By Stephen Wilson, AP
LONDON–With a surge of medals in track and field, the United States has sprinted ahead of China and is poised to finish atop the medals table at the London Olympics — maybe with the most golds ever collected by the Americans on foreign soil. Heading into the final weekend of competition, the U.S. leads both the gold and overall medals races after trailing the Chinese most of the games. The Americans pulled further ahead Friday. At the end of the day’s events, the U.S. led China 94 to 81 in total medals and 41 to 37 in golds. Four more golds would equal the highest U.S. total on foreign territory in Olympic history — 45 at both the 1968 Mexico City Games and the 1924 Paris Games. The gold haul in London is already the best for the United States since it won 44 in 1996 in Atlanta.
China beat the U.S. in gold medals, 51 to 36, on home soil at the 2008 Beijing Games, while the Americans prevailed 110 to 100 overall. This is still China’s best gold medal showing outside Beijing, better than the 32 it collected at the 2004 Athens Games. But there is a clear sense of disappointment back home. Britain, meanwhile, is assured of finishing third in gold medals, benefiting from a home-country boost that has produced its best medal performance in more than a century — 25 golds and 57 overall. The South Koreans have invested heavily in Olympic sports, coaches and training and will do even more as they prepare to host the 2018 Winter Games in the city of Pyeongchang. Japan has performed strongly, with 35 medals, but has failed to turn them into gold, picking up only five. Australia and Germany have been among the biggest disappointments. The Australians had hoped to finish in the top five in both golds and total medals, but are lagging that pace with only seven and 31.