Olympic Medal Count 2012: Why U.S. Will Lead in Medals for the Rest of the Games

Marilee GallagherContributor IIAugust 8, 2012

U.S. women celebrate after taking silver and bronze in the 100 meter hurdles. These are just two of the 20 medals in track and field the U.S. has earned so far.
U.S. women celebrate after taking silver and bronze in the 100 meter hurdles. These are just two of the 20 medals in track and field the U.S. has earned so far.Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

For the duration of the 2012 London Olympic Games, two world powers have been battling for supremacy in the medal count. Back and forth, the U.S., the winner of total medals ever since 1996, and China, gold-medal winner from Beijing, have each been accumulating medals by the day. 

China held a firm lead over the total medal count during the first week of the Olympic Games. They dominated the events they have traditionally had success in, including badminton, table tennis, diving and gymnastics, but the big surprise and biggest medal haul for China actually came in swimming.

In the swimming competition, China won 10 medals, five of which were gold. Spurred on by star sensations in Ye Shiwen and Sun Yang, both of whom won gold and blew away previous world records, China had a great showing, including winning their first ever swimming relay medal.

With the surprise swimming medals, China had a relative edge over the U.S. After the tie atop the standings on Day 1, China took control and held the lead in total medals until the U.S.'s real bread-and-butter, the track and field competition began. 

As was expected, as soon as the track and field events began, the U.S. started to pull away from China in terms of total medals. Most notably was the nine they earned on Day 12, seven of which came in the track and field disciplines.

For the United States, they have overcome the hurdle in total medals that was China's dominance. With the badminton, table tennis, gymnastics and even swimming events over, the majority of China's medals have already been earned. There are still two diving events left which China is expected to medal in but other than that, the U.S. is favored to take over with the remaining track and field events and team sports.


Track and Field

When China's biggest track and field star Liu Xiang tripped over the first hurdle, signaling the end of his Olympic run, the U.S. could breath a sigh of relief as it was one less medal China could earn. With Xiang gone, China was pretty much done earning track and field medals. At the very least, it was assured that they couldn't win as much in this event as the U.S.

Always a good team when it comes to track and field, the U.S. may have even surprised itself this year. They took their usual haul of medals in the men and women's field and hurdles events but also got some surprises in the sprints, usually dominated by the Jamaicans, and long distance races, usually dominated by the African countries. With more races remaining, the U.S. has currently won 20 medals in track and field, just three shy of the amount they won in Beijing.  

The Decathlon: Entering the second day of competition, the U.S. is exactly where it expected to be in the standings as world record holder Ashton Eaton and defending world champion Trey Hardee sit one and two. It is expected that the Americans will win gold and silver in this event.

Men's 200-meter: It will not be easy but American Wallace Spearmon does have a shot to win a medal in this event. He has run well and behind Bolt and Blake, could be a dark horse to finish on the podium.

Men's and Women's 4x100 relay: Behind Jamaica, the U.S. is one of the favorites to medal in this race. They bring a strong contingent, including bronze medalist in the 100 Justin Gatlin and close fourth-place finisher Tyson Gay to the team. The women are also favorites with Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter leading the way. Permitting the teams don't drop the baton like they did in Beijing, both should medal.


Other potential medalists include Brad Walker in men's pole vault and Morgan Uceny in the women's long distance races.


Team Sports

Against China, the U.S. has a huge advantage in the team finals. While America has five teams still alive in these events, China has none. Three of the sports, women's water polo, indoor volleyball and soccer, the U.S. is actually already guaranteed a medal as they have reached the finals. In volleyball, the U.S. is favored to take gold which will be much needed if America wants to finish ahead of China in the gold medal count as well.

Other sports where the U.S. is expected to dominate are both men's and women's basketball. Perennial powers for quite some time, both are the odds-on favorites to take the gold medal. The men will be looking for two in a row, while the women are going for four.


And the Winner is...

Ultimately it just doesn't seem like there are enough events left for China to overtake the U.S. in the medal count.

Currently America has a four-medal lead and is just one back for gold, something they could surpass China in after Thursday's track and field events and women's water polo and volleyball finals.

For the U.S., they have put themselves in good position to take the most medals for the fifth consecutive Olympic Games in a row. They took home their usual haul in both swimming and track and field and got help with three medals in diving and six in gymnastics, some of which took away from China's total.

So without a doubt, when the Games come to an end it will be the U.S. on top once again.