Members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team pose for a photo before a game against the 2016 USA Basketball Women's National Select Team at Galen Center on July 25, 2016 in Los Angeles.
When it comes to women’s basketball, the Olympic record-keepers have learned to write with pencil instead of pen because Team USA continues to improve its record every four years.
Back in 2004, the U.S. women made history for the first time when they won their third consecutive Olympic gold medal. They then rewrote that record in 2008 in Beijing and again four years ago in London, when they took their fifth straight Olympic title.
At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the U.S. is a heavy favorite to win its sixth consecutive Olympic medal, further cementing its place in history.
The five straight Olympic titles is a record for women’s team sports, surpassing the four held by Canada in ice hockey and Russia in synchronized swimming. Only two men’s teams have won more consecutive gold medals: India’s field hockey team (six from 1928 through 1956) and the U.S. men’s basketball team (seven from 1936 through 1968).
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Since taking bronze at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, the U.S. women have compiled a staggering 41-game winning streak, a steamroller that has plowed through four continents and is heading for its fifth.
Given the makeup of this year’s roster, there is every reason to anticipate that “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be playing for a sixth straight time on Aug. 20 after the women’s gold-medal game. A sign of how dominant the U.S. is at the moment, it currently is ranked No. 1 in the world with 1,000 ranking points. Australia, at No. 2, has 590 points and No. 3 Spain has 540.
Nine of the 12 members of Team USA already have at least one gold medal in their trophy case. Leading the pack are three-time winners Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi. They are backed by two-time Olympic champions Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, while four others – Tina Charles, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore and Lindsey Whalen – earned their first Olympic gold in 2012 in London. First-time Olympians Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart round out the team.
The U.S. opens its title defense on Sunday, Aug. 7, against Canada, ranked No. 9 in the world, to open group play. Other teams in Group B include No. 3 Spain, No. 8 China, No. 14 Serbia and No. 24 Senegal. The knockout round begins Aug. 16, with the medal round games to be played on Aug. 20.