Much has happened leading up to the kickoff of the 2016 Summer Olympics, particularly the International Olympic Committee upholding the ban on Russia’s participation in track and field events this year. With the games only _ days away, here is what we can expect from Team USA, from household names like Michael Phelps to rising stars like Simone Biles to notable presences elsewhere (anyone on the PGA tour).
I promise you I’m not trying to brag, but it’s impossible to deny that the United States is world-famous for breeding world-class athletes. In snow or sand, I’m blessed to root for a winning team. It’s more fun than rooting for a losing team, anyway. We’re bound together by the sweat, blood and tears upon which this great nation was built, and it’s amazing to watch the fruits of athletes’ labor pay dividends via the accumulation of medals.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that great things are expected of us next month. Team USA took home a total of 104 medals at the London Games in 2012—more than any other participating team. The major-league professionals are responsible for several of these medals — Kevin Durant, Serena Williams and Michael Phelps are only a few examples — but many pros have opted out of the Rio games in light of the Zika virus. This year will be all about the amateurs – well, as “amateur” as the professional-dominated Olympics can get.
The top four players on the PGA Tour have come under some heat recently, thanks to claims that their withdrawal from this year’s Games was motivated by concern about money rather than health. Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will not be playing this year and all cite concerns about the Zika virus as their reason for staying back and continuing to play on the Tour.
But Team USA will be well-represented in both the men’s and women’s rounds — –Rickie Fowler had a blazing hot 2015 tour, taking home first-place trophies from THE PLAYERS Championship, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the Scottish Open. Hopefully he’ll continue his streak. Then there’s Lexi Thompson, who is overshadowed by the men’s golf pros because the LPGA is not as popular among television viewers. She is a force to be reckoned with, though, and is just 21 years old.
Everyone’s favorite gentle giant is back as one of six swim team captains this year: Michael Phelps has already broken a host of world records in his past three performances at the Olympic games and is ready to give it one more go.
Let’s not forget about dear Ryan Lochte, though, who has been right up there with Phelps in performance; he’s a swimmer I’m confident will emerge out of the shadows of his captain. Let’s just hope he brushed up on his interviewing skills over the past 4 years.
In 2012, it was all about Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, just two members of a historic team of gymnasts that absolutely dominated the London games. This year, you’ll want to keep your eye on two rookies, Simone Biles and Madison Kocain, whose floor and uneven-bar exercises, respectively, will leave you with goose bumps and a loss for words.
Regardless of how we all might feel about Kevin Durant, the other Golden State Warrior who we care about other than Stephen Curry, he will be the presumptive star of Team USA. With Curry sitting out of the Olympics, citing rest and rehabilitation of some nagging injury concerns, Durant, along with his fellow NBA star Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls, will be charging for gold, alongside ten other NBA players. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, but don’t deny that we need ‘em.
Libby Scattergood is a senior in the McDonough School of Business. Road To Rio appears every other Friday.