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Olympic medal count: USA sets historic gold medal mark

The London 2012 Olympic medal count finished with the USA on top with 46 gold medals – the most it has won in a non-boycotted Olympics since 1904. China fell off its Beijing pace.

Well, the Olympics are now over and it is officially America über alles once again.

London 2012 turned out to be a return to the Games’ pre-Beijing normal, with the USA comfortably atop the medal table. It was always a bit of a question whether China would be able to repeat its gold-medal-table-topping performance from Beijing. The fact that it did not raises a question heading into Rio 2016: Did China underperform in London or did it take its foot off the gas pedal after Beijing and is now returning to a pre-2008 “normal”?

Check back with us in four years to find out the answer. 

Until then, there are plenty of Summer Olympics medal tidbits to tide us over. 

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• With two more gold medals Sunday (men’s basketball and Jacob Varner in men’s 96 kilogram freestyle wrestling), the USA finished with 46 gold medals, the most for the country in a non-boycotted Games since 1904, when the Olympics were held in St. Louis and many countries did not come. The USA won 78 gold medals in 1904 and 83 in 1984. Previously, the non-boycott post-1904 high was 45, set in 1924 and 1968. 

• The 104 total medals is actually six fewer than the US won in Beijing (though the 46 gold are 10 more). The 104 total medals is the sixth-best ever for the US, behind 1904 (239), 1984 (173), 2008 (110), 1992 (108), and 1968 (107).

• China’s medal count declined by 13 golds (51 to 38) and 13 total medals (100 to 87) from Beijing. 

• Before London 2012 began, British Olympic officials said matching their Beijing performance would be a success. Well, we’ll call this a smashing success, then. It won 10 more golds (19 to 29) and 18 more total medals (47 to 65). To no one’s surprise, Britian‘s best sport was track cycling, where it won nine medals, seven of them gold. That was actually a decline from the 12 total medals in Beijing, though. Britain also won nine medals in rowing — four gold.

• London 2012 marked by Britain’s best performance at a Summer Olympics since 1908, when it won 56 golds and 146 total medals. Previously, Beijing had been Britain’s next best Summer Olympics performance. 

Michael Phelps won more medals than any other Olympian: six. Next came the USA swimmers Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, and Allison Schmitt, as well as Australian swimmer Alicia Coutts on five. Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina won four.

• The USA won at least one medal in 21 different sports, the most of any nation. China and Russia won medals in 20 sports, and Britain in 18.

• Women won 56 percent of the medals for both the US and China. Men won 60 percent of the medals for Britain. Among top medal nations, South Korea was the most unbalanced, with 75 percent of its 28 medals coming from men. 

• Of nations with at least 10 medals, Iran had the highest percentage won by men: 100 percent (12 of 12). Belarus had the highest percentage won by women: 69 percent (9 of 13). Chinese Taipei was Iran’s reverse, leading the female-medalist-only medal table, but it won only two medals (silver and bronze).

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• Among nations with at least 10 medals, Kazakhstan had the largest share of gold medals as total medals. Seven of 13 of Kazakhstan’s medals (54 percent) were gold. 

Canada was the big loser on the International Olympic Committee‘s medal table, which ranks countries by gold medals won. Only one of Canada’s 18 medals was gold; 12 were bronze. By the IOC ranking, Canada came 35th. By total medals, it was 13th. Canada’s one gold medal came from Rosannagh MacLellan on the trampoline.  

• The biggest winner on the IOC table was Korea, which finished fifth by the IOC reckoning with 13 gold medals, but tied for ninth with 28 overall medals.  

• Two nations with more than 10 medals won them all in one sport. Jamaica‘s 12 medals and Kenya‘s 11 medals were all in track and field. 

India is showing signs of becoming a more serious player at the Summer Olympics. It had never won more than two medals at any Olympics before Beijing, where it won three. In London, India won six (two silver, four bronze).

Grenada (gold), Gabon (silver), Cyprus (silver), and Guatemala (silver) won their first-ever Olympic medals. 

• 85 countries won at least one medal.