2012 Summer Olympics: 7 Sports USA Is Sure to Dominate in London
Historically, the United States has always been one of the most dominant countries when it comes to the Summer Olympic Games. The Americans have finished at the top of the medal count ever since the 1996 Atlanta Games, and in the past four games they have won at least 94 medals each time, including 110 in Beijing.
Over the course of its history, the U.S. is one of only two countries to win over 1,000 total Summer Olympic medals. Its 2,298 total medals is far and away better than the second best mark of the former USSR, who had 1,010. Even if you added Russia's 315 medals to that total, the U.S. is still by far the winningest Olympic nation.
Well, enough about history. It's great to read about and great to think about, but all that really matters is here and now and how many medals the U.S. is going to win this year.
Once again, the U.S. should stand atop the medal podium bolstered by a multitude of medals, perhaps the most they have ever received to this point, in swimming. With so many medals available and the U.S. team so strong, this event is one that the U.S. will once again dominate.
Besides swimming, however, there are other sports that the U.S. has been historically proficient at. The men's basketball team will be going for its second gold medal in a row and 13th in 17 appearances. The women's basketball team will also be seeking gold, a record fifth in a row. It is the only active country that has an Olympic gold (the USSR has the other three).
These are just three of the seven sports the U.S. is expected to dominate and bring home a strong medal haul. Let's take a closer look at all seven.
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The U.S. has been one of the world's most dominating forces when it comes to men's basketball. Its 16 medals is the most of any other country, and its 13 golds is also the most, with the second most belonging to the USSR, which has just two.
The U.S. has been so good in Olympic basketball that winning the bronze medal in 2004 was actually seen as a huge disappointment.
This year, the U.S. is once again favored heavily to repeat as gold medalists. Despite injuries to big men Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin, key scorers in Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose and role player Chris Bosh, the American team is still, talent-wise, the best in the field.
Even with a final preliminary match against Argentina, the U.S. should absolutely breeze through pool play with little to no trouble. Evident by their undefeated tune-up run, the Americans are getting hot at just the right time. Even without some of the biggest names, the team is still loaded with incredible star power.
FIBA rules are a little different than the NBA rules, and this actually gives the U.S. an advantage in some areas of play. One of these areas is the three-point line. In FIBA, it is 19 inches closer than in the NBA. Now 19 inches might not sound like a lot, but it really is when it comes to shooting a basketball.
The closer line makes FIBA threes look like NBA long-range jumpers. For the U.S. team, which is bound to live or die by the jump shot, this is an incredible asset because now all of its shooters can bury three point shots without much of a problem.
The U.S. team's accolades, from NBA championships to individual awards, are entirely too numerous to count. Now Team USA just needs to live up to the expectation and the hype by adding another gold medal to the already stacked trophy case.
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The word 'dominant' isn't good enough to describe the U.S. women's basketball team. It doesn't capture just how spectacular it has always been on the world stage, winning six gold medals in eight tries. It doesn't tell the story of the blowout victories and the current 33-game international winning streak.
So no, the word dominant is not good enough to describe this team that has, in fact, been near perfect. The Americans are such a lock to win and go undefeated that it would make sense for the IOC to distribute their medals right after the torch is lit at the Opening Ceremony.
It is incredible that the team has gotten to a point where a non-blowout win could be seen as a shaky thing.
If they walk away from London with a silver, it will probably be seen as the biggest disappointment in the history of U.S. sports. Yes, the team is that good.
The members of the team have almost all come through UConn, meaning they were already part of something with a winning tradition. Half of the players have college national championships from that very school, under Coach Auriemma himself.
All of this has played in to their success and will continue to play into their success as they reach and win the Olympic gold.
Mixed/Women's/Men's Doubles Tennis
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Thinking of the possibility that an American could win a gold medal in tennis is just about the furthest thing from a lock that you could get. This squad of players, while talented, is in no way shape or form at the level of the best in the world. In the singles competition, they will be destroyed.
All that being said, there is still hope for the U.S. as they could go three for three in golds in the doubles events. They are the only country that has received direct entry for two teams in each event, and that could yield a pretty significant medal haul when all is said and done.
Heading into London, the U.S. boasts the No. 1 doubles team in the world in Bob and Mike Bryan. The Bryans, who are 11-time major winners, have long been the best doubles team and could go down as the best in history.
For the Bryans, 2008 bronze medalists, they have an advantage over some of the other teams as they are the only elite doubles team on tour that can stay together for the Olympics. They should have no trouble making another medal final. This time, however, it should be for the gold.
Then there are Andy Roddick and John Isner. Despite being the least experienced of the U.S. doubles pairings, both of these players bring talent and skill to the game that could translate into a strong and inspired run.
They may not wind up at the top of the podium, but if both of these men bring their best, including serves that are some of the fastest and hardest to defend in the world, they could and likely will find themselves bringing home a medal of some color.
The U.S. once again has the top-ranked women's doubles team in the world in Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber. Raymond and Huber have paired together on several occasions and have become a pretty consistent favorite in the women's doubles game. They have both played in Davis Cup and, together, won the 2011 U.S. Open.
Although they lost to the Williams sisters at Wimbledon, Raymond and Huber are expected to finish on the podium at London.
You can never count out the Williams sisters, especially since they are the defending gold medalists and the 2012 Wimbledon champions. When healthy, they are incredibly difficult to beat, as Huber and Raymond themselves realized.
Headed into London, they are gold-medal favorites once again, and on the Wimbledon grass, site of five of their 13 major titles, they should have no problem defending their gold.
With just a 16-team draw, including two from the U.S., the odds of taking home a gold and bronze are incredibly high.
Although the final draw has not been released, it is believed the U.S. teams will be Huber/B. Bryan and Raymond/M. Bryan, who are actually coming off of the Mixed Doubles title at Wimbledon. If that isn't a sign for the U.S.O.C., then I don't know what is.
It is still possible that Roddick and Serena could team up, but the three-event schedule would be incredibly difficult, and the fitness of these two is just not there.
Regardless of who plays, the U.S. has doubles star power, and since the players have to be selected on site, no other team can really challenge the talent of these two teams.
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Coming into the Olympics, the U.S. women's gymnastics team is the defending world champion. The Americans have demonstrated strong showings on the international stage. They have a talented and strong group of gymnasts. And most importantly, they are actually the gold-medal favorites in the London Games.
Being the favorites going into the games is definitely something that is new, but not intimidating, for the Americans. Going into Beijing four years ago, the U.S. was expected to contend for a medal, but not gold. China was the overwhelming favorite, and it did not disappoint. The U.S. put up a valiant fight, but ultimately it seemed to be in vain.
Even though the Americans fell short of the gold, the effort they put forth began to pay off because at the world championships in 2009, the U.S. had its breakthrough meet.
Although a team final was not contested at this championship, the performance by the U.S. squad, resulting in five medals, showed China, who could only manage three, that it had a true rival in America and that it would need to step it up.
China has been inconsistent since the 2008 Olympics. The U.S., on the other hand, has been incredibly strong. In the team final, the Americans should win the gold, permitting they perform the way they have been the past few years.
In addition to the team final, the U.S. should bring home some individual medals as well, including the possibility of two in the all-around. Defending worlds gold medalist Jordyn Wieber is the favorite to win this event, and Gabby Douglas, who beat Weiber at the U.S. trials, is also expected to contend for a spot on the podium.
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Although it isn't quite a lock, the U.S. women's soccer team will work off of its 2011 World Cup loss and use it as motivation as it shoots for the Olympic gold.
Coming so close to the highest title a soccer team can win, the Americans were devastated when they couldn't finish their incredible run. Losing is one thing, but losing in penalty kicks is another entirely.
It was a heartbreaking loss, but one that the Americans have undoubtedly learned from and one that they want to avenge by replacing it with an Olympic gold.
In the Olympics, they are one of the favorites to land on the medal podium. They are led by experienced vets and young stars on the verge of greatness. Their goalie, Hope Solo, is one of the best in the world and will undoubtedly be one of the most important pieces of the team's run.
The most important member of the team, however, has to be the up-and-coming Alex Morgan. She is poised and positioned to become a star during these games. She already scored two goals in the team's opener against France and was one of the most compelling players to watch in the World Cup.
Morgan is still young, but she is at that point in her career where she is ready to take over the leadership role on this team as Abby Wambach gets closer to retiring.
The torch has been passed to Morgan, but it will be up to her teammates to assist her in the gold medal quest. Megan Rapinoe will be another key piece to the team as her ability to execute near-perfect corner kicks is something that will help the team tremendously.
Ultimately, this is the U.S.'s medal to lose. The Americans have the talent, and now they just need to put it all together. They have the strength to go on great runs and have enough on defense to protect against expected lulls. They won't give you 90 minutes of perfect soccer, but they will give enough to put themselves in medal contention.
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There are 17 events and 51 medals that will be up for grabs at the London Games in swimming. The U.S. should win about half of them. The Americans have someone in every event who can contend for a medal. This is one of the strongest teams the U.S. has ever had and as a result, could yield an unheard of amount of medals.
Heading into the Games, the U.S. boasts the best swimmer in the world in Ryan Lochte. It also has the 14-time gold medalist and winningest American Olympian ever in Michael Phelps.
On top of these two mega stars, the U.S. brings Rebecca Soni, the best breaststroker in the world, and Missy Franklin, the breakthrough female star. It is obvious that the U.S. team is loaded.
The U.S. is the predominant swimming power in the world and has been for years. The Americans have 489 medals in their history, over 300 more than the second-place mark of Australia (177).
The U.S. team is so good that its biggest competition comes from within. The biggest challenges are not from international swimmers but from fellow Americans.
Phelps and Lochte are a perfect example of this. As the two best in the world, their national and Olympic trials events were as exciting as the world championships.
So in London, Phelps will win seven medals, most of which will probably be gold. Lochte will also bring home a medal haul of five gold or silvers. Soni will win all of the breaststroke events she is entered in. And Missy Franklin will win seven medals in seven events.
The Americans will sweep all of the relays on the men's and women's side, and after all that is done, they will continue to win medals with Jessica Hardy, Eric Shanteau and Brendan Hansen.
Men's Beach Volleyball
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Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers are one of the favorites to land on the medal podium. They are ranked second in the world and are prepared to make history in becoming two-time gold medalists.
Although their record in 2012 hasn't been perfect, they do have two wins and one bronze in the eight events they have participated in this season. This does not include another bronze-medal match they were scheduled to play in before pulling out to rest up before the Olympics.
The bronze-medal final came after a fourth-place finish in Switzerland and a ninth in Germany. Despite the results being low, the team has gotten better and better with each final. The Americans are starting to find that groove they had in 2008 and are really peaking at the right time.
Overall this season, Dalhausser and Rogers have once again been showing that they are medal contenders. They have one of the easier roads in pool play, and their main challenge will likely rest in the top team of Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego.
With Dalhausser and Rogers expected to finish on the medal podium, where does that leave their teammates Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal?
The Americans have been having a great season on tour as they surged to gain the second Olympic spot. As a result, they have also garnered the No. 4 seed in the London Games. Although they are not expected to win a medal, they are certainly a dark horse team with the ability to get it done.