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US Olympic Team Surpasses 100 Medal Mark - 2004-08-29

The United States Olympic Committee met its goal of winning at least 100 medals at the Summer Olympic Games.

The American delegation reached its goal of 100 medals on Saturday, one day before the Olympics ended.

The 100th medal was the bronze that the U.S. men's basketball team won by beating Lithuania in the match for the third place. It was the first time since NBA players were allowed into the Olympics in 1992 that the United States did not win the gold.

With Meb Keflezighi taking silver on Sunday night in the final event of the games, the men's marathon, the United States finished with 103 medals, the most of any nation. That is six more than in Sydney in 2000 and two more than the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The Athens total included 38 gold, 39 silver and 29 bronze. China was second with 32 gold in its total of 63, while Russia had the second highest total medal count at 92, with 27 gold. Australia was fourth with 17 gold, Japan had 16 gold and Germany 14.

U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Jim Scherr said it's getting exceptionally difficult to win gold medals at the Olympics. "As you've seen, the countries of China, Russia, Germany, Australia, Japan and many others, are fielding very, very competitive teams across a broad spectrum of sports. We're also facing difficult challenges in specific sports - and team sports - from many, many other countries," he said.

Mr. Scherr said he was proud of how American athletes performed on and off the field. More than 20 athletes violated anti-doping rules at these Olympics, with seven medals taken away. None was American.

"At these games our athletes performed nothing short of exceptional. We're very, very proud of all the athletes whether they medaled in these Games or not, because their conduct in these Games brought honor and dignity to themselves and to the United States of America," he said. "And they were great citizens of the Olympic Village, the city of Athens and the world during these Olympic Games, in what sometimes were difficult circumstances."

Men's 100-meter gold medal runner and relay silver medalist Justin Gatlin said he was able to feed off the crowd in those difficult circumstances, without showing any concern. "It was a love, hate relationship. It was emotional between every race. At one point they hated you and at one point they loved you. I mean, it was back and forth. That's the whole thing. Every time I stepped on the track, no matter how sore my legs were, or how aching my feet were from running so much, every time I stepped on it I had chills. It was electrifying," he said.

At the closing U.S. Olympic Committee news conference, Justin Gatlin added that for these Olympics, Americans wanted to show the world that they could win with class, and that you don't have to take drugs to be successful.