic debut with a bronze as part of the 4x100m freestyle race.

In the women’s 800m freestyle, 15-year-old Katie Ledecky stunned the field with her commanding gold medal swim, defeating Great Britain’s heavily favored Rebecca Adlington, who took bronze. Other U.S. individual event gold medalists included Rebecca Soni in the 200m breaststroke and Dana Vollmer in the 100m butterfly.

For the U.S. men medalists not named Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones won silver in the 50m freestyle; Nathan Adrian surprisingly won gold in the 100m freestyle; Lake Forest native Matt Grevers took gold in the 100m backstroke; and Tyler Clary won gold in the 200m backstroke.

In line with expectations, the United States continues to be the world’s most dominant force in the pool.

The U.S. men have gone about business as usual, beating up on France and Tunisia before setting records for points and margin of victory in a 156-73 demolition of overmatched Nigeria. In that game, Carmelo Anthony set a U.S. Olympic record with 37 points, breaking Stephon Marbury’s previous record of 31 points.

The U.S. women, perhaps favored even more heavily than the men, defeated the Czech Republic 88-61 on Friday, winning their 37th-consecutive Olympic game and easily taking the next step toward winning an unprecedented fifth consecutive gold medal.

In a thrilling first day in London, the U.S. men took down the heavily favored and three-time defending gold medalists of South Korea in dominant fashion. Unfortunately, the gold medal remained elusive as Italy won in the final match, winning by one point on a bullseye by Michele Frangilli. The silver medal was still a superb accomplishment for the underdog American team of Jacob Wukie, Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski.

In a historic bout, Kayla Harrison defeated Great Britain’s Gemma Gibbons in the women’s -78kg category by two yukos, becoming the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in judo.

Serena Williams crushed Russia’s Maria Sharapova in the women’s singles gold medal match 6-0, 6-1 Saturday to become the first U.S. woman to complete the Career Golden Slam, having won all four Grand Slam singles championships and winning Olympic gold in singles and doubles.

The Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, improved on their 2008 bronze medal in Beijing, defeating the French duo of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra 6-4, 7-6 (2) to win the gold medal at the All-England Club.

These are just some of the innumerable highlights and unforgettable moments from the first week of Olympic action across the pond. With another event-filled week to come, records are sure to be broken and lives will surely be changed forever.