2016 Olympics: Most Exciting Americans to Watch in Rio

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2016 Olympics: Most Exciting Americans to Watch in Rio
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There are no guarantees that they'll all be back four years from now, but it just doesn't seem like some of the 2012 Olympians' journeys were quite over when the London Games ended this weekend.

Some of them have unfinished business, and Rio will be the perfect place for them to get right back into the Olympic mindset and finish what they started in London this summer. Some of the U.S.'s biggest hopes for gold medals floundered under the pressure this year, while others succeeded with flying colors and will simply be out for another shot at gold four years from now.

Whatever their motivation, though, they'll be the most fun Americans to watch once again. 

Here's a look at some of the top Olympians who should be returning for another shot at glory in Rio in 2016.


Anthony Davis

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

This summer, the upcoming NBA rookie was merely a footnote in the U.S.'s quest for yet another gold medal in basketball. In 2016, though, the team will be in his hands.

The 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick didn't see much playing time this summer—not with the likes of Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love around—but in 2016, he'll have four years of NBA experience under his belt and hopefully will have developed into one of the league's premiere big men. And with so many of the premiere men's basketball stars already ruling themselves out for the Games in Rio—including Kobe Bryant and possibly LeBron James—it will be Davis' time to shine. 

After the Americans won the gold over Spain on Sunday, ESPN.com's Marc Stein tweeted:

 

 

Four years from now, Davis will be no 12th man. He'll be a leader.


McKayla Maroney

The U.S. gymnast's story was one of the most heartbreaking of all this summer. Though the women's team shined as a whole, taking home the all-around team gold medal, Maroney flopped in her individual event, to the shock of the nation.

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Maroney was supposed to be unbeatable on the vault. She was the reigning world champion and finished first at the Olympic Trials, and nobody could come close to matching her skill—not to mention the height she got off the apparatus. In this summer's vault final, her first attempt was nearly perfect, and she needed only a decent score on her second to assure herself of winning the gold.

But she slipped on her second landing—something that never happens—and had to settle for the silver. And upon accepting her medal, she unintentionally birthed one of the most popular memes to come out of the Olympics.

At just 16 years old, Maroney has another Olympic run left in her. Even if it means competing only on the vault, she can do it. She's too good at it—too dominant—to retire without earning the gold medal that should have been hers in London.

Rio is her opportunity for redemption.


Ryan Lochte

Perhaps Lochte has too much pride to retire before establishing himself as the best, even if "the best" will be written with a footnote: The best, as long as Michael Phelps isn't also in contention.

Though 2012 was supposed to be Lochte's year, he once again paled in comparison to Phelps, who got the best of Lochte in their last head-to-head event—the 200-meter IM—in order to bring home his record 20th medal. Though Lochte did beat Phelps in the 400-meter IM, an event Phelps shouldn't have taken on in the first place, one individual gold medal isn't enough for him. 

Lochte had to settle for the silver in the 200m IM and the bronze in the 200-meter backstroke, making him just 1-for-3 in his individual events. He's already focusing on improving upon that performance as he prepares for the 2016 Games, according to SI.com.

Lochte knows that Phelps will absolutely not be in Rio. That means he'll have one more opportunity to be the star of the show instead of taking a backseat to his fiercest rival one more time.

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