Americans dot dominant Olympic teams of 2010s decade

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NBCSports.com looks back at the 2010s decade this week. Here are six Olympic teams (in team sports) that dominated the last 10 years …

U.S. Men’s Basketball
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2010, 2014 World titles

The successors to the Redeem Team kept the U.S. Olympic dominance intact in London and Rio, going undefeated under coach Mike KrzyzewskiKevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony have to be the MVPs, going one-two in scoring for the Americans at both Games. Anthony became the first U.S. man to earn three Olympic basketball titles and broke LeBron James‘ career U.S. Olympic points record. The decade ended on a sour note, with the Americans losing in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals in September under new coach Gregg Popovich.

U.S. Women’s Basketball
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2010, 2014, 2018 World titles

Undefeated in FIBA competition in the 2010s, winning every Olympic and World Cup game by double digits and by an average of 32 points per game. Former University of Connecticut stars Sue BirdDiana Taurasi and Tina Charles were part of every major international roster. Their college coach, Geno Auriemma, was at the helm through the Rio Games. Since, Dawn Staley succeeded Auriemma. Another UConn great, Breanna Stewart, took MVP at the 2018 World Cup.

Canada/U.S. Women’s Hockey
Combined to win every Olympic and world title in the 2010s
Two Olympic finals decided in overtime or shootout

Canada had the edge by winning two of the three Olympic titles. The U.S. owned the rivalry at the world championships — winning six of seven titles. These two national teams define women’s hockey, and so they both belong on this list. It began in Vancouver, where 18-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice, fellow Olympic rookie Shannon Szabados stopped all 21 U.S. shots and the Canadians celebrated on ice with Molsons, cigars and at least one ice-resurfacing machine. In Sochi, the U.S. squandered a one-goal lead with a minute left, with Poulin scoring the equalizer and the overtime winner. Canada nearly completed a perfect Olympic decade in PyeongChang, giving up a third-period lead and falling in a shootout that went to an extra round. The U.S. was led by stalwart forward Hilary Knight, twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando and 20-year-old Olympic rookie goalie Maddie Rooney.

Russia Synchronized Swimming
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
Won all 10 world titles in the 2010s in technical/free routines

Russia owns every Olympic gold medal this millennium in synchronized swimming, which is now called artistic swimming. The dynasty draws from Russia’s balletic traditions. If the program was weak in any aspect, it was from a lack of male synchronized swimmers. But not anymore. The mixed-gender duet events aren’t part of the Olympic program yet, but two debuted on the world championships program in 2015. It wasn’t until this past summer that Russia swept those gold medals.

U.S. Women’s Water Polo
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2015, 2017, 2019 World titles

The Americans are 149-4 dating to 2015, not dropping a game at an Olympics, World Championship, World Cup or a World League Super Final in that span. They’re currently on a 65-game win streak. They have three games left in 2019, looking to finish 37-0 to complete the first perfect calendar year during the current reign of dominance. Adam Krikorian has been head coach for the entire decade with a bevy of talent at his disposal. The most prominent is Maggie Steffens, a member of every title team this decade at the Olympics, worlds, World Cup and World League.

Honorable Mention: Sweden Women’s Curling and Canada Men’s Hockey.

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Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps lead dominant Summer Olympians of 2010s

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NBCSports.com looks back at the 2010s decade this week. Here are 10 of the Summer Olympic athletes (five American, five international) who dominated the last 10 years …

Simone Biles, United States
Gymnastics
Four Olympic gold medals in 2016
Record 25 World Championships medals

Biles is the only athlete on this list who competed at just one Olympics in this decade. That’s a testament to just how dominant she has been. Undefeated for six years in all-around competition. History-making winning margins. Four unprecedented skills among three apparatuses that are now named after her. Before Rio, teammate Aly Raisman was the first to say that Simone was competing in her own division. That was true four years ago, and it remains true going into the 2020s.

Usain Bolt, Jamaica
Track and Field
Six Olympic gold medals in the 2010s
First sprinter to sweep the 100m and 200m at multiple Olympics

Bolt followed his breakout and world records in 2008 and 2009 with impressive longevity through the end of his career in 2017. Bolt’s competition got faster in this decade — and he slowed slightly — but he was always the man to beat. Training partner Yohan Blake defeated him at the 2012 Jamaican Olympic Trials, only for Bolt to return the favor at the London Games. Justin Gatlin re-emerged in the next Olympic cycle, also handing Bolt a loss in 2013, but the Jamaican still swept the 100m and 200m at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds and to complete his Olympic career in Rio.

Lisa Carrington, New Zealand
Flatwater Canoe
2012 and 2016 Olympic K-1 200m champion
At least one gold medal at seven different world championships in the 2010s

The queen of her sport’s splash-and-dash. Carrington won all nine Olympic or world titles in the individual 200m from 2011-19. She’s also added golds in the K-1 500m and K-2 500m at the world championships. In 2014, Carrington recorded the fastest 200m time in history, 37.898 seconds, which took more than a second off the 20-year-old mark held by German Birgit Fischer, considered by many the greatest female Olympian in history.

Ashton Eaton, United States
Track and Field
Two Olympic decathlon titles
Twice broke the decathlon world record

If the Olympic decathlon champion is still the world’s greatest athlete, then Eaton is going into the eighth year of his reign. The Oregon native opened the 2010s with a world championships silver medal at age 22 in 2011. Then he won every single global title, including indoor heptathlons, from 2012 through his retirement in 2016. Eaton’s personal bests in the 400m and the 400m hurldes (the latter not a decathlon event) would have made the Rio Olympic team.

Katie Ledecky, United States
Swimming
Five Olympic gold medals in the 2010s
World records in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles

A 12-year-old at the start of the decade, Ledecky became arguably the world’s most dominant athlete for the 2010s. She was the youngest U.S. Olympian across all sports at London 2012 and brought back gold in the 800m free, upsetting British favorite Rebecca Adlington. Then Ledecky really turned it on, breaking 14 world records from 2013-18 and coining the Ledecky Slam — sweeping the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m free titles at one world championships in 2015.

Michael Phelps, United States
Swimming
Nine Olympic gold medals in the 2010s; 12 overall medals
Broke the record for career Olympic medals

Phelps’ prime came just before the start of the decade, with his eight Olympic gold medals in 2008 and last three individual world records in 2009. The 2010s were defined by comebacks — from ceding the title of world’s greatest swimmer to Ryan Lochte in 2010 and 2011 to outperforming his countryman at the 2012 London Games. From gaining 30 pounds in a 2012-13 retirement to becoming the world’s fastest butterflier again in 2014. From a DUI arrest, suspension, rehab stint and suicidal thoughts to become Team USA’s flag bearer in Rio, an Olympic team captain for the first time and end his Olympic career with five more gold medals.

Teddy Riner, France
Judo
Olympic heavyweight titles in 2012, 2016
Every world title from 2010 through 2017

Riner, a native of Guadeloupe, is a giant in his sport. Not just because he is 6 feet, 8 inches, and 290 pounds. But because he hasn’t lost a competitive match since September 2010. He is riding a win streak of around 150 matches, which includes skipping the 2018 and 2019 World Championships as he lightened his tournament schedule going into his fourth Olympics in 2020.

Svetlana Romashina, Russia
Synchronized Swimming
Olympic gold medals in all four synchro events in the 2010s
13 World titles across 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019

Romashina gets the nod over longtime duet partner Natalya Ishchenko, who retired after the Rio Olympics. Romashina also left the sport after those Games, but she came back to win three more world titles this past summer at age 29 (her first golds came in 2005, when she was 14).

Claressa Shields, United States
Boxing
Won four of the five Olympic and world titles this decade before turning pro
Lost one bout in the entire decade, while winning more than 80

Shields has been the face of Olympic women’s boxing since taking gold at age 17 in the sport’s debut at the 2012 London Games. The Flint, Mich., product followed up by sweeping the world titles in the next Olympic cycle and capping her amateur career with repeat Olympic gold.

Anita Wlodarczyk, Poland
Track and Field
Won five of the seven Olympic or world hammer titles in the 2010s
Recorded the 15 farthest throws in history

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017 before defeats the last two seasons and arthroscopic left knee surgery that kept her out of worlds in September. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history.

Honorable Mention: Mo Farah (Track and Field, Great Britain), Jin Jong-Oh (Shooting, South Korea), Laura Kenny (Cycling, Great Britain), Mariana Pajon (Cycling, Colombia), Maggie Steffens (Water Polo, United States), Christian Taylor (Track and Field, United States) and Kohei Uchimura (Gymnastics, Japan).

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly reported that Bolt won five Olympic gold medals in the 2010s. He won six, sweeping the 100m, 200m and 4x100m in 2012 and in 2016.

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Russian synchronized swimming star to resume career with Olympic record at stake

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Svetlana Romashina, who shares the Olympic record with five synchronized swimming gold medals, plans to return to competition by next year for the first time since the Rio Games, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Romashina, 28, said soon after the Rio Olympics that she was taking a break from the sport but harbored Tokyo 2020 ambitions, according to Russian media.

She had a baby girl last fall and has been an assistant coach with the dominant Russian synchro team that just won all eight events it entered at the European Championships.

Romashina was part of Russian Olympic team and duet sweeps with Natalya Ishchenko in 2012 and 2016. The pair carried the Russian flag together at the Rio Closing Ceremony, after which Ishchenko reportedly retired.

Ischchenko holds the record of 19 world titles in synchro, followed by Romashina with 18.

Romashina is expected to pair with Svetlana Kolesnichenko, Russian coach Tatyana Pokrovskaya said, according to TASS. Kolesnichenko, part of the Rio Olympic champion team, just swept the four golds in solo and duet at Euros.

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