With Euro 2016 done and dusted, the next event in 2016’s summer of sport will be the Olympic games, held in one of Brazil’s biggest and most populated cities, Rio. The games will cost the country 11 million dollars and over 4,000 medals are up for grabs across 42 sports. One of the best things about London 2012 was the rising stars of athletics bursting into the limelight and coming to the top of their respective field. With this in mind, I decided to take a look at some of the athletes who could shine in the sun in Rio.
Distance running is one of the biggest events at the Olympics and gained a sizable audience at London 2012 thanks to Mo Farah’s successes. Of one the upcoming stars of distance running over the past couple of years has been Genzebe Dibaba. The 25-year-old Ethiopian has set four world records since London 2012 and won gold at the 2015 world championships in Beijing. There is Olympic heritage in her family, her older sister Tirunesh is a three-time Olympic champion, winning two gold medals in Beijing 2008 and a further one in London, all in long distance track running. London 2012 was too early for her to show what she could do but she is a massively impressive long distance runner and her four world record are proof of that. She will travel to Rio with real potential to go all the way at these games.
Another track runner who could go far at this summer’s Olympics is South African Wayde van Niekerk. He runs in the 200m and 400m but has also run the 100m is under 10 seconds, which would already put him in a solid standing to be competitive in that event as well. Like Genzebe Dibaba, he also won gold at the world championships in Beijing 2015, at the 400m. He holds an amazing record, he is the only person in athletics history to run the 100m in under 10 seconds, the 200m in under 20 seconds and the 400m in under 44 seconds. That is an amazing level of consistency across three difficult disciplines and something that will stand him in very good stead in Rio this summer.
Michael Phelps bought competitive swimming to the masses during his incredible successes and record number of medals, now another American swimmer is looking to break into that elusive club of Olympic medal winners. 19-year-old Katie Ledecky already has one gold medal in London 2012, in the 800m. a gold medal win aged 15 is massively impressive and she will surely walk into Rio as one of the favorites to defend her title and maybe win another medal. She also holds three world records in the 400, 800, 1500-meter freestyle. London 2012 was her explosion onto the world athletics stage, who knows how far the woman with 3 world records and a gold medal at the age of 19 can go.
The final potential world beater in my list is the Colombian cyclist, Fernando Gaviria. He comes into these Olympics relatively unknown and with no Olympic experience, but there is no doubting how good this man is. His performances at this year’s Tour de Pologne show that, he is currently leading the event by 19 seconds. He also has a gold medal from the 2015 South African Games and two from the UCI track cycling world championships. He may not be as decorated as some of the athletes mentioned above, but the man has beaten Mark Cavendish twice in a road race and at only 21 years old is one of cycling’s up and coming talents and could a be force in Rio 2016.
My thanks go to Justin Taylor, who works with Supplement Mart in Australia for providing many fascinating details on these athletes, going toward this article. You can view an infographic of these athletes here.