As the London 2012 Olympic Games come to a close and the world looks forward to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, it’s time to reflect on this summer’s Olympic Games.
The United States, with 539 athletes, edged out China for total medals with 104 total (46 gold, 29 silver, and 29 bronze), but China came in second in the Olympic medal haul. China took home 87 medals (38 gold, 27 silver, and 22 bronze), Hong Kong took home one medal, and Taiwan took home two medals.
Team China: London 2012 Olympic Games Highlights:China, with a team of 384 athletes, took home fewer medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games than it did on its home turf in 2008. China won 100 medals (51 gold, 21 silver, and 28 bronze) when it hosted the Games in Beijing. The U.S. also took home fewer medals, winning 110 in Beijing.
China first competed at the 1932 Olympics but it didn’t field as large a team until the Los Angeles 1983 Olympic Games with 216 members who competed in 19 sports. Shooter Xu Haifing was the first Chinese to win gold when he won the men's free pistol at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Gymnast Li Ning won three gold medals, two silver and a bronze at those Games, making him the most decorated Chinese athlete at those Games.
While China excelled in some events at the London 2012 Olympic Games – swimming and table tennis – its athletes faltered in others. Standout swimmers Sun Yang took home gold in the men’s 400m and 1500m freestyle and silver in the 200m freestyle while Jiao Liuyang took gold in the women’s 200m butterfly and Ye Shiwen won gold in the women’s 200m and 400m individual medleys.
China swept the competition in table tennis with the men’s and women’s teams both winning gold and Zhang Jike winning gold in the men’s singles and Li Xiaoxia taking gold in the women’s singles. China has dominated table tennis since it was introduced at the Olympic Games at the Sydney Games in 2000 and in Beijing 2008 they won every medal they were eligible to compete for.
China also swept the competition in badminton just like they did at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Lin Dan took the gold in men’s singles and Li Xuerui won gold in women’s singles. China was also awarded gold in men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed badminton.
In diving, another sport that China has excelled in, team China took 10 medals including gold in men’s and women’s synchronized 3m springboard, men’s and women’s synchronized 10m platform, and women’s 3m springboard (Wu Minxia), and women’s synchronized 10m platform (Chen Ruolin).
Team China: London 2012 Olympic Games Heartbreak:China’s most famous hurdler, Liu Xiang who missed the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games due to aggravating an injury during a warm up for his heat, failed to produce a medal in the 100m hurdles; instead suffering a leg injury after crashing into the first hurdle during the first heat for the 100m hurdles at the London 2012 Olympic Games. This marks the second Olympics where Liu has not been able to repeat his gold medal winning performance from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games where he became the first Chinese male track gold medallist when he won the 110m hurdles competition.
The Chinese women’s gymnastics team failed to win a medal though He Kexin won individual silver for uneven bars, and Deng Linlin and Sui Lu took gold and silver, respectively, on the balance beam.
Team Hong Kong: London 2012 Olympic Games Highlights:Hong Kong, which competes separately from China and hosted equestrian events during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, had 49 athletes competing and took home one medal. Women’s track cyclist Lee Wai Sze took home a bronze in women’s keirin.
Hong Kong made its first Olympic appearance at the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games when its team of two men and two women competed in swimming. Since then they have taken part at every Olympic Games except Moscow 1980. Windsurfer Lee Lai Shan, who won gold at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, was Hong Kong's first Olympic champion.
After the 1999 Handover, the Hong Kong team has been known as Hong Kong China.
Team Taiwan: London 2012 Olympic Games Highlights:Taiwan, which competes under the name Chinese Taipei complete with a different flag and anthem created especially for the Olympic Games, took home two medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Tseng Li-cheng tied France’s Marlene Harnois for bronze in women’s -57kg taekwondo and Hsu Shu-ching won silver in women’s 53kg weightlifting.
Taiwan first competed at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games. Under an agreement with the International Olympic Committee in the years from 1979 to 1981, they participated under the name Chinese Taipei with a specially designed NOC flag. Decathlete Yang Chuan-Kang, who won silver at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games, was the first Taiwanese Olympian.