Summer Olympic Sports That Are Not Dominated By The US

China is the country to beat when it comes to table tennis.
China is the country to beat when it comes to table tennis.
  • China has table tennis tables at parks and schools.
  • US weightlifters are not paid well, despite their talent.
  • Kenya dominates the steeplechase and leads the medal count in the sport.

The United States has absolutely dominated the Summer Olympics, winning a total of 2,523 medals. In fact, the US has won far more medals than any other nation. But though they have celebrated athletic greatness in each of the Summer Olympic Games from 1896 until 2016, there are still some sports where the US is lacking in success. Here are some sports the US has not dominated in the Summer Olympics.


Judo being practiced at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. Image credit: Petr Toman/Shutterstock

Judo is a combat sport and one of the three different martial arts events in the Olympic Games. In Judo, opponents try to take down each other using different techniques and hold them in submission. Judo first appeared in the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The Japanese invented the sport in the early 20th century and have won 65 Olympic medals in the sport. Judo is a very physical sport that requires dedication and mental strength. It is also a sport of self-control. Judo may not mesh well with the United States’ love of fast-action sports. The country has won medals in the sport but cannot compare to other countries like Japan and France.

Table Tennis

Table tennis being played at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. Image credit: Celso Pupo/Shutterstock

Table tennis debuted at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The Chinese have done very well in the sport. They have won 41 overall medals, and 20 of them were gold. Table tennis is a popular sport in China, where schools and parks have table tennis tables allowing students and citizens to train with ease. China also starts recruiting table tennis players young. These young athletes are put into special schools that will help develop their skills. The US does not put the same emphasis on its table tennis players as China does.


The steeplechase at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Image credit: Pete Niesen/Shutterstock

The steeplechase is like an obstacle course. A steeplechase course is run over a 9,842-foot track that has 28 ordinary barriers and seven water jumps that runners must clear. Kenyan runners have won many medals in the event. The last time Kenya did not have a steeplechase champion was in 1980. The last time the US won a gold medal in the steeplechase was in 1952. Many of Kenya’s top runners were raised at a high altitude and are used to strenuous running conditions. Some people speculate that Kenyans are so good at running because of their animal herding history.

Men’s Football (Soccer)

After a football (soccer) game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Image credit: A.RICARDO/Shutterstock

While the US women’s soccer team has been competitive on the international stage, the men’s soccer team has not. The men’s soccer team has only won one silver medal and one bronze medal in the event. Those medals came from the 1904 Olympics, where just three teams participated in the event. Soccer is less popular in the US than it is in other countries in the world. Young people in the US are flooded with many opportunities to play many different sports and soccer does not seem to be the most popular choice with American youth, which may be why the men’s soccer teams are not as good as the teams in other countries.


Weightlifting at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. 

The US has only won four medals in weightlifting since 1972, despite being a major player in the first half of the 20th century. One reason why the US lacks competitiveness in the sport is that there are no financial incentives for the most talented US weightlifters. The former USSR dominated the sport in the 1970s. China has been creeping up in the sport’s medal count. Until US weightlifters make more money at the sport, the US will always play catch-up in the weightlifting medal count.


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