Predicting the Biggest Disappointments of the Olympics
The Olympic Games are a time of surreal excitement...and bitter disappointment.
Every Olympics, major favorites come into the Games expecting to dominate, win multiple gold medals and bring glory to their home countries, but leave either empty-handed or with far less than they had hoped for upon arrival. Who will be the victims of the 2012 London Olympic Games?
Here is a projection of the biggest disappointments of the London Olympics.
Yelena Isinbayeva, Russian Pole Vaulter
Isinbayeva, the two-time Olympic champion (2004, 2008), is considered the gold medal favorite in pole vaulting.
But the 30-year-old, who retired in 2009, and has not come close to matching her previous records in 2012. America's Jenn Suhr, the silver medalist in Beijing, is definitely ready to upset her and take the gold.
Kohei Uchimura, Japanese Gymnast
Uchimura was the 2008 Olympic silver medalist and is the first winner of three all-around world titles in history.
Nonetheless, he does not have a specialty event (which leaves little margin for error), and the Olympics are known for making gymnasts freeze on one particular event. U.S. parallel bars champion Daniel Layva and Bronx native John Orozco are waiting in the wings as gold medal threats.
Jordyn Weiber, U.S. Gymnast
Weiber is part of an incredibly talented American team in women's gymnastics and will be a top threat for gold in London.
She is the all-around favorite after winning the all-around event in 2011, but her charismatic compatriot, 16-year-old Gabby Douglas, won the U.S. trials this year and could be in line for a huge upset win.
Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, British Rowers
Glover and Stanning, two of the top rowers for a dominant women's team from Great Britain, are big-time gold medal threats on their home territory.
But New Zealand's Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown have beaten the British duo by a nose each of the last two years and could upset them again in the Olympics.
Chris Hoy, British Cyclist
Hoy is the defending champion and a gold medal favorite on home ground after winning three gold medals in Beijing, which earned him an honorary knighthood.
However, he may be upset by Frenchman Gregory Bauge, who upset Hoy at the World Championships in Melbourne and has been the sport's best in 2012.
Anna Meares, Australian Cycling
Meares, the top Australian cycling contender, has set numerous records and will be the favorite for her sport in London.
But her career has been filled with ups and downs and she might have trouble with the Olympic pressure.
Pau Gasol, Spanish Basketball Player
Gasol is the leader of the Spanish team, which is expected to challenge the United States for Olympic gold. That is a tremendous burden to take on for his home country.
Unfortunately for him, Gasol is bound for disappointment because Spain lost to the US in their preliminary exhibition and do not have the firepower to actually put the Americans away in a gold medal game.
That said, they can certainly make it interesting!
Spanish Soccer Team
After the two-time defending champion Argentine National Team did not make the Olympics, Spain instantly became the prohibitive favorite.
The Spanish team is deep and stars Javi Martinez and Thiago will lead the way; but Brazil will provide stiff competition and Great Britain—which will field a strong club and be playing on home turf—could be in line for a big upset.
Andy Murray, British Tennis Player
With Rafael Nadal injured, Roger Federer tired and Novak Djokovic in a funk, Murray will be the favorite to win the tennis event on his home turf.
However, Murray is always under tremendous pressure on home ground, and if his performance at Wimbledon this year is any indication, he could definitely crack under the strain.
Brendan Hansen, U.S. Swimmer
Hansen is one of the best two-breaststroke swimmers in the world. He is the United States' best threat in his specialty and one of the top draws on America's swimming team.
Unfortunately, his rival, Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, has dominated him in the Olympics, winning gold medals in 2004 and 2008. Hansen says this year will be different, but seeing is believing.
Tyson Gay, U.S. Runner
Gay, America's best track and field sprinter, is often presented as the best threat to Usain Bolt's dominance.
But, aside from the DN Galan meet, Gay has never challenged Bolt and is unlikely to do so in London. He may not even medal, considering challenges from Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Nesta Carter.
Allyson Felix, American Runner
Allyson Felix, the three-time world champion, is considered the favorite for the Olympic gold because of her dominance in the sport over the last decade.
However, her rival, Veronica Campbell-Brown, has won two Olympic gold medals, which suggests she has the edge in Olympic competition. The two are set up for a very tough battle of wills in this year's Games.
Alison-Emanuel, Brazilian Beach Volleyball
Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti are dominant players in the sport, winning nine total medals since 1996. They will be expected to be the team to beat in London.
But the U.S. team of Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers has actually been more dominant over the last five years. They are quietly the most likely team to pull off the upset and take the gold in London.
Tom Daley, British Diver
Daley, the 18-year-old British diving sensation, is expected to challenge Qiu Bo for the diving medals and become one of England's homegrown heroes.
The problem: Daley placed fifth in the 2011 World Championships and is not in Bo's league. He is competing on home ground, but British fans should be prepared for disappointment.
Kobe Bryant, U.S. Basketball Player
Bryant was the undisputed leader of the 2008 "Redeem Team," which restored American basketball glory at the Olympic Games after a disastrous showing in Athens in 2004.
But now Bryant is much older, well past his prime and in danger of being eclipsed by other players. He may want to be the center of the action, but it's time to let some of his glory pass on to younger, hungry NBA stars.
LeBron James, US Basketball Player
James, the newly crowned NBA champion, considers himself the leader of the Dream Team in London. The U.S. should win gold, but James will have to share the spotlight with other players, including Carmelo Anthony, who are desperate for glory and attention.
And don't forget Kobe Bryant, Andre Iguodala and other veterans waiting for the spotlight.. James may shine through, but if he's lost in the shuffle it will be a major disappointment.
American Basketball Team
Oh, they will win the gold medal. This isn't Athens, the 2012 U.S. squad has enough talent and chemistry to get the job done.
But injuries and lack of roster depth have robbed this team of potential dominance, and when the Olympics are done, comparisons to the 1992 Dream Team will be laughable.
American Boxing Team
America's boxing teams used to be the nation's best contingent at the Olympic Games. Greats like Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather paved the way to Hall of Fame professional careers by winning Olympic Gold.
But the U.S. boxing team was embarrassed in Beijing in 2008 and things don't look much better this time around; there is not a single U.S. amateur who looks like a future professional champion at the London Games. Things could get ugly and disappointing very, very quickly.
Michael Phelps, U.S. Swimmer
Phelps is the greatest living Olympian, and quite possibly, the greatest Olympian of all time. But he is aging, does not seem completely locked into this year's Olympics after cleaning house in Beijing back in 2008, and has recently suffered a string of losses to fellow American star Ryan Lochte.
Phelps could definitely star in London, but he could just as easily cede the spotlight to Lochte, Cesar Cielo and Nathan Adrian.