2012 Olympics: The Most Important Gold Medals for the United States to Win

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2012 Olympics: The Most Important Gold Medals for the United States to Win
Al Bello/Getty Images

Since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens, Greece, the United States has won nearly 2,300 medals, 930 of which have been gold. In the last six Summer Games, the United States has won an average of nearly 38 gold medals per Olympiad, the most of any country.

While every Olympic medal is important—every athlete who has the chance to compete in the Olympics is doing so as a representative of our country—there are some events every four years the American audience seems to gravitate toward more than others.

Some Olympic medals just seem flat-out more important than the rest, and that importance may be due in part to the overall interest in the sport. While we hope our archery and fencing teams can bring home gold every four years, Americans have more invested in professional basketball, making the level of importance we put on Team USA even higher.

Other Olympic medals seem more important because of who is winning them. Whether fans are pulling for Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte, Americans have developed a vested interest in their success over the course of their Olympic careers. What the so-called "Olympic celebrities" do in their events does feel more important.

Of those important medals, here's a look at the events that feel the most important as medals start being handed out in London.

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