The large contingent of Florida athletes at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro completed its competition schedule on Saturday — and it did so with a flourish, garnering four medals to push Gator Nation’s Rio tally to 13.
Arman Hall and Tony McQuay ran the first two legs of the gold medal-winning men’s 4 x 400 meters relay for the United States, later Gator Chomping while draped in their medals and the American flag. Novlene Williams-Mills anchored Jamaica’s silver-winning performance in the women’s 4 x 400 meters relay for her fourth medal. And Kelly Murphy earned Florida’s first medal for indoor volleyball by helping Team USA down the Netherlands for a bronze.
For Hall — who only finished his Florida career this spring — and Murphy, these were first Olympic medals. McQuay previously won silver as a member of the 4 x 400 team in London.
Williams-Mills, on the other hand, medaled at her fourth consecutive Olympics — all of those honors coming in the 4 x 400 — which ties her with Ryan Lochte for the most consecutive Olympiads with a medal by a Gator. (The immortal Dara Torres won medals at five distinct Olympiads over 24 years, but missed the Atlanta and Athens Games in 1996 and 2004.)
The Gator Nation would sit at 13th in the Olympic medal count entering Sunday, thanks to eight golds — more than the tallies for Spain, host country Brazil, and the Usain Bolt-led Jamaican team. Florida’s 13 medals would be 20th among all nations competing in Rio, and still more than Jamaica’s 11 total medals.
That performance is staggering — and yet it’s only good for sixth all-time among performances by Gators at one Olympic Games, behind an incredible 21 medals (and 14 golds that would’ve gotten Gator Nation a tie for fifth among all nations in the medal count) at the 1984 Olympic Games and four other Summer Olympiads with at least 15 medals.
This was kind of an off year for Florida at a Summer Games, even without accounting for Lochte answering the titular question of his reality show with “Something really stupid” — and yet the Gator Nation would still have held its own in the medal count.
As it turns out, if you want to win Olympic medals, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.