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London 2012: Superstar Athletes Who Won't Live Up to Their Hype

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIJuly 24, 2012

London 2012: Superstar Athletes Who Won't Live Up to Their Hype

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    There are numerous athletes set to participate in the 2012 London Olympics that have garnered a ridiculous amount of hype with little more than a week to go before competition starts.

    Unfortunately, some of those superstar athletes aren't going to be able to live up to the massive amount of hype. Hype brings pressure, and pressure occasionally brings miserable failure.

    Superstars can deal with pressure; that's what makes them superstars. It's when these proclaimed superstars are unable to succeed under a microscope that they lose their status.

    Here are five (six, technically) superstars who won't live up to their hype at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Michael Phelps, Swimmer

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    The United States' Michael Phelps is already the greatest swimmer of this generation and possibly the greatest Olympic athlete the world has ever seen.

    Unfortunately for him, he's been under a massive amount of scrutiny from his home country due to his statement that he will be retiring after the London Olympics (via Yahoo! Sports).

    After winning eight gold medals in Beijing, there's no way that he can possibly reach the bar the the American public has set so high for him. He already has 16 medals to his credit and needs just three more this Summer to surpass Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's record of 18 that has stood since she retired in 1966.

    Phelps isn't the swimmer he once was. He is still one of the best in the world, but the gap between he and his competition has closed since his dominance in Beijing.

    Essentially, all Phelps needs to do is place in the top three in four events to become the most decorated Olympian in world history. He has a huge shot at placing in the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley and 400-meter individual medley—there's no denying that.

    The only question remaining is that of his motivation. Even one of his teammates, Tyler Clary, called him out on his poor work ethic (via Jim Alexander of The Press-Enterprise):

    “Basically, he was a swimmer that didn’t want to be there. They can talk about all of these goals and plans and preparation they have. I saw it. I know. It’s different. And I saw somebody that has basically been asking to get beat for the longest time.”

    Only time will tell if Phelps can live up to the hype.

Tyson Gay, Sprinter

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    Tyson Gay is unquestionably one of the best sprinters in the world, but the question is: Can he beat Usain Bolt?

    Of course, there isn't only one medal to be had, but the American public always likes to see their athletes stand atop the winners circle. 

    Gay won the 100-meter dash at the London Grand Prix on Friday, but he did so without having to deal with Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt.

    There's no arguing that Gay doesn't have a shot at winning the real deal in London, but we've seen him fail on the big stage before. Back in 2008, he ran a blazing 100-meter time of 9.77 seconds in the preliminaries but couldn't carry that performance over to the semifinals and was ousted from the competition.

    Gay had hip surgery one year ago, which certainly doesn't help his chances at beating some of the best sprinters in the world. It will be interesting to see if Gay can handle the pressure on the biggest stage he has encountered since going under the knife.

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, Beach Volleyball

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    Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won their second of back-to-back gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and will be looking to complete the three-peat in London this summer.

    That's unlikely to happen. 

    We seldom see a team of any type dominate over a span of 12 years, and May-Treanor and Walsh are on the decline of their illustrious careers. They are no longer ranked at the top of their sport, as they currently sit at No. 3 behind the two teams of Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta and Zhang Xi and Xue Chen.

    The duo also has to worry about Jen Kessy and April Ross, their American counterparts who nearly scored an upset victory in the quarterfinals at the 2011 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Rome.

    The United States has come to expect so much out of the two because of their sustained dominance, but it is time for a changing of the guard in Olympic beach volleyball.

Ryan Giggs, Football

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    Great Britain's Ryan Giggs has been tabbed as the leader of this team heading into the 2012 London Olympics.

    This will be his first international tournament, so there's no doubt that all eyes will be on him. If he doesn't perform up to the standards of the British public, he's going to have some explaining to do.

    Giggs is one of the most decorated players in English football, winning 12 Premier League Titles, four FA Cups and two Champions League Medals.

    Poor play won't be the reason that he doesn't live up to the hype but rather the overall performance of the team. When a player is considered the face of a team, and the team doesn't live up to expectations, it seldom bodes well for that player.

    Great Britain will be made up of players from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in this competition. None of those teams play particularly well in major international tournaments, so it will be a tough task for Giggs and his squad to satisfy the public.

    Not to mention they have been put into a group with Uruguay, a very formidable opponent. Look for Britain to fall to La Celeste, Brazil, Spain or Mexico in the competition.

Lolo Jones, Hurdler

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    Lolo Jones is in no way the favorite to win the 100-meter hurdles, but she's been one of the most talked about American athletes in the months leading up to the 2012 Olympic games.

    When Jones revealed to HBO Real Sports' Bryant Gumbel that she is still a virgin, she sent the tabloids into a frenzy. It's not like that should have anything to do with her life as an Olympic athlete, but the American media had a field day with that information.

    We've been hearing her name plenty as of late, but her performance on the track isn't going to live up to the hype she has received.

    Sure, it would be great to see her silence the critics that have popped their heads up ever since her failure at the 2008 games when she tripped over the penultimate hurdle and failed to medal. But there is a small possibility that will happen.

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