Team America Target Top Spot


The United States Olympic Committee, USOC’s media summit wrapped up recently with no bold predictions but plenty of expectations as American athletes again look to top the medals table in London.

The United States has led the Summer Games medal count since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and while the USOC was reluctant to put a number on their goal for the 2012 Games the target remains the same – top spot.

China and Russia pose a serious threat to US domination of the medal table but American athletes made it clear throughout the three-day summit in Dallas that they would not be conceding first place without a fight. “The US will always be favourites,” US women’s soccer player Lauren Cheney said. “I look at the USA, not just soccer, I look at Team USA from track, gymnastics from anything. You see the American flag I feel like you get labeled a favourite.

“A target is always going to be on our backs. We do embrace it.” The USOC used the summit to introduce over 500 members of the media to many of the athletes they expect to carry US medal hopes at the July 27-August 12 Games.

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Some of the faces were familiar but most were anonymous names competing in obscure sports who will try to seize their moment in the London Olympic spotlight. Swimmer Michael Phelps, the winner of a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was one of the athletes who needed no introduction.

Phelps is poised to once again take centre stage in London as he looks to add to his haul of 16 medals, needing just three more to move past Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina as the most successful Olympian of all-time. A secretive Phelps and longtime coach Bob Bowman were summit headliners in Dallas but refused to offer even the slightest insight into their London game plan.

Inspiring narratives: “Bob and I have plans and he is the only person that has really helped achieve my goals,” explained Phelps. “My mom doesn’t even know my goals.

She isn’t jumping in the pool and training with me. “We’ve been working together as a team for so long, we’ve never shared our goals.” Despite being one of the most successful Olympians, Phelps must earn his ticket to London like every other athlete and will be part of the US swim trials in Nebraska from June 25-July 2. Athletics and gymnastics team trials will also be taking place over the same period as the US team, estimated at 525 athletes, takes shape. The summit offered glimpses into some of the compelling storylines these athletes will write as they chase Olympic glory.

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