U.S. women win medley relay, giving Team USA 1,000th all-time gold

RIO DE JANEIRO -- When Simone Manuel touched the wall to clinch a gold medal Saturday night, it was a moment 120 years in the making.

The United States women won gold in the 4x100-meter medley relay Saturday night, edging Australia and Denmark and giving Team USA its 1,000th gold medal of all time.

Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer and Manuel won the race in 3 minutes, 53.13 seconds. It marked the U.S.' second straight gold in the event.

The count accepted by the U.S. Olympic Committee coming into the Rio Games was 977 gold medals, and even that was adjusted a bit in recent weeks over a debated medal from the 1904 St. Louis Games. That means the gold medal in the women's eights on Saturday morning was the 21st for the Americans in Rio, and No. 998 overall. Some sites say there's a few more, some say a bit less. The USOC count is the accepted one.

And the relay win was No. 23 in Rio, so by the USOC's count that made it official.

It was a memorable night for Samuel.

Earlier, she took home her second individual medal of the Games when she won silver in the women's 50-meter freestyle. Manuel finished in 24.09, behind Denmark's Pernille Blume (24.07).

Manuel made history Thursday, when she became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in swimming. She tied for first in the 100-meter freestyle (52.70) with Canada's Penny Oleksiak. She also earned a silver in the women's 4x100-meter freestyle relay.

Team USA won 33 swimming medals at Rio 2016, its most since winning 33 at the Sydney Games in 2000.

"A thousandth gold for team USA,'' Manuel said. "It's a nice number ... sharing that with three other women is just icing on the cake.''

The next-closest team total is the USSR with 395. The next-closest active country is Great Britain with 248.

"A remarkable achievement made possible by the culture of sport that is the fabric and foundation of Team USA,'' USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said Saturday night.

James Connolly won the first gold for the U.S. in 1896, and of course no one has added more to the total than Michael Phelps, a 23-time gold medalist.

Illustrating how not-so-simple this medal-counting business is, the official info portal for the Rio Games even has a different number than the USOC, saying the one the Americans will recognize as No. 1,000 is really No. 1,001.

Whatever the real number, the U.S. is the first to reach four figures -- in a landslide.

"Here's the significance: The next four best nations had 1,004 gold medals coming into Rio,'' said Bill Mallon, an Olympic historian. "You add up the next four and they barely have more than we do.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.