By SEAN CLAIR
The 2012 Olympics are right around the corner, and I myself couldn’t be happier. There is plenty of intrigue heading into London, as these are the most highly anticipated games ever. There is no excuse for you to miss any event that you want to watch, as the NBC networks, both on TV and online, will be showing just over 5,500 hours of coverage. Yes folks you read that right. That number is nearly 2,000 more hours shown in Beijing, and absolutely trumps the 170 hours shown during the 1996 Atlanta games. Major headlines are everywhere, but below are a few that to me are the most intriguing. And yes, most of these involve the U.S., but as an American what do you expect.
Ryan Lochte vs. Michael Phelps
By far the most anticipated rivalry at the London games will be the duel in the pool between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. Phelps is swimming in his last Olympics after going eight for eight in gold medals in Beijing in 2008. It was a memorable Olympics, as all the golds didn’t come easily. This year will prove even more difficult for Phelps, as he now has Lochte to deal with. The two are slated to face each other in only two events, the 200 and 400 IM’s. It was to be three, but Phelps dropped out of the 200 freestyle to focus on the 4×100 relay. Expect great races in both events with these two dominating both, and probably each taking a win.
Oscar Pistorious Makes History
By far the best story of these Olympics. Oscar Pistorious is the first ever double amputee to compete in the Olympics. The South African runner will compete in the 400 meters and 4×400 relay race. Don’t expect Pistorious to medal, or even make it to the semifinals, but what he is doing is unbelievable. His times didn’t qualify him for the 2008 games, but he’s gotten better, and was able to make it to London. Everyone should watch him, as this truly will be one of the best moments of the games.
Sprinters Dueling it out on the Track
The highlight of the track and field events are by far the sprints. But don’t just pay attention to the sprints on the men’s side, as the women’s races should be just as exciting. The men’s races are of course highlighted by Usain Bolt, and his quest for the double repeat in the 100 and 200. However, after the Jamaican trials, Yohan Blake obviously has something to say about that. Blake is by no means a guy coming out of nowhere, as he did win the 2011 world championships in the 100 after Bolt’s DQ. Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay will look to be the bright spots for the U.S. in the event. If both are in top shape, they do pose a threat. Blake and Bolt will also be in the 200 facing Wallace Spearmon of the U.S who looks for redemption after having his bronze in 2008 taken away for stepping on the lane line. The ladies sprints will be just as good, as Carmelita Jeter, Alyson Felix, and Sanya Richards-Ross lead the U.S. against Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price of Jamaica.
U.S. Men’s Basketball: The Next Dream Team?
Much has been made about this year’s U.S. basketball team being the next Dream Team. They’re not. Plain and simple is that this team is not as good as the 1992 Olympic team that stormed to the gold medal in Barcelona. Granted the Dream Team faced nowhere near the competition that the 2012 team will face, and this team can thank the Dream Team for that. They popularized basketball worldwide, and have given rise to teams like Spain and Argentina who can challenge the U.S., and dark-horses like Brazil and France. The U.S. team is very small in the front-court, which will definitely hurt them, but is extremely athletic. As long as they don’t become jump-shot happy they should win their second straight Olympic gold medal.
China on the Rise
The Chinese are a growing leader in the world, and in the Olympics. The Chinese finished second in medals in Beijing, racking up 100 of them, only 10 behind the U.S. and their 110. Many believe that they have a great chance this year in toping the U.S., which hasn’t happened since the 1992 Barcelona games. The Chinese of course are always good in events such as diving, men’s gymnastics, and badminton. However, they are making noise in other events, including long distance swimming and shooting. I still see the U.S. winning the overall medal count, but not by much. Also, don’t be surprised if the Chinese take home the most gold medals, just as they did four years ago.
Tennis Invades Wimbledon
This year’s Olympic tennis will take place at the most hallowed tennis grounds in the world, Wimbledon. Never before has Olympic tennis been so anticipated as it is this year. With Wimbledon itself wrapping up only a few weeks ago, we got somewhat of a preview of what may happen. What may have happened, unfortunately, took a wrong turn after Rafael Nadal announced he would not be participating. The defending gold medalist cited not being in condition to play, but I believe he is tired and would rather save himself for later in the season. It is unfortunate, as Federer, Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic would have been a major draw in a city that loves its tennis. It will still be great to watch with the three guys mentioned above, minus Nadal, and will be fun to see if Federer can get his first Olympic gold after just taking his seventh Wimbledon title.
U.S. Gymnastics Best Chance Ever?
Both the men and women’s gymnastics go into London with high hopes. In 2008 gymnastics took home a solid 10 medals, eight of those courtesy of Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. This year both teams will look to better that, and challenge the Chinese. The men will be led by Danell Leyva and John Orozco, who both have a chance to medal in the all-around. The men also have a very good chance for a team podium spot. The women are led by Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, who should both being fighting it out for the all-around gold medal. The women are also the overall favorites to win gold in the team competition.
Unfortunately, with a major event of any kind comes security issues. It just turns out that the London Olympics have a very big security concern. London is home to a large Muslim population, which leads many to believe that a terrorist attempt could happen. The security force for the games exceeds 40,000 people to protect venues, athletes, and the millions of visitors who will be coming to watch. There will be plenty of heavy firepower throughout the city and even in the skies. Let’s hope nothing happens, and these games go smoothly, and are as great as they are projected to be.