Olympics: U.S. performance one of the best

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 24, 2008

Associated Press.BEIJING ó What fencer Mariel Zagunis started, Dwyane Wade and the “Redeem Team” finished.
In between, Michael Phelps and the rest of the U.S. delegation put on one heck of an Olympics ó perhaps their best ever.
By reclaiming gold in men’s basketball, pulling off an emotional victory in men’s volleyball and claiming silver in team handball, the United States wrapped up the Beijing Olympics on Sunday with 110 medals ó its most in a non-boycotted Olympics since the 1904 St. Louis Games, which hardly count because of how little the rest of the world was represented.
Sure, there were some high-profile flubs at the track.
And the 36 gold medals was the same Americans won four years ago in Athens; it also was well below the 51 golds won by China.
But those are small details to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“We could not be more proud of our athletes for everything they accomplished here in Beijing, both on and off the field of play,” USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth said. “Our first priority going into these games was to compete clean, and we are extremely proud that our athletes are sharing our commitment to this principle. They represented our country with pride and honor, and with one of the best U.S. Olympic performances in history.”
USOC chief executive Jim Scherr added that the team “inspired millions of young people to pursue their dreams.” That’s hard to quantify, but there’s little doubt Americans were watching.
According to Nielsen Media Research, the first 15 days of NBC’s broadcasts reached 208.7 million viewers, putting it on the verge of passing the viewership of the 1996 Atlanta Games as the most-viewed event in U.S. television history.
Starting with those ’96 games, the U.S. has been atop the medals table at four straight Olympics. The USOC noted the accomplishment, considering more than 40 world records and 120 Olympics records were set ó and, no, Phelps and Usain Bolt didn’t set all of them, it just seemed like it.