US Wins Big at Summer Olympics

Alexa Conrad, Editor

2016 marked a promising year for American athletes, when the Rio Olympics opened the gateway for Olympians to put their years of training to the test.  Athletes representing the United States took home 46 gold medals, and 121 medals won overall.

Olympics are a worldwide sports tournament with multiple sports events, allowing athletes of all nationalities to compete against each other for gold, silver, and bronze medals.

Athletes are pushed to test their abilities and break personal, world, and Olympic records. The worldwide competition occurs every two years, with every other year hosting the winter or summer Olympics. This year’s summer Olympics was staged in Brazil, the first time it has ever been held in South America.

Olympics offers a wide range of sports. This includes: archery, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, kayak cycling (track, road, mountain, BMX) diving equestrian (dressage, jumping and eventing), fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, handball, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby, sailing, shooting, soccer, football, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, track and field, triathlon, volleyball (indoor), water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

Audiences watched their favorite returning athletes, as well as fresh new faces to the Olympic scene.

One athlete that captured America’s attention was 19-year old speed swimmer Katie Ledecky. She left the Olympics with five gold medals, and claimed the fastest ever times as the world record holder for the 400, 800, and 1500 meter freestyle.

Young, but not new to the Olympics, Ledecky was already a rising star. She won the 800 meter in the 2012 London Olympics at age 15. She also created a remarkable status for herself in other competitions, after winning four individual gold medals in the Pan Pacific Championship, taking first in the 200, 400, 800, and 1500 meter. Ledecky proceeded to take home five gold medals at the 2015 FINA World Championships.

Ledecky proved her talent in her first Olympic races: the 200 meter and 400 meter. Taking first place, she proved there would be little competition in her way for the podium. Ledecky continued to awe the world when she took first in the 1500 meter swimming race, along with breaking the Olympics/World record in the 800 meter.

Swimmer Michael Phelps is a two-time Olympian, who went home with a total of six medals. He placed first in the 200 meter butterfly, 4×1 medley relay, 4×1 freestyle relay, 200 meter individual medley, and 4×2 freestyle relay.

Phelps also won silver in the men’s 100 meter butterfly, winning in a three way tie for third. Phelps lost to Singaporean Joseph Schooling, who idolized Phelps as a young boy, and had even met him in his younger years. By beating Phelps, Schooling achieved his childhood dream.

Swimmer Ryan Murphy also took many wins, placing first in the 100 meter backstroke, 200 meter backstroke, and 4×1 relay.

Another athlete that stole the show was 19 year old gymnast Simone Biles. She took home four gold medals in women’s team all around, women’s floor exercise, and the women’s individual all around.

Biles also took home the bronze medal with teammates Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman, and Madison Kocain. Hernandez took a silver in the women’s beam.

Raismen claimed two silvers in the floor exercise, and the individual all around.

Kocain won bronze in the women’s uneven bars.

US also demonstrated success in its track and field competition. In women’s track, Allyson Felix took home the most medals, winning gold in both the 4×1 and 4×4 relay, along with a silver in the 400 meter.

Tina Bartoletta won the long jump, along with the 4×4. Tori Bowie also won in the women’s 4×1 relay, also taking a silver in the women’s 100 meter, and a bronze in the 200 meter.

Other gold medal winners included Jenna Pandini (4×1), Morolake Akinosun (4×1), Taylor Ellis-Watson (4×4), Ariana Washington (4×1), Courtney Okolo (4×4), Phyllis Francis (4×4), Natasha Hastings (4×4), Michelle Carter (shockput), Francena McCorory (4×4), Brianna Rollins (100 meter hurdles), English Gardner (4×1), and Dalilah Muhammad (400 meter hurdles).

In the men’s track and field competition, athletes that won the 4×4 relay included: LaShawn Merritt, Kyle Clemons, Arman Hall, Tony McQuay, David Verburg, and Gil Roberts.

Individual gold medal winners included: Christian Taylor (triple jump), Jeff Henderson (long jump), Ryan Crouser (shockput), Kerron Clement (400 meter hurdles), and Matthew Centrowitz Jr. (1500 meter).

Decathlon winner Ashton Eaton took top honors. The decathlon is an event that takes over two days, where each competitor takes part in ten events (100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter dash, 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1,500 meter run). It tests decathlon athletes in each event. By taking first in this category, Eaton was declared the world’s greatest athlete.

American athletes were also represented in many other events, claiming gold in: men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s middle 75 kg boxing (Claressa Shields), and men’s freestyle 97 kg (Kyle Snyder).

Kristin Armstrong took first in the women’s cycling timed trial.

Helen Maroulis became the first female athlete from America to win the women’s wrestling category.

Virginia Thrasher took first place in the women’s 10 meter air rifle event.

Gwen Jorgensen also took first in the women’s triathlon.

Despite US’ multiple gold winners, it almost became overshadowed by swimmer and 12-time medalist Ryan Lochte and his robbery scandal.

With all the medals won, the  US has a promising future in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.