The end of any Olympiad is a bittersweet moment.
The bitterness comes from the sad realization that we won't be spoiled by another Summer Olympics for another four years, when the landscape of each event is likely to be different and many athletes who stood out this year will be distant memories come 2016.
The sweet moments, however, are the epic gold medal matches and games that have us picking up our jaws off the floor with every deft goal and insane feat.
Many countries are set to make big strides in the medal count on Saturday and Sunday, as many events that have spanned the entire London Games will reach completion.
Who will shine brightest on these final days of the 2012 Olympics?
United States of America
With basketball, soccer and water polo spanning nearly the entire length of the two-week spectacle, it's no surprise that the U.S. will add as many gold medals as any other country down the stretch.
Anything less than a gold medal in both men's and women's basketball would be an international disaster, and these Americans know that. You can bet that a silver or bronze medal hanging from LeBron James' neck would sting nearly as badly as his multiple NBA Finals defeats.
On top of that, the eight gold medals given out in Track and Field on Saturday will undoubtedly feature some U.S. stars atop the podium. The women's volleyball team will also face Brazil for the gold in an epic matchup that will feature two international giants.
Expect a major gold medal haul from the Americans as they pull away from China in the medal count.
The Brazilians are facing off in a few huge events Saturday and Sunday.
The most obvious choice for a Brazil gold medal is in men's soccer, where Neymar, Hulk, Leandro and company will be overwhelming favorites against Mexico. They've boasted the most talent in the tournament, by far, and have delivered.
They'll also be playing gold-medal matches in both men's and women's volleyball, a sport that the Brazilians have dominated. The men will face Russia, while the ladies are going up against the Americans.
On top of those three events, they'll also have boxer Falcao Florentino fighting for a gold medal in the middleweight division.
Brazil is set to end the London Games in a much, much better position than they started.
I know what you're thinking: Ukraine? Really?
Yes, really. The Ukrainians come into Saturday with many chances at Olympic gold. And in the worst-case scenario, many silvers.
Denys Berinchyk will start things off for Ukraine as he goes for the men's welterweight title against Cuba's Roniel Iglesias, and should be able to pull out a victory.
Oleksandr Usyk is competing in the heavyweight final, where he's taking on Italy's Clemente Russo. The two faced off in the quarterfinals in Beijing, where Russo advanced. So expect the powerful Usyk to come in hungry to avenge his loss and take glory in one of boxing's premier events.
Ukraine could double their three Olympic gold medals so far if they play their cards right and execute in the ring.
|Olympic Medal Tracker|
|United States Total: 90||39||25||26|
|China Total: 80||37||24||19|
|Russia Total: 56||12||21||23|
|Great Britain Total: 52||25||13||14|
|Germany Total: 37||10||16||11|
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