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Badminton and Other Olympic Sports the USA Has Never Won a Medal

Washington
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The United States is by far the winningest country in the history of the Olympic Games, taking home 1,022 gold medals since 1896. While the nation has dominated in the pool, on the track and throughout the Olympics as a whole, there are a handful of sports where no American has ever stepped on the podium.

The U.S. will have chances to earn its first medals in several new events debuting in the Tokyo Olympics, including skateboarding and inaugural swimming races, but there are also older sports where the country is still chasing its first medals. Based on its Olympic history and Tokyo outlook, it could be a while before the U.S. bucks the trend, too.

Here are the five Summer Olympic sports where the United States has never taken home hardware:

Badminton

The U.S. has had a tough time even advancing within the five badminton tournaments at the Olympics. Men’s and women’s singles and doubles have been full-medal events since 1992, while mixed doubles entered in 1996. In seven Olympics with the sport involved, the U.S. has only reached the quarterfinals of any tournament one time, as the men’s doubles team of Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong reached the round of eight in the 2008 Beijing Games.

 

The country has one competitor in both the men’s and women’s singles tournaments, as well as a men’s doubles duo, at the 2020 Games. Timothy Lam is the 41st-ranked men’s player, while Beiwen Zhang is the 11th-ranked player entering the women’s singles tournament. Brothers Phillip and Ryan Chew will also represent USA Badminton in the men’s doubles tournament. Zhang offers the U.S. its best chance at winning a medal across any of these five sports.

Handball

The U.S. has not even qualified for the men’s and women’s Olympic handball tournaments since 1996, when it was the host nation for the Atlanta Games.

The men’s squad has participated in the Olympic tournament six times with its highest finish in sixth place back in 1936 — when there were only six teams in the competition. The men’s team has won four total games across its six Olympic appearances.

The women’s squad has made it to the Olympics four times, all coming from 1984 to 1996. Its top finish was fifth place and came in that first appearance.

Rhythmic gymnastics

Rhythmic gymnastics made its Olympic debut as an individual event in 1984 and added a team event in 1996. Europe has completely dominated the sport since the beginning, with China and Canada as the only two countries from other continents to ever claim a medal across nine Olympics.

The United States’ highest finish in the event is 11th place, reached by Valerie Zimring during the boycotted 1984 Games in Los Angeles and Laura Zeng during the 2016 Games in Rio. The team’s appearance in the 2016 Games was its first since the group was given a host country spot in 1996. The team finished in 14th place out of 14 teams in Rio.

In Tokyo, Zeng and Evita Griskenas will compete in the individual event, while Isabella Connor, Camilla Feeley, Yelyzaveta Merenzon, Lili Mizuno, Elizaveta Pletneva and Nicole Sladkov will compete for the U.S. in the group event.

Table tennis

The U.S. has not won a medal in table tennis since it was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1988, but there will be six American competitors in Tokyo.

The U.S. table tennis squad features two marquee athletes: 21-year-old Kanak Jha in men’s singles and team and 24-year-old Lily Zhang in women’s singles and team. They are ranked 30th and 31st in the world in their respective singles events. Zhang, a five-time national champion, has better odds of earning a medal in Tokyo after finishing fourth in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, but she is still considered a long shot. Nikhil Kumar and Xin Zhou join Jha for the American men, while Huijing Wang and Juan Liu complete the women’s team.

 

Chen Wang owns the best American finish in Olympic table tennis history after reaching the women’s singles quarterfinals in Beijing.

Trampoline

Trampoline will be making its sixth Olympic appearance during the Tokyo Games. Nine countries have combined to win the 30 medals doled out since 2000, but the U.S. has not taken home any of them.

Savannah Vinsant had the best finish of any American, placing seventh in 2012. The U.S. did not have a men’s or women’s finalist (top eight) in 2016, with Logan Dooley finishing 11th for the men and Nicole Ahsinger finishing 15th for the women.

Ahsinger will represent the U.S. in the event once again in Tokyo, while Aliaksei Shostak will compete on the men’s side.