U.S. Beats China in Gold Medal Race After Historic Women's Volleyball Win

The United States will take home the most medals from the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics that wrap up Sunday, including the coveted title of the most gold medals won. Just as it looked like China would win the most gold medals, the United States darted past its rival on the final day of the COVID-delayed Games.

The American women spiked the finish with an historic volleyball win Sunday morning in Tokyo, which was still late Saturday night in the U.S.

The U.S. women's indoor volleyball team won its first Olympic gold medal in history with a three-set sweep (25-21, 25-20, 25-14) over arch-rival Brazil in the gold medal match. The win gave America 39 gold medals, edging past the 38 of China. There were no other events remaining in the Tokyo Summer Games that involved either China or the U.S. competing for gold.

USA Women's Volleyball
Players of Team United States react after receiving their gold medals during the victory ceremony following the women's gold medal volleyball match between Brazil and United States on day sixteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Arena on August 08, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

The United States not only won the gold medal race, but the overall medal race in a runaway as well.

Here are the top 5 medals counts at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:

Gold medals won
39 — United States
38 — China
27 — Japan
22 — Great Britain
20 — Russian Olympic Committee (ROC)

Total medals won
113 — United States
88 — China
71 — ROC
65 — Great Britain
58 — Japan

Just last Wednesday, it looked like the Americans would need to win 10 gold medals to claim the No. 1 title for a third-consecutive Olympiad, that was only if the Chinese only won four more golds. China held a 32-27 advantage over the U.S. by Thursday morning, and China won their expected golds in table tennis and diving. They also claimed two more gold medals to give them 38.

The U.S. got gold medals in men's and women's basketball, women's water polo, women's volleyball, men's and women's 4x400 relays in track and a few other first-place finishes to give the Americans another gold medal title.

The United States has now won the most medals—and most gold medals—at each of the past three Olympics (2012 London, 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo). China won the most gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, in which the United States won the most total medals.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were delayed a year because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, became a clear race between the United States and China because of the absence of Russia, which is banned from international sports competitions for four years because of major doping allegations. Russian athletes deemed "clean" were allowed to compete for the faction called "Russian Olympic Committee (ROC)," that wasn't allowed to participate under the Russian flag.

Comparisons and competition between the United States and China seem to be an eternal process. From the mightiest of countries in the world to trade wars and political standoffs, there usually tends to be more conflict than resolve between the two super powers.

Former President Donald Trump, after imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, criticized Beijing for mishandling the COVID-19 coronavirus, which originated from a lab in Wuhan. He even banned travel from China to the U.S. as the pandemic looked evident.

Then there are the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, which many lawmakers have called for a boycott, citing human rights violations against the Uyghurs in the northwestern part of the country, and China's treatment of Mongols and the Hong Kong people.

The Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin February 4, 2022, to coincide with the Chinese New Year.