Friday, July 20, 2012

Top 10 Most Captivating Competitors of the 2012 London Games

By: Keenan Bailey
1.      Usain Bolt
We all remember Usain Bolt breaking shattering world records in both the 100m and 200m sprints four years ago, we remember him easing to the finish line multiple strides ahead of his competition and we remember his flashy, celebratory, God-like pose after each race. This time around, the world expects perfection from the Jamaican track star, and will be disappointed with anything short of 2 new world records. Since catching the attention of the planet, Bolt has somewhat faulted in his world dominance, especially when he false started at last year’s world championships. With an increased amount of attention, unfairly high expectations and a teammate in Yohan Blake who plans on winning gold, the 2012 Olympic Games may be more demanding on Usain Bolt than any other athlete.
2.      Andy Murray
Not Lebron, not Neymar, not either Gasol, not even Bolt feels the weight of carrying an entire nation the way Andy Murray does. 1924…the last time a British tennis player has won an Olympic gold medal and no man since then is more ready to do so than Scottish-born Andy Murray. It will be a super-eerie déjà if the nation’s gem makes his way back to the finals at the All England Club, the site that hosted his emotional Wimbledon run. Although Murray was defeated by Roger Federer last month in the Wimbledon final, the match and Murray’s extremely emotional post-match ‘thank you’ speech addressed to Great Britain lit a flame of support for the classy competitor. A gold medal for Murray would mean so much more than just that, a proud history and an entire nation rides on his every forehand, backhand, serve and return.
3.      Ryan Lochte
No, I didn’t mean to insert Michael Phelps here. More captivating than the 16 Olympic medalist is his longtime teammate, friend, and rival Ryan Lochte, who in London will dominate the swimming megastar. Don’t be fooled by the two swimmer’s companionship during relays, when it comes time for the individual races both men will not spare the other to say the least: Phelps is competing to become the most decorated Olympian of all time, Lochte is looking to defend his 2011 World Championship.
4.      Lebron James
No one will accept anything short of gold. No one cares about injuries, fatigue, or lack of interest. As it has been since the Dream Team in 1992, the USA Men’s Basketball team is expected to not just win the gold at each Olympics, but is expected to do so with ease. By winning the ultra-elusive NBA Title this past June Lebron James put to rest many of his infinite critics, and by bringing a gold medal back to US soil the King has a chance to actually win them over! It will be a very unfamiliar tune, for James to be cheered on and be supported by the majority of American basketball fans, and it will be this warm feeling that’ll catapult the reigning Finals MVP to winning his second Olympic Gold Medal, the same number of gold medals won by this other guy, ummm…Jordan or something?
5.      Abby Wambach
The fact that our Men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the London games, and that the Women’s squad was defeated in the Championship Game of the 2011 World Cup puts pressure on the Soccer captain to bring home gold from London. Known for her powerful headers and her sheer competitiveness (and her awesome Gatorade commercial), Wambach will be more than ready to leave it all on the pitch this time around. At the Athens Games in 2004, her header in extra time secured a gold medal over the rival Brazilian squad, and in 2008 she broke her leg due to a dirty tackle against Brazil less than a month before the Beijing Opening Ceremonies, must I tell you that revenge will be on her mind if Team USA faces off against the Brazilians?
6.      Missy Franklin
Missy Franklin, who many refer to as the “Female Phelps” is a 17-year old with the chance of setting an American record for most medals by a female in a single Olympiad. Franklin has a shot to compete for gold in 7 swimming events in London and is likely to distinguish herself as one of, if not the most promising Olympian for future games.
7.      Neymar
Through Neymar, Brazil is letting the planet know that the country is a shoe-in to reassume its soccer dominance when it hosts the 2014 World Cup. The 20-year old soccer sensation will surely wow you with his flashy goals, on-ball moves and whacky hairstyle but overall will give a glimpse of the arsenal of young, talented Brazilian footballers that will be showcased in 2 years time. Brazil has surprisingly never won the Gold Medal for Men’s Soccer; that is bound to change this time around.
8.      Oscar Pistorius
Middle-distance runner Oscar Pistorius will not only be representing his home country of South Africa while participating in the 400 and 400x4 relays in London this summer but will be competing on behalf of the millions of amputees worldwide, becoming the first ever amputee to take part in an Olympic event. Pistorius, who is nicknamed “Blade Runner” due to his futuristic prosthetics lost his legs when he was only 11-months old due to a medical condition and is a long-shot to medal at the London Games, but will come away from these Olympic Games with a significant victory for all amputees.
9.       Caster Semanya
We’ve all heard pieces of “her” story: the South African female runner whose record-breaking spree was cut short only because of serious allegations regarding her actual sexuality. Semanya has been reinstated by the International Association of Athletics Federations after an 11-month investigation which revealed both male and female sexual organs belonging to the middle-distance runner. Despite an ease in criticism and a reinstation, Caster Semanya has failed to reach her 2009 shape and looks to use the London Games as a way back into the spotlight.
10.  Liu Xiang
Eight years ago he won the gold medal for his stunning 110 meter hurdles performance, four years ago the Olympics came to his home country of China, and an injury kept him off the track. Many Chinese claim the one reason the 2008 Beijing Games were not perfect was because the nation wasn’t able to watch its top athlete compete. Liu Xiang is considered among the best and most adored Chinese athletes, and is looking to provide a gold medal in London to make up for the one lost 4 years ago.

1 comment:

Autumn said...

Thank you for sharing this! You have a talent for sports writing. It will be very interesting to see how your list of captivating competitors matches up to the event. From what I gather, you seem to be very well educated on the athletes. I wouldn't bet against you :)