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USOC hails overall medal performance in Beijing

USOC hails overall medal performance in Beijing

While China is running away with the gold medal race in Beijing, the United States is laying claim to one of its best overall performances in Olympic history.
"The athletes from the United States have exceeded our goals already," U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.
Going into the final weekend, the United States was assured of reaching at least 103 total medals, surpassing the count of 102 from Athens in 2004 and closing in on the 108 benchmark from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
"Overall, we look at this as one of the great successes in U.S. Olympic history," USOC chief executive officer Jim Scherr said, citing medals in team sports and across a spread of different events and disciplines.
The gold medal situation paints a different picture.
China was leading the table Friday with 47 golds, compared to 31 for the U.S. In total medals, China had 83.
It will be the first time in 72 years that the final gold medal standings are not topped by the United States or the Soviet Union/Russia. Germany led the list when it hosted the 1936 Berlin Games.
"The Chinese obviously won't be caught at these games," Scherr said. "We had anticipated that would be the case coming in, considering the resources they had placed in a very targeted manner to win the gold medal count."
The USOC believes the Chinese are likely to continue their domination at the 2012 London Olympics and beyond.
"China has been systematically targeting every single available medal, and we're going to have to do that in the future," Ueberroth said. "It's going to be very difficult (to dislodge China). The resources that they put toward their Olympic team and the population base and the dedication is fantastic. It's much more difficult for the rest of the world to compete, but that's the way it should be."
The United States still has a chance of reaching its Athens gold tally of 36.
"We're not displeased at where we are in the gold medal count," Scherr said. "We'll learn from this. We'll learn from the Chinese. But with the resources that we've had available, we've done remarkably well."
The U.S. team has fallen short of expectations in track and field. For the first time in Summer Games history, the U.S. will fail to win gold in any of the six sprint races _ the men's and women's 100s, 200s and 4x100 relays. The men's and women's relay teams were eliminated in Thursday's heats after failing to get the baton around. Jamaica, meanwhile, swept the four individual sprints.
"Any time you have 600 athletes competing in 31 sports, you're going to have disappointments, and you'll have surprises along the way," Scherr said. "I would say at these games, we may have been disappointed based on the outcomes of the results, but we're not disappointed in any team or any individual athlete."
Meanwhile, the USOC has been buoyed by the fact that American athletes have steered clear of any drug scandals or behavioral controversies in Beijing. Ueberroth had promised to bring a clean team to the games.
"The conduct of athletes all around has been what they said they were going to do, to respect our hosts, respect our country, and do their best," he said.
Ueberroth also offered high praise for China's organization of these Olympics.
"We predicted the Chinese would put on terrific games," he said. "They've exceeded everybody's expectations."
Ueberroth has a special bond with China, which ignored the Soviet-led boycott and sent a team to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, which he organized.
Although activists have criticized the Beijing Games over China's human rights record, Ueberroth said the Olympics are about bringing together athletes from more than 200 countries.
"Nobody else in any walk of life is able to do that," he said. "The Olympic movement is testimony that the world can get to know each other. I think history will say these games found a a new level though the efforts of the Chinese people."
On another issue, Ueberroth gave a more upbeat assessment than previously of Chicago's chances of getting the 2016 Olympics. Chicago is competing against Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro, with the IOC to pick the host city in October 2009.
In the past, Ueberroth has put Chicago as third or fourth in the race, and "nowhere near first."
"I think they've moved up," he said Friday. "I think the Chicago team has done very, very well, and the Olympic family realizes the quality of their effort and the quality of their bid."
Ueberroth expressed disappointment that former U.S. women's football captain Julie Foudy failed to win election Thursday as an athlete representative on the International Olympic Committee. With Bob Ctvrtlik's term expiring, the U.S. will be left with just two members on the IOC, Anita DeFrantz and Jim Easton, during the crucial 2016 bid race.
"It's a very weak position for the U.S., but our two IOC members are very special," Ueberroth said.
Ueberroth's term as USOC chairman expires this year, with elections in October. He will remain as "president in an honorary capacity."