We have many reasons to celebrate Team USA this year as they dominated the 2012 London Olympics! In case you missed the Games this year, check out the list of highlights below in our wrap up of the summer tradition.
1. The biggest story may have been Michael Phelps’ record-crushing performance to give him the title of the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals (18 of them gold) for his career. Winning four gold medals and two silver medals during these Games sent Phelps above the previous most decorated Olympian, former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina who won 18.
2. Being coined the “Women’s Games,” the women of Team USA dominated the Olympics this year. Winning 29 of the 46 gold medals American athletes won this summer, many records were broken. Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, Kim Rhode, Claressa Shields and Kayla Harrison are just a few of the women who gracefully broke records and boundaries this summer. Surely these are women whose names will be around for some time to come.
According to Amy Rosewater, writer for TeamUSA.org, in her August 13, 2012, post “London 2012: The Women’s Games,” these Games were the first in Olympics history to see a female athlete representing each of the 204 countries present, “including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei.” The U.S. sent more women than men for the first time this year (268 to 261) and out of the 104 medals Team USA won, 58 were by the women.
3. Team USA won more overall medals and more gold medals than any other nation competing at this year’s Games. The 104 medals, 46 of the gold, won by the U.S. kept them in the medal lead for the fifth Summer Games in a row. China was in second place with 87 medals (38 gold), and Great Britain won 64 medals, 29 of them gold.
4. Beating out Team France in the finals with an 86-50 win, the U.S. women’s basketball team won gold for the fifth straight Olympic Games, a record for consecutive victories in a women’s team sport.
5. Winning their third consecutive Olympic gold medal, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings are 21-0 in their three Olympic appearances. Beach volleyball, being one of the newer sports to be added to the Games, has awarded just five gold medals; three of them belong to May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings.
6. Other big winners include: the women’s soccer team beat Japan for their third straight Olympic gold medal; the women’s water polo team won their first medal since the sport’s inception into the Olympics in 2000, beating Spain 8-5 on August 9; and diver David Boudia won the first U.S. gold medal in the 10 meter diving event since Greg Louganis did it in 1988.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait another two years to catch all the Olympic glory (2014 will see Sochi, Russia host the winter games) — the Paralympics run August 29-September 9, 2012, and will host many of the same able-bodied sports but also include goalball — a sport where players who have varying visual impairments wear eye masks (so everyone is on the same level) and roll a large ball, equipped with two bells for hearing, down the court to score a goal.