US Olympic teams bring gold back from Rio

The world is still speechless.

Although the Rio Olympics are over, the athletes definitely made their mark in history and in the hearts of spectators.

After two weeks of exhilarating competition, the United States tallied a total of 121 medals, 46 of them gold.

Experienced or not, American athletes truly shined on the Olympic stage. Renowned swimmer Michael Phelps, who was chosen as flag-bearer, led Team USA into the games, which he has deemed to be his last.

In Rio alone, Phelps won five gold medals and one silver medal to continue his reign as most decorated Olympian of all time. His Olympic success gleams on each one of his 28 total medals.

“More than one final on one night, being a swimmer, that’s really hard,” said sophomore swimmer Kate Nunke. “He’s purely a machine.”

But Phelps was not the only athlete making a splash in the pool.

American swimmer Katie Ledecky ended her second Olympic games with one silver medal and four gold medals. In the process, she also broke her previous world record in the 800-meter freestyle race, finishing a whole 11 seconds in front of the silver medalist.

Texas native Simone Manuel made history during her 100-meter freestyle race by becoming the first African-American to ever win an individual gold medal in swimming. Manuel went on to win another gold in the women’s 4×100 medley relay and silver medals in the 50-meter and 4×100 meter freestyle events.

USA Gymnastics also surpassed expectations.

Dubbed the “Final Five,” American gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez were favored from the start. They finished with team gold and had a commanding lead of eight points over the second-place Russian team.

19-year-old Biles, who has captivated many with her charisma and effortless routines, became the individual all-around champion,  a title previously held by teammate Douglas. Although she was too young to compete for a spot in London, Biles placed first at the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials and was guaranteed a spot to Rio.

“She started as an underdog, but I think it’s great that we now have her as a role model,” said first-year Hannah Wilsey when asked about Biles’ Olympic debut.

On the track and field, performances were also nothing short of admirable.

A familiar face stole the show in Rio on the track: Usain Bolt. Bolt sprinted to his ninth career gold medal in Rio, completing his “triple-triple” record of winning three gold medals at each of the past three Olympics.

Similar to Phelps, the Rio Olympics were Bolt’s goodbye to the track. Although the sport will be different with the absence of Bolt, its intensity only continues to grow each year.

“People understand the effort that goes into this sport,” said sophomore distance track and field and cross country runner Caleb Amstutz. “Not every person can get to the point of the Olympics without putting in the work. At every Olympics, regardless of place, there are always incredible performances you get to watch, and it’s very inspiring.”

American runner Allyson Felix became the most decorated woman in track and field history by securing a silver medal in the 400-meter race. She also led Team USA to gold in the 4×100 relay.

But this win came with its own set of hurdles.

The gold medal was nearly out of reach after a controversial qualifying run where the baton was dropped, a mistake that seemingly cost the American team their chance at the podium. But after an appeal and a solo run for a spot in the finals, the relay team found themselves on top.

As usual, the Olympics entertained fans across the globe.

Now the world awaits the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan in 2020, as one can only hope they deliver as much as the Rio games.