London 2012: Top Brazil Athletes Set Stage for Rio Summer Games in 2016
Nations that are hosting the next Olympics are expected to perform well in the current Games, under the assumption they've been pouring extra resources into Olympic sports in order to show well when the Games are inside their borders.
There are a number of Brazilian athletes and teams that look ready to reach the podium in London, while back home their country races to meet the demands of hosting the 2016 Games in Rio.
Here are some of the top Brazilians to watch at the London Games.
Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego, Men's Beach Volleyball
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The 2011 beach volleyball world champions do not have an Olympic history together, but individually they carry more than a trophy case of accolades.
Emanuel Rego is the veteran, a two-time Olympic medalist and has been the face of Brazillian volleyball for almost a decade. Alison Cerutti is the new kid on the block but maybe even more talented. Last year, he was named the FIVB Offensive MVP. At only 25, expect him to make a Rego-like impact for Brazil volleyball; pencil him in for another Olympic appearance at Rio de Janiero in 2016.
Together, they may be the easiest bet for a Brazilian gold.
Marta, Women's Soccer
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At only 26 years old, Marta has already been named FIFA World Player of the Year five times.
But Marta has yet to add an Olympic gold medal to her trophy case. She’s won the silver twice as a member of the Olympic teams, with the United States playing the spoiler by taking gold.
Competition is stiff, but perhaps 2012 is her year. If not, she’ll be back again in 2016; she won’t be missing the Olympics in her home country.
Fabiana Murer, Women's Pole Vault
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Murer is South America’s best pole vaulter, evidenced by her four South American championships (most recently in 2011). She has yet to make her mark in Olympic competition, but the 31 year old has been racking up golds in preparation for the London Games in 2012.
She has won the gold in both the World Indoor Championship and the 2011 Daegu World Championships.
Larissa and Juliana, Women's Beach Volleyball
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This beach volleyball pairing played second fiddle to Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh for many years until finally supplanting them in the 2011 World Championships. Now they’ll look to capitalize on their recent successes with a gold in London.
This isn’t Larissa and Juliana’s first time on the block. The pairing have been collecting medals since 2005 at the World Championships. They have also triumphed at the last two Pan-American games.
Can Brazil’s beach volleyball duo keep the magic alive at ages 28 and 30?
Anderson Varejao, Men's Basketball
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Anderson Varejao was the only NBA player to excel against Team USA in their recent exhibition.
Almost a guarantee to be the most hard-working player on the court, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward is known for his hustle, work ethic and defensive intensity. Not to mention his “Sideshow Bob” haircut.
If the Brazillians are going to make a run to the Olympic final, Varejao will be leading the charge. And taking many of them too.
Brazil Men and Women's Indoor Volleyball
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Brazil has had a storied history not only on the sand, but on the indoor volleyball courts as well.
The women's indoor team has instilled a tradition of excellence and won the gold medal in 2008. It have not won a major world tournament since then, however.
The men's team went on a historic run (11 straight wins) at international tournaments from 2002 to 2008, until the Americans took the gold in Beijing. It has continued its winning ways following the Olympic loss.
Neymar, Men's Soccer
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All Brazillian eyes at home will be on their enigmatic soccer team and their young virtuoso forward. Neymar hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype in Europe thus far, but his success in Brazil is well documented.
Will the young star have growing pains or age quickly in these Olympic Games? Those who expect a Messi-like performance may be reaching for the stars. However, if Neymar is in constant attack mode, Brazil will have no problem converting goals all Olympics.
In 2012, and in Rio for 2016.