The United States has earned more hardware at the Summer Olympics than any other country, and the gap between first and second place is nearly 1,000 medals.

The U.S. has 2,296 medals -- 929 gold, 729 silver, 638 bronze -- in 25 summer appearances. The now defunct Soviet Union sits in second place with 1,010 medals. If you choose to combine that total with what Russia has won since the fall of the USSR, the total is 1,335.

Here are the most successful sports for the United States dating back to the first modern Olympics in 1896:

Medal Count: The Most Successful Olympic Sports For U.S. Slideshow


Track And Field

With 738 medals (311 gold, 238 silver, 189 bronze), the United States is pretty darn good. The next closest is the Soviet Union with 193 medals (263 with the addition of Russia's medals). At the first modern Olympics in 1896, the U.S. claimed 17 of the 37 athletics medals. Carl Lewis (above) is the most decorated American in the sport with ten medals (nine gold). He is followed by Ray Ewry with eight medals (all gold), Evelyn Ashford with five (four gold) and Mel Sheppard with five (four gold). Among some of the other famous track and field stars: Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Michael Johnson, Rafer Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Florence Griffith-Joyner.



The Stars and Stripes have 489 swim medals to its name (214 gold, 155 silver, 120 bronze). Australia is second with 168. Unlike athletics, the United States did not win a swimming medal at the 1896 Olympics, nor the 1900 Paris Games. The first American swimming medals came in 1904 in St. Louis when the U.S. earned 14 medals. Michael Phelps leads the top of the list with 16 all-time medals (14 gold). He is followed by Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres (together, above) with 12 medals each. Mark Spitz, Matt Biondi and Natalie Coughlin are next with 11 medals apiece.



Although the United States has just one diving medal in the past three Olympics, the nation's 131 all-time medals (48 gold, 41 silver, 42 bronze) are comfortably ahead of second-place China's 49 medals. Greg Louganis (diving) headlines the U.S. winner's list with five medals (four gold). Pat McCormick is a nearby second with four medals (all gold).



The U.S. has struggled in recent years but still leads the count in the ring with 108 medals (32 gold, 19 silver, 12 bronze). Cuba is second with 63 medals. Boxing, maybe more than every other sport, has put on the richest display of American prospects at the Olympics. Muhammad Ali (as Cassius Clay), Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, Jr., Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are among those who have competed in and medaled at the Olympic games.



This may come as a surprise, but the United States is the leader in this sport and it's not even close. The U.S. has recorded 103 shooting medals (50 gold, 29 silver, 24 bronze), ahead of Sweden's 55 medals. Carl Osburn, who competed at the 1912, 1920 and 1924 Games, is the Olympics' all-time top shot with 11 medals (five gold, including one form 1920 pictured above). A 1907 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Osburn reached the rank of commander in his life in the service. Other successful American shooters include Willis A. Lee and Lloyd Spooner, each of who earned all of their seven medals at the 1920 Antwerp Games. Like Osburn, Lee was also part of the navy. He achieved the rank of vice admiral during World War II and was a commander of American ships during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, a turning point in the Pacific War.



The Americans have ruled the court at the Olympics with 24 medals (19 gold, two silver, three bronze). Taking away the 1980 Olympics, which the U.S. boycotted, no U.S. team has ever failed to medal. Among the greats to play at the Olympics as amateurs: Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Jerry Lucas, Walt Bellamy, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and David Robinson. In 1992, pro players were allowed to play at the Olympics for the first time, prompting Jordan, Ewing, Mullin and Robinson to play again, along with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and other NBA greats. The 1992 Dream Team featured 11 future Hall of Famers en route to a gold medal in Barcelona. Other Olympic medalists in the NBA era have included Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Reggie Miller, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. On the women's side, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, Dawn Staley, Teresa Weathersppon, Sheryl Swoopes, Sue Bird, Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi are all gold medalists.



Although Olympic soccer is considered secondary on the international stage to events like the World Cup and the Euro, it may come as a surprise that the United States is the most decorated nation with six medals (three gold). Brazil is tied with six medals, but has no gold medals. Two of the U.S. medals came at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics when only three teams competed in men's soccer, two American teams and a Canadian squad. The Canadian team won the gold medal with the U.S. taking silver and bronze. The other four Olympic medals have come courtesy of the women's team, which has three gold medals and one silver medal since the Olympics added the sport in 1996. Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Abby Wambach and Hope Solo are among those to have won Olympic gold medals. The 2000 men's team, which included an 18-year-old Landon Donovan and a 21-year-old Tim Howard, finished fourth for the best men's finish since 1904. With the men's team failing to qualify this year, the women's team must carry the load to keep the U.S. atop the standings.



The United States is the all-time leader in gold medals with 17, ahead of Great Britain (15). But Britain leads in total medals 40-32. Since tennis returned from a 62-year hiatus in 1988, the United States has 17 medals to lead second-place Germany (seven). Venus Williams (all gold and pictured above), Vincent Richards and Mary Joe Fernandez lead the American record books with three medals each. Serena Williams and Gigi Fernandez are among those Americans with two medals.



The U.S. has the most volleyball gold medals (eight), but its 14 total medals is second to Brazil's 16. Seven of the American gold medals have come in beach volleyball. The duo of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor have two of those medals (both gold) and are looking to add to that total in London. The U.S. will also be looking to defend its men's indoor title from Beijing.



With 125 medals (50 gold, 43 silver, 32 bronze), the United States has the most total medals, depending on how you view the Soviet Union/Russia. The Soviets, before their demise, had 116 total medal with 62 gold. Since then Russia has added 40 total medals and 21 gold.



The U.S. rowing team has a whopping 84 total medals (31 gold), putting the nation in first place in total medals by 30 over Great Britain. East Germany has the most gold medals at 33 (48 total medals). East Germany’s final appearance as a delegation was in 1988.


Although the U.S. has only accumulated 11 gold medals, its 49 total members are the most all-time. Germany leads the medal table with 21 gold medals. The U.S. is coming off a three-medal performance in Beijing.

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