China or the U.S.? Which country will win the medals race?

 (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

By Mike Tierney, Special to Universal Sports

Some politicians were displeased to learn that the uniforms worn by American athletes in the opening and closing ceremonies carry a made-in-China label. (You might have noticed that it’s an election year.)

Some followers of the U.S. team are more concerned about China with regards to which nation’s Olympians will wear more medals around their necks. In the gold and overall categories, the sport’s heavyweights should finish one-two, but in what order?

The U.S. is on a four-Games streak for the highest totals count, thanks in large part to its prowess in the medals-heavy sports of swimming and track and field. China capitalized on the standard home-court advantage to collect the most golds in Beijing four years ago.

Most projections foresee the Americans extending their rule in aggregate medals and perhaps reclaim it for golds, too. China’s state-run sports schools that have churned out numerous champions are declining in number. Also, countries that host the previous Games often backslide.

Still, prognosticators have struggled to get a firm grasp of China’s prospects, given its often secretive ways. The Far East country that supplied its sporting rivals their spiffy clothes for the ceremonies intends to be dressed to kill at the competition venues.

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