The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) recently reviewed the outcome of this summer’s World Championships for both track and swimming and weren’t exactly beaming with the results in front of them. As track and swimming have combined to account for 53% of the United States’ 407 medals over the last 4 Olympics, the fact that each sport’s performance was less than stellar does warrant a small cause for concern.
Chairman of the USOC, Larry Probst explained that he “wouldn’t call it blaring alarm bells, but both organizations had higher expectations going into worlds.” Probst continued that “Everyone’s aware that there’s work to be done between now and Rio. Everyone knows we have to improve results when we get to the Olympic Games in Rio.”
Specifically, swimmers took home a total of 21 medals in Olympic swimming events while in Kazan, Russia – a total which is 4 fewer than their haul in 2011. Additionally, superstar Missy Franklin, who was one of the United States’ golden girls at the 2012 London Olympic Games, was shut out of individual gold medals at Worlds. Moreover, races that have traditionally been skewed in the stars and stripes’ favor, were anything but a shoo-in in 2015. The men’s 400m freestyle relay failed to even make the finals in the event.
Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming, says of the outlook for Rio, “There’s always a level of anxiety. I’d say the level of anxiety is probably higher this time around than any time I’ve been executive director. But there have never been more opportunities for people to step up and make an impact on the Olympic team.”
On the plus side for the Americans, was that freestyle powerhouse Katie Ledecky had the meet of her life, racking up wins in the 200m-400m-800m-1500m individual freestyles. Additionally, the overall results of the Americans’ were notably without 22-time Olympic medalist, Michael Phelps who was removed from the worlds’ roster due to his DUI arrest in 2014. However, while at U.S. Nationals in San Antonio this summer, Phelps was able to crank out three world #1 times that would have won gold in Kazan.
Also of note is the fact that Infostrada’s statistical prediction vehicle released in March of this year, the ‘Virtual Medal Table’, put the U.S. on top of the overall medal table in Rio. Its virtual medal predictions, based on a proprietary algorithm based purely on objective data, include Phelps winning the 100m butterfly and 200m IM events, and Franklin taking home victories in 100m back, 200m back and 200m free races.