For medal count-enthusiasts, the 2012 Olympics featured a heavyweight bout between the United States and China. The two nations seesawed for the lead throughout the Games, with the U.S. pulling away in the final days.

London is not the first city to host a nail-biting race for most medals. Eight previous Summer Olympics have been decided by ten medals or less. All eight have involved the U.S., with the Americans claiming the top spot four times.

See how this year's down-the-wire finish ranks with some of the closest medal counts in history.

The Tightest Medal Races In Olympic History Slideshow


1912: Sweden 65, USA 63

Through the first four Olympiads, the host nations of Greece, France, the U.S. and Great Britain had defended their home turf by an average margin of victory of 101 medals. At the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, the United States nearly stole the native Swedes' thunder. Led by Jim Thorpe (pictured), winner of the decathlon and pentathlon, and Fanny Durack, victor in the 100 freestyle, the first women's Olympic swimming event ever, the U.S. topped the gold medal sheet with 25. But the Swedes narrowly claimed the medal count with 65 total medals, The gap of two medals is still the record for lowest margin of victory at the Summer Olympics.


1952: USA 76, USSR 71

As Bob Mathias (pictured, center) became the first men's decathlon gold medalist to repeat and Pat McCormick won both individual women's diving competitions, the U.S. took home 40 gold medals in Helsinki. The Soviet Union, in their Summer Olympics debut, gave the U.S. a run in the overall medal count. In the midst of the Korean War, the athletics phase of Cold War had begun.


1964: USSR 96, USA 90

Despite losing the overall count, the United States beat the Soviets in the golds, 36-30, in Tokyo. Swimmer Don Schollander won four gold medals, Billy Mills became the only American ever to win the 10,000 meters, 20-year-old Joe Frazier won the heavyweight crown and Princeton standout Bill Bradley led the basketball team to gold. Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina medaled in all six women's gymnastics events. Back on the Soviet home front, the good news took a back seat to Nikita Khrushchev's surprise removal as First Secretary of the Communist Party.


1972: USSR 99, USA 94

Mark Spitz's seven gold medals, Dave Wottle's comeback 800-meter track win and Frank Shorter's marathon victory -- the first Olympic marathon gold by an American in 64 years -- were not enough to get past the Soviets. The 1972 Munich Games are also one of the most controversial. Rey Robinson and Eddie Hart, two American medal favorites in the 100 meters, were eliminated in their quarterfinal heats after U.S. assistant coach Stan Wright followed an incorrect schedule. Hart and Robinson were watching the games on TV in the Olympic Village when they saw their quarterfinal heats taking place before their eyes. The next day, Valeriy Borzov of the Soviet Union won gold. And then there was the bizarre finish in the basketball finals with the Soviets winning 51-50 at the buzzer.


1992: Unified Team 112, USA 108

Just months after the fall of the Soviet Union, a "Unified Team” of 12 of the 15 former Soviet republics gave the former communist power its final hurrah. Gymnast Vitaly Scherbo, who went on to represent Belarus, led the Unified Team with six gold medals. For the U.S., gold medal performances of Gail Devers in the 100 meters, 16-year-old Jennifer Capriati in tennis and the Dream Team in basketball made it an Olympics to remember.


2000: USA 94, Russia 89

Vince Carter's dunk over Frederic Weis, a three-hit shutout by Ben Sheets in the gold-medal baseball game and Maurice Greene's 100-meter gold highlighted a 94-medal performance by the U.S. But the Russians, who recorded a disappointing 63 medals at the 1996 Atlanta Games, nearly caught the Americans in Sydney in the delegation's second Summer Olympics. The five-medal margin reflects here does account for five-medal winner Marion Jones being stripped of her accomplishments in a doping scandal.


2004: USA 101, Russia 92

Russia again put pressure on the United States, but the Americans prevailed in Athens. American milestones included Michael Phelps' eight medals (six gold), the highest total in a non-boycotted Olympics, and Carly Patterson's all-around gold medal, the first such for an American woman since Mary Lou Retton in 1984. The medal count also saw a new contender: China. Although the Chinese won only 63 medals, 32 were gold (the U.S. and Russia won 35 and 28 golds, respectively), which gave it a gust of momentum leading into the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


2008: USA 110, China 100

Michael Phelps again won eight medals (all gold), Natalie Coughlin added six in the pool, the Redeem Team took home gold and the gymnastics team won 10 medals. But China beat the U.S. in golds 51-36 with Russia taking third (28).

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