In part two of our Rio 2016 feature, we take a look beyond Great Britain, in search of the most exciting Olympians from around the world.
After taking a look at Team GB, and picking five of the potential stand out performers within this Summer’s Olympics, it was only fair that we explored beyond home soil. We’ve found some international superstars to keep your eyes peeled for, and we didn’t restrict our search to the Athletics track. After all, the Olympics is more than just people running, jumping and throwing stuff; they have sports like basketball, which consists of running, jumping and… never mind.
What needs to be said about this man? He is phenomenal, and whilst it may be pretty obvious he knows this, he still boasts an incredibly likeable personality. In fact, he is so likeable that he has been the face of many advertising campaigns, for the likes of Puma and Virgin Media, amongst others.
The most aptly named person in the world, Bolt seems to have been around forever. And whilst he is undoubtedly approaching the end of a glittering career, he will undoubtedly be confident of achieving a ‘Triple Triple’ in Rio, proving that ‘Lightning’ doesn’t just strike twice.
He intends to retire in 2017, following the World Championships, and whilst he looks set to receive some competition from American-hopeful Justin Gatlin, many will be expecting victory for the Jamaican.
Moving away from Bolt Mania for a moment, and over to the women’s sprints. Like in the 100m and 200m men’s races, there is a favourite to pick up the win in both categories; former Dutch heptathlete, Dafne Schippers.
A woman of many talents, Schippers is also set to take part in the 100m relay with her Netherlands team, an event she was a part of during her time in the Heptathlon. Despite her fairly recent change of focus, she currently holds the European record for the 200m, after winning gold at the 2015 World Championships.
Despite not being quite as strong a favourite in the 100m, where she’ll face tough competition from the likes of Jamaican duo Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Schippers is definitely the one to beat in both of her individual events.
After a disappointing London Games in 2012, Novak Djokovic will be keen to pick up his first Olympic Gold this time around. Currently the world number one in men’s singles tennis, Djokovic is undoubtedly the biggest threat to the title defence of Team GB’s Andy Murray.
He struggled at this year’s Wimbledon, with a third-round defeat ending an incredible spate of major victories, though he recently won the Rogers Cup in Toronto, a tournament Murray opted to not participate in.
It’s sure to be a fascinating run of matches, and it would be disappointing for the final to not include both Djokovic and Murray. Whether this is the case or not, the Serbian simply has to go to Rio as the favourite to pick up a gold medal for his country.
It’s probably unsurprising, but the United States have by far the most successful team in both the men’s and women’s basketball at the Olympics. This won’t change in Rio, as they both look set to steamroll through the event.
Despite the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade being out, the men’s team is full of NBA stars including Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, so you can expect some entertaining basketball from these guys. Not to be outdone, the women have won gold in the last five Olympics, winning seven times from ten tournaments.
The men, on the other hand, have picked up fourteen gold’s from eighteen. Their main challenge will be from Spain, a team also boasting NBA talent, amongst some home-based players. Fun fact: Barcelona and Real Madrid are the top two teams in Spanish basketball too.
Does this guy even need an introduction? Part of the infamous ‘MSN’ front-line with FC Barcelona, Neymar is already a well established name in world football. So much so, that it is actually quite surprising that he is taking part in the Olympic Games this time around.
Whilst he has a little further to go before he can be truly considered in arguments alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Joe Allen as to who the best footballer in the world is, he is widely regarded as a dead cert for a future Ballon d’Or.
Whether or not he is capable of carrying the Brazil team in Rio remains to be seen, though after a devastating 2-1 defeat to Mexico in the final at London 2012, Neymar and co. will be desperate to go one better this time around.
100m Race, Barcelona, Brazil, Dafne Schippers, Jamaica, NBA, netherlands, Neymar, Novak djokovic, Olympic Games, Olympics, Rio 2016, rio games, Serbia, Sprinting, tennis, USA, USA Basketball, Usain Bolt, Women's Sprint