We have been waiting four long years and the time has finally come. The Summer Olympics are one of the top three most watched sporting events in the entire world. This year in the 2016 Summer Olympics there will be 207 different countries from all corners of the world competing for that one gold medal.
The first Olympics took place in April of 1896 in Athens, Greece. A French man, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, thought of the idea to bring back an athletic event similar to the original ancient Greece Olympic games. With a background in education, Coubertin believed physical activity helped prevent illness and wanted to encourage healthy competition. Little did he know, he would make an event that would bring country pride to each country as they compete against the rest of the world.
In the four years between the Summer Olympics, national and international competitions take place in order to get the athletes ready and ranked before entering the Olympic games. Based on past achievements at the lower level international competitions, athletes can go into the Olympics favored to win over others.
With only a few days before the opening ceremony, the athletes are already moved into the Olympic village (or at least those buildings that have been finished). As they begin to get into their competition mind set and watchers clear their schedules to watch live as history is made, it is important to know who we should be looking out for. Out of all the Olympic events, three of the most popularly watched Olympic sports are women’s gymnastics, track and field, and swimming. As the games get underway, make sure you keep an eye out for these outstanding athletes.
Simone Biles (left) and Gabby Douglas (right). At the 2016 Olympic Trials, Simone Biles was the only gymnast out of the five chosen to have automatic acceptance to the team. She is a three time World Champion and has not lost a meet in three years. She is outstanding on floor and beam and is favored to win the All-Around title. Gabby Douglas is the reigning All-Around Olympic Champion from the 2012 Summer Olympics. After a movie deal and some time off, she is back to compete at her second Olympics. At the 2016 Olympic Trials she was ranked 6th in the competition, but her past experience in the Olympics and past World Championship ranking scored her a spot over other girls as a member of this year’s team. These girls are the best of the best, who will come out with the gold?
Tori Bowie (left) and Allyson Felix (right). Tori Bowie is a force to be reckoned with. She is the next threat to Felix. In the 2016 Olympic Trials, Bowie placed first in the 200M finals, one of Felix’s best events. Bowie also placed third in the 100M the same day. Although she has never placed higher than 3rd in a World competition, her win at the Trials may be a foreshadowing to the Olympic games. Allyson Felix is a highly medaled track star, from winning gold in the 2012 Summer Olympics for the 200M to winning golds in many other national and international competitions for the 200M, 400M and relays. Unfortunately, she is suffering from an ankle injury which is preventing her from sharpening her turn around the corners, giving an edge up for Bowie. This year at the 2016 Trials, she fell to fourth place in her favored event. Will the new Olympian surpass the reigning gold medalist in the 200M in year? Watch and see.
Justin Galtin (left) and LaShawn Merritt (right). Justin Galtin took first in the 100M and 200M race at the 2016 Olympic Trials and is a leading contender to win gold in both events at the Summer games. This past month, he picked a fight with Usain Bolt after his automatic acceptance to this year’s Olympic team after missing the Jamaican Trials due to an injury. Gatlin received a gold for the 100M and a bronze for the 200M at the 2004 Olympics, but came up short with a bronze in the 100M in 2012. LaShawn Merritt will run the 200M and the 400M in this year’s games. He is great competition for Gatlin as he is ranked second in the 200M from the Trials. Merritt’s speciality is the 400M and holds a gold from the 2008 games and the world-leading time. Both men will be returning to the Olympics for their third time. Can Merritt out run Gatlin in the 200M and also take home the gold for the 400M?
Micheal Phelps (left) and Ryan Lochte (right). Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian and has attended the Olympics four times. After personal scandals and time off from training, he is back to finish off his last year. Not many people can touch Phelps or his record times, but this will be the last time we will see him in an international competition, so enjoy watching as long as you can. Ryan Lochte is an eleven time Olympic medalist and shares a relay record with Phelps. Lochte has been finishing second to Phelps in the past three Olympics but is slowing closing the time gap between them. Phelps is a for sure favorite, but maybe Lochte will be able to pull through and finally beat the legendary Phelps!
Katie Ledecky (left) and Missy Franklin (right). Katie Ledecky is a powerhouse. She holds three world records, won gold in the 800 freestyle at the 2012 Olympics, finished first in three races at the 2016 Olympic Trials AND is only 19 years old. She is favored to win gold in more than just one event and she is more than capable of it. Missy Franklin is also a well-known star in swimming. At 16 years old, Franklin won two gold medals in the 100 and 200 backstroke at the 2012 London games and secured two golds with her 800 freestyle and 400 medley relay teams. After the 2012 Olympics she continued to win golds at other big competitions and at the 2016 Olympics Trials she received a spot on the Olympic team for the second time. These two teenage stars are back, let’s see if they will come out with gold once again.