The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are a wrap, and these Games were definitely ones to remember. Established stars such as Katie Ledecky and Kevin Durant delivered on their sky-high expectations while new ones emerged in first-time Team USA Olympians Sydney McLaughlin, Suni Lee and more.
Allyson Felix became the most decorated track and field Olympian in U.S. history by winning her 11th career medal while swimmer Caeleb Dressel collected an impressive five golds in Tokyo. The U.S. also swept the men's and women's golf and basketball competitions.
Russian Olympic Committee
Here are our top 10 memories from Tokyo.
1) Ledecky rebounds to win the Olympics' first ever women's 1500m
In the women's 200m final, Katie Ledecky shockingly placed fifth -- her worst ever Olympic finish -- and more than a half second out of medal position. The now 10-time Olympic medalist (seven gold, three silver) emphatically rebounded just over an hour later. Ledecky (15:37.34) dominated the Olympics' first ever women's 1500m final, finishing more than four seconds faster than her fellow American and silver medalist Erica Sullivan (15:41.41). Germany's Sarah Kohler earned bronze with a time of 15:42.91. The 24-year-old Ledecky finished her 2020 Tokyo Olympics campaign with four medals.
"I've gained perspective over the years," Ledecky said. "I've really learned a lot over the years. The times (in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics) might not be my best times, but I'm still really, really happy that I have a gold medal around my neck right now."
2) Simone Biles returns to earn bronze in the women's balance beam final
After the "twisties" forced Simone Biles to withdraw from four gymnastics finals, a return from the two-time Olympian looked unlikely. But in typical Biles fashion, she rose to glory when it mattered most. Biles delivered a 14.000 in the women's balance beam final to earn her second consecutive Olympic bronze in the event. China's Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing finished 1-2 with scores of 14.633 and 14.233, respectively. Biles, who also won silver in this year's team competition, is now a seven-time Olympic medalist (four gold, one silver, two bronze).
"I'm proud of myself for the way I pushed through and even learned that dismount that I haven't done in years," Biles told the "TODAY" show. "And just put up a good set, that's all I really wanted. I wasn't expecting to walk away with a medal or anything, I just wanted to go out there and do it for myself. And I did."
3) Lydia Jacoby, 17, wins gold in the 100m breaststroke
As expected, an American won the women's 100m breaststroke. The unexpected: it wasn't the reigning Olympic gold medalist Lilly King. Lydia Jacoby, a 17-year-old Alaskan, stunned the pool and viewing audience by finishing ahead of both King (1:05.54) and South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker (1:05.22) to win gold. The win by Jacoby gave Alaska its first ever Olympic swimming medal. When Jacoby also took home silver in the 4x100m medley relay, she joined alpine skier Tommy Moe as the only Alaskans to win more than one medal in a single Olympics.
"It was crazy," Jacoby said. "I was definitely racing for a medal. I knew I had it in me, but I wasn't really expecting a gold medal. When I looked up at the scoreboard, it was insane."
4) Caeleb Dressel leads the U.S. to gold in the men's 4x100m freestyle
In the lead-up to these Olympics, 24-year-old Caeleb Dressel was considered a potential successor to the GOAT -- otherwise known as Michael Phelps. Dressel lived up to the hype in his very first race of the 2021 Games. In the men's 4x100m freestyle, Dressel led the U.S. to gold by swimming a blazing-fast time of 47.26 as the first leg. The Americans finished with third-fastest time ever in the event, a 3:08.97, while Italy (3:10.11) and Australia (3:10.22) finished second and third, respectively. Dressel eventually won four additional golds in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"I felt good the whole way, I knew I had to get my hand in the wall first and get some clean water," Dressel said. "And everyone did their job. It's a relay for a reason, it's four guys for a reason, it's certainly not just me. It's certainly not just one guy."
5) Suni Lee takes gold in the women's individual all-around
When the reigning gold medalist Biles withdrew from the women's all-around competition, she opened the door for a new champion. Fellow American and first-time Olympian Suni Lee took full advantage. The 18-year-old Lee collected her first gold medal with a score of 57.433, above the silver medalist Rebeca Andrade (57.298) of Brazil and Angeline Melnikova (57.199) of the Russian Olympic Committee. Lee, who came into these Games as the first ever Hmong-American Olympic gymnast, made additional history by becoming the ethnic group's first medalist.
"I really want to be an inspiration to others and help others reach their dreams," Lee told the "TODAY" show.
6) U.S. men's basketball collects fourth consecutive gold
An opening group play loss to France marred the Americans' start to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but Team USA left the Games with exactly what it wanted: its fourth consecutive gold medal. Kevin Durant contributed a team-leading 29 points along with six rebounds and three assists in a rematch with France in the men's basketball final, an 87-82 victory for the Americans, earning his third gold. Only Carmelo Anthony -- who Durant passed on Team USA's all-time scoring list in these Games -- has as many golds as Durant now among all-time men's basketball Olympians. Jayson Tatum added 19 points -- on an efficient 8-of-14 shooting -- and a team-high seven rebounds in the final.
"I know it seems as if it's come easy for so long, but I played in 2016 and it wasn't easy then and it wasn't easy this year," Team USA's Draymond Green said. "Don't get me wrong, I don't take either one of them for granted, but this one just feels a lot sweeter."
7) Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad star in the 400m hurdles
The women's 400m hurdle featured eight athletes, but most eyes were only on two: Americans Sydney McLaughlin and reigning gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad. Muhammad and McLaughlin came into the event in a tier of their own, with the two women setting the last two world records in the event. The pair continued their record-breaking trend in Tokyo, adding the second and third ever sub-52 second finishes by a woman in the event's history. McLaughlin earned gold with a time of 51.46 while Muhammad earned silver with a 51.58. At 21, McLaughlin became the youngest women's 400m hurdles Olympic gold medalist ever.
"I saw Dalilah ahead of me with one to go," McLaughlin said. "I just thought 'Run your race'. "The race doesn't really start till hurdle seven and I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had."
8) Nelly Korda wins gold in women's golf, cementing a U.S. golf sweep
Less than a week after Xander Schauffele gave the U.S. its first men's gold medal in golf since 1900, Nelly Korda did the same on the women's side. Korda posted a 17-under 267 to secure a one-shot victory over Japan's Mone Inami and Australia's Lydia Ko, who each posted 16-under 268s. Inami bested Ko in a playoff to earn silver. Korda, the world's top-ranked golfer, battled rainy conditions in Tokyo for her eventual victory. In addition to her Olympic success, Korda has three LPGA wins to her name this year.
"It's tough to win out here and she makes it look easy," said Jessica Korda, Nelly's sister and fellow competitor in the Tokyo Games. "But these girls are good. Look at the leaderboard every week. This is how it is. So for her to be doing what she's doing is insane to me. But at the same time, it's so cool. This is like total G.O.A.T. status for me."
9) Felix wins her 11th medal, passing Carl Lewis for the most by an American
Allyson Felix came into the women's 4x400m relay final with a chance at passing fellow American Carl Lewis for the most track and field medals ever by an American athlete, and she accomplished exactly that. Team USA -- led by Sydney McLaughlin, Felix, Dalilah Muhammad and Athing Mu -- won gold with a season-best time of 3:16.85. Poland (3:20.53) and Jamaica (3:21.24) finished with silver and bronze, respectively. The win gave Felix her record 11th medal, a storybook ending to the career of one of the most prolific Olympians ever.
"It's an amazing group of women right here," McLaughlin said. "Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think we all just knew going in it was going to be fast. All we had to do is do our part and just have fun with it."
10) Women's basketball wins its seventh gold medal, Bird and Taurasi's fifth
Brittney Griner missed only four of her 18 shots in a dominant 30-point, three-block performance against Japan, helping Team USA collect a 90-75 win in the women's basketball gold medal game. Her 30 points set a women's gold-medal game record. This was Team USA's seventh consecutive gold medal with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi being a part of the last five, making them the most decorated basketball players in Olympic history. This is likely the final Olympics for Bird -- who confirmed she won't be back for Paris 2024 -- and Taurasi -- who indicated she will not return -- and they couldn't have asked for a better finish.
"There's always a lot of pressure when you put this jersey on," Taurasi said. "I think you learn a lot about yourself when you play with the national team. It's always a collection of 12 of the best players in the world and you have to set yourself aside and come together to win, and it's not easy and it comes in different forms but we always find a way to do that and do it with class and team first. It's pretty amazing. It teaches you a lot about yourself and other people."