As the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020 come to a close, time to recap the top highlights from the athletes from the United States.
Tokyo 2020, in 2021, was a monumental Olympic Games for the United States.
An extra year of waiting was rewarded with Olympic memories that will surely endure lifetimes.
Spectators watching from home all around the world saw tears of joys, glimpses of pain, rallies of resilience and history being rewritten over, and over again by the athletes heralding from America.
Simone Biles reminded everyone what it means to prioritise your own mental health, and how to be the best supporter as your team-mates step up when you know you can’t.
Allyson Felix, a 35-year-old mother, overtook Carl Lewis to become the most decorated American track and field athlete of all time.
Kevin Durant, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi showed us the true meaning of dominance in sport. The veterans, when called upon again, took to the floor in the same fashion they have always done and walked away as champion.
It was not all plain sailing for Team USA with the track teams failing to meet expectations and the USWNT only taking bronze in football, and it was not until the final day that they overtook China for most golds at the Games.
That said, it was still a hugely successful 16 days and compiling a list of highlights is no easy task. Here are just some the some of the top moments brought to you by Team USA from Tokyo 2020.
You can also find a full list of all the medals won by the U.S. below.
Simone Biles: taking control of her own narrative
Coming into Tokyo 2020, everyone waited with bated breath to see what artistic gymnastics star Simone Biles might achieve at her second Olympic Games.
When the 24-year-old announced that she would not be taking part in the team final to focus on her mental health after she lost herself in the air during the vault in the team final, the world witnessed athlete’s bravery and grace.
Biles then went on to demonstrate all the qualities of a top team-mate, becoming their loudest supporter as they took silver medal.
And after days of physical and mental assessment, she showed remarkable resolve to return and take bronze in the balance beam final.
Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky: authors of an impeccable Olympic Games
In the swimming pool, American swimming sensation Caeleb Dressel put on a masterpiece.
Not only did the Olympian strike gold five times at Tokyo 2020, but he also set two new world records and two new Olympic records to boot.
To cap off his Games, Dressel also showed that he is a real team player.
Just after he and the U.S. men’s relay 4x100m freestyle team received their gold medals for their scintillating win, Dressel tossed his medal to team-mate Brooks Curry who deputised for him in the heats.
Curry will receive his own gold medal but, at that moment, it was a sweet gesture of Dressel to allow him to get his hands on a gold medal there and then.
As for Ledecky, while she came up short in her blockbuster 400m freestyle clash with Ariarne Titmus of Australia, she restated her dominance in the 800m freestyle and won the first Olympic women’s 1500m freestyle.
Adding another silver to her tally courtesy of a second-place finish in the 4x200m freestyle relay, Ledecky left Tokyo with four Olympic medals, taking her to 10 in total.
Ryan Crouser: this one’s for you grandpa
Hot off setting a new shot-put world record in June (23.37m), Ryan Crouser carried on his blazing form all the way to Tokyo.
The 2.01m-tall thrower retained his Olympic title in the men’s shot put and did so in some style. He set an Olympic record three times to ensure that his chasing rivals could not even come close.
His final throw of 23.30 metres fell just short of his world record, but the American wasn’t too bothered.
After clinching the gold Crouser brought out a note to show cameras, which he had written ahead of time. On it was written – ‘Grandpa, we did it. 2020 Olympic Champion!’
The sign was a tribute to his late grandfather, Larry, who passed away shortly before Crouser left for Tokyo. It was in his grandfather’s backyard that the American first threw a shot put, a moment which altered the course of his life forever.
Suni Lee: seizing an Olympic moment
When USA Gymnastics announced that 2016 Olympic all-around champion Biles would not participate in the gymnastics all-around final, the spotlight fell on her American team-mates.
The U.S. had won the event in each of the last five Olympic Games: a formidable winning streak was on the line.
Sunisa Lee embraced the moment and stood tall to deliver for her country. She totalled 57.433 to hold off Rebeca Andrade of Brazil (57.298) to clinch the title.
Lee, also made history of her own. With victory in the all-around she became the first Hmong American gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal. With a silver in the women’s team final and bronze in the individual uneven bars Lee left Tokyo with an impressive three Olympic medals.
Lydia Jacoby: Alaska’s swimming sweetheart
Lydia Jacoby already made history when she was the first Alaskan swimmer selected to make the U.S. Olympic swim team.
It was a joke among locals in her hometown well before the 17-year-old left for Japan that she trained alongside whales and sea lions.
When the swimmer stunned the world to secure victory in the women’s 100m breaststroke, her hometown of Seward roared in celebration. The teen swimmer bested South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker and U.S. team-mate Lilly King who took silver and bronze respectively.
Nelly Korda and Xander Schauffele: golden golf sweep
It was an impressive golf outing for Team USA at Tokyo 2020.
Recent major champion Nelly Korda followed the winning ways of compatriot Xander Schauffele to take home gold in the women’s golf competition.
The American clean sweep at the Kasumigaseki Country Club was not without its nerves.
Korda double-bogeyed on the seventh in the final round before bouncing back with three birdies, while Schauffele’s overnight lead going into his final day was wiped out before he birdied the 17th to win by one stroke on 18 under par.
Allyson Felix: a track G.O.A.T
American track sprinter, and mother, Allyson Felix did not bow to the might of history at Tokyo 2020; instead, she grabbed it by the horns and seized her moment to go down as the most decorated U.S. track athlete in Olympic history.
Her achievement marks a track career that spans over a decade. Her first medal was a silver in the women’s 200m back at Athens 2004, her last was a gold in the 4x400m relay at Tokyo 2020.
Allyson Felix, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Alex Morgan, Ona Carbonell and Gwen Jorgensen. Five champions but also five mothers. As double Olympic 100m champion Fraser Pryce says: «Motherhood does not stop us from achieving our goals. If anything, it adds value to who we are.» They talk about how their lives changed after giving birth and how it affected their careers.
Gable Steveson and Tamyra Mensah Stock: stunning world wrestling
Tamyra Mensah Stock made history as she became the first black woman to win gold for Team USA in freestyle wrestling.
The number one seed fended off Blessing Oborududu, the number two seed from Nigeria, in the women’s 68kg freestyle final.
The 28-year-old sobbed tears of joy as the buzzer rang out signalling her victory.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Gable Steveson sent shockwaves through the wrestling mat when he upset top-seeded triple world champion Geno Petriashvili of Georgia to take home Olympic gold in the men’s freestyle 125kg.
Steven becomes the first American to win the event since 1992 and it did so in glorious fashion.
With just 10 seconds to go Stevenson dramatically turned the tables on his super heavyweight opponent with two spin-behind takedowns. The second came just as the buzzer rang signalling the end of the bout.
The Georgian’s team challenged the decision on the final takedown, but it wasn’t enough and with his head in his hands Steveson stood tall, not quite believing what he had achieved before performing a perfectly-executed backflip. Not bad for a man weighing 125kg!
Jessica Springsteen: Olympic glory days
Jessica Springsteen, the daughter of rock legend Bruce Springsteen, is now an Olympic silver medallist after Team USA came in second in a jump-off for equestrian team jumping title.
Incredibly, neither USA’s trio – Springsteen and Olympic gold medallists McLain Ward and Laura Kraut – nor Sweden’s three had a fence down in the jump-off.
It was decided on time with final Swedish rider Peder Fredricson whizzing round to ensure his nation came away with the gold.
Springsteen has now played her part in making U.S. Olympic equestrian history with the jumping team clinching a record 10th medal.
Team USA continue their basketball supremacy
The U.S. maintains its iron grip on both the men’s and women’s Olympic basketball gold medals as both teams prevailed in Tokyo.
While the men did not emerge totally unscathed, thanks to a preliminary stage loss to France, the team led by Kevin Durant only got better and better as the tournament progressed.
When the time came to play France again in the final, the U.S. were not to be denied.
Durant became the highest-scoring American man in Olympic history in Tokyo, and joined Carmelo Anthony on a record three golds in men’s basketball.
Unbeaten from start to finish, the women’s basketball team picked up the same honours by defeating the hosts in the final.
As well as banking the U.S. it’s seventh consecutive women’s basketball gold medal, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi also made history of their own. The two became the first Olympic basketball players to win five gold medals in the sport.
April Ross and Alix Klineman: the longer you wait, the sweeter it tastes
April Ross and Alix Klineman’s Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball wasn’t just about victory, but also about pride.
For Ross, gold was the metal missing from her collection. Klineman had failed three times to make the indoor Olympic team.
When the duo took out Germany’s reigning Olympic champion Laura Ludwig and her new partner Margareta Kozuch in the quarter-finals, gold looked like a distinct possibility.
And they secured it with victory over Australian pair Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar.in the final.
Their triumph even caught the attention of none other than Mr. T.
Team USA: shooting for success with skeet sweep
Two skeet shotgun events, two American golds – it doesn’t get any better than that.
Of the six shooting medals accrued by Team USA at Tokyo 2020, Amber English and Vincent Hancock stand out for the emphatic way in which they won theirs.
English hit 56 out of 60 targets, beating defending skeet champion Diana Bacosi of Italy by one.
Hancock triumphed in similarly impressive fashion as he hit 59 from 60 to regain the title he won at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Carissa Moore: winner of the first women’s surfing gold medal
There were several new sports at Tokyo 2020 including skateboarding, sport climbing and 3×3 basketball.
USA’s women took gold in the first Olympic 3×3 basketball competition, beating ROC 18-15 in the final.
In the inaugural women’s surf competition, hosted by Tsurigasaki beach, Carissa Moore gave more reason for American cheer as she clinched the title.
The Hawaii native and reigning world champion defeated South Africa’s surprise package Bianca Buitendag 14.93 to 8.46 to take gold.
Moore, who grew up surfing with her father off Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, became the youngest world champion surfer at just 18 years old. Now at 28, she’s the first women’s surfing Olympic gold medallist.
Carissa Moore shares her Golden smile!
Going where no American has gone before (or in a while…)
It wasn’t just the returning medallists that sparked life into Team USA at Tokyo 2020. There were victories in events the like of which America has never enjoyed before.
Teenager Anastasija Zolotic defeated ROC’s Tatiana Minina to become the first woman from the U.S. to ever win a medal in taekwondo. It was the 18-year-old’s first Olympic outing and one she never forgets.
Nevin Harrison also made history for the United States. She surged home in the inaugural canoe 200 sprint final to overtake Canadian world record holder Laurence Vincent-Lapointe and claim the first ever gold medal in the event.
The 19-year-old’s victory marks the first U.S. sprint canoe or kayak medal since 1992.
In fencing, 27-year-old Lee Kiefer became the first American to win gold in individual foil fencing.
The medal comes after some years of waiting. The American had returned from London 2012 and Rio 2016 empty handed but claimed USA’s third fencing gold in Olympic history.
Women’s volleyball: gold at last
Going into Tokyo 2020, the USA women’s volleyball team had won six medals since its Games debut in 1964 but never gold.
Recently, they took silver and Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and bronze at Rio 2016.
But this time, there was no stopping them as they defeated Brazil in the final.
For veteran players Foluke Akinradewo and Jordan Larson, who have been in the Olympic team since 2012, it was a long time coming. And it was achieved in style courtesy of an emphatic 3-0 victory.
Lee Kiefer, fencing, women’s foil individual
William Shaner, shooting, 10m air rifle men
Vincent Hancock, shooting, skeet men
Amber English, shooting, skeet women
Carissa Moore, surfing, women
Caeleb Dressel, swimming, men’s 100m freestyle
United States, swimming, men’s 4x100m freestyle relay
Chase Kalisz, swimming, men’s 400m individual medley
Robert Finke, swimming, men’s 800m freestyle
Lydia Jacoby, swimming, women’s 100m breaststroke
Katie Ledecky, swimming, women’s 1500m freestyle
Anastasija Zolotic, taekwondo, women’s -57kg
United States, basketball 3×3, women
Sunisa Lee, artistic gymnastics, women’s all-around
Caeleb Dressel, swimming, men’s 100m butterfly
Ketie Ledecky, swimming, women’s 800m freestyle
Xander Schauffele, gold, men’s individual stroke play
Robert Finke, swimming, men’s 1500 freestyle
United States, swimming, men’s 4x100m medley relay
Caeleb Dressel, swimming, men’s 50m freestyle
Valarie Allman, athletics, women’s discus throw
Jade Carey, artistic gymnastics, women’s floor exercise
Athing Mu, athletics, women’s 800m
Tamyra Stock Mensah, wrestling, women’s freestyle 68kg
Sydney McLaughlin, athletics, women’s 400m hurdles
Ryan Crouser, athletics, men’s shot put
Katie Nageotte, athletics, women’s pole vault
Nevin Harrison, canoe, women’s canoe single 200m
David Morris Taylor III, wrestling, men’s freestyle 86kg
April/Alix, beach volleyball, women
Gable Dan Stevenson, wrestling, men’s freestyle 125kg
United States, athletics, men’s 4x400m relay
United States, athletics, women’s 4x400m relay
United States, basketball, men
United States, basketball, women
Jennifer Valente, cycling track, women’s omnium
United States, volleyball, women
Nelly Korda, gold, women’s individual stroke play
United States, water polo, women
United States, diving, women’s synchronised 10m platform
Jay Litherland, swimming, men’s 400m individual medley
Kathleen Ledecky, swimming, women’s 400m freestyle
Emma Weyant, swimming, women’s 400m individual medley
United States, artistic gymnastics, women’s team
United States, softball
United States, equestrian, dressage team
United States, shooting, 10m air rifle mixed team
United States, diving, men’s synchronised 3m springboard
Erica Sutherland, swimming, women’s 1500 freestyle
Alex Walsh, swimming, women’s 200m individual medley
Kayle Browning, shooting, trap women
Regan Smith, swimming, women’s 200m butterfly
United States, swimming, women’s 4x200m freestyle relay
Ryan Murphy, swimming, 200m backstroke
Lilly King, swimming, women’s 200m breaststroke
United States, triathlon, mixed relay
MyKayla Skinner, artistic gymnastics, women’s vault
Fred Kerley, athletics, men’s 100m
Kendra Harrison, athletics, women’s 100m hurdles
Raven Saunders, athletics, women’s shot put
Hannah Roberts, BMX freestyle, women’s park
United States, swimming, women’s 4x100m medley relay
Katherin Nye, weightlifting, women’s 76kg
Kendra Harrison, athletic, women’s 100m hurdles
Rai Benjamin, athletics, men’s 400m hurdles
Christopher Nilsen, athletics, men’s pole vault
Brittney Reese, athletics, women’s long jump
Adeline Gray, wrestling, women’s freestyle 76kg
Kenneth Bednarek, athletics, men’s 200m
Grant Holloway, athletics, men’s 110m hurdles
Joe Kovacs, athletics, men’s shot put
Courtney Frerichs, athletics, women’s 3000m steeplechase
Duke Ragan, boxing, men’s feather (52-57kg)
Nathaniel Coleman, sport climbing, men’s combined
United States, athletics, women’s 4×100, relay
United States, baseball
Keyshawn Davis, boxing, men’s lightweight
Richard Torrez Jr. boxing, men’s super heavyweight
Kyle Snyder, wrestling, men’s freestyle 97kg
United States, equestrian, jumping team
Jagger Eaton, skateboarding, men’s street
Ryan Murphy, swimming, men’s 100m backstroke
Kieran Smith, swimming, men’s 400m freestyle
Regan Smith, swimming, women’s 100m backstroke
Lilly King, swimming, women’s 100m breaststroke
Kate Douglass, swimming, women’s 200m individual medley
United States, swimming, women’s 4×100, freestyle relay
Hali Flickinger, swimming, women’s 400m individual medley
Katie Zaferes, triathlon, women’s individual
Hali Flickinger, swimming, women’s 200m butterfly
Annie Lazor, swimming, women’s 200m breaststroke
United States, athletics, 4×400 mixed relay
United States, shooting, trap mixed team
Sunisa Lee, artistic gymnastics, women’s uneven bars
Krysta Palmer, diving, women’s 3m springboard
United States, fencing, men’s team foil
Simone Biles, artistic gymnastics, women’s balance beam
Gabby Thomas, athletics, women’s 200m
Raevyn Rogers, athletics, women’s 800m
Sarah Robles, weightlifting, women’s +87kg
Oshae Jones, boxing, women’s welterweight
Noah Lyles, athletics, men’s 200m
United States, cycling track, women’s team pursuit
United States, football, women
Cory Juneau, skateboarding, men’s park
Patrick Gilman, wrestling, men’s freestyle 57kg
Helen Louis Maroulis, wrestling, women’s freestyle 57kg
Paul Chelimo, athletics, men’s 5000m
Allyson Felix, athletics, women’s 400m
Molly Seidel, athletics, women’s marathon
Ariel Torres Gutierrez, karate, men’s kata
Kyle Douglas Dake, wrestling, men’s freestyle 74kg
Sarah Ann Hilderbrandt, wrestling, women’s freestyle 50kg
Fuente imagen: olympics.com