Team USA will win more medals than anybody else at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. This happened in 1996, it happened in 2000, it happened in 2004, it happened in 2008, and it happened in 2012. Every four years, there is a big sporting event for everybody in the world, and every four years, Team USA wins more medals than anybody else.
A large part of the reason for that will be the largest contingent of female athletes any nation has ever sent to an Olympic games. Team USA features 292 women, including the vast majority of America's legitimate contenders for gold. From athletics to wrestling, from the ocean to the beach to the pool, from the basketball court to the balance beam, America's women are set to dominate Rio.
-- America's hoops team has won four straight gold medals and hasn't lost a competitive game in 10 years. Their roster is so good that they left off 2013 WNBA MVP Candace Parker by choice.
-- America's women's soccer team destroyed Japan in the finals of the World Cup last year -- and this team is probably better.
-- America's gymnastics team is going to lay waste to the world. They're going to win the team event, that's not really in question. But after that, Simone Biles is going to make the case that she's the best gymnast of all time. Biles will likely win the all-around, and she's also hoping for gold on the floor exercise, balance beam, and vault. The scary thing is that she could win all of them. Madison Kocian will hope to win gold in the uneven bars, the only event Biles considers a weak point.
-- America's indoor volleyball team is ranked No. 1 in the world and won the most recent World Championships in 2014.
-- We're also not bad at volleyball on the beach. Kerri Walsh-Jennings won gold in beach volleyball at the last Olympics, but her partner retired. So she took one of the players from the silver medal team, April Ross, and is going to try to repeat.
-- America's water polo team won gold at the last Olympics and gold at last year's world championships.
-- Katie Ledecky is the most dominant swimmer in the world. She's going to compete in three individual events, and the question isn't whether she'll win gold -- it's whether she'll break her own world records. It's possible she'll win the 800 meter freestyle by as many as 10 seconds. She's also expected to participate in the prelims for the 4x100 meter freestyle relay, a team which is expected to win gold.
-- Serena Williams is probably going to dominate the singles field, and then she's probably going to dominate the doubles field with her sister Venus. Just one gold will make her the most decorated tennis Olympian of all time, but she'll probably win two.
-- Claressa Shields hasn't lost a fight since before the last Olympics, when she became the first American woman to win boxing gold. She's the best female boxer in the world, and is looking to become the first American of either gender to win gold in back-to-back Olympics.
-- Gwen Jorgensen has only lost one triathlon since 2014 -- and there, she came in second place. A college swimmer and runner, she's not the best biker in the triathlon circuit, but she's been known to gain over a minute on her opponents during the running portion of the race, turning silvers into golds.
-- Kim Rhode has been winning gold medals in shooting since 1996. She hit 99 out of 100 clay pigeons in the skeet event in London, a world record. Nobody else hit more than 91. The scoring system has been changed to prevent a victory so lopsided, but she still should win.
-- On the track, Allyson Felix has a really good chance of defending her title in the 400 meters. America has strong relay teams in the 4x100 and 4x400, and the defending Olympic champions in pole vault and long jump.
-- America has two likely gold medalists in wrestling. Helen Maroulis didn't allow a single point against her en route to a world championship last year, and heavyweight Adeline Gray was only slightly less destructive, winning her five matches by a combined score of 49-5.
-- The American eights rowing squad has won every event since 2006, a streak that's extended through eight world championships and two Olympic games. The quad sculls boat also won at last year's worlds.
To summarize, Team USA women account for the No. 1-ranked squad in basketball, soccer, volleyball, and water polo. That's four of the seven team sports in the games, and America should contend for a medal in field hockey and rugby as well. (There are no rankings for gymnastics, but we'd be No. 1 there too, by a long shot.)
The most dominant swimmer, boxer, tennis player, triathlete, and wrestler in the world are all American women. That's ridiculous -- and it only accounts for women who are heavy favorites to win gold medals, and not all the women who are merely likely to win gold medals.
After going through America's chances in every event sport-by-sport, I could see American women winning as many as 31 gold medals, although a more realistic amount is probably around 22-24. The friendliest figure I can give to American men is around 17, and I'm being really generous with that. I'd expect a more realistic figure to be around 11-13. There is a world in which American men and American women win roughly the same amount of medals in Rio, but that would take disasters in a slew of events American women were expected to win and surprise wins for American men.
This isn't supposed to happen. There are about 161 events for men at the Olympics, and only 134 for women. Men have 20 percent more opportunities to win medals. There are 10 boxing weight classes for men and just three for women, and yet America's only boxing contender is Shields. There are significantly more wrestling, shooting, and canoeing events for men. The only event in which there are more women's events is synchronized swimming -- you know, the only Olympic sport where athletes are graded on their appearance.
And yet American women are beginning to routinely outpace American men on the podium. In London, 29 of America's 46 gold medals were won by women. That means women won 63 percent of America's golds. That percentage could be higher in Rio.
At Wimbledon, Serena Williams was asked if she thought she was one of the greatest female athletes of all time. She responded by saying she preferred to be thought of as one of the greatest athletes of all time, gender regardless.
Her point was clear, and important. Specifically calling her one of the greatest "female" athletes and not just one of the greatest athletes implies she shouldn't be on the same scale as her male athletes. That's wrong, since her accomplishments are as impressive as those by her male counterparts.
However, in Rio, as the tally of gold medals by American women piles up, I think it's important to mention that American female medal winners are, in fact, American women, and not merely American athletes.
Our female athletes have been told they shouldn't play the sports they love. They have been paid lower wages than their male counterparts. They have been made to feel that their looks are more important than their actual athletic talent. They are routinely made to feel less important than their male counterparts.
And yet American women have become the greatest athletes in the world in spite of that.
American women are killing it right now. American men are still great, and will win more medals than almost any other nation's men. But right now they're simply not displaying the variety of dominant performances our women are. It wouldn't be fair to spend three years, 11 months, and two weeks downplaying the athletic achievements of women because they are women, only to conveniently forget their gender when they carry Team USA to the top of the medal podium.
So let's celebrate these women. Let's champion our female champions. They are American women. We should be proud when they kick the world's ass.