BEIJING A major success by some standards, a big disappointment by others, but record-setting no matter which way you view it.
That's how the United States fared in the ultimate Olympic road test that ended Sunday, losing the gold-medal count 51-36 to China and winning the total-medal tally 110-100 over the suddenly powerful hosts of the Beijing Games.
The somewhat expected gold-medal rush by China even U.S. Olympic Committee leaders hailed China the decisive favorite snapped an American streak of dominance at the previous three Summer Games.
With 36 golds, the U.S. matched its total from the 2004 Athens Games and finished with one fewer than it had in 2000 in Sydney and eight fewer than in 1996 in Atlanta. It notched 38 silvers and 36 bronzes.
In claiming 110 medals, the U.S. broke its record for the most in a non-boycotted Olympics if you exclude the 242 it won at the 1904 Summer Games, attended by 12 countries. The previous record was 108 medals, set in 1992 in Barcelona.
"We were criticized the last couple years for telling people that the Chinese would have a very, very strong team," said Jim Scherr, chief executive officer of the USOC. "We've seen that come through on the gold-medal count. It's not something that we're pleased with. We certainly believe that our country is capable of winning the gold-medal count."
Bolstered by seemingly unlimited resources and top-secret training methods, China won 26 golds in seven sports the U.S. didn't register a single medal archery, badminton, canoe/kayak, diving, trampoline gymnastics, table tennis and weightlifting.
For golds, China topped the U.S. 9-2 in artistic gymnastics and 5-2 in shooting, and it benefited from the Americans winning only one gold and eight medals in combat sports boxing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling.
A 597-person U.S. contingent can take pride in its continuous supremacy in the big-ticket sports. The Americans won 31 medals in swimming thanks to an Olympic record eight by Michael Phelps and 23 in track and field even though sprinter Tyson Gay bombed out.
In team sports, the U.S. cleaned up, taking golds in men's and women's basketball, women's soccer and men's indoor volleyball; silvers in women's gymnastics, softball, women's indoor volleyball and men's and women's water polo; and bronzes in baseball and men's gymnastics.
"We're succeeding in virtually every team sport that we've had here," Scherr said. "We knew it would be difficult, but we continued to invest resources in those sports. It's important to our country. ... We will not abandon those sports in an attempt to turn medals in individual sports."