2016 Olympics: Pac-12 Conference puts on a show, racks up 55 medals in Rio
RIO DE JANEIRO -- The 2016 Olympics came to a close on Sunday night as the world bid farewell to the summer games until 2020 in Tokyo.
Between the opening and closing ceremonies at famed Maracanã Stadium in Rio, the Pac-12 Conference put on a show for the whole world by securing medals in 16 out of 16 days of full competition. In all, Pac-12 affiliated athletes won 55 total medals in 12 different sports for five different countries.
The Conference of Champions will add some major Olympic firepower to the fold next year across its 12 campuses. A total of 50 incoming student-athlete Olympians will return to school in the fall, led by California’s 14-athlete contingent, followed by USC (9), Stanford (9) and UCLA (7). Among those Olympian student-athletes, 11 claimed medals in Rio.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) August 21, 2016
Pac-12 alums and current athletes were also responsible for some of the Olympics’ most memorable moments: Andre De Grasse’s smiling sprint with Usain Bolt, Maya DiRado’s thrilling win over Katinka Hosszu in the 200m backstroke, historical domination from Allyson Felix and Katie Ledecky, a host of new world records, and repeat gold-medal performances from Ashton Eaton (decathlon) and a USA women’s water polo team full of Pac-12 athletes.
Then there were the groundbreakers. Simone Manuel and Lia Neal became the first African-American women to simultaneously swim for Team USA in the Olympics. Manuel also earned the first individual gold medal by an African-American woman in swimming. Colorado alums and training partners Emma Coburn (3000m steeplechase) and Jenny Simpson (1500m) each earned the first-ever American medals by women in their respective events. Former Oregon Duck Matthew Centrowitz shocked the world by winning USA’s first men’s 1500m gold since 1908.
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A total of 246 athletes took part in the games, plus an additional 31 coaches and delegates representing 47 countries in 23 sports. If the Pac-12 Conference (55 total medals) was a country, it would be at No. 5 on the overall medal count, behind Team USA (121), China (70), Great Britain (67) and Russia (56). The Conference of Champions (25 gold medals) would rank fourth on the gold medal table, behind USA (46), Great Britain (27) and China (26).
When it comes to a school-by-school basis, Stanford can claim Olympic bragging rights for the next four years. Cardinal athletes racked up 27 individual medals, followed by Cal (21) and USC (21), UCLA (9), Oregon (6), Washington (4), Colorado (2), Arizona (1) and Washington State (1).