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SIDEBAR US braces for 1,000th - or so - gold medal at Rio Games

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says the United States are closing in on their 1,000th gold medal at Summer Games in Rio but it is hard to know for sure who will have the honour of winning it.

"USA needs 22 more gold medals to become the first NOC (National Olympic Committee) to have won 1,000 gold medals at the Olympic Games," is the official line from the IOC, and the dominant Americans are certain to hit that mark at some point in the next two weeks.

But at a press conference Friday, US Olympic Committee (USOC) officials admitted there was some doubt over how many golds Americans had actually won.

The confusion dates back to the early editions of the Games when the nationality of athletes was less clear cut.

Examples from the 1904 Games in St Louis include Austrian Julius Lenhart winning gold in all-round individual gymnastics, while his medal was credited to the US tally as he was representing a Philadelphia club.

The issue is further muddied as Lenhart was part of the team which won combined exercises - which was given to the US.

Other disciplines are deemed by the IOC to have been won by mixed teams rather than single countries when they were made up of varying nationalities.

There is also a dispute over wrestlers Charles Ericksen and Bernhoff Hansen who are recognized as US gold medalists despite reportedly being Norwegian citizens during the Games.

USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird said "something special" would be planned for the 1,000th gold, whenever it happened.

And Alan Ashley, US chef de mission, praised the impact of sport in defining American culture.

"I think what it means is just a great sporting culture and an amazing system of sport in our country," he said.

"It‘s different than other places in the world but it‘s been a really major contributor to our culture and to our country. And it‘s very exciting to think of it in those terms and to realize that we‘re on the doorstep of that amazing achievement."

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