In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Team USA won 113 medals, including 39 gold medals. Many Black athletes contributed to the success of Team USA, some making history in the process.
Track and Field 4x400m relay
A team made up of USC Trojans Rai Benjamin and Michael Norman along with Michael Cherry, and Bryce Deadmon clocked in a 2:55.7. Benjamin ran anchor while Norman ran the second leg. It was a moment of redemption for the Trojans as Norman came in fifth in the 400m final and Benjamin earned a silver in the 400m hurdles.
Tamyra Mensah-Stock, Women’s freestyle wrestling 68kg
Mensah-Stock battled against competitors from Japan, China, Ukraine, and Nigeria to reach gold. She is the first Black woman and the second American woman to win gold at this event. Mensah-Stock noted that she will use her Olympic earnings to buy her mother a food truck.
Team USA women’s basketball has not lost an Olympic game since the Barcelona Games in 1992. They assembled a 55-game winning streak, resulting in seven consecutive Olympic gold medals. Team USA calls the women’s basketball program “The Greatest Dynasty in Basketball.” Dawn Staley, who won three gold medals as a player, was head coach. This was the fourth gold medal for WNBA all-time rebound leader Sylvia Fowles and the fifth for WNBA legends Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird.
Despite dropping a few early matchups, Team USA men’s basketball found their stride. They conquered teams riddled with past and present NBA stars, like Spain and Australia. Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is now tied with Carmelo Anthony with three golds. Durant, respectfully nicknamed “Captain America,” became the all-time leading scorer of Team USA men’s basketball.
Women’s 4x400m relay
This was the coronation event for the track and field icon Allyson Felix. She ran the second leg of the stacked squad that consisted of Sydney McLaughlin, Dalilah Muhammad and Athing Mu. They paced the heat with a 3:16.85 time. Every member of the squad has won at least one Olympic gold medal prior to this win.
Women’s Water Polo
As the goalie of the team, Ashleigh Johnson successfully ensured that their opponents scored as little as possible. She helped hold most opponents to single-digit scores, except for the Russian Olympic Committee, where the US beat them 15-11 in the Semifinals. This is the second gold medal for Johnson and the third consecutive medal for the women’s water polo program
Gable Dan Stevenson, Men’s freestyle wrestling 125kg
Stevenson did not give up a single point in his first three Olympic matches. He battled the three-time world champion Geno Petriashvili in the gold medal match. Stevenson is also a Pan American champion and an NCAA champion.
Athing Mu, Track and Field 800m
After having a stellar freshman season at Texas A&M, Mu became the first American to win a gold medal at the 800m since 1968. Her 55.21s time that she clocked in for the finals was her personal best. She also won the NCAA title in the 400m.
Women’s 3×3 basketball
Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Long and Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray helped the 3×3 team to an 8-1 overall record. Their sole loss came from Japan, 20-18. In the gold medal match, USA defeated the Russian Olympic Committee 18-15.
Sydney McLaughlin, Track and Field 400m Hurdles
After creating a new World record at the Olympic Trials with a 51.90, McLaughlin broke her own record in the 400m hurdles final in Tokyo with a 51.47 time. McLaughlin is the first athlete to run the 400m hurdles in under 52 seconds.
Jordan Thompson, Haleigh Washington, Foluke Akinradew Gunderson, and Chiaka Ogbogu helped Team USA win its first gold medal in women’s volleyball. Although they lost to Brazil during pool play, Team USA defeated them in straight sets during the gold medal game. Team USA also defeated the likes of Argentina, Turkey and Serbia.