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7 U.S. Olympic Champions Who Defended Their Titles In Rio

Sept. 01, 2016, 7:36 p.m. (ET)

Few people can say they've won a gold medal. Even fewer can say they won two in a row. Nineteen Team USA athletes entered the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with the opportunity to defend their individual gold from London four years prior, and seven emerged victorious. Take a look at the seven 2012 U.S. Olympic champions who added another gold to their count in Rio.

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1) Kristin Armstrong, Time Trial (Road Cycling)

Kristin Armstrong won her first Olympic gold medal in the road cycling time trial at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and hasn't stopped winning since. In between Beijing and London, she welcomed her son, Lucas, into the world, and he has now helped his mom celebrate two Olympic golds. She won gold in London with a time of 37:34.82. Her Rio time of 44:26.42 was more than five seconds faster than silver medalist Olga Zabelinskaya's time. At age 42, Armstrong's Rio win made her the oldest female Olympic cycling gold medalist.

2) Ashton Eaton, Decathlon (Track and Field)

After winning the title of world's greatest athlete in London with 8,869 points, Ashton Eaton celebrated by embracing his then-fiancee, Canadian track and field Olympian Brianne Theisen. Four years later, the two are married and celebrating Eaton's second decathlon gold, which he won with a total of 8,893 points. Eaton's Rio score ties the Olympic record set at the Athens 2004 Games by Roman Sebrle of Czech Republic.

3) Kayla Harrison, 78 kg. (Judo)

In London, Kayla Harrison became the first U.S. judoka to win Olympic gold. Fighting through injuries and illnesses over the past four years, Harrison made it to Rio prepared to win another medal. With her Rio win over No. 2-ranked Audrey Tcheumeo of France, Harrison became the first-ever Team USA athlete to win two consecutive Olympic medals in judo.

4) Katie Ledecky, 800-Meter Freestyle (Swimming)

At age 15 and in her Olympic debut, Katie Ledecky won her first gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The win gave Team USA its first gold medal in the event since 2000. In Rio, Ledecky finished the race 11.38 seconds ahead of the silver medalist, shattering the previous 800-meter free record — her own record — with a time of 8:04:79.

5) Michael Phelps, 200-Meter Individual Medley (Swimming)

Michael Phelps has been winning gold medals ever since his second Olympic appearance at the Athens 2004 Games. But there's only one individual event in which he has won four consecutive Olympic gold medals — the 200-meter individual medley. Though his Rio time of 1:54.66 was slightly slower than his London time of 1:54.27, both equaled Olympic gold.

6) Claressa Shields, 75 kg. (Boxing)

Claressa Shields was only 17 and still in high school when she won her first Olympic gold medal at the London 2012 Games — the Olympic debut for women's boxing. In the event's second Olympic appearance, Shields defeated Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands to win her second gold and became the first U.S. boxer to win back-to-back gold medals.

7) Christian Taylor, Triple Jump (Track and Field)

Two-time Olympian Christian Taylor became a two-time Olympic champion when he jumped a season-best distance of 58 feet, 7 ¼ inches at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, beating his London distance. Taylor is the first U.S. athlete to repeat as Olympic triple jump champion since Myer Prinstein defended his 1900 title at the 1904 Games.

Related Athletes

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Kristin Armstrong

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Ashton Eaton

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Kayla Harrison

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Katie Ledecky

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Michael Phelps

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Claressa Shields

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Christian Taylor