“U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”
Those are the words Americans across the nation will be yelling at their televisions as the 2012 Summer Olympic Games start on July 27 in London. I will be among the Americans rooting for their favorite athletes; here are some of my choices.
The Olympics have always interested me. It began in my younger years while watching 1992 gold medalist gymnast Kerri Strug sprint toward the dangerous vault, to land flawlessly on only one good ankle.
But the Olympics seem more appealing to America not only because of the athlete’s amazing strength, will, perseverance and drive, but the stories that each of them have, which leads them to be quite extraordinary.
The 17-year-old Missy Franklin qualified in all four of her individual events at the Olympic trials, and she will be a part of three relays in London. Her races include the 100 and 200 backstroke and 100 and 200 freestyle. As fans call her “Missy the Missile,” she will be the only American female to ever swim seven events at one Olympics.
The Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte rivalry dominates and keeps us all captivated since Beijing in 2008. During the trials they swam head-to-head, leaving Lochte short of Phelps in three events. (Phelps has since dropped his 200 freestyle race from the London schedule.) Phelps, winning eight gold medals in Beijing, will be pushed by Lochte in London, who went five for five at the 2011 Worlds; breaking the 200 IM world record in the process.
Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber lead the U.S. Olympic team. These two girls are powerhouses and push each other to get a perfect routine. Wieber, 17, has pressure to win the all-around in London while the 16-year-old Douglas, who edged Wieber at trials, handed her her first all-around loss since becoming a senior last season.
2012 Summer Olympic national team member Gabby Douglas performs in the vault event. She lead the now women's 2012 Summer Olympic team in the all-around category in the Olympic trials. (Courtesy of gabrielledouglas.com)
Douglas trains with retired 2008 Olympic all-around silver medalist Shawn Johnson and is nicknamed ‘Flying Squirrel’ for her unreal height she gets when on the uneven bars. It’s amazing to me how these young girls can run so fast, jump so high, leap so far and fling their bodies every which way without worry. These two girls are meant for gold.
The long golden journey for Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings has been going on for a decade, as they have been partners on the court, becoming the first beach volleyball team to collect back-to-back gold medals in Beijing. I think a third gold is in the works, and it would be neat to see the duo own 60 percent of Olympic gold ever handed out to women in the sport if they win. However, the duo might have a harder time since now they are coming to the games a little differently. May-Treanor ruptured her left Achilles tendon and Walsh Jennings had a baby. The team lost the No. 1 seed for London to Brazil, but I still think the fight for the third gold medal is one to watch.
Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore are three Minnesotan ingredients on the U.S. women’s national team. With Augustus, Whalen and Moore coming off of the Minnesota Lynx’s first Women’s National Basketball Association title in history, the trio have a lot to add to the already successful legacy of the U.S. women’s national basketball team. Not only are their starters strong, the depth of the team is worth watching as well. The Americans have won the last four Olympic gold medals and have a 33-game Olympic winning streak. Not too bad. I see gold in the future.
Track and Field
A good ol’ foot race. Nothing beats the classic events that take place in track and field. The trials weren’t anything but exciting including a possible runoff between two best friends and training partners. Jeneba Tarmoh came to a conclusion to give up her Olympic spot to her training partner Allyson Felix after one of the tightest finishes in Olympic trial history for the 100-meter race. The two women were to have a runoff against each other, where Tarmoh pulled out. If the trials were that exciting, I can’t wait for the big show.
For men, U.S. American Olympian Chistophe Lamaitre will give the U.S. a fighting chance against the Jamaican speed demon Usain Bolt. Lamaitre ran a time fast enough to win in the 200-meter race during the Diamond League London Grand Prix, so fast that only Bolt and Yohan Blake ran faster this year.
I’m looking forward to the athletes, races, events but most importantly the stories each of them have. The Olympics are a special month-long event, and I hope America will be rooting “U-S-A!” as loud as I will be when the torch is lit on July 27 for the 2012 Summer Olympic games in London.
Hannah Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.