The Women Who Will Rule RioAugust 12, 2015
One year is a long time in sport, but fans have a good idea of who will win the gold in the Rio Olympics. There will be events during the next few months, which will determine the early favourites. Anything can happen, but one must look for consistency.
Here are the likely scenarios in Rio:
Katie Ledecky will be the Queen of Rio. American media have been praising Missy Franklin, and they have good reasons. She competes in the marquee events, winning four or more medals. The long-distance freestyle events don't attract a lot of attention, but Katie Ledecky can change it. She was fifteen year of age when swimming fans first noticed her, winning the 800-meter freestyle in the London Olympics. She won the 400, 800, and 1,500 meter freestyle in the World Aquatic Championships the following year. Only Janet Evans was this dominant, and she did it when she was Ledecky's age. During the World Championships in Kazan, Ledecky set a new world record in the 1,500 meter, a non-Olympic event, twice. And she just earned her high school diploma. She ended up with five gold medals, which wasn't done before. Expect the American to win the 200, 400, and 800 in Rio.
Alyson Felix completes a sprint doubles. Alysson Felix will attempt to win the gold in the 400 meters in the World Championships. She wants the 200 and 400, but the tight schedule leaves her little time for rest. Although Felix is guaranteed of a place in the 200 meter in Beijing, she'll likely skip her favourite event. (Sanya Richards-Ross, the reigning Olympic champion in the 400 meters, failed to qualify for the worlds.) If Felix wins the 400 meters, then there might be a change of schedule next summer.
The U.S. will win women's volleyball. After the 2012 Games, U.S. Volleyball Federation decided to appoint Karch Kiraly as coach of the women's team. He's the only volleyball player to win the Olympic gold medal in indoor and beach volleyball. The American women have yet to win a major event. There have been heartbreaking losses, like the 1996 Games. But the Americans won the world championships last year. They are also favored to win their first World Cup next month. Can the Americans beat the Brazilians in front of their home fans? The Cuban women have been the only team to do it, but nothing would be impossible with Kiraly.
The Williams sisters win more gold medals. The Rio Olympics is the only reason why the Williams sisters are still active. They last won the Grand Slam doubles title in 2012. They rarely play together, but a fourth gold in doubles is a possibility. The mixed doubles will be intriguing, as fans can see the Williams team up with the Bryan twins. The gold is a certainty, unless Martina Hingis plays along Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka.
Gabby Douglas will compete in Rio. No female gymnast won the back-to-back gold in the all-around individual event. Nadia Comaneci came close in 1980. Natasha Liukin, the all-around winner in 2008, attempted a comeback at the 2012 U.S. trials, but she had a disastrous performance in the uneven bars. Douglas, the first African-American gymnast to win the all-around Olympic title, hopes to break the spell. But she'll compete against younger gymnasts.
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