Olympics 2012: Nation Rankings, Day 14 Edition
Day 14 at the 2012 Olympics was rather slow compared to some of the crazy ones we've experienced the past two weeks, but there was no shortage of phenomenal action.
For the first time in two days, America won't be sitting atop this list.
Countries like Latvia, the Bahamas and Turkey proved on Friday that size doesn't matter, as their athletes gave us some moments to remember.
With that in mind, it's time for Bleacher Report's daily installment of nation rankings.
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Ethiopia has long been a force in distance running, both in the men's and women's events.
Ethiopia didn't disappoint on Friday, as Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba finished first and third, respectively, in the women's 5,000-meter.
Defar outlasted Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot by half a second to win the gold. Cheruiyot was the reigning world champion in this event until today, making Defar's accomplishment all the sweeter.
For Dibaba, her bronze medal likely isn't the result she had hoped for, considering that she'd won both the 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter in Beijing four years ago. But after winning the 5,000-meter earlier in these Games, I'm sure she's happy for both herself and her teammate.
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Maris Strombergs repeated his gold-medal performance of four years ago in men's BMX on Friday, winning his second straight Olympic title.
Even sweeter for him must have been the fact that much-hyped American Connor Fields—who many had expected to challenge for gold this year—finished in seventh place out of eight finalists.
Strombergs earned Latvia's lone medal for Friday and its second of the 2012 Summer Games.
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Colombia upped its overall medal count by 25 percent on Friday, winning a gold and bronze to move its total to eight medals in these Games.
Mariana Pajon gave Colombia its first gold medal of the 2012 Games in the women's BMX final, defeating New Zealand's Sarah Walker by nearly half a second.
According to the Washington Post, Pajon has been playing around with fast-moving vehicles since she was three, and winning the gold fulfills a lifelong ambition.
“I’m very happy and proud,” she said. “I won’t believe it until I wake up with my gold medal after going to sleep with it. This is a very strong moment for Colombia cycling.”
She wasn't the only Colombian cyclist to step up to the podium today, though. Carlos Mario Oquendo Zabala earned a bronze medal for his performance in the men's BMX race.
From today's action, as well as from the men's road race, it's safe to say that Colombia is building a strong cycling contingency, and they'll be making waves for years to come.
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The Americans experienced some magnificent highs and some unexpected lows on Friday. In total, the USA won only four medals, a total that is much lower than it had produced for the past couple of days.
- Jordan Burroughs cemented his spot as the world's best freestyle wrestler today, beating Iran's Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi 3-0 in the men's 74-kilogram freestyle division. One of the perks of his accomplishment is that he's earning $250,000 in the process, according to USA Today.
- The women's 4x100-meter relay team won gold on Friday, breaking a world record in the process.
- Paige McPherson earned a taekwondo bronze medal for her performance in the women's less-than-67-kilogram division.
- The American men's 4x400-meter relay team failed to win a gold medal in this event for the first time since 1972 (not including the boycotted 1980 Games). They were beaten by the team from the Bahamas, but we'll have more on that later.
- BMX stud Connor Fields finished in seventh place out of eight total racers in the men's BMX final.
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Germany continued its strong performance in the 2012 Olympic Games with a handful of medals on Friday.
Three track and field athletes earned medals for Germany: Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe finished in second and third place in the men's pole vault final today, and Betty Heidler finished with a bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final.
Three for two is pretty good, don't you think?
Thomas Lurz's efforts continued to prove that Germany has a strong presence in water sports, as he won a silver medal in the men's 10,000-meter open-water marathon.
Finally, Helena Fromm earned a bronze medal in women's taekwondo in the less-than-67-kilogram division.
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Turkey earns its spot at No. 5 on our list due to the performances of two women.
Asli Cakir Alptekin and Gamze Bulut finished first and second in the women's 1,500-meter on Friday to win gold and silver medals.
It's the first gold medal Turkey has ever won in track and field, and these two ladies are only the second and third women to ever medal in track and field for their country.
That's what I call a good reason to celebrate.
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If you're from Tunisia and you're looking for a national hero, I have just the man for you.
Oussama Mellouli trebled his nation's total medal count in swimming in 2012. Before these Games, Tunisia had only won a single medal for swimming. As luck would have it, Mellouli was the man to do it, back in 2008, when he won a gold medal in the men's 1,500-meter freestyle.
He failed to win gold in that event this year, settling instead for bronze. Mellouli won the men's 10,000-meter open-water marathon on Friday by a slim margin over Germany's Thomas Lurz to make up for his loss.
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Before 2012, Bahrain had won exactly one medal in its Olympic history, a gold medal won by Rashid Ramzi in the men's 1,500-meter in 2008. Unfortunately, Ramzi was later stripped of the medal due to doping.
On Friday, Maryam Yusuf Jamal gave her nation a true medal by finishing in third place in the women's 1,500-meter—an extremely close race.
Jamal finished only 51-hundredths of a second off the lead; she is Bahrain's only Olympic medalist in the history of the nation.
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Russia won the battle of the medal count on Friday, hauling in seven total medals, and if it weren't for a historic achievement by the next country, Russia would be No. 1 on our list.
The women's synchronized swimming team didn't shock anyone by taking home the gold medal. They have been dominant in this event since 2000. That certainly doesn't minimize their accomplishment, though.
Tatyana Lysenko won the gold for her feats of strength in the women's hammer throw final.
Dzhamal Otarsultanov won a gold medal for his performance in the wrestling ring in the men's 55-kilogram freestyle division.
Finally, Russia won four bronze medals—three in boxing and another one for freestyle wrestling.
So, what I'm getting from this information is that Russians are both elegant and strong. What's your take?
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Before this year, the Bahamas had won a total of 10 medals in its history.
Before today, the Bahamas had struck out in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Their men's 4x400-meter relay team came close to winning this race over the Americans in 2008, but it wasn't meant to be.
The only year any other nation won this race was in 1980, but America didn't participate in those Games, if you remember.
It doesn't get any bigger than this.
David vs. Goliath, version 2012, and David wins again.