We’re nearly a week into the Rio Olympics and almost everything is going according to script for Team USA. Rivals have been vanquished; records have been set; medals have been won … and won … and won.
The US already has a double-digit lead in the race for the most medals and are the heavy favorites to top the medal table when all is said and done.
The script has been flipped for some of the world’s top athletes, however, as Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams were both ousted early in the tennis tournament, Canada stunned Germany in women’s soccer, and Missy Franklin failed to qualify for the 200-meter freestyle finals (finishing dead-last in her semi-final heat).
Are more upsets in store for the game’s brightest stars and biggest favorites? Can anyone possibly catch the US in the medal table?
United States: 1/19
The US won the most medals in 2012 (103 total, 15 more than second-place China), 2008 (110 total, ten more than second-place China), 2004 (101 total, 11 more than second-place Russia), 2000 (93 total, four more than second-place Russia), 1996 (101 total, 46 more than second-place Germany) … you see where this is going.
The US can largely thank its dominance in the pool – and the fact that swimming hands out so many freakin’ medals – for its medal count domination. In 2012, the US took home 31 swimming medals in 34 events. That accounted for nearly a third of the team’s 103 total medals. It was also 20 more swimming medals than the next closest country (Japan).
The US swim team is going just as strong in Rio with the indomitable Katie Ledecky and apparently ageless Michael Phelps leading the way. Through 16 events in the pool, the US already had 18 medals, including seven gold.
The Declaration of Independence may be right that all men are created equal. But we’re not a nation of men; we’re a nation of aquanauts, and aquanauts are very much stratified.
United States: 105.5
Great Britain: 58.5
Odds Usain Bolt wins gold in the 100 meters: 2/3
The world’s fastest man is still hampered by a hamstring injury, but he’s uber confident he can not only win the 100 meters, but also the 200 meters and 4×100 relay. He’s been almost unbeatable for nearly a decade. Bet against him at your peril.
Odds Team USA wins gold in men’s basketball: 1/10
The basketball tournament sure looks like it’s going to be as one-sided as everyone expected. Team USA’s embarrassment of riches aren’t just lighting up opponents at the offensive end, they’re playing stifling team defense and coalescing as a unit. The US could win without a coach. The fact that they’re buying into Mike Krzyzewski’s system is downright terrifying.
Odds Team USA wins gold in women’s soccer: 2/1
The US look vulnerable. There’s no other way to put it. They narrowly edged France (1-0) in a hard-fought game and then suffered a shocking draw against Colombia (2-2). There’s plenty of time to right the ship, though, and their biggest rival – Germany – are sputtering, as well, finishing second in Group to Canada.
The great news for the US is that the knockout stage draw finds them on the opposite side from all of Germany, France, and Canada. They’ll only need to get by Sweden and the winner of Brazil/Australia in order to reach the finals.
Odds Andy Murray wins gold in men’s tennis: 2/1
World no. 1 Novak Djokovic was ousted early by Juan Martin Del Potro, who probably felt like he was playing on home soil given all the Argentinian fans on hand. That’s opened the door for Murray, who’s cruised through his first two matches without dropping a set.
Featured image: Marco Paköeningrat (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode.
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