US players pose with gold medals (Photo: Rob Schumacher, US PRESSWIRE)
(USA TODAY) -- Helped by a surprising gold medal in men's diving, the USA clinched the top spot in the medals race for the fifth consecutive Summer Olympics.
Team USA had won 102 medals to China's 87. The Americans led the gold medal count 44-38.
David Boudia won the 10-meter platform event to cap a strong performance by the diving team, which will leave London with one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
Diving was one sport that has helped elevate the Americans. The USA added three track and field medals Saturday night, giving the team 29 for the meet with Sunday's marathon remaining.
"The American public has high expectations for our Olympic team," USOC President Larry Probst said Saturday. "There was a lot of opinion about where we would finish as a team; some predicted second, and some even predicted third. ... We like to come in first, and there is nothing wrong with that. This is a competition, and it's great we are leading the medal count both on golds and in total. The last time we did that was in Athens (in 2004), so it has been awhile, and it feels good to see our athletes do so well."
In the 2008 Beijing Games, Team USA won 110 medals to China's 100. China, though, won the gold medal count 51-36.
Earlier this year, Sebastian Coe, head of the London organizing committee, predicted China would finish ahead of the USA in the overall medal count. "I told him in April we were going to work very hard to prove him wrong, so I'm very happy about that," Probst said.
For some, charting the medal race has become almost an Olympic race itself. Jordan Burroughs, who won gold in freestyle wrestling, said he checked the medal count every morning. "I actually downloaded the app on my phone," Burroughs said. "I saw that in 2008 ... China beat us in the medal race. I wanted to be a guy that can help us out."
U.S. female athletes have done more than their fair share, winning 28 of the team's 44 gold medals so far. To put that accomplishment in perspective: If the U.S. women were their own nation, they would be third in the gold medal count.
"I've been thrilled to see how well U.S. women have done," said Kayla Harrison, a gold medalist in judo. "It feels amazing to be a part of something so much bigger than myself; I definitely feel connected. To be able to say I'm a strong, confident young woman and an Olympic champion is amazing, and I hope we have a million young girls inspired right now."
On Saturday, the U.S. women's 4x400 relay won gold on the track and the women's basketball team dominated France to win its fifth consecutive gold.
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