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US pleased to find golden touch in London

india Updated: Aug 11, 2012 22:46 IST

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US Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst didn't go in for any false modesty Saturday as he contemplated America's place atop the medals table on the penultimate day of the London Olympics.

"I like to hear the national anthem a lot," said Probst, whose fondness for the Star Spangled Banner has been amply gratified thanks to 41 US gold medals through Saturday afternoon, with the potential for more before Sunday's closing ceremony.

As London 2012 hurtled to a close -- with 32 gold medals on offer on Saturday -- the Americans topped the table on both golds and total medals by a slim margin over China.

Probst couldn't resist a minor poke at London Games chief Sebastian Coe for his pre-Games prediction that the Chinese would build on the success they enjoyed at home in Beijing four years ago and beat out the Americans for the top spot.

"The only thing that I think Seb got slightly wrong was he predicted we would come in behind China in the medal count," Probst said. "I told him back in April we were going to work really, really hard to prove him wrong and we're on track for that."

Probst also congratulated the host nation on their No. 3 spot in the medals standings, calling it a "spectacular Olympics".

He and USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun heaped praise on London organizers for their attention to detail, the vibrant venues and a wealth of friendly, well-informed volunteers who helped the Games go like clockwork.

"It really couldn't have been a more positive experience for us in every way," Blackmun said.

Prior to the Games, USOC chief of sports performance Alan Ashley declined to predict a medals tally, predicting only that America would finish at -- or near -- the top.

But Blackmun said the US team was coming in pretty close to their in-house projections, with a disastrous performance in men's boxing -- where not a single US man made the medal rounds -- the only real black spot.

"We have a pretty strong and rich history in boxing," Blackmun said. "This is the first time in history we haven't had a man on the podium. We have to fix that. We're going to sit down and take a look at why we are where we are and make some changes."

Otherwise, Blackmun said, officials' high expectations coming in "have been exceeded."

He cited always-strong swimming as producing a few more medals than they were pencilled in for, as did track and field -- even if the prestigious men's 100m and 200m sprints remained in the grip of Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt.

Team sports, as usual, provided another strong showing with the US Dream Team expected to add to the success there when they met Spain in the men's final on Sunday.

"One of our primary objectives is to get as many athletes as possible on the podium as we can," Blackmun said. "If you look at team sports we've put more than 200 athletes on the podium which is very, very important to us."

Brenda Villa, a member of the triumphant US women's water polo team, admitted she had been keeping track of the medal count and was pleased to do her bit for the US gold tally.

"I'm sure we're all a little competitive. I know I've looked at the medal count and was hoping to contribute to that," she said.

Decathlon gold medallist Ashton Eaton, however, took a slightly different attitude, saying that in the midst of competition, "You're just trying to compete against whoever is in front of you ... if you do that well, the medals take care of themselves."