By Parke Brewer
The London Olympics have come to a close with the International Olympic Committee pleased with nearly all aspects of the organization and the running of the 30th Summer Games. And the United States finished first in the medals standings.
At his closing news conference on Sunday, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said he is “happy” with the way these Olympics went, except for some of the ticketing distribution, and that he is grateful to the London organizers. “A splendid village, state of the art venues, 44 world records, 17 Olympic records and I would say history is being written by many, many athletes,” he said.
Among those Rogge pointed out were U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and British cyclist Chris Hoy.
Phelps won six medals in London, four gold and two silver, taking his Olympic career total to 22, surpassing the record of 18 Olympic medals held by former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina. Eighteen of Phelps’ medals are gold, twice as many as any other Olympian.
As he did in Beijing, Bolt won the 100 and 200-meters and was on Jamaica’s world record-setting 4 x 100-meter relay team to become the first man to win six Olympic gold medals in sprinting.
Hoy won two gold medals at the Olympic Park Velodrome to bring his career total to six, making him the most successful British Olympian in history.
The United States topped the medals table with 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze for a total of 104. On Sunday’s final day of competition, the Americans won golds in men’s basketball and freestyle wrestling.
Although the United States won the most medals four years ago at the Beijing Games with 110 to China’s 100, China won the gold medal count with 51 to the USA’s 36.
U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun said he is pleased with the London results. “We had very, very high expectations coming into the Games, and I think our expectations have been exceeded both on the field of play and off. One of our primary objectives is getting as many American athletes on the podium as we can,” he said.
Blackmun said that when you include the team sports, the United States had more than 200 athletes at these Olympics stand on the podium with either a gold, silver or bronze medal.
He said the biggest disappointment for the U.S. team was in the boxing ring. “We have a pretty strong and rich history in boxing. I think in L.A. [i.e., the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics], we won gold in every weight class except one. This is the first time, I think, in history that we haven’t had any men on the podium. We have to fix that. We have to change that. We’re going to sit down and take a hard look at why we are where we are and make some changes,” he said.
USOC Chairman Larry Probst said it was good to see the United States top the London medal standings. “My opinion is the American public has high expectations for our Olympic team and our Olympic athletes. There was a lot of speculation about where we would finish as a team, and a lot of people predicted that we would finish second, and some even suggested third. So we are extremely proud of what our team has accomplished and what our athletes have accomplished, and yeah, we love to come in first,” he said.
China was second in London with 38 gold in its total of 87 medals. Host Britain was third with 29 gold and a total of 65 medals. In all, 85 countries won medals in London compared to 80 nations that won at least one Olympic medal in Beijing.
During his final remarks at the Closing Ceremonies Sunday night, London Olympics Committee organizing chairman Sebastian Coe repeated the theme of these Summer Games, saying “the spirit of these Olympics will inspire a generation.” And he added, “when our time came, Britain, we did it right.”