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At Olympics' End, USA Finishes First In Medal Race

In an iconic moment, Gabrielle Douglas performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Gregory Bull

The last medals of the London Games were just presented at the end of the women's modern pentathlon.

Like it did in the last three Olympics, the United States dominated. Last time around in Beijing, China outdid the States in total gold medals but this year, the U.S. climbed back proving itself in pretty much every category.

Here's a look at the final medal tally:

USA: 46 gold; 29 silver; 29 bronze; 104 total.

China: 38 gold; 27 silver; 22 bronze; 87 total.

Russia: 24 gold; 25 silver; 33 bronze; 82 total

Great Britain: 29 gold; 17 silver; 19 bronze; 65 total.

As expected, the United States Olympic Committee declared the 2012 Games a "success." Here's how they wrapped up an incredible run for Team USA:

"At the 2012 Olympics, Team USA collected 104 total medals and made these Games far more than the Michael Phelps Farewell Tour. Mr. Phelps added four more golds and two silvers — for a grand total of 22 Olympic medals and enough gold to earn him the third consecutive title of 'King of the Games.' To match, Missy Franklin earned her first "Queen of the Games" title today with her four golds.

"But Team USA's glory moments were spread across sports and venues in the Aquatic Center and beyond. The archery team won its first medal since 2000, and Georgia Gould's bronze was mountain biking's first trip to the podium since 1996. Galen Rupp broke a 48-year medal drought in the men's 10,000m run. And newcomers like Katie Ledecky and Haley Anderson won swimming medals — gold in the 800 for Ledecky and silver in the open water swim."

The only thing left now is the closing ceremony, which the BBC promises will be grand: 4,000 performers will take center-stage along with George Michael and the Spice Girls. Britain, reports the The New York Times, could not be prouder. Its collective "stiff upper lip," the paper declares curled into a smile.

It started with an epic opening ceremony and then everything went smoothly. To top it off, Britain had one of the best Olympic performances in its history, which is saying a lot because the kingdom has the third-best medal collection ever.

Sam Murray was the last Briton to be awarded a medal, this time around. She won silver in the modern pentathlon and summed up the spirit of the games for the BBC. She said:

"Four years ago I was doing my A-levels at school, I'd started pentathlon but I was by no means performing on an international level.

"Since then I've come through the ranks, won some medals along the way and made it to the Olympic Games.

"Honestly, if you have a goal — if there's anything you want to achieve in life — don't let anybody get in your way. You can do it. If I can do it, and I'm a normal girl, anyone can do what they want to do."

We're not sure we'll ever get anywhere close to a sub-10 second 100 meter or a 2:08 marathon, but we'll take it.

Now, the Olympic torch will be passed on to Brazil, the host of the 2016 Games.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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