By Peggy Shinn | Aug. 05, 2016, 4:52 p.m. (ET)

Simone Biles runs through her floor routine during a training session before the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Aug. 4, 2016 at Rio Olympic Arena in Rio de Janeiro.


RIO DE JANEIRO — With the Opening Ceremony for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games just hours away, Team USA is leading the predicted medal count for these Games.

Sports Illustrated and statistics site Gracenote both have the U.S. in the lead over China.

SI predicts that Team USA will come out on top with 118 total medals, including 45 golds, 34 silvers and 39 bronzes. The magazine predicts that China will finish second in the medal count, with 85.

Gracenote is slightly less optimistic, with the U.S. totaling 88 medals at these Games: 38 golds, 23 silvers and 27 bronzes — but still 17 medals ahead of predicted No. 2 China (with 71).

Team USA has led the medal count at the summer Olympics for the past 20 years — through five consecutive Games.

In Rio, medal events start on Saturday morning with the men’s cycling road race rolling off the line at 9:30 a.m. Brazilian time (8:30 a.m. ET), with athletes competing for medals in shooting, archery, fencing and swimming later in the day.

SI is predicting that Team USA athletes will start the 2016 Olympic Games by winning four medals on Saturday. Brady Ellison, Zach Garrett and Jake Kaminski are predicted to win bronze in the men’s archery team event — one place lower than the silver medal the U.S. won in London four years ago.

On the first night of swimming, SI is predicting Chase Kalisz will take bronze in the men’s 400-meter individual medley; Maya DiRado will win silver in the women’s 400 IM; and the U.S. women’s 4x100-meter freestyle team will take silver (behind Australia). Based on Olympic Trials results, Lia Neal, Dana Vollmer, Amanda Weir and Abby Weitzeil will likely swim the free relay final.

Gracenote is also predicting that the women will once again lead Team USA in medals won. The stats site has women winning 58 percent of the total 88 predicted medals — or 51 medals. In London, American women won 56 percent of the total 103 medals.

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Swimmer Katie Ledecky and gymnast Simone Biles are projected to win the most number of medals for the women. Gracenote has Ledecky winning three golds (400 free, 800 free and 4x200 freestyle) and two bronzes (200 free and 4x100 free, where she could swim in the prelims).

Biles is expected to dominate women’s gymnastics with four gold medals (balance beam, floor exercise, individual all-around and team) and one silver (vault).

Shooter Kim Rhode is also expected to add another medal to her collection. Should she win bronze, as predicted, in skeet, she would become only the second person ever to win a medal in an individual event in six consecutive Olympic Games. Rhode started her medal run at the Atlanta Games by winning a gold medal in double trap at age 17. She followed that up with bronze in 2000 and another gold in 2004, both in double trap. At the 2008 Beijing Games, she claimed silver in skeet, then stood atop the podium again in London with a gold in skeet.

And Rhode has no intention of retiring after the Rio Games. Shooters can often compete for decades. In fact, the oldest Olympic medalist was a Swedish shooter. At the 1920 Olympic Games, Oscar Swahn won a silver medal (in double shot running deer) at age 72. Now 37, Rhode could one day challenge his record — at the 2052 Olympic Games!

After his flag bearer duties tonight at the Opening Ceremony, Michael Phelps is expected to — yet again — haul in medals for Team USA. Should the 31-year-old swimmer win a gold medal in either the 100-meter butterfly, 200 fly or 200 IM, he would become the oldest swimmer ever to win an individual race at the Olympic Games.

Gracenote predicts that Phelps will win four more gold medals — in the 100 fly, 200 IM, 4x100 medley and 4x200 freestyle — and one bronze in the 200 fly. This would give him 27 total medals, 22 of them gold.

If Phelps swims as predicted, he will pass Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina in number of individual Olympic medals won.

In the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games, Latynina earned 14 medals in individual gymnastic events — and 18 total medals.

To date, Phelps has won medals in 13 individual races (and 11 relays). If he wins medals in his three individual events, he will again make history with 17 total medals in individual events.

Let the Games begin!

A freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered three Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008.