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U.S. tops medals chart, but Britain has reason to cheer

| Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, 7:40 p.m.

LONDON — Most medals, most golds. The U.S. got what it wanted from these Olympics.

So did Britain, riding the wave of home-field advantage for its best Olympic showing in more than a century. Some of that may have come at the expense of China, which finished only five medals ahead of Russia.

The U.S. was best, but the success stories from London truly spanned the globe.

The final numbers: 104 medals for the United States, 46 of them gold, their highest total at a “road” Olympics. China won 87 medals, 38 of them gold, down from what it did as the home team in 2008. Britain won 29 golds, third-most of any nation, and 65 overall — fourth in that category behind Russia, a winner of 82 medals, 24 gold.

Grenada had its first gold medalist, and six other nations sent athletes to the podium for the first time. Australia took another step back in its Olympic freefall after a scintillating show in Sydney 12 years ago.

In all, 85 nations won something in London, from the U.S. to Tajikistan and dozens of points in between.

“We are immensely proud of the success that our athletes had in London,” U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said.

With good reason. Red, white and blue was everywhere in London. And that's not just the color scheme of the U.S. flag but the Union Jack, too. The hosts delivered on a promise of greatness in 2012 — and possibly set the stage for continued success.

“What I've witnessed in the last couple of weeks has been both uplifting and energizing,” London Games chief Sebastian Coe said.

The Americans' 46 golds in London were one more than the haul from Paris in 1924 and Mexico City in 1968. They won 83 golds (174 overall) at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, boycotted by most of the Soviet bloc countries, and 78 golds (a whopping 239 overall) at the 1904 St. Louis Games, when U.S. athletes won roughly seven out of every eight medals.

Different eras, different dynamics. But by any measure, 2012 will be considered a booming success for the U.S.

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