* Mike Breen voice *
What a comeback for Team USA on the final day!
Going into Friday...
CHINA: 36 Gold Medals
UNITED STATES: 31 Gold Medals
As I type this blog on early Sunday...
UNITED STATES: 39 Gold Medals
CHINA: 38 Gold Medals
Victory. As of right now, the United States has one more Gold Medal opportunity with Richard Torrez Jr. in Boxing (no Gold in the sport since 2004), but we have won the Gold Medal Race and the Overall Medal Race...
Here were the eight Gold Medals that brought home the win for the United States...
ATHLETICS: Women's 4x400m Relay - GOLD
This was just ridiculous. Trotting out Sydney McLaughlin, Allyson Felix, Dalilah Muhammad, and Athing Mu is a cheat code. This was a hilariously dominated race, and mark it down: McLaughlin, Mu, and Muhammad will add a fourth and break a World Record at Paris 2024. (EDIT: I initially said Felix as a mistake, but she will likely be retiring, meaning Athing Mu is the third member returning) Also…
What a career for Allyson Felix!
ATHLETICS: Men's 4x400m Relay - GOLD
It has been a lackluster Olympics for the men of USA Track (not Field), but Michael Cherry, Michael Norman, Bryce Deadmon, and Rai Benjamin finally grabbed Gold… and they did it in a dominant way. The United States is essentially a dynasty in the 4x400m Relay. They don't own all of the Gold Medals, but they have crossed the line first in nearly every Olympics they've competed in.
BASKETBALL: United States Men - GOLD
I mean… there really should have never been a doubt. This isn't the USA's best possible team. The NBA season ran INTO their lead-up to the Olympics. They lost some players due to COVID. And yet, despite the exhibition losses, and game one loss to France, Team USA dominated most of the Tournament and won Gold for the fourth consecutive Olympics. People talked shit about this team… yet… CHAMPS.
GOLF: Nelly Korda - GOLD
It got shaky late, but the World No. 1 golfer Nelly Korda added a Gold Medal to her Major Champion status. When it mattered, she buckled down, and she becomes the first woman to win the Gold Medal in the return of Golf to the Olympics. The United States swept the sport at Tokyo 2020, with Xander Schauffele winning Gold last week.
WATER POLO: United States Women - GOLD
Another dynasty, this one in the pool, as the United States Women's Water Polo dominated their way to the Gold Medal in the knockout round at Tokyo 2020. They've won three consecutive Gold Medals, and this felt like a lock all along, even with a group-stage loss to Hungary.
TRACK CYCLING: Jennifer Valente - GOLD
If you want to find the moment that put the United States over the top, this was it right here! Jennifer Valente's surprise win, the first American woman to win the Omnium in Cycling Track (wild sport, by the way), is what put the United States over the top, in the end. She even took a pretty tough fall in the final of the four races, but got back up and rode to Gold!
BASKETBALL: United States Women - GOLD
Okay, THIS was truly never a doubt. The United States Women's Basketball team cruised to the Gold Medal in one of the "expected" titles for the delegation to leave Tokyo with. In the process, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird also became the first-ever women to win FIVE Olympic Gold Medals in the sport. They have the most of all-time between both the men & women, as well.
VOLLEYBALL: United States Women - GOLD
The last one gets a hearty, "fucking finally" from me. Somehow, this incredible USA Volleyball program has never seen a Gold Medal from the Women's side of things. It has always resulted in pain, heartbreak, and moments that would make you wonder how they couldn't breakthrough.
Wonder no more.
After making the Gold Medal game, coach, and volleyball legend, Karch Kiraly was emotional, just wanting this program and players to finally have their moment…
…they did, and he was amped…
That is what this shit is all about, folks.
Look, some people have said this is a "terrible" Olympics for the United States. That's insanely fucking false. Some have said it is not as great as expected. To that, I say, eh, okay, sure. They finished below expectations. But consider the odd five-year Olympic cycle. Consider COVID and its impact on the Trials and Games. Consider the expected medals from Simone Biles. Consider the first Olympic Games without Michael Phelps since Atlanta 1996.
Factor all of that in, and you quickly realize, as the United States takes home 113 total medals (the second-highest total ever at a non-USA-based Games) and 39 Gold Medals (the second-highest total in a non-USA-based Games since Mexico City 1968), that all went pretty well for the Red, White, & Blue.
Faster. Higher. Stronger. The traditional Olympic motto still stands today.
Once again, for the third straight Summer Games in the Gold Medal column, and the seventh straight Summer Games in the Overall Medal column, the motto for Team USA is: Faster. Higher. Stronger. Best in the World.