Team USA wins gold medal race on last day of Games

The final day of the Tokyo Olympics saw no shortage of drama, especially when it came to the medal count.

Though leading the overall medal count by a fairly significant margin, Team USA entered the day trailing China where it mattered most: in the gold column.

But in a dramatic close to the action, the U.S. secured three gold medals to finish with 39 while China, who led the gold count for a significant stretch these Games, finished with 38. The United States has won the gold medal count in three straight Summer Olympics.

The Americans end these Games with 113 medals overall.

The U.S. women’s volleyball team celebrates with their gold medals.

Here’s how Team USA – specifically the women of Team USA – helped America win the gold medal race Sunday in Tokyo while you were sleeping:

U.S. women’s basketball team wins seventh straight gold

This was probably the least surprising of the golds the United States won Sunday.

The U.S. women’s basketball team secured the gold medal – their seventh in a row – with a clinical 90-75 win over Japan. The Americans did fabulous work in the post, with Brittney Griner leading the way with 30 points and fellow big A’ja Wilson adding 19.

Team USA has not lost a game at the Olympics since 1992, racking up 55 straight wins in the process.

“There’s always a lot of pressure when you put this jersey on,” Diana Taurasi, who along with Sue Bird won her fifth Olympic gold medal, said. “I think you learn a lot about yourself when you play with the national team. It’s always a collection of 12 of the best players in the world and you have to set yourself aside and come together to win, and it’s not easy and it comes in different forms but we always find a way to do that and do it with class and team first. It’s pretty amazing. It teaches you a lot about yourself and other people.”

Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird celebrate after the U.S. women’s basketball team won the gold medal.

The win over Japan seemingly marks the last Olympic game for Bird and Taurasi – the latter did not 100% confirm that – and it will also be the last for coach Dawn Staley, who won three gold medals as a player and helped win two more as an assistant before becoming the head coach for these Games.

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“Our country has a lot of great coaches that can get the job done,” Staley said. “Me, being a part of six, that’s enough. I’m full.”

American cyclist wins omnium

Jennifer Valente became the first American to win the omnium – a four-race, points-based cycling series – claiming the victory with 124 points, 14 clear of the competition.

It’s the second cycling medal for Valente these Olympics, as she secured a bronze in team pursuit.

U.S. women’s volleyball team gets breakthrough gold medal

The U.S. women’s volleyball team came to Tokyo with five Olympic medals, including podium finishes in the prior three Games. But the gold medal had eluded them.

Not anymore.

Team USA took down Brazil in straight sets (25-21, 25-20, 25-14) to win the gold medal for the first time. The emotion showed for the Americans after they secured the victory they’ve been looking for since women’s volleyball was added to the Olympic program in 1964.

“I’ve cried more in the last 24 hours than I think I have in my career,” Jordan Larson said. “I’m not an emotional player, emotional person, but I think just the emotions got the best of me. I’m now in kind of this euphoria and like shock state.”

Their breakthrough victory also proved to be the difference in the gold medal race.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2021 Olympics update: Basketball, volleyball help USA win medal count


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