@TeamUSA and the 1,000th Gold Medal

At some time during the Rio Olympic Games, the United States will win its 1,000th Summer Olympic gold medal. Going into Rio, @TeamUSA has won 977 gold medals. This does not include the 1906 Intercalated Olympic Games (12 gold medals), nor the Arts Competitions held from 1912-49 (4 gold medals). As of this morning and Kristin Armstrong’s cycling time trial goal, we are at 987. Here is some perspective on the @TeamUSA and our gold medals through Olympic history.

Looking at how quickly the USA has won golds during the last 5-6 Olympics, this will most likely occur either on Sunday, 14 August, or Monday, 15 August. We don’t know who will win this gold medal yet. Here are the possibilities for those days in the approximate start orders, if there are no schedule delays, although because each event takes different times to complete, it is difficult to say when they will finish.

14 August

  • Men’s Golf
  • Women’s Athletics (Track & Field) Marathon
  • Men’s Singles Tennis
  • Men’s Doubles Tennis
  • Women’s Doubles Tennis
  • Mixed Doubles Tennis
  • Men’s Small-Bore Rifle Shooting
  • Men’s RS:X Sailing
  • Women’s RS:X Sailing
  • Men’s Gymnastics Floor Exercise
  • Men’s Gymnastics Pommel Horse
  • Women’s Gymnastics Vault
  • Women’s Gymnastics Uneven Bars
  • Men’s Boxing Light-flyweight
  • Women’s Springboard Diving
  • Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling 59 kg
  • Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling 75 kg
  • Men’s Cycling Sprint
  • Men’s Fencing Team Épée
  • Women’s +75 kg Weightlifting
  • Women’s Athletics (Track & Field) Triple Jump
  • Men’s Athletics (Track & Field) 400 metres
  • Men’s Athletics (Track & Field) 100 metres

15 August

  • Women’s 10 km Open-Water Swimming
  • Mixed Equestrian Individual Dressage
  • Women’s Athletics (Track & Field) Hammer Throw
  • Women’s 3,000 metre Steeplechase
  • Women’s Laser Radial Sailing
  • Men’s Laser Sailing
  • Men’s Gymnastics Rings
  • Men’s Gymnastics Vault
  • Women’s Gymnastics Balance Beam
  • Men’s Cycling Omnium
  • Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling 85 kg
  • Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling 130 kg
  • Men’s 105 kg Weightlifting
  • Men’s Heavyweight (91 kg) Boxing
  • Men’s Athletics (Track & Field) Pole Vault
  • Men’s Athletics (Track & Field) 800 metres
  • Women’s Athletics (Track & Field) 400 metres

Next Best Nations

  • Soviet Union      473
  • Germany              288
  • Great Britain     246
  • France                   234
  • Italy                        236
  • China                     213

Other than the Soviets, no longer extant, the next 4 best NOCs have 1,004 gold medals through 2012 (USA had 977)

At current rates of winning gold medals (since 2000), the next time any nation will reach 1,000 Summer Olympic Gold medals is as follows:

  • China              21 Olympics             2100        1,850 USA
  • Germany      47 Olympics             2204        2,850 USA

The numbers in the right-hand column give the estimated number of golds the USA will have by those dates, if @TeamUSA continues to produce as they have at the last 7 Summer Olympics.

@TeamUSA Best to Date

Most Gold Medals (thru 2012)

22              Michael Phelps                    SWI       (and counting)

Most Gold Medals, Men (thru 2012)

22              Michael Phelps                    SWI       (and counting)

Most Gold Medals, Women (thru 2012)

8                 Jenny Thompson                SWI

Youngest Gold Medalist

13-268     Marjorie Gestring   DIV     1936   *18 Nov 1922  Springboard

Youngest Gold Medalist, Men

15-324     Michael Schoettle  SAI     1952   *7 Sep 1936    5.5 metres

Youngest Gold Medalist, Women

13-268     Marjorie Gestring   DIV     1936   *18 Nov 1922  Springboard

Oldest Gold Medalist

64-099     Charles Jacobus   ROQ   1904   *1 May 1840    Singles

Oldest Gold Medalist, Men

64-099     Charles Jacobus   ROQ   1904   *1 May 1840    Singles

Oldest Gold Medalist, Women

63-332     Eliza Pollock           ARC   1904   *24 Oct 1840   Team

The Previous Milestones


James B. Connolly – 1896 Athletics Triple Jump – 6 April 1896

For purely historical reasons, James Connolly must be considered the most distinguished of all United States Olympians because, on 6 April 1896, he became the first winner at the Modern Olympic Games and the first known Olympic champion in over 1,500 years. In addition to his triple jump crown, Connolly won medals in the high jump and long jump. One can safely assume that this victory adequately compensated Connolly for the decision he had made at Boston some two months earlier. Connolly’s dean at Harvard had counselled him not to make the trip to Athens because his low academic standing might prejudice his being readmitted to the university upon his return. Connolly, however, entertained no doubts as to his priorities and walked out of Harvard, not setting foot there until 50 years later when, as a well-known writer of Gloucester fishing stories, he was invited to speak on literature before the Harvard Union.

In 1898, Connolly was with the 9th Massachusetts Infantry at the Siege of Santiago, but in 1900 he again sought Olympic honors. He improved on his 1896 winning mark, but had to settle for second place behind Meyer Prinstein. Connolly missed the 1904 Olympics but competed in 1906, failing to make a valid jump in either the long or triple jump. Connolly later served in the Navy and in 1912 he ran for Congress as a Progressive, although he was defeated. Connolly covered Pershing’s “punitive expedition” into Mexico for Colliers and in 1917 became European naval correspondent for the magazine. He remained a writer for the rest of his life.


Bill Hoyt – 1896 Athletics Pole Vault – 10 April 1896

The first Olympic pole vault competition only drew an entry of five competitors and after the early elimination of the three Greek entrants, it became a two-man contest between Bill Hoyt of Harvard and Albert Tyler of Princeton. Tyler had the early edge, clearing 10-0 (3.05) on his first attempt, while Hoyt had two misses at that height. But when the bar was set at 10-10 (3.30) only Hoyt was successful, which won him the gold medal. Hoyt’s Olympic victory was the only truly major success of his career. At home, he had placed second in the IC4A pole vault in 1895 and 1897, and he tied for first place in 1898 with Raymond Clapp of Yale.

After graduating Harvard in 1897, Hoyt entered their medical school, from which he graduated in 1901. Initially he practiced as a doctor in Chicago and was later commissioned into the 1st Illinois Field Hospital Company and served in France in 1918. After the war he tried to resume his Chicago practice, but soon returned to France as a surgeon with the foreign service of the U.S. Public Health Service, and he served overseas for many years. He finally settled in the small town of Berlin, New York, where he continued to practice medicine.


Tom Hicks – 1904 Athletics Marathon – 30 August 1904

The first two men to finish in the 1904 Olympic marathon were the English-born Tom Hicks and the French-born Albert Coray. Although they had a European birthplace in common, their occupations could hardly have been more divergent – Hicks was a clown by profession and Coray earned his living as a professional strike-breaker. Tom Hicks had been around the American distance running scene for some years, having finished sixth in Boston in 1900, improving to fifth in 1901 and placing second in 1904. This experience was to stand him in good stead, considering the extreme conditions in which the 1904 Olympic marathon was run.

The course was hilly, the temperature was 90° F, there were no watering stations apart from a well at the halfway mark, and the automobiles following the race churned up a great deal of dust. Only the fact that Hicks had been sustained by doses of brandy, egg white, and strychnine during the latter stages of the race enabled him to finish. But his dreams of being champion were shattered when he arrived at Francis Field only to see Fred Lorz being photographed, as the victor, with Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of the President Teddy Roosevelt. It later transpired that Lorz had covered much of the course in an automobile and then claimed that his Olympic “victory” was only a practical joke. The AAU did not share his sense of humor and they immediately banned him (he was later reinstated and won the 1905 Boston Marathon). No more was heard of Hicks as after his ordeal, both physical and mental, he retired on the spot.


We can’t tell you exactly who was the 100th USA gold medalist. On 28 October 1904 USA gymnasts won 10 gold medals, and the times are not recorded so we don’t know exactly who won the 100th. It was one of three USA gymnasts – Anton Heida, Ed Hennig, or George Eyser, the gymnast with the wooden leg. His story is the most interesting.

George Eyser was a member of the Concordia Turnverein in 1904 and is probably one of the most amazing stories to emerge from any Olympic Games. In the 12-event All-Around competition he placed 71st individually despite having finished 10th in the nine event all-around. He finished last in the other three events of the triathlon – 100 yard dash, long jump and shot put, pulled down mostly by his 13-foot long jump and 15.4 time for the dash.

Those marks don’t look so bad in another context, for George Eyser competed with a wooden leg. Nothing of the circumstances of the loss of his limb is known. Eyser arrived in America, from Germany, at the age of 14 and settled in Denver, Colorado before moving to St. Louis where he worked as a book-keeper for a construction company. Eyser became a US citizen in 1894. He was a member of the Concordia team which won an international meet in Frankfurt, Germany in 1908, and also won the National Turnfest in Cincinnati in 1909.


Ray Barbuti – 1928 Athletics 400 metres – 3 August 1928

Ray Barbuti won his only AAU title in 1928, when the 400 m final was run in a gale force wind and Barbuti’s rugged strength enabled him to win in a seemingly modest 51.8. He improved that to 47.8 at the Olympics when he was the only American to win an individual track title. He was brought onto the relay team at the last minute and led the U.S. to a new world record of 3:14.2. The following week he (with George Baird, Morgan Taylor, and Bud Spencer) claimed a share in a second world record when the U.S. ran 3:13.4 for the 4×440y in London in the match against the British Empire team.

Barbuti captained both the football and track teams at Syracuse. During his war service he was awarded the Air Medal and the Bronze Star and left the army air corps as a major. He later became deputy director of the Civil Defense Commission for New York State and director of the New York State Office of Disaster Preparedness. After his competitive days were over he was more interested in football than track and he officiated at more than 500 intercollegiate games.


Hayes Jones – 1964 Athletics 110 metre hurdles – 18 October 1964

The 110 metre hurdles final started at 3:50 PM, Tokyo time, on 18 October 1964, with Hayes Jones winning over fellow American Blaine Lindgren. We suspect Jones had no idea he had just won the 500th gold for the USA.

Although at 5-11 (1.80) Hayes Jones seemingly lacked the height for a world-class hurdler, he made up for this apparent handicap with an explosive start and blazing speed on the flat. On the indoor circuit his exceptional starting abilities put him on his way to six AAU titles and he won 55 consecutive indoor races from March 1959 through his retirement in 1964. Jones’ speed on the flat earned him a share in a world 4×100 m relay record (with Frank Budd, Paul Drayton, and the non-Olympian Charles Frazier) in 1961 and over the high hurdles he won the AAU title a record five times. He was also Pan American Games and NCAA champion in 1959. At the 1959 Pan Ams he was also on the gold medal winning 4×100 m relay team. After his retirement Jones served as director of recreation for New York City for two years before returning to private business.

Gold Medals by Sport

Sport Golds Medals
Athletics 321 763
Swimming 231 519
Shooting 53 107
Wrestling 52 130
Boxing 49 111
Diving 48 132
Gymnastics 33 103
Rowing 32 87
Basketball 21 26
Tennis 20 36
Sailing 19 59
Weightlifting 16 45
Archery 14 31
Cycling 14 53
Equestrian Events 11 49
Beach Volleyball 6 9
Canoeing 5 16
Synchronized Swimming 5 9
Football 4 7
Fencing 3 27
Golf 3 10
Softball 3 4
Volleyball 3 8
Rugby Football 2 2
Taekwondo 2 8
Water Polo 2 13
Baseball 1 3
Jeu de Paume 1 1
Judo 1 12
Roque 1 3
Tug-of-War 1 4
Totals 977 2402

Gold Medals by States (Birthplace)

State ###
California 443
New York 259
Illinois 161
Ohio 144
Pennsylvania 138
Texas 119
New Jersey 105
Michigan 84
Florida 73
Georgia 69
Massachusetts 67
Missouri 64
Washington 61
Wisconsin 55
Mississippi 52
Iowa 48
Indiana 47
Virginia 46
Connecticut 40
District of Columbia 39
Kansas 39
Maryland 38
Oregon 38
Minnesota 35
North Carolina 33
Oklahoma 33
Arizona 31
Louisiana 31
Alabama 30
Arkansas 30
Kentucky 30
Hawaiʻi 27
West Virginia 26
Colorado 23
Tennessee 22
South Carolina 20
Nebraska 18
Maine 14
South Dakota 13
Montana 10
Utah 8
New Hampshire 7
Idaho 6
Nevada 6
Rhode Island 6
Alaska 5
Vermont 4
Delaware 3
New Mexico 3
Wyoming 2
Totals 2705

Note that all 50 states have produced gold medalists. Because of team events, there are many more gold medalists than just 1,000. Also note that a number of @TeamUSA Olympians have been born out of the continental United States.

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