2012 OLYMPICS: WHO IS THE NEXT MICHAEL PHELPS
In a little over three days, the games of the XXX Olympiad will commence in London. The pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremonies will have millions of people across the world glued to their television sets, as many anticipate what is sure to be a great sporting event.
For the United States, the story lines are set. The swimming events, which begin almost immediately following the opening ceremonies, contain some of the biggest drama of these Olympics. The rivalry between American Swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps has already taken center stage, and many Americans will be forced to choose sides. Phelps, who has won 16 Olympic medals (14- gold 2-bronze) during his illustrious career, enters the London games as the most successful Olympic athlete of all time in terms of gold medals won, but he is not the most decorated.
The Baltimore, MD native is three medals short of that distinction. During a span of three Olympic games (1956, 1960 & 1964), former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina won 18 (9-Gold 5-Silver 4-Bronze) medals for the old hard-core Russian Olympic teams, which were considered machines of athletic achievement.
As Phelps approaches the record, he is likely to break it on July 31, you will begin to hear, see and read more about the athlete that Latynina was during her time when Russian teams were feared and run predominantly by the country’s feared Red Army. Latynina and Phelps met for the first time earlier this year in New York City for a sponsor’s event, as bot expressed admiration for each other.
“He is a great champion and I’m a huge admirer of his great talent,” said Latynina. According to a recent Sports Illustrated interview, she will attend the London Olympics, and hopes to play a role in the presentation of Phelps’ 18th medal. “I just enjoy watching him swim.”
Since the incarnation of the Dream Team back in 1992, the USA men’s basketball team is always the center of attention during the summer Olympics. With 12 NBA superstars to fill out the roster, many fans across the globe are wondering what the sixth edition of the Dream Team will bring to London. Many have already debated whether this team could actually beat the 92 squad, but all anyone really expects, at the least, is a repeat of what the “Redeem Team” accomplished in Beijing, China four summers ago.
Called the Redeem Team as an alternative name for the legendary 92 squad, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and company were saddled with the task of redeeming the 2004 team that came away with a disappointing Bronze Medal during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. In winning Gold, the 08 squad won eight games by a margin of 27.9 points. LeBron and Kobe return once again to lead the team in London, and with a few new superstars, much of the same is predicted for the games in London.
Of course, we will also keep a watchful eye out for the new Olympic stars that emerge, and will soon be joining us every morning at our breakfast table staring at us from the Wheaties boxes on which they appear.
While nobody can predict with any certainty what will happen during the games, sports fans wonder if 17-year old American swimmer Missy Franklin will pull a “Phelpsian” like feat by winning all seven swimming events she is scheduled to participate. Will gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas become the next Mary Lou Retton, who during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, became the first female gymnast from outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around title? Wieber and Douglas are expected to lead Team USA to their first team gold medal since Kerri Strug, Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes and the Magnificent Seven, did so back at Atlanta in 1996.
Yes, it has really been 16 years since Strug scored a 9.712 and vaulted the US past the Soviets by sticking a one legged landing on a bum ankle.
Another storyline worthy of watching will be the U.S. teams budding rivalry in terms of medal count with the country of China. The U.S Team has been projected to finish with anywhere from 90 to 100 total medals during these Olympic Games. China, who has been making up significant ground in a wide range of events during the past three Olympics, could overtake the United States in terms of finishing with the most medals in London.
Each country has been projected to win at least 40 Gold medals, as the U.S won 110 to China’s 100 back in Beijing in 2008. However, the communist country did win 15 more Gold medals than the United States did, and that was 37 more medals total than China won during the 2004 Games in Athens Greece.
The U.S has not lost and official medal count race since the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The Unified Team, or the ex-Soviet Union took home (wherever that was in 92’) 112 total medals to the United States 108.
This is the beauty and majesty (no pun intended) of what makes the London Olympics so anticipated and so much fun to watch. We have no idea, which, country, athlete, or storyline will emerge that no one saw coming. We have no idea what athlete will become the next Kerri Strug. We only know that in a few short weeks there is likely to be a new generation of athletes staring at us from across the breakfast table. Let the games begin.