“Team DMV” dominates in Rio

Graphic by Desiree Choe
olympics RBG
Illustration by Megan James

The United States dominated the games of the thirty-first Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro. The Stars and Stripes finished with a total of 121 medals — 46 of which were gold — and 54 ahead of second-place Great Britain.

A major contributor to the American success story in Rio was a group of competitors dubbed “Team DMV.”

These athletes, all hailing from the greater D.C-metropolitan area, racked up 22 medals in the 2016 games.

medal count

Legendary Baltimore native Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, added five gold and one silver medal to his already staggering stash of hardware. After helping set an Olympic record in his last race, the 4×100-meter relay, the five-time Olympian said that Rio was indeed the bitter-sweet end to his illustrious career. Phelps retires as arguably the greatest athlete ever with 28 career medals.

Maryland’s Katie Ledecky won four gold medals and one silver in her second Olympic games. Ledecky out-swam the competition even more convincingly than Phelps, trouncing her own world records in the 400 and 800-meter freestyle events. Only 19-years-old, Ledecky has a long career ahead of her. Her fans look to the Tokyo games with high expectations. 

Richmond’s own swimmer Townley Haas made his Olympic debut alongside Rockville’s Jack Conger. The two swam together in a preliminary race of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, qualifying the U.S. for the finals, where they went on to win gold. Conger did not swim in the final event. Haas, who attended Benedictine College Preparatory in high school, placed fifth in the 200-meter freestyle final.

Chase Kalisz of Bel Air, Maryland, claimed a silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley. The 22-year-old was barely out-touched by Japan’s Kosuke Hagino at the finish.

In addition to the five swimmers, eight other Olympians from the D.C-metro area contributed to the success of team USA .

The very first gold medal of the 2016 games was awarded to a Springfield, Virginia native. 19-year-old Ginny Thrasher shot her way to the top of the podium in the 10-meter air rifle final. A rising sophomore at West Virginia University, Thrasher also placed 11th in the 3-position-rifle competition.

Portsmouth, Virginia sprinter LaShawn Merritt persevered through a hamstring injury suffered in the 2012 games to bring home a bronze medal in the 400-meter dash. Merritt also competed in the 200-meter dash, finishing fourth, just barely missing an appearance on the podium. He raced in his third event for the 4×400-meter relay team that brought home gold. His teammate, David Verburg, grew up in Lynchburg.

Matthew Centrowitz of Arnold, Maryland made history in the 1500-meter final. Centrowitz became the first American male to win gold in the event since 1908.

Francena McCorory of Hampton, Virginia won gold in the women’s 4×400-meter relay. She helped Team USA fight through a re-race during qualifiers after a controversial dropped baton.

Helen Maroulis of Rocky Point, Maryland, brought home a gold medal in the women’s 53kg freestyle. Maroulis successfully defended her title from the World Wrestling Championships and has built a reputation as one of the most dominant wrestlers in the world.

20-year-old Kyle Snyder of Woodbine, Maryland won gold in a thrilling final of the men’s freestyle 97kg wrestling division. The gold medal match against Khetag Gazyumov of Azerbaijan was tightly contested throughout and came down to the closing bell. Snyder attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, where he won three Maryland state championships.

Illustration by Carson McNamara
Illustration by Carson McNamara

Virginia Beach’s favorite daughter Gabby Douglas helped Team USA dominate the women’s all-around gymnastics competition en route to her second gold in the event. Douglas and the rest of the final five’s performance was so spectacular, they are being heralded as perhaps the greatest gymnastics team ever. Douglas, 23, has almost certainly seen her last action on the Olympic stage due to the minimal window of competitiveness offered by her sport.

Alone, Team DMV would Hypothetically place fifth overall (based on gold medals won) in the final medal standings.

Official Olympic medal count tallies one medal to a country for winning relay teams such as those that Haas, Conger, Smith, Phelps, Ledecky, Merritt and Verburg were on. They are all, however, still considered gold medalists in the individual sense, which could skew this data.


Zach Joachim. Photo by Julie TrippSports Editor, Zach Joachim
Zach is a junior pursuing a dual degree in print journalism and English. A proud Norfolk-ian, he enjoys long walks on the beach, English literature of the romantic period and anything pertaining to Harry Potter or baseball. Zach an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan who can usually be found working at the Student Media Center or running along the James. // [email protected]

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