Roger Federer and 15 Athletes Who Don't Need the Olympics to Secure Their Legacy
Today marks the opening ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad and there is already much to speculate about. There will be much discussion involving who will win medals, which athletes will surprise us, and how many world records will be broken.
But there are athletes in these Olympics who have already fulfilled the goals they have set out to accomplish. For many, they view these Olympics as a way to only boost their legacy.
Just look at Roger Federer. The greatest tennis player of all-time, Federer just won his record 17th Grand Slam at Wimbledon earlier in the month. Federer has also won a gold medal and has earned more money than any other tennis player in history.
But Federer represents the athletes that will look to these Olympics with ease, knowing that he has reached the pinnacle of his sport.
Here are some other athletes who are similar to Federer in this regard.
Hiroshi Hoketsu is the oldest participant in these Olympics. At the young age of 71, Hoketsu will be competing for his first medal in what is the fourth Olympics that he has qualified for.
Hoketsu first qualified for the 1964 Olympics as a 23-year-old. Since then, he reached the 1988 Seoul games, but had to drop out because his horse had to get quarantined. He did participate in Beijing four years ago, where he finished 34th.
The fact that Hoketsu has participated in Olympics 48 years apart is simply stunning. He is the second oldest Olympian in history, behind Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who won a silver medal at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics at 72.
Just participating in these games shows that age should not be an obstacle to accomplish your dreams.
The most dominant women's tennis player of her era, Serena Williams has already won two gold medals and has secured 14 Singles Grand Slam titles in a fabulous career.
Serena will compete in three separate tennis events in these games: women’s singles, doubles and the mixed doubles. But it won't matter what Serena does in London, for she won Wimbledon earlier in the month and will go into the US Open as the best female tennis player in the world.
Last month, Oscar Pistorius became the first double-amputee to qualify for an Olympic games after he was chosen to be a part of South Africa's 4 x 400 relay team.
Pistorius had both of his legs amputated while he was 11 months old because he was born without tibias in both legs. Since then, Pistorius grew up with his prosthetic legs and has become one of the top runners in the world.
Though some have questioned whether his legs give him an advantage, the fact that he has made the Olympics is still one to marvel at. Pistorius has become an inspiration for all of the people who have had body parts replaced by prosthetics.
Mariel Zagunis is the flag bearer for the United States in the Opening Ceremonies, and for a good reason. She has won two gold medals during the last two Olympics in individual sabre and is expected to once again win the top prize in London.
Considering that Zagunis has won both gold medals in the Olympic history of individual sabre, she is already a legend in the sport.
The only defending champion in Olympic individual whitewater canoeing, Tony Estanguet will try to shrug off a disappointing result from 2008 in these games.
What Estanguet has done has not gone without notice. He was the flag bearer for France in the 2008 Opening Ceremonies and has become arguably the greatest canoe slalom performer in history.
Im Dong-Hyun is a two time gold medalist in men's archery. That alone is impressive. But what makes Im so impressive is that he is blind.
Im has 20/200 eyesight out of his left eye and 20/100 vision out of his right eye, which makes him legally blind. But that has not stopped Im, who won his first Gold Medal in Athens as an 18-year-old.
Despite his vision, Im does not use corrective lenses or contacts, and doesn't want to get surgery to repair his eyesight.
A three-time Gold Medalist as a coxless four, Drew Ginn will look to further cement his legacy in the Thames in these Games.
Ginn is such an elite athlete that he even quit rowing to become a professional cyclist following the 2008 Olympics. Ginn even won a competitive race in 2009 and finished sixth in the Australian national road race later that same year before retiring.
Now 37, Ginn has completed a fantastic athletic career. Any medal would be a pleasant ending to an extraordinary career.
The world's first five time Taekwondo world champion, Steven Lopez will look to further enhance his legacy with a third gold medal in the sport.
Lopez is not a favorite to win another gold this time around, but a fourth Olympic appearance is still impressive for a Taekwondo artist like him.
Sir Chris Hoy
The most accomplished Scottish Olympian in history, Sir Chris Hoy became the first British Olympian to capture three gold medals at an Olympics in 100 years during the Beijing games. He is also the most accomplished Olympic cyclist of all-time.
Hoy's work has resulted in the Velodrome for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be named in his honor. To top it off, Hoy has been named as the flag bearer for Great Britain during tonight's opening ceremony.
Even if Hoy fails to win any medals in London (which won't happen), he has certainly fulfilled any tasks that have been put in front of him.
Widely considered to be the greatest badminton player ever, Lin Dan will attempt to win his second straight gold medal to an incredible repertoire of accomplishments.
Dan has already completed an unprecedented "Super Grand Slam," having won all nine major titles in world badminton, including the Olympics, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All England Open, Asian Games, and Asia Championships.
Just 28-years-old, Dan will be expected to again win gold. Even if he doesn't, it won't harm his legacy since Dan is considered to be the greatest badminton player of all time.
One of the greatest basketball players ever, Kobe Bryant is just a small part of a loaded USA roster. Kobe will expect to have a big role, but he doesn't need to perform like he does for the Los Angeles Lakers during every one of these games.
Bryant already claimed his first gold medal during the 2008 games, and although another gold would be nice, it is not a necessity for one of the greatest closers in the game's history.
The world's fastest man, Usain Bolt etched his name into Olympic lore with an unreal performance in the Beijing Olympics.
Three Gold Medals and World Records later, Bolt will come into these Olympics with the expectation being that he will repeat his exploits. Even though he did lose a preliminary race, Bolt's legacy won't be hurt from these Olympics. Instead, it appears that it will be enhanced.
Bradley Wiggins would be under pressure in most circumstances heading into these Olympics, especially considering he is the best British road cyclist.
However, Wiggins just became the first British person to win the Tour de France this past week. Wiggins is already a star and will forever be remembered for his performance in France during this past month, not for what he does in these Olympics.
The greatest swimmer ever, Michael Phelps became a legend after he won a record eight Olympic golds in Beijing four years ago.
This will be Phelps' fourth and final Olympics. Already with 14 golds and 16 medals overall, Phelps needs just three medals to pass Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina to become the all-time record holder in Olympic medals.
Considering that this is Phelps' final games and what he has already accomplished, these games will just add to his legacy as perhaps the greatest Olympian ever.
And then there is Roger Federer. Though he will turn 31 during these Olympics, Federer is the world's number one player in the world going into this tournament, and for a good reason after winning a record-tying seventh Wimbledon title.
Federer does not need to perform like a superstar on the grass courts that he has dominated over the course of the last decade. Instead, a gold medal in London would just be another accolade on an incredible list for the Swiss star.
When you win as much as Federer has during his career, he doesn't need to put too much emphasis on winning. Instead it comes down to performing at his best level, which should help him win another gold medal.