The United States finished the 2012 London Olympics with 104 medals, 46 of them gold. Both figures were the most for any country.
Two thousand athletes participated in the Olympic track and field competition, making it the largest sport in the Olympics.
The U.S. track and field team set a goal of winning 30 medals, dubbed Project 30, and with a final medal count of 29, the American team should be ecstatic with its performance.
Some favorites faltered while many newcomers pleasantly surprised both their teammates and the world to make it one exciting Olympics.
The major surprise for the U.S. team came in distance running. Galen Rupp’s second- place finish in the 10,000 meters and Leo Manzano’s second-place finish in the 1,500 meters were unexpected. It was the first time since the 1960s that an American medaled in either of those events.
On the final day of the Olympics, U.S. marathoner Meb Keflezighi barely finished out of the medals in fourth place; he made a valiant effort by surging from 17th place at the halfway mark of the race.
In the sprints, the U.S. women won both the 4x400-meter relay and the 4x100-meter relay. They broke the world record in the 4x100 with a time of 40.82 seconds.
The U.S. men finished second in both relay races.
American athletes will be wearing a lot of heavy hardware after their stunning performances at these Olympics.
The most decorated U.S. athletes include 200-meter and relay sprinter Allyson Felix (three medals), 100-meter and relay sprinter Camelita Jeter (two medals), 400-meter and relay sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross (two medals), long and triple jumper Will Claye (two medals) and 100-meter and relay sprinter Justin Gatlin (two medals).
Claye trains at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center.
A fairy tale ending was never scripted, however.
Painful replays struck both pole-vaulter Brad Walker and 1,500-meter runner Morgan Uceny.
Walker, who failed to make the opening height in qualifying in Beijing, advanced to the final in London but could not clear the opening height when it mattered most for a medal.
Hauntingly, Morgan Uceny was tripped for the second time in consecutive 1,500 finals after previously falling at last year’s world championship.
Fortunately, both athletes should recover and be back at next year’s world championship meet in Moscow.
These Olympics had some history-making moments as well.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt made it clear to the world that he is the greatest sprinter of all time. After losing twice to teammate Yohan Blake at the Jamaican Olympic Trials earlier this year, the lightening “Bolt” came back and struck in London. He won both the 100 and 200 meters and then anchored the Jamaican 4x100 team in world-record fashion.
Traditionally, the winner of the men’s decathlon earns the unofficial title of the world’s greatest athlete. After all, 10 grueling events in the short span of two days — who is Superman?
American Ashton Eaton won that distinction after winning Olympic gold in London. He set the world record in the event at this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials with 9,039 points. His total of 8,869 points in London was just short of the Olympic record of 8,893 points (set in 2004).
That has to establish him as one of the greatest decathletes. Now, I ask the question: Is he the best of all time?
American teammate Trey Hardee finished with silver with 8,671 points.
Having two U.S. athletes go one-two in the decathlon certainly made a statement.
But to me, the most impressive display in the 2012 Olympic track and field competition was the final in the 800 meters.
David Rudisha of Kenya broke his own world record with a time of 1:40.91.
Rudisha led the entire race, bringing the field with him in what, in my opinion, was the greatest track race in history. The entire eight-person field went sub-1 minute 44 seconds; five runners finished sub-1:43 and two runners finished below 1:42.
Duane Solomon was .20 seconds off the American record.
There has never been an 800-meter race that fast before, something to take note of.
Overall, America should be proud of its athletes for making such a statement at these Games.
I hope you got to watch some of the action because it won’t be till another four years that the Olympics happen again: Rio de Janeiro 2016.
Trent Warren is a 2011 graduate of Eastlake High School.