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London Olympics Disappointments: Five Sports the U.S. Needs to Improve at for 2016

Yahoo Contributor Network

The United States concluded a very successful Summer Olympics in London on August 12. U.S. Olympians won a total of 104 medals-with 46 golds-to finish atop the medal standings in both categories.

A closer look at the medals earned shows 31 of the podium finishes were in swimming, and another 29 were tacked on to the U.S. tally through the efforts of their track and field athletes.

Other sports America's best did well at to add to the medal haul included women's gymnastics, basketball, shooting, and tennis.

There were 26 sports on the schedule for the London Games, (rugby and golf will be added for 2016), and the U.S. took home medals in 16 sports, with 13 of them providing golds.

So there remains room for improvement for prospective U.S. Olympians in many sports for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The following list includes five sports that I think the U.S. should focus on over the next four years:

Weightlifting: Medals were awarded in 15 weight classes-eight for men and seven for women-yet the U.S. failed to win even one of the 45 medals available. The U.S., in fact, only qualified three lifters for the London Games.

The U.S. has not won any medals in the sport since the 2000 Olympics when the women snatched a pair, and the Sydney Games marked the introduction of women's weightlifting into the Olympics. American men have not earned a weightlifting medal since 1984.

Boxing: The performance of the U.S. men's boxing team at the London Games was an embarrassment. Of the nine American men who fought there, only one advanced as far as the quarterfinals.

The U.S. is the all-time leader in Olympic boxing medals with 110, but the last two were won by American women in Claressa Shields and Marlen Esparza, as their sport made its first Olympic appearance in 2012.

Shields won gold and Esparza earned a bronze.

The U.S. men garnered only one bronze for their efforts in the ring in Beijing, continuing a decline from two in Athens and four podium finishes in Sydney.

Greco-Roman Wrestling: American men qualified for London in six of the seven weight classes contested, but failed to earn any medals.

Of course the U.S. has been much stronger historically in Freestyle wrestling, but the Greco-Roman grapplers did not perform up to expectations at the London Games.

Taekwondo: The U.S. won two bronze medals in the sport in London, which seems like a decent performance overall. However, only four Americans participated in the combined eight weight classes for men and women. Also, the podium finishes for the U.S. were better at the three Games between 2000-2008.

Judo: Kayla Harrison, a judoka for the U.S., won the country's first-ever Olympic gold in the sport in London. This was a nice step forward for U.S. judo. A big negative, though, was the fact that the U.S. only qualified five competitors for a total of 14 weight classes-evenly divided between men and women.

Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is already looking forward to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi, Russia.

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