After a strong finish, the United States emerged on top at the Tokyo Olympics.
The U.S. narrowly edged China in the competition for gold medals, bringing home 39 golds against China’s 38. Host nation Japan placed third with 27 gold medals.
In the overall medals race, Team USA finished on top with 113. China was second again with 88 medals, while Russian finished third with 71 overall medals.
The U.S. made it to the top after trailing China for most of the Olympics. On Sunday, the women’s basketball team won gold, followed by cyclist Jennifer Valente, which brought the U.S. into a tie with China for gold medals.
America moved ahead after the U.S. women’s volleyball team won its first gold medal, defeating Brazil 3-0.
— USA Volleyball (@usavolleyball) August 8, 2021
As the team celebrated its historic victory, middle blocker Haleigh Washington was asked if the moment was everything the team imagined it would be.
“It’s a lot more wet than I had anticipated,” she said, wiping away tears, “but it’s everything we wanted it to be. The hard work that we put in, the sweat, the tears, the blood. It’s been worth it, and I am so proud to have done it with this group of women. I’m so honored.”
“Not only are they badasses, but they are now GOLD MEDALISTS!”
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 8, 2021
Although some athletes came up big, gymnast Simone Biles had been expected to help the United States bring home six gymnastic gold medals. Instead, Team USA won two golds after Biles withdrew from almost all competitions.
While American women such as Sydney McLaughlin and Allyson Felix performed well in track, the men came away without a single gold medal for the first time in modern Olympic annals.
China puts the entire power of its communist government into the race for gold medals, according to The New York Times.
“We must resolutely ensure we are first in gold medals,” Gou Zhongwen, the head of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said last month.
The Times said China focuses on sports other nations ignore, with most of its medal harvest coming in table tennis, shooting, diving, badminton, gymnastics and weightlifting.
China’s sports assembly line is designed for one purpose: churning out Olympic gold medals. The state scouts tens of thousands of children for government-run training, funneling many into less prominent sports that Beijing hopes to dominate. https://t.co/lhnIoBdITT
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 29, 2021
China achieves its medals results by pushing pre-teens into training schools.
“The system is highly efficient,” Li Hao of China said, according to the Times. “It’s probably why our weight lifting is more advanced than other countries and regions.”
“Children from rural areas or from families that are not so good economically, they adapt well to the hardships,” he said.
But if China’s athletes compete for the glory of the state, Americans have different motives.
— The Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) August 5, 2021
McLaughlin, who set a world record in the 400-meter hurdles, has made no secret of the fact that she is driven by her Christian faith.
“Let me start off by saying, what [an] honor it is to be able to represent not only my country, but also the kingdom of God,” she said in a recent Instagram post. “What I have in Christ is far greater than what I have or don’t have in life.
“I pray my journey may be a clear depiction of submission and obedience to God. Even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it doesn’t seem possible. He will make a way out of no way. Not for my own gratification, but for His glory. I have never seen God fail in my life. In anyone’s life for that matter.
“Just because I may not win every race, or receive every one of my heart’s desires, does not mean God had failed. His will is PERFECT. And He has prepared me for a moment such as this. That I may use the gifts He has given me to point all the attention back to Him,” she wrote.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.