By Brandon Penny | Dec. 31, 2016, 11:35 a.m. (ET)


2016 was a year of epic proportions for Team USA. From the Winter Youth Olympic Games in February to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in August and September, U.S. athletes were setting records left and right and defying the odds to out-perform the nation’s previous best marks. With a total of 252 medals earned by the 909 athletes who competed at those three landmark events, it was truly a year for the record books.

Take a look back at the numbers that made up Team USA’s impressive year:


Olympic Medals: 121
Team USA was a force to be reckoned with at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, coming out on top in every category of the medal count — gold, silver, bronze and total — with 121 medals (46 golds, 37 silvers, 37 bronzes). The total medals is the most ever for a U.S. team at a non-boycotted Olympic Games. Rio marked the sixth straight Games where the U.S. won the overall medal count, the longest streak by any nation in Olympic history. Overall, 210 American athletes contributed to the medal count, including 32 multiple medalists and 13 who won multiple gold medals. Swimmer Michael Phelps led all multi-medalists across all nations for the fourth straight Games, winning five golds and one silver in Rio.

Olympic Gold Medals: 46
For the first time in Olympic history, Team USA won both the first and last gold medals at a summer edition of the Olympics. Shooter Ginny Thrasher started off the Games with a surprise win in 10-meter air rifle, and the U.S. men’s basketball team ended the events in Rio with its third straight gold medal. Perhaps the most noteworthy of Team USA’s 46 gold medals was that won by the women’s 4x100-meter medley team on Aug. 13, which marked the nation’s 1,000th gold medal in summer competition, dating back to 1896. Simone Biles became the first American gymnast to win four golds at a single Games and tied swimmer Katie Ledecky for second-most golds by an American at the Games (Phelps’ five was the most). In Rio, the U.S. won its first gold medals in BMX (Connor Fields), women’s shot put (Michelle Carter), triathlon (Gwen Jorgensen), women’s vault (Simone Biles) and women’s wrestling (Helen Maroulis).

Sports Medaled In At The Olympics: 20
At the Rio Games, Team USA competed in 27 of the 28 sports on the Olympic program, and took home medals in 20. That number was an improvement over the 17 sports the U.S. earned medals in at the London 2012 Games. Among the highlights were returns to the podium in equestrian, golf (in its return to the Games), sailing, triathlon and weightlifting. In perhaps the Games’ two biggest sports, swimming and track and field, U.S. men won every medal count in each sport, while the U.S. women did the same. It is a feat never before accomplished by any nation. In gymnastics, the U.S. women won nine medals, their highest ever at a single Games, while the men won three medals for their best showing since 2004.

Paralympic Medals: 115
Just like at the Olympic Games a month prior, the U.S. Paralympians impressed in Rio and made history of their own – winning a total of 115 medals, the team’s highest since the Atlanta 1996 Games, where Team USA had a home-field advantage. The 40 gold medals were also the highest by the country since 1996; same for the 44 silver medals. In the total medal count, the U.S. finished fourth, an improvement over its sixth-place ranking at the London Games four years prior. The U.S. women won more than half of Team USA's medals, with 70, including 24 golds, 24 silvers and 21 bronzes. Of the 115 medals, nine came in medal sweeps as Team USA took home all the medals in the women’s T54 1,500- and 5,000-meter races, plus the women’s PT2 paratriathlon. Nine military athletes – one of whom is active duty – medaled in Rio.

Paralympic Gold Medals: 40
Mirroring the total medal rankings, Team USA also finished fourth in the gold medal rankings with 40 (just one fewer than Ukraine), bettering its sixth place from 2012. Gold medals came in seven sports. The U.S. wheelchair basketball teams won both gold medals, marking the first time the U.S. won gold in all four basketball events at the Olympics and Paralympics. The women’s sitting volleyball team won its first-ever Paralympic title after finishing second or third to China each Games since the sport’s inception in 2004. Track and field superstar Tatyana McFadden won more golds than any other U.S. athlete, with four (and six medals total).

Sports Medaled In At The Paralympics: 14
Team USA competed in 20 sports in Rio and took home medals in an impressive 14. That’s three more sports than the U.S. medaled in at the London 2012 Games. The U.S. returned to the podium in goalball and shooting. In the Paralympic debut of paratriathlon, the U.S. took home four medals, sweeping the podium in the women’s PT2 and taking gold in the women’s PT4. For the first time since 2004, Team USA qualified all eight of its team-sport teams to compete in the Games and six of those teams took home hardware, with the women’s sitting volleyball team and both men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams winning gold. The cycling team took home its highest medal total ever with 18.

Olympians And Paralympians In Rio: 847
An astounding 847 athletes were on the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams – and increase of 88 over the 2012 teams. The Olympic team was comprised of 264 men and 294 women, marking the most women who have ever competed for any nation in Olympic history. The team had 190 returning Olympians, three of whom were competing at their sixth Games. At her sixth Games, shooter Kim Rhode became the first woman in Olympic history to medal at six straight Games. Sixty-six athletes on the roster were Olympic champions prior to Rio. Gymnast Simone Biles was the shortest athlete at 4-foot-8, and basketball players DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan the tallest at 6-foot-11. On the Paralympic roster, the 289 athletes marked the largest delegation in Paralympic history. The roster included nine guides and pilots for visually-impaired athletes. The team ranged in age from 15 (swimmer McClain Hermes) to 64 (sailor Dee Smith). Cyclist Allison Jones competed at her eighth Games, while swimmer Jessica Long was the most decorated athlete at the Games (entering with 17 medals). Track and field athlete Roderick Townsend was the tallest on the team at 6-foot-7, while wheelchair basketball player Trevon Jenifer shortest at 3-foot.

Winter Youth Olympic Medals: 16
Just like the Rio Games, the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games were a resounding success for Team USA. The U.S. delegation of 62 athletes took home 16 medals, doubling its tally from the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games four years prior. Thirty-five athletes won medals, including the 17-member men’s ice hockey team, which won Team USA’s first men’s hockey gold at an Olympic or Youth Olympic event since the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team. In addition to the 16 medals, three U.S. athletes won medals in mixed-country events. Team USA athletes medaled in eight sports, making history in several. River Radamus won three alpine skiing golds – winning the nation’s first Youth Olympic medals in the sport and becoming the most decorated U.S. Youth Olympian ever. Snowboarders Chloe Kim and Jake Pates each won two golds – in halfpipe and slopestyle – with Kim becoming the first U.S. woman to win Youth Olympic snowboarding gold. Team USA athletes won the country’s first Youth Olympic medals in alpine skiing, figure skating, ice hockey and Nordic combined. The mixed curling team earned silver for the country’s best finish ever at an Olympic or Youth Olympic Games.