Olympic Medal Count: Countries That Will Make a Late Push
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You would be hard pressed to convince me, or anyone for that matter, that the 2012 Olympics will be won by anyone other than China or the United States.
After two weeks of competition, the two favored nations are neck-and-neck as they separate themselves from the rest of the field.
But a race for third place is in order, and with just five days left, we are set up for another spectacular finish to the summer Olympic Games.
Other than the obvious, one question looms large in London: Who will take home the bronze?
Here are a few countries that will make a late push in the medal count:
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Despite its wealth and population, Germany has tended to disappoint at the Olympic Games in recent years. They currently stand in eighth place with just 27 medals and only six golds.
But with some of their more favorable events coming up, it might be too early to count the Germans out.
They have experienced some success with a few of the more atypical competitions like athletics and judo, but with scores of medals still up for grabs, look for the European power to make a push.
The Germans are expected to fare well in many events including beach volleyball, equestrian, kayaking, canoe and cycling—all of which will be rewarding medals in the remaining days.
With such a large gap, it would be unrealistic to predict Germany capturing third place in this year's summer Games, but that doesn't mean they can't make it interesting.
With 48 medals, Russia may be in the best position to secure the bronze medal (or third place) at the 2012 summer Olympic Games.
They are currently tied with Great Britain in the overall medal count, but with 12 fewer golds.
But with several favorable events in the next five days, the Russians just might be able to surpass the home nation in the standings.
After handing the U.S. men's volleyball team their first loss this past week, they could be favored to win the gold medal match on Sunday.
Additionally, Russia has some of its stronger sports left to compete in including rhythmic gymnastics, wrestling and table tennis.
Not to mention Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova who are four-time Olympic synchronized swimming champions with gold medals from the 2004 and 2008 Games.
France is another populous nation that has been relatively disappointing thus far in the summer Olympics. With just 28 medals and eight golds, a strong push in the final five days will be needed to consider 2012 a success.
Fortunately for the French, they may have saved the best for last.
With medals still to be given in BMX, cycling and handball, among others, look for France to add considerably to their medal totals in the final week.
Another sport in which the French are expected to medal is the kayak/canoe whitewater. Tony Estanguet is the favorite to win gold in the men's single canoe slalom, and Etienne Daille could follow in the kayak.
Other potential medalists include Joris Daudet and Julian Absalon who will be competing in the men's BMX and mountain bike competitions respectively.
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The host country of the 2012 summer Olympics had high hopes for its athletes entering the Games, and with just five days remaining, Great Britain is right near the top of the leader board in terms of medals.
22 golds is good for third in the current standings, and it would likely take a sizable collapse in order for the British to forfeit their lead.
We have already seen a few extraordinary performances from the native competitors including Andy Murray's rematch against Roger Federer in the men's tennis singles final and Mohamed Farah's exhilarating finish at the 10,000-meter.
Now the weight shifts to the shoulders of Tom Daley, who many expect to challenge the favored Qiu Bo in the men's 10-meter platform dive this weekend.
But fortunately for Great Britain, not everything depends on Daley.
Several events remain for the British to distance themselves from the Russians. They are expected to earn medals in cycling, boxing and even field hockey.
Ed McKeever may also be a medal favorite in the men's kayak singles 200-meter, and the team of Liam Heath and Jon Schofield is predicted to take gold in the doubles side of the event.
The United States of America
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Of course we can't talk about late medal runs at the Olympics without addressing the US.
In what has been a riveting race the entire way, the Americans have battled the Chinese for first since day one, and now, with five days left, the two global superpowers are separated by just three medals overall.
China's dominance in diving and weightlifting stands as an obstacle in America's path to gold, but it will take more than two sports to dethrone the US.
Perhaps the most talked about Olympic sport is one in which the United States should undoubtedly collect two golds. The men's basketball team has started 5-0 despite unfair comparisons to the original Dream Team who collected a gold medal in 1992—the same year that marks the last Olympic loss for the women's basketball squad.
An all-around approach from the Americans should prove successful in the final days in London. With several expected medalists in track and field, volleyball and even wrestling, they should be able to catch the Chinese by the end of the weekend.
It is tough to predict the outcome with so many events remaining; however, if all goes as planned, the red white and blue should be atop the podium when the 2012 summer Olympic Games conclude.