Olympics Over: Team USA Comes Out on Top


Michael Phelps (far right) poses next to Ryan Lochte and two other members of the gold-medal 4×200 meter freestyle relay foursome. The team beat Great Britain for first place by less than two seconds with a time of 7:00.26 (picture from Wikipedia).

Holley Murray, Staff Writer

It has been more than three weeks since the 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with the Aug. 5 opening ceremony. The games came to a close in a remarkable closing ceremony on Aug. 21. Team USA’s athletes represented well in all events, ultimately coming out on top with 46 gold medals, 37 silver medals, and 38 bronze medals (a grand total of 121 medals).

The United States Olympic team (consisting of 558 athletes in 30 sports) was notably successful in swimming, led primarily by team-stars Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. Throughout his 16-year Olympic swimming career, Phelps has earned a total of 28 medals, giving him the title of the world’s most decorated Olympian. With this massive success behind him, Phelps is expected to retire following the Rio Olympics. Ledecky earned four gold medals and one silver medal for Team USA, also in swimming. At only 19 years old, she has set 11 world records in swimming and was easily distinguished in the 2016 games as one of the team’s strongest members this year.

Another impressive 19-year-old American Olympic icon was gymnast Simone Biles. Biles is only 4 feet, 8 inches tall, but size is no measure of skill for the artistic gymnast. She won four gold medals and one bronze medal, all in women’s gymnastics categories, including vault, balance beam, and floor exercise. The New York Times calls Biles the “world’s best gymnast,” which is no surprise considering her success as a member of Team USA.

Though the United States athletically excelled in the games, some sort of controversy is rather unavoidable in such a globally observed scene. This was certainly proven true by swimmer Ryan Lochte, who received plenty of negative press after filing a false robbery report to Brazilian authorities. Lochte claimed that he and three other US swimmers were approached by men displaying police badges and robbed at gunpoint. In the days that followed, it was discovered that the four American swimmers, in actuality, had vandalized a gas station and been apprehended by security guards. Time will tell what lies in Lochte’s legal future, but experts are anticipating hefty fines or even jail time for the swimmer.

Even though the Rio Olympics have just come to a close, Team USA is already looking forward to and preparing for the 2020 games in Tokyo, Japan. Many Olympians recall training to reach their ultimate goal of winning an Olympic medal from childhood, including Phelps (who began swimming at the age of seven). Training begins now to have the team ready for victory again when the games return.