With over 10,000 athletes competing in the 2016 Olympic Games, which open tonight and run till 21st August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we take a look at some of the non Irish athletes to watch out for at this summers games.
Some are going for their first Olympic Gold, whereas others are veterans, including USA swimmers Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, and Katie Ledecky, 19, who made history last summer at the World Championships as the first to swim, and win, all four freestyle -distances—200 m, 400 m, 800 m and 1,500 m—at the same meeting.
Hopefully over the next two weeks more incredible sports memories will be created and with that in mind these are some of the people I think that will be heavily involved in the creation of those legends.
Usain Bolt, Track and Field, Jamaica
The fastest man on the planet caused some drama in July when he pulled out of the Jamaica trials with a hamstring injury but should be fully recovered to try and make history. Since exploding on the Olympic scene in Beijing in 2008 he has been an absolute phenomenon and in Rio he will be going for his ninth straight win at the Olympics in the 100m, 200m, 4 x 100m relay, having triumphed in all distances already in 2008, 2012.
Michael Phelps, Swimming USA
The most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals in three Olympic games will look to improve on his poor showing at London 2012 when he only won 4 golds and 2 silvers! In fairness his 8 golds in 8 events in Beijing 2008 is an Olympic record so he will be looking to top his last showing this time round and get somewhere closer to that result.
Katie Ledecky Swimming, USA
At just 19 years of age Ledecky is the most dominant swimmer in the world. Having already set 11 world records she is favourite to win in Rio in the 200, 400 and 800 metre freestyles.
Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca, Beach Volleyball, Brazil
The pressure on Brazil’s top-ranked women’s beach-volleyball team to win gold on Copacabana Beach will be massive. Franca briefly retired after winning a bronze in London whereas Antunes is a third-time Olympian.
Mo Farah, Track and Field, UK
Farah was on fire in London 2012 with his 5,000-m/10,000-m double gold but last year his coach, Alberto Salazar, was accused of doping athletes. Farah wasn’t named but he will be under scrutiny in Rio.
Chad le Clos, Swimming, South Africa
He snatched gold from Michael Phelps in the 200-m butterfly in 2012 and will hope to defend it against his archival.
The bad boy of badminton is aiming for his third gold in men’s singles. But “Super Dan,” 32, will face his perennial foe, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, who beat him in April.
North Korea’s mini Hercules doesn’t get out much, but when he does he strikes gold. In London, the 5-ft. weight lifter clean and jerked three times his body weight, and is the 56-kg world champion three years running.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Track and Field, Jamaica
Usain Bolt may steal Jamaica’s sprinting spotlight, but Fraser-Pryce deserves her due: no woman has won three straight 100-m Olympic golds, a feat Fraser-Pryce can accomplish in Rio.
Genzebe Dibaba, Track and Field, Ethiopia
The 2015 track athlete of the year set a world record in the 1,500 m and is the heavy Olympic favorite. But is she too good to be true? In June, her coach was arrested in a doping raid.
Caster Semenya, Track and Field, South Africa
After years of controversy over her naturally high testosterone levels, the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared the way for the 400-m and 800-m runner to compete in Rio. Semenya owns the fastest 800-m time this year.
Laszlo Cseh, Swimming, Hungary
He’s the reigning world champ in the 200-m fly but has yet to earn an Olympic gold. For that to change in Rio, the Hungarian will have to beat Michael Phelps and reigning Olympic champion Chad le Clos to the wall.
Sarah Sjostrom, Swimming, Sweden
The 100-m-butterfly favourite is hoping to be the first woman to win an Olympic swimming gold for her country.
Oksana Chusovitina, Gymnastics, Uzbekistan
At 41, she’s the oldest female Olympic gymnast ever, and she has a team gold and an individual silver medal to show for her six appearances at the Games. Her best chance for more hardware will be in the vault.