London 2012 Olympics: Gold-Medal Winners to Watch for in the 2016 Rio Games

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London 2012 Olympics: Gold-Medal Winners to Watch for in the 2016 Rio Games
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The 2012 Olympics were amazing, and when the London Games came to a close Sunday evening, the world turned to Rio in 2016.

This will be the first Olympics hosted by a South American country, and it should be a colorful explosion of energy.

New sports like golf are debuting, but as always, the Games will begin focusing on stars from the previous Olympics.

2012 saw the emergence of some breakout gold-medal winners and repeat performances from some of the greats. It will be tantalizing to see what these stars can do next.

So, let's take a look at some of the gold-medal winners from London that you should watch out for in Rio.

 

Missy Franklin, United States

Missy Franklin burst onto the scene in the London Games.

At only 17 years old, she won five medals, including four gold, and wowed America with her electric smile and outstanding dance moves.

She was the most dominant female swimmer at the Games.

Scary thing is, she'll only get better.

When she reaches the Olympics in Rio, she'll be 21 years old. In the four years between now and then, she'll only get bigger, stronger and more experienced.

Clive Rose/Getty Images

She could even possibly put on a Micheal Phelps-type performance there, as she already swam seven events in London and could easily pick up another.

Franklin is a special talent and personality, and when she hits the pool in Rio, the eyes of the world will be watching.

 

Ashton Eaton, United States

With his dominant decathlon win in London, Ashton Eaton is now the "world's greatest athlete."

The 24-year-old holds the world record in the event, Olympic gold and will now head on the whirlwind media tour that takes place after such a monumental victory.

He's got everything he could ever hope to accomplish—well, except back-to-back gold medals.

Eaton has already stated that he'll be back in Rio, and there he'll look to become the first decathlete to win golds in two straight Games since Great Britain's Daley Thompson (1980, 1984).

It will be tough—the 10 events that make up the decathlon make it a daunting task. But Eaton's up to the challenge.

He has only hit the tip of his potential, and he could smash his own records when he heads to Rio.

 

Feng Li/Getty Images

Usain Bolt, Jamaica

There is no real way to describe how great Usain Bolt has been.

He has run six races in his two Olympic Games. In those events, he has six gold medals and has broken four world records. He has shattered the 10-second barrier in the 100-meter dash and broke Michael Johnson's 200-meter record, a time that was once thought unbreakable, on multiple occasions.

He's just a freak of nature.

At 6'5", he's got the long strides to break away from anyone, and despite that, he still features the explosiveness of someone considerably more compact.

Plus, he has one of the most engaging personalities in sports.

He knows his races only last seconds, so he plays to the crowd to keep the fans' attention. Many have called this arrogance, but it's exactly what track and field needs to stay relevant.

Bolt's already one of the greatest Olympians of all time, and if he goes to Rio and goes for the three-peat in all of his events, he will seal his claim as the best.

Either way, it will be a thrill to watch.

Even if the race only takes only a few seconds.

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