The 2012 Summer Olympics are here and for most fans, we understand that a little bit of refreshing our memory is going to be necessary. It’s been four years since most have seen a lot of the athletes in the individual events compete. With so many possible events, this preview will focus on the events and athletes you want to follow. Most of this is going to be a team USA-themed rundown of the events. Runners, take your marks…
Track and Field
Along with swimming, track and field is the signature event of the Summer Olympics. Track and field has often provided for the games’ most memorable moments due to the great individualism on display. The Beijing games four years ago gave rise to Usain Bolt’s star as he showed off his amazing speed and swagger, celebrating before even crossing the finish line. However, Bolt has not been his same spectacular self and actually finished second in Jamaican qualifying behind Yohan Blake in the 100m and 200m.
Justin Gatlin was the story of the USA Track and Field trials, finishing first in the trials in the 100m after serving a four-year ban and the 2004 gold medalist will certainly be in the mix. However, it seems that all signs will point to a battle between Blake and Bolt for the gold, with the rest, such as Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell fighting for the other medals. The short sprints figure to be a two-country race (not to mention Puma vs. Nike), which should also make for a great 4×100 between the two countries.
LaShawn Merritt is the USA’s best hope for gold in the 400m and has a lot to prove after failing to win the gold at the 2011 World Championships. His biggest rival is the man who beat him in those World Championships in Grenada’s 19-year old Kirani James.
Nick Symmonds has been the best 800m runner for the United States for quite some time now and although a gold is very unlikely, he has a chance to medal for the United States.
The United States also has its best chance in decades for medals in the long distance races. The United States has not won a medal in the 5,000m and 10,000m races since 1964, but former Oregon runner Galen Rupp, who set meet records at the Olympic Trials, and veteran Bernard Lagat both have a chance to medal.
There are no guarantees for gold in most of the track and field events with the exception of the decathlon where current world record holder Ashton Eaton looks to improve the marks he put up at Hayward Field in the US trials and fellow American Trey Hardee is likely to finish second.
As for the women’s side of the sprints, Carmelita Jeter and Alyson Felix are the names most people will be watching in the 100m and 200m. Felix was subject to controversy after tying Jeneba Tarboh for third in the Olympic Trials, but Tarboh opted not to participate in a run-off for the final spot. Tarboh will still have a chance at Gold as a member of the 4×100 relay team. Felix’s best chance for gold is going to be in the 200m and Jeter is the best hope for USA gold in the 100m. Sanya Richards-Ross, who also qualified in the 200m, is USA’s best hope in the 400m as she is looking to improve upon her bronze medal performance in ’08.
Despite not getting as much publicity as her teammate Lolo Jones, Dawn Harper is the most promising hope for gold in the 110m hurdles. Jones, who stumbled on a hurdle in the last Olympics, is expected to be in contention but both will have to try to best defending world champion Sally Peterson from Australia.
A recent study showed that women love the Olympics. Although the study cites patriotism, inclusion of “feminine sports” and the length of the games as reasons why this is, seeing a bunch of ripped dudes in Speedos can’t hurt bringing women to the screen.
Michael Phelps is back in the pool and on his way to London despite a shortened training schedule. Phelps is not going for eight gold medals this time around as he will not be competing in the 200m freestyle. Phelps, who was the American star of the 2008 games, will be looking to add seven more gold medals to his count of 14. He can certainly medal in all of his events, but getting gold in all of them will be extremely tough given his lack of conditioning.
Phelps biggest rival is countryman and emerging heartthrob, Ryan Lochte. Phelps defeated Lochte in three of the four races they competed in at the trials in Omaha and this rivalry will likely be the most popular individual one during the games because they will face each other in multiple events. The greatest threat to American dominance will likely come from the Australian swim team.
Alison Schmitt represents team USA’s most likely chance for gold in the pool on the Women’s side. Again, the biggest threat to USA gold will be from down under as three-time gold medalist Stephanie Rice looks to defend her titles.
The familiar names of Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin are no longer in the fold for the USA Women’s Gymnastics team this summer. Johnson who retired due to knee problems earlier this summer has already given her seal of approval to the two American’s, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, calling them the favorites. Both 16 years old, Douglas and Wieber will be the best chances for gold in the all-around exercise. The biggest threats to gold will come from the Russian, Chinese and Romanian teams, all of which are traditional gymnastics powerhouses.
Tennis, which will be played at Wimbledon, has lots of big names and possibly the most recognizable ones out of all of the individual sports. The Men’s side will surely be a tough battle for gold between Novak Djokovic (Serbia), Roger Federer (Switzerland) and Andy Murray (Great Britain), who will have another chance to win on the grass after his heartbreaking loss to Federer in the Wimbledon final only a few weeks ago. Defending gold medalist Rafael Nadal is out of this year’s competition due to injury. Andy Roddick has the best chance to medal for the United States, but getting past the three names listed will be a tough task to say the least. Federer, who is regarded by many as the greatest men’s tennis player of all-time, will be looking for his first individual Olympic gold medal, after he and Stanislas Wawrinka won the gold in doubles in Beijing.
As for the women’s side, look no further than Serena Williams. Williams, who has a history of playing well at Wimbledon, will be looking to add a gold medal to her already stacked resume. She is certainly USA’s best chance at gold.
The Sports USA Has No Shot In But Should Be Fun To Watch Anyway:
In this category, you clearly have to look at other net sports such as badminton and table tennis. These sports, mostly dominated by Asian countries, provide high entertainment value in their fast-paced nature. The precision and quickness with which these sports are played at this level is unmatched. Even though the USA’s chances to medal in these sports are slim-to-none, they will undoubtedly be among the most exciting sports you watch over the course of the games.
- Holley Mangold, sister of New York Jets center Nick Mangold, will be competing in the weightlifting events.