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The United States of America at the Summer Olympics: From 1896 to 2012!


Good Luck for London 2012!

1896 The States was one of the first 13 countries to send an athletic delegation to the Summer Games – among the world’s most high-profile sporting events– on Greek soil. This year was a key moment for the global’s sport.

1896 In Athens, the United States of America became the leading sports country of the world after finishing first in unofficial team standings in the First Modern Olympiad. There, the 1896 U.S. Olympic squad earned a total of 20 medals: 11 gold, 7 silver, and 2 bronze. Meanwhile, Boston-born James B. Connolly was the first person to claim a gold medal in Olympic history after winning the triple jump in Athens’ Panathinaiko Stadium. Back home in Boston, Mr. Connolly was given a hero’s welcome. Since 1896 -without interruption– America has been renowned for producing international champs.

1896 Thomas Burke’s rise to prominence came in Athens when he was the first winner of the men’s 100m in Olympian history, making him the world’s fastest sprinter. Mr. Burke was identified with the emerging generation of American athletes in the late 1890s when he realized his dream of winning the Olympic gold.

1896 What hurdler was the first American athlete to win an Olympic title? Answer: Thomas Curtis, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student. He made a time of 17,6 seconds to win the gold in the men’s 110m hurdles in Greece.

1900 With 47 international medals (19 gold, 14 silver, and 14 bronze), the States once again became one of the world’s elite sports powers in the multi-sport event in Paris (France).

1900 Alvin Kraenzlein was in the spotlight as he, a born-athlete, led American team to win four golds in Paris: 60m, 110m hurdles, 200m hurdles, and long jump. To prepare himself to become an outstanding sportsman, the United States hurdler made his first overseas visit to the United Kingdom. Hailing from Milwaukee (Wisconsin), Kraenzlein was the American star in the Games of the Second Olympiad, followed by Ray Ewry (3 golds), Margaret Ives Abbot (first female in US history to capture an Olympian championship), and Irving Baxter (2 golds), among other high-profile athletes. On the other hand, Kraenzlein’s life has been an inspiration to several sports people in Wisconsin and the States.

1904 St. Louis (MO) was the site for the Games of the Third Olympiad. Unequivocally, the 1904 Olympics were in the focus of the attention of the world press.

1904 In the Olympic diving tournament in Missouri, the Americans swept the first three positions.

1904 Pittsburgh-born runner James Lightbody was the winner of the men’s 800m and 1,500m–He was the first male to win both these competitions at the same Olympics. Shortly afterward, he took a number of other major athletic titles, including the Intercalated Games in Greece.

1904 The host country’s team -made up of four stars: Herman T. Glass, Edward Hennig, Anton Heida, George Eyser- claimed first in the gymnastics tournament at the III Olympiad in St. Louis (MO).

1908 At the IV Summer Olympics in London (England), the US Olympic team was ranked second in the medal count -23 golds, 12 silvers, 12 bronzes-behind only Britain.

1908 With three wins (800m, 1500m and medley relay), New Jersey’s runner Mel Sheppard had an exceptional year in the Briton capital of London.

1912 Oklahoma-born Jim Thorpe won both the decathlon and pentathlon in the Summer Games at Stockholm, Sweden. Decades later, many sportswriters and sports experts selected Thorpe as both “the greatest football player and male athlete of the first half of the 20th Century”.

1912 With three gold medals in the shooting tournament, New York City-born Alfred Lane became America’s most successful athlete at the V Summer Olympics on Scandinavian soil.

1912 Two future personalities competed in the Games in Sweden: Firstly, Avery Brundage in pentathlon-elected President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC); the first U.S. sports leader to occupy the post. Secondly, George S. Patton, General during World War II.

1920 At the Summer Olympic Games in Antwerp (Belgium), the States became undisputed champion when it was first in the medal standings with 95 medals. The U.S. team had more than 40 Summer Olympic Games Champions.

1920 In Belgium, Duke Kahanamoku earned the men’s 100m freestyle for the second time in a row. For the past four years, Hawaii’s sporting icon became the first islander to conquer the coveted title (Stockholm Games) and was a national-class swimmer in the States. Prior to 1916, the untapped athlete moved between his home, Hawaii, and frequent swimming events in the continental United States, where his only goal was to train to become the world’s fastest swimmer. There, he gained the national trials, capturing tickets for the Summer Olympics. As well as being one of the most outstanding swimmers on Earth since 1912, Duke Kahanamoku reintroduced the sport of surfing to the western world- he turned it into a great national passion in the continental U.S. Like Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop and the performer Don Ho, his immense personal popularity added to Hawaii’s international fame.

1924 In the Olympics in Paris, France, America’s strong squad was first in the medal count with 99 – 67 medals more than Finland (second in the Games).

1924 The US water polo team took third place in the international competition, becoming the first American squad to be medalist in the Olympiad.

1924 After gaining four golds, America’s sportsmen became champion in the free-style wrestling tournament in the Games of the VIII Olympiad in Paris. The winners were Robin Read, Russel Vis, John Spellman, and Harry Steele.

1924 The United States swimmer Albert White quickly established himself as the “undisputed champ” in the Olympian Diving Tournament in France, winning golds in both springboard and platform diving.

1928 During the IX Olympiad in the Netherlands, the States was the leading nation in the medal count, earning 22 global titles -12 more than Germany.

1928 Pennsylvania’s Olympic ambassador Johnny Weissmuller won the 100m freestyle for the second time in a row in Amsterdam (Holland/Netherlands). He was one of the top favorites to win the title. Over a sporting career that spanned more than 10 years, he obtained 52 national championships and five Olympian golds. Likewise, he set 67 world records in the States and Western Europe. After stepping down as swimmer, he became a top movie star in Hollywood and co-starred with such prominent actresses as Brenda Joyce and Maureen O’Sullivan.

1928 Elizabeth Robinson had the distinction of being the first female to win the 100m (track & field) in the IX Summer Olympics.

1932 The Games of the X Olympiad were held in Los Angeles (CA)-for the second time in the history of the United States (St. Louis, 1904).

1932 World-class athletes led the US delegation to win the Los Angeles Games: 103 medals! -well ahead of Italy (36). Among Summer Olympic stars: Jesse Owens (track and field), Jim Bausch (decathlon, athletics), Edward Flynn (boxing), Michael Galitzen (diving)…

1932 The home country took third place in the Water Polo Championship, earning a bronze. The local team gained that distinction by beating Japan and Brazil.

1932 America’s Olympian decathlon champion Jim Bausch obtained the James R. Sullivan Memorial Trophy as the top Olympic athlete. Few were surprised when he received that award.

1936 Despite a troubled relationship with the Germany of Adolf Hitler, Washington dispatched a national contingent to Berlin, home to the XI Games.

1936 Alabama-born Jesse Owens captured America’s attention by earning four world titles in Berlin— 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay, as well as the long jump. As a result of this, the United States sprinter was one of the globe’s most high-profile athletes in the 20th Century. This man is of great historical significance for America. Why? His big performance came at a time when there were fewer black athletes in the global sports arena, breaking down the barriers of prejudices, and occurred with the political backdrop of Germany’s Nazi regime. During Owens’ days as sprinter and long jumper, he became a symbol of the struggle against racism.

1936 The U.S. men’s soccer squad did not qualify for the second round after being eliminated by Italy-the world’s top-ranked team — but they finished 10th in the Olympic tournament, ahead of Taiwan, Egypt, Hungary, Turkey, Finland, and Luxembourg.

1936 The United States -a basketball-mad nation– placed first in the Inaugural men’s basketball championship in Germany, a feat they repeated from 1948 and ’68. The U.S delegation captured the universal trophy by beating Mexico (25-10) in the semis and then Canada (19-8) in the gold-medal match. On their way to win the event, the North American nation also defeated Estonia (52-28) in the second round and Philippines (56-23) in the quarter-finals.

1936 Glenn Morris, a native of Simla (Colorado), made headlines around the world when he obtained the James R. Sullivan Memorial Trophy as the top Olympic athlete in the States.

1940-1944 The Games were cancelled due to World War II.

1948 The United States received 23 golds in the Games of the 14th Olympiad in London, Great Britain, winning the unofficial team championship. In the meantime, in New York City, America’s win set off a wave of explosive emotion as it was announced on nationwide radio.

1948 In the United Kingdom, the young American Bob Mathias, who hails from Tulare (California), began to make a name for himself in track and field when he finished first in the decathlon with 7,139 points.

1948 The US basketball team claimed first place in the London 1948 Olympic basketball tournament, earning the title and allowing they to compete in the next Olympics in Scandinavia.

1948 Surprisingly Porter William led a United States sweep in the men’s 110-meter hurdles.

1948 Unbeaten in the decathlon, Robert Mathias –invariably known to his friends as “Bob”— earned the James E. Sullivan Memorial Trophy. He gained a gold medal the XIV Olympiad and those of the XV Olympiad in 1952.

1952 At the Helsinki Games, the United States delegation took first place in team standing by winning 40 global titles.

1952 With four trophies, America’s sportsmen finished first in the weightlifting competition in the 15th Summer Games in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, defeating the Soviet Union in the medal count.

1952 Pennsylvania’s runner Horace Ashenfelter was the first American runner to gain a gold medal in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase in Finland.

1952 The States captured a gold in basketball in the XV Olympics, giving the US squad access to compete in the upcoming men’s Olympic Games basketball championship in Australia in the mid-1950s.

1952 Upon winning an Olympic trophy in the men’s javelin throw in Scandinavia, Cy Young was the first person in America’s sporting history to receive that honor.

1955 Looking ahead to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the US Olympic Committee sent an important delegation (spearheaded by its top athlete Patricia McCormick) to Pan American Games in the Mexican metropolis—Among whom were the future Olympic winners: Rafer Johnson (decathlon), Parry O’Brien (shot put), Mildred McDaniel (women’s high jump), Huelet Benner (shooting), and Charles Vince (weightlifting).

1956 Norma Armitage, a fencer, was the flag-bearer for America’s fourteenth Olympian delegation at the 16th Olympiad at Melbourne, (Australia).

1956 The United States team took first place in the basketball tournament at the Melbourne Olympics following its impressive string of triumphs in the 1954 World Championships and 1955 Pan American Sports Games.

1956 Patricia McCormick gained two global titles (her fourth Olympian gold) in the diving championship at the Australia Summer Games, becoming a regional hero. Previously to her wins in Oceania, she had collected two golds in the Helsinki Olympiad and three women’s Pan American titles in 1951 and 1955. Hailing from Seal Beach (California), she was one of the most respect female divers in the world sports community in the 1950s.

1959 Santa Monica-born Parry O’Brien –who lived his dream of becoming an Olympic champ in 1952 and 1956 — earned the Sullivan award as the country’s top amateur athlete.

1960 In the Games of the XVII Olympiad in Italy’s capital, Rome, Wilma Rudolph was known worldwide by her triumphs in athletics — 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

1960 The national team won the men’s basketball tournament in Rome after losing to Brazil in the gold-medal match at the 1959 World Championship.

1960 Louisville-born Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior gained the gold medal in the Games of the Olympiad in Rome-This boxer was a fierce athlete (both amateur and professional) in every arena he competed, giving an extraordinary example for America’s sportsmen and women. In the wake of his victory on Italian soil, he turned pro at the age of 18. Afterwards, by the 70s, he was regarded as the greatest boxer of all time by many international sportswriters. He converted to Islam, changing his name to Muhammad Ali in the mid-1960s.

1964 At the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, the US contingent captured 90 medals – 36 gold, 26 silver, 28 bronze– winning the first place in the unofficial team championships.

1964 The non-favorite runner Bob Schul came in first in the men’s 5,000m (track and field) in Japan, being the first American to do so since it was included as one of the official sports in the First Olympic Games in 1896.

1964 At the Tokyo Games, Billy Mills was the first person in America’s sporting history to take a gold medal in the 10,000meters since 1908 when men’s 10,000m became a medal sport.

1964 The men’s basketball team defeated the USSR/Soviet Union for their sixth straight Olympic Cup (1936-1964) after failed to make the top three in the men’s basketball World Championship in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

1968 America’s sports system produced several Olympic champions and future new stars in the XIX Mexico City Games, defeating the USSR in the medal count. The States won 45 golds.

1968 New York’s Bob Beamon set a long jump world of 29 feet 2 ½ inches, earning the Olympic title in the Mexican metropolis—which stood until 1991.

1968 Despite being considered a strong contender to earn golds in men’s swimming, Mark Spitz only won two Olympic titles in the United Mexican States, but that was a prelude to his “big win” in the next Olympiad in West Germany.

1968 The U.S men’s basketball side, among the globe’s most high-profile sports teams, obtained the gold for the seventh time in a row during the Mexican Games.

1968 America’s discus thrower Al Oerter made Olympic history to win his fourth consecutive gold (from Melbourne 56 to Mexico 68).

1972 World-class swimmer Mark Spitz made international headlines in the Munich Olympics after winning seven golds: 100m frestyle, defeating 47 competitors from 29 countries and territories; 200m freestyle, with a victory over his fellow athlete Steve Genter; 100m butterfly, first among 39 swimmers from 29 nations; 200m butterfly, finished first over his countryman Gary Hall; 4x100m freestyle, alongside David Edgar, John Murphy & Jerry Heidenreich; 4x200m freestyle, with his fellow Americans John Kinsella, Frederick Tyler, and Steve Genter; 4×100 medley, with Mike Stam, Bruce Tom, and Heidenreich. On the other hand, America’s coach James Counsilman was the “hand behind” the victory of his compatriot Spitz.

1972 While America’s elite swimmer Mark Spitz made Olympic history in the Summer Olympics at West Germany’s city of Munich, the basketball national team failed to earn the Olympian championship for the first time, after losing to the Soviet Union, led by its star and future famer Sergei Belov. Since 1936, the US squad went undefeated to win the Olympian championship.

1972 Olga Connolly –a gold medalist Olympic athlete for Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic since 1993) in 1956- was named as the flag bearer of the US Olympic delegation at the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics at Munich, West Germany.

1972 Finishing ahead of the world’s top four runners — among these were Ethiopia’s Mamo Wolde and Japan’s Kenji Kimihara– Frank Shorter, a gold medal-winning marathoner at the VI Pan American Games in 1971, stunned West Germany by becoming the first American to gain the marathon since John H. Hayes in 1908.

1976 The women’s basketball squad of America earned the Pre-Olympic Cup in the Canadian city of Hamilton, qualifying for the Games of the Olympiad in Montreal. In Canada, that winning team defeated such teams as Cuba (89-73), Mexico (80-57), France (79-59), Poland (84-66), and Bulgaria (76-75).

1976 With Darrell Pace and Luann Ryon, the States finished first in the archery competition in the XXI Summer Olympics at Montreal, Canada.

1976 Surprisingly, with a world record of 49,99 seconds, Jim Montgomery captured the men’s 1oom in the Olympic Swimming Tournament. He achieved his greatest success at Montreal after gaining a bronze medal in the 100m at the II FINA World Championships in Cali, Colombia (South America), in July 1975.

1976 America’s charismatic athlete Bruce Jenner defeated West Germany’s Guido Kratschmer and Nikolai Avilov from the Soviet Union -winner at Munich’72– to earn the decathlon with 8.618 points. During his brief stayed in Montreal, he was regarded as one of the “most popular athletes” by sportswriters and Canadian fans. Upon his win, he became the face of the Summer Olympics during the 1970s.

1976 Women’s basketball debuted in the Olympiad with the US squad gaining a silver medal.

1979 As a warm-up to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, America’s sportsmen and women competed at the VII Soviet Spartakiad,between July 21 and August 5, 1979, in the Russian capital of Moscow–the world’s largest multi-sport event in the 70s.

1980 The world of sport was mourning the death of Jesse Owens-who had hundreds of fans outside the United States.

1980 After capturing the FIBA Seoul World Championship and the William Jones Cup on Taiwan, the women’s basketball side obtained a spot at the Moscow Olympics following a historic win over the host nation 76-75 in the World Olympic Qualification at Varna, Bulgaria.

1980 The men’s soccer squad made an unexpected returned to the Olympic scene when they qualified for the Moscow, but the American could not go the USSR.

1980 At the request of President Jimmy Carter,the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to boycott the Moscow Games after a votation, becoming a project against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and then followed by 60 other governments and anti-Soviet rulers –as Albania’s Maoist chairman Enver Hoxha– around the globe. It was a major blow to America’s Olympian sport.

1980 Ahead of the Moscow Games, the American team were planning to spend many days training in West Germany.

1983 With the leadership of the future Hall of Fame player Michael Jordan, the American basketball team claimed first in the IX Pan American Sports Games at Venezuela, the most important pre-Olympic event in the Western Hemisphere.

1983 In preparing for its upcoming event -Los Angeles ’84, the U.S. Olympic Committee sent five future Olympian champs to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to compete in the Pan American Boxing Tournament. They were Henry Tillman (heavyweight), Jerry Page (lt.welterweight), Pernell Whitaker (lightweight), Steve McCrory (flyweight), and Paul Gonzalez (super heavyweight).

1984 The Kremlin and its satellites in the developing world – the likes of Laos and the backed-Soviet Angola– and Eastern Europe decided not to participate in the Los Angeles Games. Similarly, four anti-American states, Albania, Burkina Faso, Libya and the Islamic republic of Iran, declined to send athletes to these Olympics. By contrast, Guinea, Guyana, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Romania, Seychelles, and Yugoslavia –states with difficult ties to Washington-competed at Los Angeles’84.

1984 Los Angeles (CA) was transformed into an “Olympic paradise” with the famous Olympic Stadium as backdrop. The largest city of America’s western coast, hosted the Summer Games for the second time, regarded as one of the greatest multi-sport events in Olympian history despite an international boycott.

1984 Guyanese-born Innis Jennifer became the first naturalized American to compete in the women’s long jump in the Olympics. As a United States athlete, she was runner-up in the Pan American Games at Indianapolis in late 1987. While competing for Guyana -an Anglophone republic on the South American continent– she placed 13th in the 1980 Olympiad. Jennifer’s athletic career dates from the time when she went abroad to compete in the 1979 Pan American Games.

1984 Edwin Moses came in first in the men’s 400m hurdles, capturing its second Olympian title. Curiously, he won all his races between 1977 and 1987.

1984 In California, the American track-and-field athlete Valerie Brisco-Hooks defeated the up-and-coming Florence Griffith Joyner to win the 200 meters. Brisco-Hooks also was the winner of the women’s 400m-she was the first sportswoman to earn both these competitions at the same Olympic Games.

1984 The 1984 U.S. Olympic team came close to winning the water polo gold after losing to Yugoslavia -an ex champion in 1968– in the finals.

1984 After being runner-up in the 1976 Montreal tournament, the US women’s team gained the III basketball championship in the Los Angeles Olympiad, securing a berth in the 1988 Olympiad in South Korea. The North American squad was one of the world’s most high-profile teams, attending every Olympic event from 1984 onwards.

1984 At Los Angeles, Mary Lou Retton won a gold medal in women’s gymnastics, becoming the first US women to do so. Aside from that, she won five 1984 Olympic medals.

1984 Surprisingly, Joan Benoit was the first person to gain the inaugural women’s marathon at Los Angeles by defeating Grete Waitz of Norway and Rosa Mota of Portugal (both world-class runners).

1984 America’s handball players participated in women’s tournament– It was the first appearance for the US side on the Olympic stage.

1988 At the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials at Indianapolis, California’s sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner, under Bobby Kersee’s watchful eye, lowered the previous world record of 10,76 seconds (established by her fellow team-mate Evelyn Ashford) in the 100m four times -a 10.60, 10.49, 10.71, and 10.61.

1988 Surprisingly, the men’s basketball team of America –often the favorites to obtain the competition-earned a bronze medal. In the last global tournament in Spain, by 1986, the national team placed first by defeating the Soviet Union.

1988 Astonishingly, America’s top swimmer Matt Biondi lost to Suriname’s Anthony Conrad Nesty in the men’s 100m butterfly.

1988 After finishing second in the women’s 200m in the Games of the 23rd Olympiad on US soil in 1984, Griffith Joyner became the globe’s fastest woman when she obtained three golds in the Seoul Games:100m, 200m and 400-meter relay. She added a silver medal in the 1,600-meter relay. But that wasn’t all. On September 29, 1988, she broke the world record twice in the women’s 200m — 21.56s (semi-finals) and 21.34s (finals). At the medalist’s press conference following his victory in South Korea, she said: “When you’ve been second-best for so long, you can either accept it, or try to become the best. I made the decision to try and be the best in 1988”. As well as being named as the “sportswoman of the year” by sportswriters, sports comentators, and other experts in Western Europe and the States, she was praised in the Communist-controlled newspapers in the Soviet Union. By the end of the year, she obtained the 1988 Sullivan Award.

1992 John Smith, Kevin Jackson, and Bruce Baumgartner were the first American wrestlers to capture golds in non boycotted Olympic events since 1972.

1992 The so-called “Dream Team” made its long-awaited international debut in the Games of the 25th Olympiad in the Spaniard city of Barcelona, after beating Angola (African champion) 116-48. Later on, the team became Olympic champion. The US delegation included the NBA stars Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Larry Bird, and the young-up-and-coming player Christian Laettner. From the beginning, the American side was the “big favorite” by the media in Spain. Four years earlier, the 1988 U.S. Olympic squad-made up of American collegians– claimed third in the Olympiad -its worst result since 1972-previously they had a bad year in the pre-Olympic year of 1987 when the North American team losing to Brazil in the gold-medal match during the X Pan American Games in Indianapolis (IN). At the time, under Soviet/East German pressure (during Cold War, exactly), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to accept professionals in the multi-sport events. Nonetheless, by 1989, the IOC ruled that professional athletes were eligible to participate in the Summer Olympics (1992-).

1992 The 19-year-old boxer Oscar de la Hoya, nicknamed “Golden Boy”, gained the Olympian lightweight boxing title, upon a win over Marco Rudolph (Germany) in the finals–America’s only boxing gold in the 25th Olympiad,

1992 Evelyn Ashford qualified for the Olympics for the fifth time (from Montreal’76 to Barcelona’92).

1992 After not even qualifying for the 1988 South Korea Games, New Mexico-born Trent Dimas was the first American gymnast to become an Olympian champ during the Post-Cold War era.

1996 Kentucky-born Muhammad Ali-the Greatest– lit the cauldron for the Centennial Games in Atlanta, giving one of the more memorable moments in the Summer Games.

1996 After capturing the gold in the men’s long jump by defeating James Beckford of Jamaica, Carl Lewis, whose career spanned three decades, earned his ninth Olympic gold medal. Due to these trophies, he was considered one of the 20th Century’s greatest athletes. He began to represent the States in the international meets in July 1979 as he attend the VIII Pan American Games on Puerto Rico in July 1979-at the time Carl Lewis was an pre-Olympic hopeful.

1996 The men’s soccer team competed in the Games after being absent for two editions -Seoul’88 & Barcelona’92.Nonetheless, they placed ninth — the nation’s best result!

1996 The U.S women’s soccer team, one of the most popular squads on the North American continent, won the Olympic Cup at the Atlanta Games, the first time women’s soccer was included in the Summer Olympics. As host nation and medalist in the last global championship in Scandinavia, the U.S. team was the heavy favorite to gain the Olympic contest, well ahead of Norway’s side (the current world champ). Meanwhile, the backbone of America’s undefeated 1996 championship squad, Mia Hamm was the most outstanding player.

2000 Rulon Gardner defeated three-time Olympic champ Aleksadr Karelin of Russia -known during Cold War’s time as the Soviet Union/USSR — to win the Greco-Roman super heavy-weight final; Karelin had never lost an international championship. Gardner is widely regarded as the most remarkable wrestler in history of the US Olympic wrestling team.

2000 Baseball history was made in the Summer Games when the US side received the gold by defeating Cuba.

2000 The US women’s team finished first in the Sydney Olympic softball tournament, earning the gold. In the finals, they defeated Japan in extra innings, 2-1.

2004 The US took first place at the 2004 Athens, capturing 103 medals (35 gold, 39 silver, 27 bronze).

2004 Astonishingly, America’s basketball players won the bronze medal in the men’s Olympic championship, behind Argentina (gold) and Italy (silver). In Athens, the national squad was considered a strong contender to earn the event.

2004 Steven Lopez, whose parents are from Nicaragua (Central America), won a gold medal in taekwondo for the second time in a row. With two golds between 2000 (lightweight) and 2004 (middleweight category), he is the greatest American taekwondo fighter of all time.

2008 America’s soccer players obtained their Olympic ticket for men’s tournament in Beijing 2008.

2008 President George W. Bush made a special trip to the People’s Republic of China to attend the Summer Games.

2008 With special pride, Lopez Lomong –a former refugee during Sudan’s civil war 1983-2005– accepted to carry the American flag in the four-and-a-half-hour-long opening ceremonies of the Summer Games in Beijing’s National Stadium.

2008 After many disappointing years in which the States repeatedly lost the big events – 2004 Olympiad, 2006 FIBA World Cup (third ), 2007 Pan American Games (5th place), the national team won the basketball tournament.

2008 Maryland-born swimmer Michael Phelps shocked the world by winning eight Olympics golds in Beijing, China’s capital. This sports star — whose supporters number among them President George W. Bush– won the 200m individual medley, the 400m individual m, the 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m freestyle, the 4x100m freestyle relay, the 4x200m freestyle relay, and the 4x100m medley relay–breaking the 36 -year-old record of Mark Spitz. His victory in the Asian country was the subject of considerable media attention and was the most recognize face on the planet in 2008. The United States athlete is the most decorated sportsman in Olympian history.

2012 America’s modern democracy and political-economic system has produced a host of top-class athletes since 1896 (not as a political propaganda as occurred in the former Soviet Bloc): Alvin Kraenzlein (1900), Mark Spitz (1972), Mary Lou Retton (1984), and Greg Louganis (1984-1988), among other high-profile sports figures. Unlike many countries around the world, its sportsmen and women are lionized by their compatriots. In fact, they are Goodwill Ambassadors. At London 2012, the States might send 580 athletes, having strong chances in several sports as athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and wrestling. In the last FINA World Aquatics Championships at Shangai, China, for example, the US delegation captured 17 golds with sports stars like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Rebecca Soni, Jessica Hardy and Missy Franklin. Meanwhile, in the 2011 Athletics Global tournament, there were 12 winners from America.


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