By Liz Alper
Photo credits: Simone Biles courtesy Creative Commons: Agencia Brasil Fotografias, Katie Ledecky courtesy Agencia Brasil, Simone Manuel courtesy Chan-Fan on Wikepedia, The Final Five courtesy San Diego News, Kayla Harrison courtesy Youtube screenshot, Michael Phelps slideshow photo Creative Commons courtesy movefly.com
August 11, 2016 (Rio de Janeiro, Bra.) - When it comes to the Olympics, the stereotype about Americans is true: we love being the best. And the athletes of Team USA are certainly proving that stereotype true at the Rio Games.
From the start of the games on Saturday, it seemed the U.S. had their mind set on domination.
Most of the gold medals for the Americans came from the pool, starting with none other than Michael Phelps (below). The 31-year-old Phelps, who came out of retirement to compete in one last Olympic games, has so far racked up four gold medals in the men's 4x200 meter freestyle relay (a team event where one of his teammates was friend and rival U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte), the men's 200 meter butterfly, the men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay and the men's 200 meter individual. In Thursday's biggest anticipated race between Phelps and Lochte, the 200 meter individual medley, Phelps beat out Lochte by a long shot for his fourth straight gold in the event, eliminating Lochte from the games. He's the first Olympian to ever achieve four straight gold medals in the men's 200 meter individual.
Probably two of the greatest things happened for the Americans in this Olympics. One of which was 19-year-old Indiana University student Katie Ledecky (above right). Ledecky has three gold medals in women's freestyle events: the 200 meter, the 400 meter and the 4x200 meter relay. She has one silver in the 4x100 meter relay. She set an Olympic record of eight minutes and 12.86 seconds to lead the 800 meter freestyle heats on Thursday afternoon. Ledecky even triumphed over a Russian competitor allowed to compete despite failing two drug tests previously.
The second amazing thing was Simone Manuel (below right), who won gold in the women's 100 meter free. More importantly, Manuel is the first African American woman to win an individual event in Olympic swimming, tying with 16-year-old Canadian Penny Oleksiak for first.
Also in the pool, American swimmer Anthony Ervin has also won gold in the men's 4x100 meter free. Ryan Murphy has been dubbed the "king of backstroke," winning gold in the men's 200 meter backstroke, his second gold medal of the Rio Games.
Team USA's other big triumph came on the mat from a group of young women that call themselves the Final Five: Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles (bottom right) and Madison Kocian. All five of the women took gold in the women's team all-around and Simone Biles, widely hailed as the greatest female gymnast ever, took gold in the women's individual all-around.
A big story from the American Olympics came from an unlikely event: judo. Kayla Harrison (above left), who came out of retirement from pursuing her original dream career as a firefighter to compete in one last Olympic games. She won gold in the women's 78 kilograms.