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Athletes to watch at the Rio Olympic Games


The world’s attention will be focused on Brazil for the next two weeks, with the opening ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games scheduled tomorrow. That will launch a two-week athletic spectacle, where the world’s fastest, strongest, and most skilled athletes will compete in various events.

Many star athletes are attracted to the Olympic Games, many stars are born during these Games, and there are several fascinating storylines.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, two American women stole the show, and they both look for repeats at the Rio Games.

Gymnast Gabby Douglas rose to fame as she won gold medals in the individual all-around and team competitions. She was the first American gymnast two win gold medals in both of those competitions in the same Olympics, and she was the first African American woman to win the individual all-around gold at the Olympics.

Douglas went on to become a public figure over the past four years, and she looks to defend her title. While she is one of the favorites, her teammate Simone Biles’ star is rising, and she is looking to become the next household name. Biles is already the most decorated female gymnast in history, as she has racked up United States and world championships over the past three years. The competition between her and Douglas may be the most exciting storyline of the Olympics.

At the London Games, sprinter Allyson Felix shared the stage with Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt. It was Felix’s third Olympic games, and she took home gold medals in the 200-meter dash, and both the 4×100-meter relay and 4×400-meter relay. In Rio, she will look to become just the third woman in Olympic history to win the 200 and 400 meters in the same Games.

There are also other athletes who are looking to make Olympic history.

Wrestler Jordan Burroughs can become the third American to win back-to-back Olympic freestyle wrestling titles. He has a 124-2 record in international competition and is one of the most dominant figures in the sport’s history.

Boxer Claressa Sields became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal when she competed at the London Games.  Now she heads to Rio with a chance to become the first U.S. boxer, man or woman, to win back-to-back golds.

At 42, Meb Keflezighi enters his final Olympics. The UCLA graduate won the silver medal in the marathon in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Sprinter Aries Merritt is the defending gold medalist in the 110-meter hurdles and also the world record holder in the event.

Sprinter Justin Gatlin was the world-record holder in the 100-meter dash before he was suspended for four years for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.  That was just before Bolt became the most dominant sprinter ever. At age 34, Gatlin could give Bolt a run for his money.

Former NFL quarterback Randell Cunningham’s daughter ,Vashti, won the gold medal at the world indoor championships for the high jump in March, and she is a rising star in the sport.

The U.S. men’s 4×100-meter relay team has gone three consecutive Olympics without winning the gold medal. Before this drought, the men’s team had never gone two consecutive games without taking home the gold.

Serena Williams looks to add to her trophy cabinet with two more gold medals. She already has four Olympic gold medals, winning the doubles with sister Venus at the 2000 Sydney Games, the 2008 Beijing Games, and in the 2012 London Games, where she also won the singles gold medal. The sisters will be competing for their third consecutive doubles title, and both will be in singles competition. Venus won the singles title in 2000.

In basketball, the U.S. men’s and women’s teams are as close to a lock as it gets. The women’s team has won the gold medal at each Olympic Games since 1996, and they have a 58-3 record all-time in Olympic competition. This current team is on a 41-game Olympic winning streak, dating to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The men’s basketball team is expected to run away with the gold medal, and if they do, Carmelo Anthony will become the most decorated man in Olympics history. He already has gold medals from the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games, and a bronze medal from the 2004 Athens Games. He owns U.S. Olympic career records. He is the leader in 3-pointers made, and he just needs 35 points to pass LeBron James for points scored.