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THE METTLE OF THE MEDALS

Published Aug. 13, 2012

It isn't all about the medals, in the end. And it is. The glory is supposed to be in the participating in the Olympics, but "Did you medal?" is the place where the conversation always seems to end up. So, for the greater glory, greater national pride, greater inspiration and greater sponsorship dollars of all involved, here's a London breakdown. -

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104 Medals won by the United States, the most of the 204 countries participating and marking the fifth straight Games in which the U.S. finished at the top of the medals table.

46 Gold medals won by the United States, also the most at the Games and the most for the Americans in a Games outside the United States.

29 U.S. golds won by women, including three by Allyson Felix, below.

255 American athletes who won medals, getting them in 18 of the 28 sports in which the United States participated; 27 won more than one medal, 13 won more than one gold.

4 Americans among the top five on the Games' individual medalists table, all swimmers: Michael Phelps (right, 6), Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt and Ryan Lochte (5 apiece).

29 U.S. medals in track and field, its most in 20 years.

85 Countries won at least one medal. Six countries won their first Olympic medal. One of them is Guatemala, whose lawmakers voted to make Erick Barrondo a knight after he got silver in the 20-kilometer walk.

9 Gold medals of China's 38 won in what Americans like to call the "picnic sports," badminton and table tennis.

0 U.S. gold medals in badminton and table tennis; 0 medals at all for the United States in "picnic sports."

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Readers ask us

Have Olympic athletes always been allowed to be professionals or did that change at some point? Can Olympic athletes in any event be professionals at that sport?

The Olympics have a long, complicated history with professionalism. Some argue the modern Games have never had a field of true amateurs, as defined by Olympic rules. In 1912, Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon and decathlon, but a year later his medals were revoked when it was discovered he had played semipro baseball before the Games to support his family. Running great Paavo Nurmi wasn't allowed in the 1932 Games because he had received money for competing. There's also the argument that the Games arbitrarily enforced their amateur rules. In 1952, the Soviet Union and its Communist allies entered the Games with athletes fully supported by their governments. The athletes weren't exactly amateurs, but under Olympic rules they were hard to define as professionals, though being athletes essentially was their job. In 1986 the International Olympic Committee decided to end the debate by changing its rules to allow "all the world's great male and female athletes to participate." Now professionals can compete in any sport under IOC rules.

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You said it

The U.S. flag code prohibits draping of the flag on things such as speaker's platforms. Although no mention of draping on sweaty human bodies is made, our victorious Olympic athletes have shown extreme disrespect in doing so. Our country's ensign is not the same as a shawl, towel or any item of wearing apparel. Shame on them.

Bill Unterberg, Spring Hill