Temperatures are warming and so is anticipation for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Thousands will attend the games, and fans worldwide will tune into NBC Sports to follow their favorite athletes.
US Olympians work for years to perfect their crafts. No amount of sacrifice is too much where driven athletes are concerned, regardless of age or background.
With 28 official sports plus 18 extensions of those sports, which Americans will shine in London? Here is a potential shout-out list.
Guts. Grace. Glory. That is the motto of the US national diving team and it pretty much sums up Chris Colwill. Despite an injury that nearly took him out of contention in the 2008 Olympics, Colwill is most likely headed back in 2012.
In the recent AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix, his 3-meter dives were worth gold over China’s Li Shixin. Colwill’s most exciting dive is a quadruple front tuck and it is something to see.
When she's not fretting about keeping a 4.0 GPA in high school, Lee Keifer is concentrating on her chosen sport, fencing. Introduced to the event by her father, who fenced at Duke University in the 1980s, Keifer, her sister Alex and brother Axel picked up foils and the knack for the sport. Now 17, Keifer ranks seventh in the world in foil. This plucky upstart is headed to England in July—after the prom.
Born in Texas and raised in Hawaii, Bryan Clay is a staunch figure of physical athletic prowess and deserving of the title “World’s Greatest Athlete.” Since winning silver in the 2004 games, Clay has pushed forward with the gold in Beijing and the 2010 IIAF World Indoor Championships. Throughout his career, injuries have set him back, but no one should dare count him out.
Alise Post knows BMX is no longer a backyard source of entertainment. It is now big business and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agrees. Her focus on details brought her the win at the 2012 UCI BMX SX Papendal this May. Post chose a risky endeavor to sail over a triple jump combination, giving her the lead and ultimately the win. This girl has guts. If she gains a berth on the Olympic team, she’ll go for gold, taking no prisoners.
At the recent AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix the duo of Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen took silver for their three-meter synchronized dives. The pair were happy with their placement but plan to work all that much harder to attain gold in London. A three-time Olympian, Dumais, 32, has the experience. His partner Ipsen, 19, completes the team with the enthusiasm youth affords as a freshman diver at Stanford University. This pair has its work cut out for it, but could bring each athlete their first Olympic medals.
Sailing has been in Debbie Capozzi’s blood since childhood. As crew member or skipper, this woman knows how to maneuver through traffic, utilizing only wind power. Finishing in seventh place at the 2008 Olympic Yngling competition, Capozzi brought that experience home with her, determined to hone her skills at the tiller. In 2012, first place has been a consistent companion to this sailor. Her most recent win at the US Olympic Sailing Trials wasn’t a solo act, though. Capozzi will represent the US as a crew member with Molly Vandermoer, lead by Anna Tunnicliffe, Olympic gold medal winner in Beijing—a formidable team.
Twenty-year-old Andrew Campbell has the international experience and the drive to take on the competition at the Olympics. The winner of the 2011 US Rowing Man of the Year, he is heading to Lucerne, Switzerland to compete in the men’s double sculls with teammate Will Daly. The duo must finish in the top three to continue on to London. With the Beijing Olympics experience in his pocket along with a fourth-place finish at the 2011 World Rowing Championships, Campbell is more than ready to attack the waves.
Once Haley Ishimatsu switched from gymnastics to diving, there was no turning back. While she dabbled in 1-3 meter events, her star rose ten meters above the pool, first as a junior in 2005 and continuing to this day. Ishimatsu placed first in the 2012 USA Diving Winter National Championships and should make a metaphorical splash this summer.
Though it has yet to be determined who will represent the US in gymnastics, one thing is clear. The women have the type of depth that has other countries scrambling to equal. Jordyn Wieber, Alexandra Raisman, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, and Anna Li are the up-and-coming stars from the US camp. But don’t count out veterans like Nastia Liukin or Alicia Sacramone, two of the most decorated gymnasts in US history. Likewise Shawn Johnson, whose beam skills are the stuff little girls dream to attain.
A ten-time Grand Prix Association Rider of the year, Margie Engle was not born with a silver riding crop in her hand. From the age of nine, she mucked stalls and did other odd jobs in exchange for riding lessons. Her tenacity served her well. At 54, Engle’s experience is definitely worthy of the title Olympian. In Australia, she helped her team win gold in the 2000 Olympic games. She returns to the games with a steely resolve.