For US, it's all one big dream team
Dream Team? Better make that several Dream Teams, because there was almost nothing keeping US athletes from medals at what one newspaper called an "astounding" London Olympics.
From the pool to the wrestling mat to the soccer field and, in one of Sunday's closing events, the basketball court: this Olympics was a true American moment at a time of grim economic news and political division.
"Most medals. Most gold medals. The US left no doubt at the Olympics," CBS Sports said Monday.
Facing a tense presidential election campaign, mass joblessness, and two recent mass shootings, Americans finally have reason to celebrate.
President Barack Obama has been quick to call and tweet his congratulations to athletes, and the women's gold-winning gymnastics team has been invited to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
A presidential spokesman said he hopes there will be an Olympic reception at the White House too. Obama is "very excited" by the results, the spokesman said.
So was the New York Daily News sports columnist on Monday.
"This really was an astounding Olympics for the Americans, 46 gold medals and 104 medals overall," the paper said.
That tally put the US ahead of rising superpower China and bitter rival Russia, who were followed by host nation Britain and the traditionally strong sporting nation of Germany.
"MIDAS TOUCH" screamed the New York Post's main sports headline.
Time magazine crunched the medals numbers, musing on how to weigh the relative value of gold, silver and bronze, then said simply: "In London, however, no math needed. The US won the Olympics, hands down."
And while there were other winners, notably a plucky performance by often underperforming Britain and the astonishing feats of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the American stars were unmatched for the sheer variety and consistency of their achievements.
The NBA stars who squeezed past Spain on Sunday carried outsized reputations into London. But, unlike during the fiasco in Athens eight years ago, they showed they were patriotic, not prima donnas, when it came to a close game.
"It means more than my name on my back. It means everything to the name on the front," Miami Heat's LeBron James said of performing in his USA jersey.
Michael Phelps, winning four more golds and becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time, arguably rivals Bolt as a mega-star.
Gabby Douglas captured hearts across America as the first black American to win the all-around women's gymnastics title.
Perhaps most eye-catching to Americans has been the general success of their women's squad, led by the gold medal soccer team.
"They dominated the US team in every way: More women than men made the American team, and they won far more gold medals than the American men," USA Today noted.
"The USA won 46 gold medals in the Games, more than any other nation. Women won 29 of them. Were US women their own nation, they would have finished ahead of every other country's total gold medal count except China."