Summer Olympic Games 1996 – 2012
There have been ten gold medals on offer in this period and the United States has won nine, making it the most dominant nation in any team sport. The single blip on the men’s side came as a result of complacency, and was foreshadowed in 2000 when a miss at the hooter denied Lithuania a shock. Instead, the honour fell to Argentina four years later.
The US women have been helped by a good college basketball programme, underpinned by Title IX, equality legislation that requires fair investment by universities in women’s education, including sport. Their main rivals have been the Australian Opals, who have won five medals in five Games, but the Americans have beaten them to gold every time.
Next: The geography of Olympic boxing, from Kiev to Havana, from Belfast to Bangkok