The United States finished ahead of the pack in the final Olympic medal count with 104 overall. While the women took center stage by winning more than half of those medals, the men certainly had an impressive Olympics.
They made a killing in both swimming and track and field events, raking in the top haul. In addition, men’s basketball did exactly what they were supposed to do: win gold in London.
Other U.S. teams were not so fortunate. Gymnastics and water polo, in particular, were nowhere to be found on the podium after talking about a potential resurgence.
Where do the men's teams rank amongst each other following London’s closing ceremonies? Let’s go to the power rankings.
United States men’s boxing got KO’ed
For the first time ever, Team USA boxing leaves the Olympics without a gold medal.
Their boxers looked promising initially, with four first-round winners at the competition’s opening weekend. The celebration would not last for long, though.
Not that the Olympian boxers did not have experience; Rau’shee Warren competed in his third Games this summer. He would lose in the first round of competition for the third straight time.
A team rich in history, with names such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Joe Frazier who came before them, their ghastly 2012 showing exhibits that U.S. amateur boxing has hit an all-time low.
The U.S. men’s water polo team may not be an unknown, but they had a significant chance at gold this summer. They didn’t even get close to sniffing the podium.
Team USA lost five straight en route to an eighth-place finish, this just four years after winning the silver in Beijing.
They showed no mettle against the top countries in the sport, losing to Serbia, Hungary and Croatia to miss out on a medal.
This 2012 team had exuberant hopes headed into London that they would become the first U.S. men‘s water polo team to take gold since 1904 in St. Louis. The entire team took off a year of playing professionally to prepare for the games and come out on top.
What they learned: Practice doesn’t always earn medals.
That USA men’s indoor volleyball did not medal is not a surprise, but how they were eliminated sure was.
The men’s indoor team lost out to an Italy team that barely qualified for the Games. They came into the Olympics ranked fifth in the world before bailing out in the quarterfinals in straight sets 28-26, 25-20, 25-20.
The team finished the Games going 4-2, overall.
A semifinals berth would have been nice, but expectations for U.S. indoor volleyball were tempered before the opening ceremonies. Move on, nothing to see here.
The American men’s gymnastics team were one of the few that failed to make a statement in London, leaving the 2012 Games with only one medal to bring home.
The biggest disappointment came in the men’s team competition, in which they were supposed to compete with superpowers China and Japan. They finished fifth in the standings, their worst finish since 2000 in Sydney.
Their only medal winner, Daniel Leyva, spoke about the team’s struggles (via NY Times):
"I wouldn't say that this Olympics was much of a disappointment. We really only had one day where we didn't do what we wanted to do, and that was the team finals," Leyva said. "Yeah, it (stinks) not to get medals. We set high expectations for ourselves and that's what we need to fuel us for next time."
The women were able to walk the walk these Olympics, which puts a bigger spotlight on the men’s failures. But one medal is not enough for a squad with such a talented pedigree.
Their highest medal total since the 1992 Games, the U.S. men’s track and field team provided a pleasant surprise by walking into the closing ceremonies with 29 medals. The men took home 15 medals to the women’s 14, while the women won double the golds.
The men may have not won many races, but they surrounded podiums like a pack of bees these Olympics. U.S. Track and Field CEO Max Siegel expressed his satisfaction with the team’s showing:
"It's been a great few days," he said Sunday when the men's marathon failed to produce a 30th U.S. medal. "It was a significant improvement from Beijing. I think anything in the mid-20s would have been solid. To get 29 is really great." - via USA Today
Ashton Eaton and Christian Taylor were able to pull in gold, among others, in the decathlon and long jump respectively.
The U.S. men’s 4x100-meter relay team was impressive in getting a silver medal, setting a new American record 37.04 seconds in the race, while the Jamaicans set a world record of 36.84.
Michael Phelps took the headlines, but the U.S. men's swimming team had an overall brilliant performance in the London Games.
There’s no way to start this recap without Phelps, though, who added eight total medals to his outrageous 22 Olympic-best career medal count. Somewhere in that outrageous amount of accolades, there are six golds from this year’s Games.
Success for Phelps, though, meant some trouble for Ryan Lochte, who did not take the mantle from Phelps but had a solid performance in London with five medals overall. Expectations were astronomically high for the University of Florida swimmer.
In other notable news, Nathan Adrian took the gold by milliseconds in the 100-meter freestyle, while his relay team featuring Phelps and Lochte in the 4x100-meter freestyle took silver.
It’s tough to judge US men’s swimming against men’s basketball, for both sports are almost incomparable. One team has over thirty plus events while the other plays for one gold medal in a sudden-death tournament.
For rankings sake, let’s go with the men’s basketball team, which lived up to expectations and beat an improved Olympic field.
In addition, all the U.S. stars came out to show the world their talents, with a handful of memorable moments. Carmelo Anthony’s nine threes against Nigeria. Kobe Bryant’s 20-point splurge in the second half against Argentina. Both Kevin Durant and LeBron James closing the deal in the final versus Spain.
The most athletic team in USA basketball history believed the hype. Sure, the competition got tight at times against Lithuania and Spain, but the U.S. never wavered.
They showed what champions are made of on the hardwood.