London Olympics 2012: American Athletes to Watch in This Summer's Games

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2012

EUGENE, OR - JUNE 23:  Ashton Eaton reacts after breaking the world record in the men's decathlon after competing in the 1500 meter run portion in front of Joe Detmer (R) during Day Two of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 23, 2012 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

The London Summer Olympics are 15 days away. Teams are sizing up one another, and Olympic enthusiasts are sizing up each squad.

There are contenders in all 29 Olympic events. Team USA isn't the calculated favorite in each exertion, but it definitely has some athletes you want to keep an eye on.

Let's take a look at four athletes you want to pay extra attention too in London this summer.


Missy Franklin

Franklin is only 17 years old, but she bears a major responsibility on Team USA's swim team. She qualified for four individual events and three relays.

She had a remarkable showing at the United States Olympic Trials. She broke Natalie Coughlin's American record in the 100-meter backstroke, and she finished second in the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter free and the 200-meter back.

Don't let Franklin's age fool you. She has won five medals at the World Aquatics Championship. She's very accomplished for an athlete her age.

Look for her to improve on that success in London.


Ashton Eaton

Eaton may be the best athlete in the entire London Summer Olympics. The former Oregon Duck is an elite decathlete for Team USA.

He was a five-time NCAA champion at Oregon, and he hasn't slowed down. He broke Roman Seberle's world-record decathlon score and became the second athlete to ever break 9,000 points in the events.

Eaton is special because he doesn't just do one thing well. He runs fast and for endurance. He's also a good jumper with a strong throwing arm.

There isn't anything he can't do.

Eaton already broke Dan O'Brien's American record. Let's see if he can go win a gold medal in London.


Christian Taylor

You probably knew Eaton's name, but you may not be as familiar with Taylor's. He's a likely candidate to win a triple jump medal in London.

Taylor took first in the U.S. Olympic Trials after he jumped 57 feet, 10 inches. He's only 22 years old, but he's already won a gold medal at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships.

Team USA has a stacked list of entrants in several track categories, but don't overlook the jumpers. Taylor is an elite triple jumper, and he could lead a very solid showing for the United States in London.

If you know how difficult the triple jump is to perform, you will respect Taylor even more.


Sanya Richards-Ross

Richards-Ross is one of the world's best 400-meter runners, and she isn't too shabby in the 200-meter trot either.

She had a wonderful showing at the U.S. Olympic Trials, tying the meet record in the 400. Richards-Ross is a six-time world champion in the 200, and she qualified there as well.

The track events are always tight, but Richards-Ross gives the United States a great chance to win a medal in each of these events.

She's a veteran, and the moment won't be too big for her. Make sure you tune in to watch her, and the others, try for Olympic glory.