PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Snowboarder Shaun White’s halfpipe victory at the Pyeongchang Games on Wednesday earned the United States its landmark 100th Winter Games gold medal, prompting a series of celebratory messages on social media.
White scored 97.75 on his final run to pip Japan’s Ayumu Hirano as he claimed his third Olympic gold and his country’s 100th. Norway currently leads the all-time list with 121 golds, ahead of the U.S. (100) and Germany (92).
Swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals, 23 of them gold, was quick off the blocks to express his delight on Twitter.
“Let’s go @shaunwhite !!! Way to go man!! Nothing like a good comeback right?? Redemption always feels great!” Phelps wrote on his verified account, alluding to White’s failure to win a medal at Sochi four years ago.
From the NFL, Houston Texans defensive end J.J Watt was also impressed.
“That pure emotion from @shaunwhite. That’s what it’s all about. So awesome,” he tweeted.
Women’s soccer player Kelly O’Hara, a World Cup and Olympic winner was clearly moved by White’s celebratory tears.
“I’m crying watching @shaunwhite cry. #olympicfeels” she tweeted.
The first ever gold medal awarded at the Winter Olympics was won by the United States in 1924 with long track speed-skater Charley Jewtraw’s success in the 500 meters at Chamonix, France.
“Each and every one of the 100 times we have heard our national anthem play in Olympic Winter Games competition has been a truly unique and special moment,” United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement.
“These medals have spanned nearly 100 years and showcase the dedication to excellence that is central to Team USA and the entire U.S. Olympic family.”
However, some social media users were unhappy with the sight of White dragging the American flag along the floor after his triumph.
“Am pleased for Shaun White, but he should not be dragging our flag. Show some respect!” tweeted William C Eacho, former U.S ambassador to Austria.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by John O’Brien)