For the flag bearers, the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies will be the most memorable part of their London experience.
Sure, it’s the competition that they’ve been training for their entire lives, but an opportunity to represent an entire country in the most prestigious athletic competition on the planet is an extra special honor.
Not every nation has announced who’ll carry their flag on Friday, July 27 in the opening ceremony yet. But for those that have, here’s a power ranking of the three biggest names of the bunch.
3. Novak Djokovic
Djokovic entered the 2012 French Open on a dominant grand slam streak. He had won the last three grand slam tournaments and four out of the last five. After a loss in the French Open and Wimbledon Final, though, Djoker lost his world No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer.
Serbia’s flag bearer will look to have more success in London than he did earlier this month.
2. Pau Gasol
Gasol is a hero to countless Los Angeles Lakers fans in America, but as Spain’s flag bearer, he’s the enemy for the next couple of weeks.
Pau and the Spanish national basketball team are the greatest threat to knock off Team USA’s juggernaut in the Olympics. Gasol joins his brother Marc, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez and Serge Ibaka to make up the squad’s NBA talent.
If the two-time world champion leaves London with a gold medal, he’ll be one of the most hated players in the league when he returns to the U.S.
1. Maria Sharapova
Will Sharapova medal?
Like Djokovic, Sharapova will have a chance for redemption in London.
The 25-year-old tennis star will represent Russia in the opening ceremony. Most recently, she’s coming off a letdown at Wimbledon, but she also just claimed victory in the French Open—her first grand slam title since the 2008 Australian Open.
An injury forced Sharapova to miss the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, so she’ll cherish every second of this year’s competition.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.