1 of 25 Julian Finney/Getty Images
With her gymnastics pedigree, it's no surprise that Nastia Liukin won five medals, (tying the U.S. record for most in one Games) and collected the most coveted one of all - all-around gold. She also has family bragging rights - dad Valeri won four in 1988
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Good things come to those who wait. After earning three silvers, Shawn Johnson, she of the megawatt smile, finally snagged gold in the last gymnastics event, the balance beam - a result she calls "the most perfect ending ever."
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Usain "Lightning" Bolt struck gold twice. The Jamaican left others in the dust, blistering to win the 100- and 200-meter dashes in world-record fashion. It was the first time a man set world marks in both events at the Olympics.
4 of 25 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Yeah, mon! Shelly-Ann Fraser led a Jamaican sweep in the 100-meter dash - the first time a country has ever swept the podium in the event. Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart finished in a dead heat for silver.
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Angelo Taylor turned back the clock to win the 400-meter hurdles, eight years after triumphing in Sydney. Following him across the line were teammates Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson, leading to the first U.S. sweep of the event in 48 years.
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Being 6'4" meant Stephanie Brown-Trafton couldn't vault her way to gold like her idol Mary Lou Retton did - but she still got a gold. The discus thrower won the first track and field gold for the U.S. and is the first American to win the event since 1932.
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Snowboarding amped up the Winter Olympics in Nagano. Ten years later, BMX is doing the same in the Summer Games. BMX racing made its long-awaited debut in Beijing and proved to be a crowd favorite. Is skateboarding next
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All of Afghanistan watched in awe and with hope as Rohullah Nikpai won the country's first Olympic medal - a bronze in the 58-kilogram taekwondo event. "I hope this will send a message of peace to my country after 30 years of war," he said.
9 of 25 Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Before dethroning Roger Federer as the world's No. 1 tennis player, Rafael Nadal crowned his achievement with Olympic gold. Having the summer of his career, the reigning French Open and Wimbledon champion was the first Top 5 seed to win the event.
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Yelena Isinbayeva soared to new heights in pole vault, clearing 16 feet 6 3/4 inches to set a world record and defend her gold medal. The new global standard is the 24th one set by the flamboyant Russian.
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Jonathan Horton's anthem should be "The Gambler." While others trotted out long-polished high bar routines, Horton, figuring he'd need to up the ante to medal, unleashed a high-flying, dizzying new set he learned in three days - and won the silver.
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It's a numbers game for Dara Torres. In her fifth Olympics, two years after giving birth, the 41-year-old swimmer won three silvers for 12 career medals and split a 52.27 during the 4x100 medley relay, the fastest freestyle split in relay history.
13 of 25 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Michael Phelps wasn't the only pool shark. Natalie Coughlin won six medals in Beijing, including gold in the 100-meter backstroke, for the biggest haul by a U.S. woman in a single Games and a career total of 11 medals.
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Mariel Zagunis, Sada Jacobson and Becca Ward got the U.S. off on the right foot, sweeping the fencing podium on the first day of competition. Zagunis also won gold in Athens. The three later claimed bronze in the team competition.
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Leading from start to finish, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay obliterated the world record by nearly four seconds and became the first team to ever break the 7-minute mark.
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Alexander Artemev was a last-minute addition to the U.S. gymnastics team after Morgan Hamm withdrew, a move many questioned due to his inconsistency. Artemev silenced doubters with a stunning pommel horse routine that clinched an unexpected bronze.
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It was nearly a clean sweep for the Chinese men's gymnastics team. China captured seven of the eight golds, and you can bet, had they qualified for the vault final, they would've won that too. The dominance was a far cry from their one gold in Athens.
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Stephanie Rice went 3-for-3 in golds, winning the 4x200 freestyle relay, and the 200- and 400-meter IMs, all with world records. The Aussie became the first woman to break 4:30 in the 400 IM and is the fifth swimmer to claim the IM double.
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The Queens of the Beach continued their reign. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh served up a second straight gold in beach volleyball to become the first team to repeat as champions. What's more - they've never even lost a set in Olympic competition.
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Chellsie Memmel's bum ankle relegated the 2005 All-Around champion to one event - the uneven bars in the team competition. She nailed the routine for a team silver and only afterwards revealed that the injury was much worse - she had a broken bone.
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Kosuke Kitajima is the best in breast. The Japanese star defended his titles in the 100- and 200-meter breastroke, becoming the first man to sweep the events in consecutive Olympics. There's more - he's the first to go sub-59 seconds in the 100 meter.
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Olympic redemption revealed itself in a gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle for Park Tae-Hwan, who was disqualified in Athens for falling into the pool. The medal was Korea's first in swimming. Park also won a silver in the 200-meter freestyle.
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Jumping into the pool nearly a full body length behind France's trash-talking Alain Bernard, Jason Lezak magically came up with the goods in the last 15 meters to clinch gold, beating Bernard by .08 seconds in a world record of 3:08.24.
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Eight is enough for Michael Phelps. The 23-year-old capped off a dream Olympics with a world record in the 4x100 medley relay for his historic eighth gold medal. Phelps now has a staggering 14 career golds - the most ever - and 16 medals overall.
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A diving dynasty, China is looking to complete an unprecedented sweep of the events. They are seven-for-seven now with one event left. China has been peerless in diving since synchro events were added in 2000.