As we flip our calendars to August, we realize that there are only 12 days left of Olympic competition. With almost a week down, there are still so many more medals to be handed out and athletes to take center stage.
As superstar athletes such as Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin move from center stage and into the stands to cheer on their fellow Americans, different athletes will replace them in the spotlight.
With sports such as Track and Field, Basketball and Soccer all ready to replace the void left by the conclusion of Swimming and Gymnastics. The added focus will bring out certain athletes who will dominate the story lines as the Olympics move into its final stages. Here are a few athletes that are certain to grab more headlines than medals.
Usain Bolt is arguably the most popular athlete at the games. When he takes to the track it seems as if the world comes to a stop to watch a man run either 100-meters or 200-meters in blazing fashion.
To go along with tremendous skill and popularity, Bolt adds a huge amount of charisma. He loves when the camera is on him and doesn’t mind giving the fans a show.
However, the main reason that he will dominate the story lines in London is the fact that he could be beat. The 100-meter race is a lot tighter than people may think. Bolt, who lost to his fellow countryman, Yohan Blake, in the Jamaican Olympic Trials is a legitimate threat to bring down the world’s fastest man. Also in the mix is Tyson Gay, who if healthy can give Bolt a run for his money.
Win or lose, Bolt will be consistently in the headlines, he has not raced yet but has already made some noise about a race with Mickey Rourke. While the competition will surely be better than Rourke, one thing won’t change, Bolt will still be a highlight in the rest of the Olympics.
There might not be another athlete in the world that captivates the media more than LeBron James. No matter what he seems to do it always finds its way back into the media. Being on a world stage will only amplify his coverage.
Once the Swimming events come to a close, the main focus of American viewers will shift to Basketball and Track and Field. Watching the American basketball team compete in the Olympics is like watching men play against boys. It is one long highlight reel as the dunks and full court passes seem to happen constantly.
LeBron James is the best player on the USA roster and win or lose he will always grab the most attention. If the USA wants to beat Spain again in the projected gold medal game, they will need James to play well. He will need to take over the game and use his size and strength to dominate for the USA.
Coming off an NBA Championship and a Finals MVP award, LeBron is having quite a summer. He only needs one more thing if he wants to have a legendary summer and that is a gold medal around his neck. He would have as many gold medals as Michael Jordon, for what it is worth.
If basketball is being played, LeBron James will be in the news.
Brazil’s Neymar is a world soccer superstar and in an under-23 tournament he is by the far best player on the field. Neymar is the most popular player in the soccer portion of the Olympics, and with Spain’s early exit, Brazil has cemented itself as the team to beat.
With his impressive skill, Neymar is making the game look extremely easy. He is able to dominate the game and if he is ever needed, has the talent to strike with an amazing goal almost on cue.
As Brazil prepares for the quarterfinals, for the rest of the tournament the attention on Neymar will only grow. Once you get deeper into a tournament the more is expected of you and the pressure of Neymar to deliver a gold medal for Brazil is incredibly high.
If Brazil stumbles and loses it will all come down on Neymar, but if the Brazilians do bring home the gold medal, Neymar’s popularity will only grow.
Ashton Eaton is one of the best athletes in the entire Olympics. The American Decathlete who set the world record in the decathlon at the United State Olympics trials is going to be under the microscope once Track and Field begins.
Decathletes do not showcase their skill as much as other athletes. Because of the immense strain the event puts on the athlete’s bodies, Decathletes may participate in just a couple of events a year.
While the decathlon may not be the most anticipated event of the Track and Field portion, it is an awesome event to watch. The amount of athleticism that will be showcased is unreal.
Eaton has the chance to break his own world record in London, on the biggest stage of them all. His popularity will only rise once he begins his quest for the gold medal and should see his name in many headlines as he makes his case as one of the best athletes in the world.