The Tokyo Olympics have come to a close and once again the United States left its mark on the world stage by taking home the most medals of any nation. The U.S. earned the most gold (39), silver (41), and bronze (33) medals which is quite the achievement. Swimming and track & Field accounted for nearly half of the medals won.
The 2020 Olympics Games were unlike any other due in large party to the unique circumstances surrounding the event. For starters the Games were postponed due to the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic. The safety measures that were put in place restricted the athletes’ access to a bubble-like atmosphere in Tokyo. This also meant it was for the most part a crowd-less event.
One of the best parts of the Olympics is know that every athlete competing has their own unique story of how that made it to the biggest stage in the world with an opportunity to display their talent.
Some of the highlights of the Tokyo Olympics include:
The United States Women’s Basketball team won their seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal (ninth overall) after defeating Japan 90-75. Houston native Brittney Griner led the team in points scoring 30 during this gold medal game. “Be different,’’ Griner said when asked about being a role model for girls. “Love being different. The world would be boring if we were all the same. Own it. I love being tall, love being bigger. I mean, even to the size 17 shoe that I wear. Own what makes you different.’’
Griner was one of twelve players that included Ariel Atkins, Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Napheesa Collier, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Sylvia Fowles, Chelsea Gray, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, and A’ja Wilson. The team was coach by none other than the legendary Dawn Staley who is a Hall of Fame basketball player and a three-time Olympian herself. Bird and Taurasi became the first pair of basketball players to win five gold medals. While Bird suggested she may be retiring, Taurasi may play in 2024 at the Paris Olympics.
The United States Men’s Basketball team won their fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal after defeating France 87-82. Kevin Durant who led the team in scoring put up 29 points in the final game said, “This one feels good because we went through a lot. We had a lot of first-time guys on the team, new experience for everyone on the team, COVID, the kind of bubble we were in, no fans, no one expecting us to lose.”
Durant was joined by 11 other players including Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Keldon Johnson, Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, JaVale McGee, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum. Greg Popovich coached the team and called his position at the Olympics “the most responsibility I’ve ever felt.”
Popovich went on to say, “You’re playing for so many people that are watching, and for a country, and other countries involved. The responsibility was awesome.”
JaVale McGee and his mother Pam McGee made history by becoming the first mother-son basketball duo to become Olympic gold medalists. Hall of Famer Pam McGee was a part of the US Women’s basketball team in 1984 that won the first gold medal in that event.
“It’s an amazing feeling, man,” JaVale McGee explained. “I’ve got a gold medal. My mother has a gold medal. We’re the first to do it, mother-son duo. It’s an amazing feeling. You can’t really explain it. Just knowing you’re the best in the world, amazing, man.”
Track & Field
Congratulations are in order for a number of Track & Field athletes who medaled at the Olympics. 19-year-old Athing Mu is heading home with two gold medals. She won the Women’s 800m race breaking the American record with a time of 1:55.22 and getting the US its first gold medal in 53 years. Mu also ran the anchor leg of the Women’s 4x400m race securing another gold medal. Sydney McLaughlin collected two gold medals winning the Women’s 400m hurdles and running the first leg of the Women’s 4x400m relay. Dalilah Muhammad won a silver medal in the Women’s 400m hurdles and a gold medal as the third leg of the Women’s 4x400m relay. Keni Harrison won silver in the Women’s 100m hurdles, Brittney Reese won silver in the Women’s long jump, and Raven Saunders won silver in the Women’s shot put. Rounding out the silver sisters was the Women’s 4x100m relay. Gabrielle Thomas secured bronze in the Women’s 200m. Allyson Felix won bronze in the Women’s 400m. Raevyn Rogers pushed to win a bronze medal in the Women’s 800m race. In the first Olympic mixed 4x400m relay the US won bronze.
The Men’s 4x400m relay team won a gold medal. Fred Kerley secured a silver medal in the Men’s 100m race. Kenneth Bednarek won a silver in the men’s 200m. Rai Benjamin secured a silver medal in the men’s 400m hurdles. Noah Lyles won a bronze medal in the Men’s 200m race. Paul Chelimo won a bronze medal in the Men’s 5000m race.
Tamyra Mensah won a gold medal in the Women’s freestyles 68KG/149lbs wrestling competition.
Hometown hero Simone Biles won two medals in Tokyo. A silver medal with the Women’s team and a bronze medal for the Women’s Balance Beam individual competition.
Congratulations to all of the athletes who competed in the Tokyo Olympics.