It is being said in the sports world that if U.S. women were their own country, they would be top-5 in the overall Tokyo Olympics medal count. Of the 113 overall medals Team USA won in Tokyo, 66 were won entirely by women. That list includes San Jacinto’s Sarah Robles, who lifted her way to the bronze medal at the Olympics in Tokyo, making history in the process. Robles, who also won a bronze medal in Rio in 2016, became the first American woman ever to win multiple Olympic weightlifting medals.
“It’s a really big deal,” Robles said in a post-match news conference. “I’ve struggled a lot throughout my career, it almost feels like I’ve been going uphill both ways with the wind against me. Going from the bottom in the sport, to the top in the sport, to making history in this sport means a lot to me.”
In the history of the Summer Games, no country has medaled more than the United States. Through the 2020 Olympics, Team USA has 2,636 Summer Olympic medals to its name. Of those, 1,061 are gold. That is better than 40% of Team USA’s medals.
The U.S. surged into the gold medal lead on the last day when Team USA won its seventh consecutive gold in women’s basketball, cyclist Jennifer Valente placed first in the omnium, and the volleyball team won its first-ever Olympic title. And it was the women who contributed most of the American success in ways they had not before. The U.S. also had the most women winning gold of any country this year, with 23 to China’s 22. The U.S. was evenly spread out on the medal stand with 22 silvers and 21 bronze.
With 66 medals, there were plenty of other highlights. The “A Team” of April Ross, who completed a full set of medals, and Alix Klineman won gold in beach volleyball while dropping a single set throughout the tournament. The 3×3 basketball team won the inaugural event to keep USA Basketball the best in the world, even with a new discipline. Katie Ledecky won two individual golds as well as an individual silver and a silver with the 4x200m freestyle relay team. And Allyson Felix became the most decorated American track and field athlete of all time.
It is the most ever won by women competing for the U.S. at the Olympics, which comes during the 25th anniversary of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, a pivotal moment for female athletics, as well as 49 years after Title IX, the law mandating equal treatment for girls and women.
That is 58.4% of the medal haul, surpassing the 55.8% won by women at the 2012 London Olympics. Those were previously the Games with the highest percentage of female medal winners for the U.S.
Men won 41 medals in Tokyo and six were won in mixed events, such as the team equestrian event and the mixed 4x400m relay in track and field, which included Murrieta native, Michael Norman. This was also the fourth consecutive Summer Olympics in which women have led the U.S. medal count. It is also the third Summer Olympics in which women have outnumbered men on the team. China was a not-so-close second in overall medals with 88 (38 gold) and Japan was third with 58 (overall), 27 of which were gold.
Despite the Olympics being held without fans, and a year later than they should have been thanks to COVID-19, in the end, only four of the 600-plus athletes tested positive. Also, leading up to the Olympics Games, the USOPC (United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee) introduced new mental-health offerings and created a new athlete-service division — first as a nod to the fallout from the sex-abuse cases, then as a resource to help athletes cope with a yearlong delay amid the pandemic. Needless to say, their offices stayed busy over the 17 days in Tokyo.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at email@example.com.