Olympic Medal Count: Why United States Will Be Leading by Weekend
As of 10 p.m. London time today, the United States trails China in the total medal count by one, 29 to 30. By the end of Friday, expect the U.S. to jump ahead of the Chinese as the Americans are favored in multiple events over the next few days.
The majority of America's medals from now until Friday will come from swimming, but the U.S. could bring home some medals in shooting, track and field, and rowing.
Here's how the United States will be leading in the medal count by the weekend.
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Over the next two days, the U.S. men's swim team will compete for medals in four different events—the 200m IM, 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 50m freestyle. In all events but the 50 free, either Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte is favored to take gold.
The 200 IM final will take place tomorrow night. In the semifinal, Lochte and Phelps finished first and third overall respectively. In what is perhaps the most grueling event in swimming, the two will battle it out for gold. Nevertheless, the U.S. will be adding to its medal count after the 200 IM final.
Lochte and fellow American Tyler Clary will be competing in the 200 backstroke final which is also tomorrow night in London. Clary finished first in the semifinal with a time of 1:54.71—ahead of Lochte's 1:55.40. Expect both Americans to be on the podium at the end of this event.
The butterfly is Phelps' most dominant stroke and he will prove it when he swims the qualifying heat, semifinal and final of the 100 backstroke over the next two days. Teammate Tyler McGill will also be competing in this event. In 2008, Phelps edged out Serbian Milorad Cavic by 0.01 seconds to take gold. Cavic will probably make the final in London, setting up a potentially epic rematch.
The 50 freestyle is one of the few events in which neither Phelps nor Lochte will be competing. Instead, American Cullen Jones is expected to contend for a medal. Jones won this event at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Expect the U.S. men to win a plethora of medals in swimming over the next few days.
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Like the men's swim team, the U.S. women will try to medal in four events over the next two days—the 100m freestyle, 200m breaststroke, 200m backstroke and 800m freestyle.
The 100m freestyle will be highlighted by 17-year-old phenom Missy Franklin and Jessica Hardy. Both Franklin and Hardy have a shot at medaling.
American Rebecca Soni is the heavy-favorite to win the 200 breaststroke. Soni smoked the competition in the semifinal earlier today as she finished at least two seconds ahead of the entire field. It's not a question of whether Soni will win, it's a question of by how much.
In the 200 backstroke, Franklin is once again one of the favorites. She won this race at the U.S. Olympic Trials and should contend for gold on Friday, as Franklin possesses tons of speed with this stroke.
The 800m freestyle is one of the more grueling swimming events at the Olympics. It's a whopping 16 pool lengths and requires plenty of stamina. Americans Katie Ledecky and Kate Ziegler should contend for medals on Friday. Ledecky is just 15 years old and finished ahead of Ziegler at the Olympic Trials in this event.
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Khatuna Lorig is the lone American left competing in women' archery. While the round of 32 just finished, the sport will wrap up its medal matches on Thursday.
Lorig finished the ranking round with a score of 669, allowing her to be ranked fourth in the Olympics. She won't face many better archers on her quest for a gold medal.
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The United States have multiple shooters in two different events who will compete for medals over the next few days.
In the double trap, Glenn Eller—who won the gold medal in the same event in 2008—and Joshua Richmond—who's the top-ranked shooter in this event—will be looking to take home gold.
The other event that the Americans present multiple threats is the prone men's 50m rifle competition. U.S. Army Sgt. 1st class Eric Uptagrafft is the Americans' best chance for gold, as he has proven to be one of the best 50m prone rifle shooters in the world. Michael McPhail—who took bronze at the London World Cup—is the other American in contention.
Both of those Americans will need to upset the heavily-favored Sergei Martynov of Belarus.
Men's Track & Field
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Men's shot put is the lone track and field event that the U.S. will be contending for gold in prior to Saturday's events.
With a deep roster that includes Christian Cantwell (pictured above), Reese Hoffa and Ryan Whiting, the Americans should medal. However, it won't be an easy road as the international competition has stiffened in an event once dominated by Americans.
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After finishing their qualifying heat with the sixth-best overall time, Margot Shumway and Sarah Trowbridge finished second in the repechage stage to earn a spot in Final A on Friday in women's double sculls.
The duo will need to improve upon their repechage time of 7:10.37 if they hope to bring home a medal. In the qualifying heats, all other five teams in Final A finished ahead of the Americans by at least four seconds.
Shumway and Trowbridge know what they need to do and could be a surprise-medal contender come Friday.