The Olympic flame was lit yesterday in Athens, and that means we are only a couple months away from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. We here at NYU Local thought it might be a good idea to give you a quick preview of the headlining events so you can get a head start on learning about all the sports that are relevant once every four years.
Just like in 2008, all eyes will be on the pool as Michael Phelps once again returns, but after being caught taking hits from a bong and taking months off from training, most are doubtful that Phelps will come even close to repeating the successes he had in Beijing. Phelps’ main goal is to break the record for most Olympic medals ever by a single athlete, and with 16 already, he is just two behind Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina’s record of 18. Phelps shouldn’t have a problem accomplishing this, and once he’s done in London he can go retire and go back to smoking weed whenever he wants.
Speaking of Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Phelps’ chief rival, looks to be the top swimmer this year and could even make a run at Phelps’ record eight gold medals that he won in 2008. The Florida resident, known for his questionable fashion choices and being an overall bro (just listen to him speak), was also the first man to set a world record since high-tech swimsuits were banned two years ago. He was named FINA Swimmer of the Year in 2011 after his performance at the 2011 World Championships, and could definitely steal the spotlight away from Phelps this summer.
But the most exciting person in the pool is someone most people haven’t even heard of; Missy Franklin. The Colorado native was named FINA Swimmer of the Year at the age of 17, and could compete in potentially seven or eight events, putting her in Phelps territory. She is already receiving comparisons to Phelps, due to both having success at young ages and both having perfect swimmer bodies (tall, with big feet and long arms). If you’re looking for the breakout star of the Olympics, Franklin could be it.
Out of the pool, the fastest man on land, Usain Bolt, will once again aim for the record books in London, and the track world is wondering if he could become the first man ever to break the 9.5 barrier in the 100 meters, which for years seemed impossible. And after false starting at the 2011 World Championships, the pressure is going to be on him to live up to his own self-proclaimed hype. “A living legend walking around. Sounds good,” said Bolt to Yahoo Sports.
While there will be an endless number of sports stories, the biggest question for this Olympics is simple; can London live up to the standard of Beijing? After the epic scale of the 2008 Olympics, London will have to really amaze if they want to look good next to the Chinese. Will their be hundreds of Englishmen pounding on drums like in China? Probably not, but if London can’t find a way to tap into national pride while also providing the grandest stage possible then look for 2012 to be a downer from four years ago.
Here are some of the other headlines to keep an eye on this summer:
Can Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh continue to dominate beach volleyball in 2012 or is the dynasty over?
How will the comebacks of gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin go?
Can the USA basketball team actually win with so many players deciding not to play?