London 2012: Veteran Olympians Who Have Something to Prove

Ryan HeidrichCorrespondent IIMay 30, 2012

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 30:  Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand during his men's singles second round match against Adrian Ungur of Romania during day four of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 30, 2012 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

We are now just 58 days from the beginning of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  Summer Olympics is one of the most highly anticipated sporting events in the world. With the best athletes across the world competing against each other, it is a guarantee to be an exciting theater.

While the Summer Olympics only come around every four years, athletes have a small window to capture the coveted gold medal. While the window to succeed is small, the pressure is on every time an athlete takes the stage.  While many athletes preform well in their sports' regular annual circuit, some stars have not preformed overwhelmingly well once they hit the world stage.  

Here are four veteran Olympians who have something to prove in London.

Roger Federer will be 30 years old when the Olympics kick off and is still looking for his first singles gold medal. Arguably one of the best tennis players ever and with many good years left on the ATP tour, the pressure is on as his Olympic window could be coming to a close after the 2016 Rio Games. During his last appearance at the Olympics, American James Blake upset him in the quarterfinal stage.

Although he went on to win a doubles gold medal with his partner Stanislas Wawrinka, he still does not have a singles gold medal to add to his record 16 Grand Slam singles title.

The tennis competition will be held at Wimbledon, which has been one of Federer’s favorite places to compete. He has won a total six Grand Slams at Wimbledon, the most out of all the Grand Slams.  It sets the stage for an aging Federer to capture his first gold medal. He has already proven to be one of the best tour players of all time; now can he prove that he can win at the Olympics as well?

Tyson Gay will be entering just his second Olympics, but the window is shutting on the 29-year-old sprinter.  Gay’s best results came in 2006 and 2007 where he won two golds in the 100m and the 4x100m relay at the World Cup in Athens. Then, he won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.

The past success on the world stage set the bar high for Gay when the 2008 Summer Olympics rolled around. Gay was supposed to give world-class sprinter Usain Bolt his biggest test, but somehow it never happened. To say Beijing was a disappointment for Gay would be an understatement. The American Sprinter pulled up in the 200-meter in the 2008 Olympic Trials with a hamstring injury, which really hobbled his Olympic training efforts.

He did not make it out of the semi-final heat in the 100-meter race and then was disqualified after he was involved in a dropped baton in the 4x100 meter race.

BEIJING - AUGUST 16:  Tyson Gay of the United States looks up to the scoreboard after competing in the Men's 100m Semifinal at the National Stadium on Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Michael Steele/
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Injuries have hindered Gay’s training and competition ever since 2008. He needs to prove to himself and to the world that he can stay healthy and have a strong showing on the biggest stage. Like 2008, Gay is off to a strong start in his Olympic year circuit. 

He has decided not to run the 200-meter race in London so that he can solely focus on the 100 meter where he could push the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt. Americans and the world will be watching as Gay looks to cement his sprinting legacy at the brightest lights of them all, the Olympics.

Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin are two of the biggest stars in world gymnastics. The two American stars have a friendly rivalry with each other; heading into the London games, both are expected to help the United States vie for a gold medal during the 2012 games in the team all-around competition.

In 2008, the United States finished with silver in the team all-around behind gymnastics power China.

Both Johnson and Liukin preformed well in the 2008 games. Johnson won the gold in the balance beam and finished with four medals altogether. Liukin finished the games with a gold in the Individual All-Around event where she beat out Johnson. She also added medals in the uneven bars as well as the balance beams.

Both women are coming into the games after missing time in competition; Johnson tore her ACL in 2010, which many wondered if it would end her career. But in 2011, she returned to competition. Liukin is coming off a competition hiatus, which began when she decided to pull out of the world games in 2009. She made her return to official competition in 2012 at the Secret US Classic.

Both women look to cement their legacies as they return to the world stage and hope to push the United States to a team all-around gold in what will most likely be their last Olympics

In order to be considered the best, you must be your best on the biggest stage. It doesn’t get bigger than the Olympics, and for these four athletes, it could be their last chance to prove to themselves and the world that they are the some of the best athletes to ever perform on the Olympic stage. With the pressure on, these athletes have something to prove to the world.