Summer Olympics 2016: Winners and Losers of the Rio Games
For the sixth consecutive Summer Olympics, the United States finished with the most overall medals.
In most years, it's a nail-biter down to the final weekend. The U.S. beat Russia by just four medals in 2000, while the past three Games were decided by margins of 11, 10 and 15 medals over either Russia (2004) or China (2008 and 2012). But with Russia's track and field and weightlifting teams out of the picture, 2016 was an absolute blowout. The Americans finished with 121 medals. China was second with just 70.
Though there isn't an official title for the most victorious nation at the Olympics, come on, you know the U.S. won.
There were a ton of other big winners and losers along the way, too, beginning with Tonga's flag-bearer in the opening ceremony and running through the Americans' basketball dominance on the final day of the Games in Rio.
Settle in for a trip down short-term memory lane and read on for the rest of the biggest winners and losers of the 2016 Olympics.
Winners: US Women Named Simone
According to the Social Security Administration, the name "Simone" has waned in popularity for baby girls in America over the past 27 years. At its peak in 1988, it ranked 310th with 0.042 percent of female babies acquiring that name. In 2015, though, it was 821st in popularity with a grand total of just 340 baby girls named Simone.
Look for that number to spike considerably in 2016 and 2017 because of the success in Rio by American women named Simone—or Seimone, as in Seimone Augustus, a key member of the women's basketball team that annihilated the opposition from start to finish.
Simone Biles was the Simone many knew before the 2016 Olympics began. With three consecutive individual all-around golds at the World Championships, she was already the greatest current female gymnast in the world. But after the 10 days she had in Rio, many are already naming Biles the greatest gymnast in history.
Biles anchored the U.S. women's gymnastics team, scoring 61.833 of the 184.897 points in the blowout win over second-place Russia and third-place China. She was even better two days later, scoring a 62.198 to win gold in the individual all-around in another landslide victory. Biles proceeded to win gold on vault and the floor exercise with a bronze on balance beam in between, compiling an astonishing four golds and one bronze—and one kiss from Zac Efron.
But Simone Manuel nearly won as many Olympic medals as Biles.
Manuel was part of the U.S. swim team that won gold in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay at the 2013 World Championships and the 4x100-meter mixed freestyle in 2015, but she had never won an individual medal at a worldwide event.
That changed in a huge way when she tied Canada's Penny Oleksiak for gold in the 100-meter freestyle. Manuel later added a silver in the 50-meter freestyle, took gold in the 4x100-meter medley and silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle.
Losers: World Records
In total, the 2016 Olympians broke 19 world records in Rio. Here's the full list of new world-record holders:
Track and Field
- Women's 10,000 meters: Almaz Ayana, Ethiopia
- Women's hammer throw: Anita Wlodarczyk, Poland
- Men's 400 meters: Wayde van Niekerk, South Africa
- Women's 400-meter freestyle: Katie Ledecky, United States
- Women's 800-meter freestyle: Katie Ledecky, United States
- Women's 100-meter butterfly: Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden
- Women's 400-meter individual medley: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary
- Women's 4x100-meter freestyle relay: Australia
- Men's 100-meter breaststroke: Adam Peaty, Great Britain (broken in qualifying, re-broken in finals)
- Men's 100-meter backstroke: Ryan Murphy, United States
- Women's 63kg: Wei Deng, China
- Men's 56kg: Qingquan Long, China
- Men's 77kg: Nijat Rahimov, Kazakhstan
- Men's 85kg: Kianoush Rostami, Iran
- Men's +105kg: Lasha Talakhadze, Georgia
- Women's team sprint: China (Jinjie Gong and Tianshi Zhong)
- Men's team pursuit: Great Britain (broken twice)
- Women's team pursuit: Great Britain (broken three times!)
- Men's individual ranking: Kim Woojin, South Korea
Winners: China's Table Tennis Teams
The United States' basketball teams went undefeated, but China's table tennis squad was untouchable.
Ding Ning beat Li Xiaoxia 4-3 in the women's gold-medal match. The following day, it was Ma Long over Zhang Jike in the men's finals. It was only in those friendly-fire matches that China suffered a loss, taking gold and silver in both individual tournaments and winning gold in both team tournaments.
China had an overall record of 24-0 (excluding the aforementioned head-to-head battles), and the vast majority of those matches weren't even close.
In the individual matches, Ma did the "worst" of the bunch by dropping a total of four sets in his four best-of-seven matches prior to the final. Zhang lost two sets, winning his first two matches by a score of 4-0 before a pair of 4-1 wins to get to the final. Ding dropped just one set in her first four matches, and Li didn't let an opponent get to nine points in a set, let alone lose one until the gold-medal match.
The four won individual play by a combined margin of 64-7, and team play wasn't much different.
Each round in team play was the best of five matches with each match the best of five sets. China's men lost one match and a total of 10 sets but were never in any danger of getting eliminated. The women dominated, losing just two sets while winning 36.
China didn't have any matches on the first day of table tennis, but it was complete domination for the next 11 days.
Losers: Cyclists on Road Course
With boxing, fencing, judo, rugby, taekwondo, water polo and wrestling all on the docket, you wouldn't think that road cycling would be one of the most dangerous Olympic events.
"I'm surprised someone signed off on a course this hard," New Zealand's George Bennett told the Associated Press before the Olympics began (via NBCOlympics.com). "It's hectic; it's dangerous. There are slippery roads, patches of oil, difficult corners. It could send you home early."
"It's the hardest course I've seen in a single-day race," United States cyclist Megan Guarnier said.
They weren't kidding.
More than half of the men's field failed to finish the road race. A cobblestone section early in the course caused technical problems for some, while crashes spelled doom for others. Italy's Vincenzo Nibali was pushing for a gold medal during the final descent of the race when he suffered a broken collarbone in a collision with Colombia's Sergio Henao.
The women didn't have it any easier the following day, as Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten lost control of her bike and had a horrific wreck in the same area of the course where Nibali's injury occurred. Van Vleuten flipped over her handlebars, fracturing her spine in three places.
(Somehow, she is already riding her bike again.)
As if the tight corners and steep inclines weren't terrifying enough for the cyclists, there was also a blast near the finish line during the men's race, later reported to be a "controlled explosion of an unattended bag," per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).
Winners: Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky
As it turns out, Americans are pretty good at swimming.
In the 32 swimming events, Team USA won 16 gold, eight silver and nine bronze medals. There were only three events (men's 400-meter freestyle, women's 200-meter breaststroke and women's 200-meter fly) in which there wasn't at least one American on the medal podium.
It was one heck of a group effort, but two swimmers in particular dominated the conversation all week long.
Michael Phelps added to his already-untouchable record for Olympic medals with another five gold and one silver, putting him at 23 gold and 28 total medals for his career. For the fourth consecutive Olympics, he won gold in the 200-meter individual medley, the 4x100-meter medley relay and the 4x200-meter freestyle relay.
His most impressive performance of the week, though, came in one of his weakest events. Phelps' leg in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay was nothing short of incredible and set the stage for what was to come over the next several days.
Katie Ledecky had an excellent Olympics, too.
The 19-year-old has been dominating international swimming meets over the past few years, and her first full splash in the Olympics was an unforgettable one. Ledecky did win one medal in 2012—a gold in the 800-meter freestyle—but her 8:14.63 in London was nothing compared to what she did in Rio, shattering her own world record with a time of 8:04.79.
In addition to winning that race by more than 11 seconds, Ledecky set the world record in the 400-meter freestyle, beating silver medalist Jazz Carlin by nearly five full seconds. She also won gold in the 200-meter freestyle and the 4x200-meter freestyle relay and took silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
In total, Phelps and Ledecky won 11 medals, which would make them the 22nd-best country on the overall medal tracker.
Losers: Tennis Favorites
No favorites were safe in Rio. Badminton, volleyball (both beach and indoor), soccer and fencing all had their share of upsets.
But tennis was pure chaos from the opening rounds.
Serena and Venus Williams were beaten in straight sets in the first round of women's doubles by Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova. They aren't the dynamic duo they were in their mid-20s, but no one thought the No. 1 seed would go out like that.
Men's doubles was even wilder with No. 1 seed Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France and Jamie and Andy Murray of Great Britain both getting ousted in their openers.
Surely there couldn't be a major upset in men's singles on the same day, right?
With Roger Federer not competing and Rafael Nadal recovering from a wrist injury that had kept him from winning a major in the last two years, Novak Djokovic should have won gold. Odds Shark (via NESN.com) had his odds listed at -150, compared to +225 for Murray, +1,200 for Nadal and +3,300 for Juan Martin del Potro.
Djokovic drew del Potro in the first round and was upset in two sets that both went to a tiebreaker. It was phenomenal tennis, as del Potro's forehand was as untouchable.
Two days later, Serena Williams lost in straight sets to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. It has been more than two years since Williams was eliminated before the semifinals of a major, but she didn't even make it into the quarterfinals in either singles or doubles at the Olympics.
One final bit of calamity to close out the week: Del Potro also upset Nadal in the semifinals of the men's singles, sending him to the bronze-medal match, where he lost to Japan's Kei Nishikori.
Winners: South Korea's Archers
Favorites were clipped early in the tennis tournament, but South Korea asserted its dominance in archery, taking all four possible gold medals.
The week opened with individual and team ranking, which served as a clear reminder of who was supposed to win.
On the men's side, South Korea's Kim Woojin set a world record in scoring 700 out of a possible 720 points to earn the No. 1 seed. Ku Bonchan and Lee Seungyun placed sixth and 12th, respectively, out of the 64 archers. And on the women's side, Choi Misun, Chang Hyejin and Ki Bobae took the top three spots. As a result of those high scores, both South Korean teams also earned the No. 1 seed.
Team play came first, and the men stormed through with ease, winning each match by a score of 6-0, including a perfect 60 in their first set of the gold-medal match against Team USA. The women won each of their matches by a 5-1 margin, meaning they won two sets and tied a third. They also had a perfect 60 in one set, though theirs came in the semifinal rather than the final.
The individual archery wasn't as flawless but still produced two golds and a bronze.
Kim was shockingly knocked off in the men's round of 32, leaving Ku and Lee as their only hopes. Lee was eliminated in the first quarterfinal, but Ku was up to the challenge, winning both his quarterfinal and semifinal in a one-arrow tiebreaker before taking gold with a 7-3 win over France's Jean-Charles Valladont.
All three South Korean women made it to the final eight, but Choi was bounced in the quarterfinals while Ki and Chang ran into each other in a semifinal. Chang won and proceeded to take gold while Ki narrowly emerged with the bronze, shooting a perfect 30 in the fifth and final set.
South Korea now has 23 of the 40 gold medals that have been handed out in Olympic history, but this was the first time it had gone 4-of-4.
Loser: The Diving Pool
Following a few days of diving into clear, blue water, Olympians were greeted with a dark green swamp on the first Tuesday in Rio.
For days, officials had no clue what was causing the discoloration but were adamant it was nothing to be concerned about—despite swimmers complaining it was burning their eyes. Initial conflicting reports, such as this one from CNN's were that either a "sudden change in alkalinity" or a "proliferation of algae" was to blame. Others (less seriously) suggested it was a prank to dye the water the color of the Brazilian flag or an awful lot of urine.
Sarah Lyall of the New York Times finally got to the root of the problem, discovering that someone had mistakenly added 160 liters (42 gallons) of hydrogen peroxide on Aug. 5.
How someone accidentally puts that much of something where it isn't supposed to go is an entirely different mystery, but it turns out that mixing hydrogen peroxide and chlorine is like multiplying a negative number by a negative number. Except instead of the negatives canceling and creating a positive, they created green water.
"The electronic monitoring system that measures the amount of chlorine in the water was betrayed by this chemistry," Gustavo Nascimento, director of venue management for the Rio Olympics, told Lyall.
In other words, the monitor showed chlorine was there, but it didn't show that it wasn't actually doing anything.
It was quite a mess and eventually resulted in officials shutting down the pool to completely drain it and refill it with about 1 million gallons of clean water.
Whether the water was blue or green, though, China dominated the diving events, winning six gold medals.
Winners: US Women's 100-Meter Hurdlers
Team USA had a few silver and bronze medals and a gold medal in men's triple jump in the first five days of track and field, but it wasn't until the sixth night that the Americans finally picked up a gold medal in track.
They got a silver and a bronze in the process, too.
There have been plenty of clean sweeps by the United States on the men's side of track and field. It has happened five times in the 400-meter dash alone, including back-to-back sweeps in 2004 and 2008. But Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin became the first American women to ever win gold, silver and bronze in the same event in Olympic track and field history.
It was a first for the women, too, as each one entered the race having never won an Olympic medal.
Two hours before the final race began, they gave us a taste of what might be in store. Rollins won the first semifinal, Ali won the second one and Castlin won the third. Even in the qualifying heats the previous day, Rollins and Castlin were No. 1 and No. 2, respectivley, with Ali not far behind in sixth place.
"We've talked about it, but it's not something that we focused on," Rollins told Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. "We just wanted to focus on being our best, and being our best would get us on the podium."
Losers: US Men's 110-Meter Hurdlers
As mentioned on the previous slide, it's not uncommon for the United States men to win gold, silver and bronze in the same track and field event. One of those events is the 110-meter hurdles, where it has happened eight times—1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1948, 1952, 1956 and 1960.
The Americans' dominance in the event wasn't just ancient history, either. In addition to winning both gold and silver in 2012, the U.S. had won two of the three medals in men's 110-meter hurdles at seven of the past eight Olympics. With the exception of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, where the United States did not compete because of a boycott, it had medaled in this event every single year, winning a total of 57 medals, while every other country combined for 26.
But Jamaica's Omar McLeod helped put an end to that streak, taking the gold while Spain's Orlando Ortega and France's Dimitri Bascou earned silver and bronze, respectively.
University of Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen had his football teammates cheering him on, but he only finished in fifth place.
The U.S. upset began more than a month prior, though, when reigning Olympic gold medalist Aries Merritt finished one-hundredth of a second behind both Ronnie Ash and Jeff Porter at the U.S. Olympic Trials, barely failing to qualify for the Olympics less than a year after a kidney transplant.
Winner: Penalty Kicks
There has been plenty of drama since women's soccer became an Olympic event in 1996.
In the gold-medal match in 2000, the United States scored a goal in stoppage time to force an extra period, eventually losing 3-2 to Norway in overtime. In 2004, the U.S. won both its semifinal match against Germany and the gold-medal match against Brazil in extra time. And again in 2008, the Americans needed extra time to beat Canada in the quarterfinals and to break a scoreless tie against Brazil in the finals.
But in 32 tries, no women's Olympic match during the knockout stage had gone to a shootout.
That drought ended in a big way this year, as three of the eight knockout matches went to penalty kicks.
This was exactly what Sweden wanted in its matches against the heavily favored United States and Brazil. Between those quarterfinal and semifinal challenges, the Swedes were out-shot 60-12 with a shots-on-goal differential of 16-4. But they played tough defense, limiting open looks and breakaway situations to nearly nil.
Sweden wasn't able to take Germany to a shootout in the gold-medal match, but just by making it that far, they were one of the biggest surprise stories of the Olympics.
In the men's tournament, there weren't any notably close matches in the quarters or semis, but the final was rife with drama. Germany was looking to win gold in both the men's and women's tournament, while Brazil was hoping to win Olympic gold in soccer for the first time in history, with the added pressure/advantage of doing so on its home soil.
As it turned out, 120 minutes weren't enough to settle the stalemate. It all came down to penalty kicks, and, fittingly, Neymar. He scored Brazil's only regulation goal during the gold-medal match and was their anchor during the shootout. When Weverton saved Nils Petersen's attempt, it put the Brazilians in a position for victory, and Neymar delivered.
Penalty kicks doomed Brazil in the women's semis, but they led to Brazil's first gold in the men's tournament.
Loser: Hope Solo
Athletes are expected to walk a fine line: Want it so much you can taste it, but keep your cool and be gracious in defeat.
Sometimes, it's tough to tell whether they're meeting all of those criteria.
U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas was harshly and unfairly criticized on social media and in the newspapers for not smiling enough and not placing her hand over her heart during the national anthem. At the other end of the spectrum, U.S. track and field athlete and silver medalist Joe Kovacs might have shown too much emotion when he screamed "Protest!" into the face of a judge after one of his shot-put attempts was ruled a foul.
At worst, though, those things fall into the gray area of sportsmanship.
What Hope Solo did wasn't even close to debatable. It was poor sportsmanship in every sense of the phrase.
Following Sweden's win in penalty kicks over Team USA, Solo's postgame pouting became the story of the match.
"I think we played a bunch of cowards," Solo said, according to Grant Wahl of Fox Sports. "The best team did not win today. ... They didn't try and press. They didn't want to open the game. ... I think it was very cowardly."
Solo does make valid points about how the game played out. The United States outshot Sweden 27-6, dominating every statistic other than final score, as Sweden's "bend but don't break" strategy worked to perfection for 120 minutes.
But by calling them cowards for executing a completely valid game plan, Solo came off looking no better than a video gamer swearing into their headset at/about an opponent using a rocket launcher.
Winner: Ready-Room Theatre
Americans didn't need any help getting excited about swimming. It was running live in prime time (on the East Coast, at any rate), and everyone was tweeting about it. If you didn't know when Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky were in the pool, you probably found this slideshow by accident. Everyone with any connection to sports was talking about it.
And yet, NBC upped the ante with its video footage from the pool's ready room on back-to-back nights.
Russia's Yulia Efimova was a controversial inclusion in the Olympics. She had twice tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was originally banned from competition. But just one day before her first heat, the suspension was overturned, allowing her to compete.
Other swimmers didn't take kindly to that, and the United States' Lilly King had no problem saying as much. Both Efimova and King advanced to the semifinals of the women's 100-meter breaststroke. Efimova won the first semifinal and waved her finger to say that she was No. 1. Watching from the ready room, King wagged her finger at the TV and did so again after winning the second semifinal.
"You're shaking your finger No. 1 and you've been caught for drug cheating," she told NBC's Michele Tafoya. "I'm just not a fan."
It was all we could talk about for the next 24 hours. It was the modern-day Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago, and it ended with King winning gold, 0.57 seconds ahead of Efimova.
Not 10 minutes later, though, the ready-room theatre kicked things up a few more notches with the death stare seen 'round the world. As South Africa's Chad Le Clos shadowboxed a few feet from Michael Phelps, the American stared straight ahead, even snarling his lips underneath the hood of his warm-up jacket.
If you missed it, just give Ricky Fung a call. He got the image tattooed on his leg.
Loser: Basketball Teams from Non-US Countries
There are certain sports at the Olympics where everyone is fighting for silver behind a gold-medal juggernaut. China wins at table tennis. South Korea has become a nearly unstoppable force in archery.
And the United States is still great at basketball—even when its best male options decide to watch from home.
The men certainly put their world dominance in doubt early on. After stomping China three times and Venezuela twice between exhibitions and the start of pool play, the real tests began.
Australia gave the U.S. quite a scare, leading by a deuce with nine minutes to go before Carmelo Anthony took over, scoring 14 points in the next five minutes and 17 seconds to carry the team to a 98-88 win. Both Serbia and France lost by just three to the Americans in pool play, and Spain kept things interesting in the 82-76 semifinal. But Team USA finally came together in the gold-medal match to thrash Serbia, 96-66.
It wasn't always pretty, but the men won Olympic gold for the third straight time and the 15th time since basketball became an Olympic sport in 1936. With the exception of the United States' boycott in 1980, it has medaled in every Olympics.
And yet, it's the U.S. women who are the real steamrollers in Olympic basketball.
Since losing to the Unified Team in the 1992 semifinals, the U.S. women haven't been tested in Olympic basketball, winning 49 consecutive games and six straight gold medals.
In Rio, Diana Taurasi and Co. went 8-0 with a combined margin of victory of 298 points. The only game decided by fewer than 26 points was a 19-point semifinal win over France in which primary point guard Sue Bird didn't play due to injury.
Best of luck in 2020, world.
Winners: Jamaica's Short-Distance Runners
Pick a short-distance track event, and Jamaica probably won it.
Usain Bolt famously completed his quest for the triple-triple, winning gold in the men's 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100-meter relay for the third consecutive Olympics. The ease with which he ran away from the field in the final leg of the relay was nothing short of ridiculous. For a split second, it looked as though Japan might have a chance to win gold. Then Bolt turned on the afterburners and cruised to victory.
But Bolt wasn't the only Jamaican sprinter who had a good week in Rio.
There was also Omar McLeod, the 22-year-old gold medalist in the men's 110-meter hurdles. He dominated the event from start to finish, posting the fastest time in qualifying (13.27 seconds), the fastest time in the semifinals (13.15 seconds) and the winning time in the final (13.05 seconds). If he touched any of the hurdles in that final race, it wasn't enough to knock them over. He was flawless.
And on the women's side, Elaine Thompson won gold in both the 100- and 200-meter races, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce joined her on the podium with a bronze in the former.
Thompson's win in the 200 was most impressive, as the Netherlands' Dafne Schippers entered as the overwhelming favorite. Schippers cruised past Thompson to victory in their semifinal run, but Thompson—who won silver to Schippers' gold at the 2015 world championships—ran her final 0.35 seconds faster than her semifinal to take gold by a margin of a full tenth of a second.
The Jamaican women also took silver in the 4x100-meter relay and would have taken gold if the United States had not won its appeal for a second chance at qualifying after Brazil interfered in the first run.
In total, Jamaica won gold in six of the eight short-distance races and took silver in a seventh.
Loser: Tape Delay
For those of us on the United States' East Coast with nothing better to do at 3 p.m. on a weekday than livestream gymnastics on our laptops, tape delays weren't an issue.
But in the eyes of the other 99.9 percent of Olympic viewers, NBC dropped the ball with its daily airing of gymnastics six to eight hours after the events ended. Swimming events were not even shown live on the West Coast.
This isn't a new phenomenon. The New York Times wrote about Olympic tape delays in 2008 and how "the Twitter site" was forcing NBC's hand to start airing everything live. By 2012, Twitter had grown so much that New York Times even included "#NBCFail" in its story about tape delays ruining the Olympic experience for millions.
At least it made some sense in years past, though. With Beijing and New York 12 hours apart, most of the 2008 events took place while most of America slept. Even four years ago in London, the five-hour difference from New York was enough that many of the events would not have been watched in real time by a large audience.
But Rio is just one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. So what gives? A Super Bowl in Jacksonville wouldn't be tape delayed. Why the tape delays for the Olympics?
To NBC's credit, online coverage was better than ever before, with two-thirds of their advertised hours of programming dedicated to online streaming, according to TeamUSA.org.
Provided you could handle hearing "Hi! I'm Ryan Seacrest! Star of commercials starring Ryan Seacrest!" during every break in the action—which was particularly brutal during archery with just six arrows per set before the next break—you could watch any event you wanted online.
And, sure, many people have DVRs and are used to watching things on TV hours or days after they originally aired.
However, it's fundamentally different with sports, as Chuck Klosterman wrote for Grantland in 2011.
"It doesn't matter how much I sequester myself or how thrilling the event is—if I know the game has finished, it's difficult to sustain authentic interest in what I've recorded. I inevitably fast-forward to the last two or three minutes (even when I have no vested interest in the outcome)."
Klosterman continued, "If this game has already ended and I don't know anything about what happened, it was probably just a game."
Try as we might to avoid it, if something crazy happens in a sporting event, we're going to hear about it via text, social media or a breaking news push notification. And if nothing crazy happens in a sporting event, we're not going to care about watching it after the fact. The sooner NBC accepts this as fact and starts airing more events live, the better.
Winners: Golfers Refusing to Say Die
The United States' Matt Kuchar opened the fourth and final day of the men's golf tournament seven strokes behind the leader and four strokes away from the medal podium, mired in a five-way tie for seventh place.
But the champion of the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship refused to go quietly into the night. After all, he didn't risk exposure to the Zika virus for three days just to go through the motions on Sunday.
Kuchar came out and lit the course on fire, shooting the day's best round—an eight-under 63—to get onto the fringe of the conversation for a gold medal. He didn't quite get there, but Kuchar did get a bronze with room to spare, finishing the week at 13 under.
The following weekend, Russia's Maria Verchenova entered the final day of the women's tournament nowhere near the leaderboard. After shooting two over on Friday, she was tied for 41st place at five over. With the leader at 11 under and third place sitting at nine under, Verchenova didn't have anywhere near the hope for a medal that Kuchar had.
It was pride or bust for the Russian, and on Saturday, she merely went out and set a course record with a nine-under 62, including a hole-in-one on the par-three fourth.
Verchenova didn't get a medal for finishing four under, but she did take home something for her mantle.
"I didn't know the course record," she said, per USA Today. "I just realized it when I came back there, and they said, ‘Oh, do you want your card, because you have a course record.’ I was like, of course I want it."
Loser: Aurelie Muller
Of all the concerns expressed about Rio before the Olympics began, hazardous conditions for open-water swimmers was perhaps the most troublesome.
"Don't put your head underwater," biomedical expert Valerie Harwood told travelers and athletes through the Associated Press.
The AP's study found that the concentration of adenoviruses in Brazil's Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in 2015 was "up to 1.7 million times what would be considered worrisome in the United States or Europe."
Beach-goers were all but guaranteed to be exposed to health hazards, so you can imagine the concerns for the marathon swimmers, who spent nearly two hours literally soaking in the filthy water.
France's Aurelie Muller was one of the 26 women who braved the elements to compete in the 10-kilometer marathon swim. She was the reigning gold medalist from the 2015 world championships and the favorite for Olympic gold.
Muller appeared to win silver, finishing the race in just under one hour and 57 minutes. However, officials disqualified her for grappling with Italy's Rachele Bruni, obstructing her path to the finish line.
Muller appealed the ruling, but to no avail. Thus, she risked contracting gastroenteritis for two hours and didn't even officially record a time in the swim.
Winner: Tonga's Shirtless Flag-Bearer
Tonga is almost never a factor in the Olympics. The island nation has won just one medal in Olympic history—a silver medal by super heavyweight boxer Paea Wolfgramm in 1996. And though Tonga sent seven athletes to Rio—two archers, two short-distance swimmers, two short-distance runners and one taekwondo practitioner—not a single one advanced beyond the opening round.
But if there were medals awarded for social media buzz generated during the opening ceremony, Pita Nikolas Taufatofua would have won gold by a landslide.
Taufatofua was Tonga's flag-bearer, and in addition to the traditional mat worn around his waist, he subbed out a shirt in favor of a few pints of oil.
What ensued was a snowball of love for Taufatofua. Internet searches eventually led to the website designed to help fund his trip to Rio, and his story included this heartwarming note: "Pita sacrificed his whole adult life working in homeless shelters with the underprivileged to show and teach people the power of self-belief."
A glistening body, a heart of gold and, as Yahoo's Jeff Eisenberg discovered, brains, too. Taufatofua's engineering degree didn't help in his 16-1 opening-round loss in taekwondo, but he was a big winner long before putting on a shirt to engage in combat.
"I got onto the bus (after the opening ceremony), turned on my phone and I was shocked," Taufatofua told Eisenberg. "Someone told me, 'You've done more for Tongan tourism in one night than the past 20 years of advertisement.'"
Loser: Ryan Lochte
Despite Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, Usain Bolt and plenty of others making history at the 2016 Olympics, the lasting image of the two-plus weeks in Rio is sadly going to be Ryan Lochte.
In case you somehow missed #LochteGate, here's the long and short of it: U.S. swimmer with Slim Shady hair and three of his swimming buddies have a few too many drinks and end up at a gas station, allegedly urinating in public and causing damage both inside and outside a bathroom before being confronted by a man with a gun after getting into their taxi.
What caused this to turn into one of the biggest "he said, she said" international controversies in recent memory was Lochte telling Billy Bush on Today the following morning that he was robbed at gunpoint, turning the incident into Exhibit A in the media's effort to show that Rio was every bit as dangerous as advertised in the months leading up to the Olympics.
In Lochte's defense, if one is drunk enough to relieve oneself outside a bathroom, one is not likely to remember the full details of the evening the following morning. Surveillance cameras did show a man approaching the taxi with a gun drawn, which would probably sober one up in a hurry. After the fact, he and his buddies likely attempted to piece together their hazy versions of what led to that moment.
Why he chose to tell his side of the story in front of a television camera is the most confusing part of this whole thing and can only be explained as Lochte being Lochte. This is, after all, the same guy who picked Auburn to win a football game being played between LSU and Texas A&M four years ago.
If it hasn't already, it will hopefully blow over in the next few days, but it was one of the top trending topics on Twitter for days. Even if Brazil officials are willing and able to forget it happened, we probably never will.