2012 Summer Olympics: Overexposed Athletes Who Will Struggle to Live Up to Hype
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Expectations can be brutal on an athlete. Aside from the pressure they put on themselves to succeed, the stress of representing a city or nation can cause some to buckle.
Michael Phelps entered the Beijing Olympics with the stress of attempting to win eight gold medals. He demonstrated that he and the rest of the team were up to the task, so a lighter load of chasing just seven medals in London shouldn't be problematic...at least from the mental side.
Whether Phelps can meet the physical challenge is yet to be seen, as he will face some tough competition in the pool.
But there are several athletes that will struggle to meet expectations in the London Olympics, and pressure could play a part.
One of the feel-good stories leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games is that of Oscar Pistorius. He is a runner that has lived his entire ambulatory life without the benefit of lower legs.
Pistorius will be the first amputee to compete in track and field at the Olympics, representing South Africa in the 400-meter run and 4x400-meter relay. He is obviously happy and proud of his accomplishment.
Thank you to everyone that has made me the athlete I am! God, family and friends, my competitors and supporters! You have all had a hand!— Oscar Pistorius (@OscarPistorius) July 4, 2012
However, fans expecting a story-book ending in London will be disappointed.
Despite all the attention given to any spring or competitive advantage he may receive from his carbon fiber prosthetic limbs, Pistorius doesn't have the speed to compete with the best runners in the world. It would be an accomplishment for him to even advance from his first heat.
This won't be the end of his story, and a perceived failure on the track shouldn't usurp his accomplishments and heart. But anyone expecting him to be competitive in London will be disappointed.
When the women take the floor for the all-around competition at the 2012 Olympic Games, most eyes will be on Jordyn Wieber. The defending world champion is expected to win the gold medal in London and anything less will be seen by many as a failure.
The track record in the Olympics doesn't favor Wieber. Since 1972, only once has the reigning world champion gone on to take gold at the Olympic games. Lilia Podkopayeva accomplished that feat in 1996.
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In the Olympics, judges take a liking to artistry and flexibility. This isn't Wieber's strength and could play a major factor in her missing out on a gold medal.
In an article from USA Today, Johnson discussed the factors that hurt Wieber's chances in London.
If anything, it would be, like me in 2008, the grace side of it. The judges, for some reason, like the grace, the flexibility, the dance and artistry, and when you're a powerhouse like she is, you don't have that side. I like the power, but it's about finding that balance. It's hard. She makes up for it with her crazy difficulty.
There are several strong competitors, starting with her U.S. teammate Gabby Douglas. She is known for her big air and artistry on the uneven bars, earning the nickname "the Flying Squirrel."
Russia enters two gymnasts that will also look to knock Wieber down or off the podium. Aliya Mustafina is a rising star, and Viktoria Komova finished just behind Wieber at the 2011 World Championships in a controversial decision.
Komova will likely roll out a more difficult routine at the Olympics and embodies the artistic approach that made Liukin a champion. If she turns in a clean overall performance, her style will be difficult for Wieber to beat.
The 2008 Olympic gold in the 100-meter dash went to Usain Bolt. The speedster from Jamaica took the national stage with very little pressure on him and instantly looked unbeatable.
Casual fans are expecting the same runner to surface in London and grab gold in both the 100 and 200 meters.
Life won't be so easy for the Lightning Bolt, though. He has been experiencing pressure the last few years and hasn't responded well.
Waiting for him will be Tyson Gay, the man that beat him in 2010 at the DN Galan meet with a finish of 9.84 seconds. But Gay is dealing with injury issues and isn't Bolt's biggest competitor. That honor falls to Bolt's countryman, Yohan Blake.
Who will win the 100-meter dash?
The losses to Blake have hurt Bolt's ego and will put him in a new state of mind. Will Bolt find a way to shave off some more time, or will he wilt under the pressure?
The 2011 World Championships demonstrate that Bolt is susceptible. He wasn't looking like the fastest runner on the track and was disqualified in the final for a false start.
Losing before the race began raises serious questions. Was it merely a severe breakdown on his part, or did Bolt intentionally bow out of the competition? Either way, he will be under even greater pressure at the Olympic Games.
Pressure hasn't been Bolt's friend, and fans should be prepared for him to win a medal other than gold.
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