The 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio certainly didn’t lack storylines, both good and bad.
Luckily for the United States, it was mostly good news coming out of Rio. The Red, White and Blue again asserted its sports dominance, but it wasn’t the only nation that gave fans moments they’ll never forget.
Let’s look back at some notable winners and losers from the Rio Olympics.
United States of America
As a nation overall, the U.S. led the medal count with 121. It also ranked first with 46 gold medals, besting its London numbers in both categories.
USA men’s (kind of) and women’s basketball teams
The women were completely dominant in winning a sixth consecutive gold medal. The men, however, weren’t as impressive. Yes, they did win gold with a 30-point demolition of Serbia on Sunday, but this team played sloppy, uninspiring basketball at times, including too much one-on-one play and inconsistent shooting. Let’s just say no one is going to remember this Olympic men’s team among the all-time great U.S. rosters.
Biles came into the Olympics with high expectations, and she met just about all of them. She became the first American woman to win four gymnastics gold medals at a single Olympic Games, including gold in the team all-around final. The entire women’s gymnastics team — nicknamed the “Final Five” — had a successful run in Rio, but there’s little doubt Biles was the real star.
Whether it was Michael Phelps extending his own Olympic records by winning five golds and six medals overall, Katie Ledecky annihilating the competition with five medals (four golds, one silver), Lilly King making her Russian rival look foolish or Simone Manuel becoming a star with a gold of her own, USA swimming was among the most successful teams in Rio.
Thirty-three medals from one team isn’t too bad at all. There was one issue with the swim team, though, and we’ll address it below.
Bolt did what he came to Rio to accomplish: three-peat in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100 meter relay. The Jamaican sprinter ran past all his rivals, new and old, en route to three golds (nine overall for his Olympic career).
Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin
These American women earned all three medals in the 100-meter hurdles, becoming the first U.S. track and field athletes (men or women) to accomplish the feat in a single event.
Hungary isn’t known for its swimming success, and it’s not a top competitor in relay events, but Hosszú had an incredible run in Rio. She claimed three golds and one silver, often winning by wide margins and also shattering the world record in the 400-meter individual medley.
Brazil’s men’s soccer and indoor volleyball teams
The medal Brazil wanted the most was men’s soccer. It surprisingly had never won gold in this event despite its enormous success in FIFA World Cup history. The Brazilians won a thrilling final over Germany when superstar forward and captain Neymar scored a deciding penalty kick to end the shootout. It was a moment every Brazil soccer fan won’t soon forget.
The men’s indoor volleyball team also was expected to win gold and it accomplished the feat by beating Italy on Sunday.
U.S. women’s soccer team
The United States women’s soccer team failed to medal for the first time in Olympic history. The defending gold medalists lost in the quarterfinals to Sweden, which was led by former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage. American goalkeeper Hope Solo made the loss even worse with her ridiculous “cowards” comments after the game.
The American sprinter was supposed to be a chief competitor to Bolt, but he only took home one medal, a silver in the 100 meter. Gatlin also had one of the most embarrassing moments of the Olympics when he failed to qualify for the 200-meter final because he looked across before the finish line to check on the competition.
April Ross and Kerry Walsh Jennings
The USA’s top women’s beach volleyball duo failed to win gold after losing to Brazil in the semifinals. It was Walsh Jennings’ first-ever loss in the Olympics and ended her pursuit of four consecutive gold medals. Her and Ross did win bronze, but it wasn’t what the expected result from this star tandem.
Franklin became a swimming star with a fantastic performance four years ago in London, but she failed to match the hype in Rio with zero medals in individual events. Her lone medal was gold from the 4×200 meter freestyle relay.
Lochte embarrassed himself, USA swimming and the nation as a whole by lying about the incident involving him and three teammates at a gas station.
Ratings were down compared to London in 2012. Here’s one example.
Tape-delayed coverage of marquee events, most notably women’s gymnastics, also annoyed many viewers. Showing the opening and closing ceremonies on tape delay even though Brazil was just one hour ahead of the Eastern time zone didn’t make much sense, either.
The Russians finished fourth with just 56 medals, and most of the talk surrounding their athletes centered around doping scandals.
Thumbnail photo via Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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