There are always a handful of marquee events at each Olympics which capture the entire country’s attention.
Some are easy to predict — like Michael Phelps and the U.S. swimming team’s epic 4×100-meter freestyle relay win over France. Some, like the men’s volleyball team’s gold medal performance weeks after their coach’s father-in-law was murdered in Beijing, took the public completely by surprise.
Metro takes a look at some of the bigger events in London and tries to pin down a few you will remember.
Men’s 200m IM
The biggest rivalry of the games could actually come from a pair of teammates — U.S. swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.
The men’s 200-meter individual medley will be the showdown between the two unquestioned best all-around swimmers in the world. It’s 50 meters each of butterfly, back, breast and freestyle. The two were clear of the field by three seconds at the 2011 World Championships, where Lochte won. But Phelps is the defending gold medalist.
Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan burst onto the sports scene last summer during the Women’s World Cup. They became media darlings almost overnight.
Just one problem — they didn’t win. Japan took the Cup and left the defending Olympic champion Americans feeling hollow. Now they can make up for that and reclaim the glory of Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain. Brazil will be good, but the U.S. would love to get revenge on Japan.
What if I told you Usain Bolt isn’t even the fastest man in his own country anymore?
In case you missed it last month, the reigning gold medalist and world record holder lost in the Jamaican Olympic trials to Yohan Blake. And it wasn’t particularly close.
Blake won the World Championships last year too, but with the caveat of Bolt having faulted and been disqualified. All of this sets up what could well be the best 100-meter contest since Ben Johnson vs. Carl Lewis in the 1988 games. (Let’s hope it doesn’t end the same way.)
Speaking of steroids, don’t forget American Justin Gatlin, the 2004 gold medalist returning from a drug ban.
The name to know in women’s gymnastics this year is the United States’ Jordyn Wieber. She is the reigning all-around World Champion and the one America’s hopes rest on. There’s no more Shawn Johnson and no more Nastia Liukin, who took this crown in 2008 in a heated competition between her teammate Johnson and China’s Yang Yilin.
Remember the incessant age controversy about China’s athletes in 2008 that created an intense rivalry? Well, the U.S. would like to win again — and a win in the team all-around would be nice too. Russia’s Viktoria Komova could steal gold from Wieber also.
We don’t know if the U.S. men’s basketball team will appear in the game, obviously, but there is a good chance. And we’re really looking forward to the epic rematch of 2008’s gold medal game between them and Spain.
You know the U.S. team’s roster — LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and a handful of other All-Stars. The one thing they don’t have? Size.
That what makes a potential matchup with Spain so intriguing. They have three of the best centers in the league with Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Oklahoma City’s blocking machine Serge Ibaka. Let’s hope it gets physical.