Before they were doused in confetti and weighted down by the sparkly medal around their neck, our country's competitors were just hard-working athletes who stuck it out. Michael Phelps, Dominique Moceanu, Carl Lewis — they all became household names under the glow of Olympic lights
and the gaze of (eep!) one billion people watching worldwide.
These names, here, may not sound so familiar now, but come closing ceremonies, you may be pouring your breakfast cereal out of a box with one of their faces on the cover.
From an unbelievable young basketball player and a hurdler who's overcome the odds to a stellar soccer star whose name isn't Hope Solo, here are some of the U.S.A.'s strongest competitors
and your new favorite athletes.