Every four years the world unites in sport to see who truly is the best athletes in the world. The first olympic games can be traced back to 776 B.C. Dedicated to ancient Greek gods, men battled for glory on the plains of Olympia, Greece. Over time the games have evolved and is something many dream about for their entire lives. With this years games set to take place in Rio di Janerio starting on August 5th, here are some things to watch for.
1. Social media
Since the London games, social media has grown exponentially. Athletes can now connect with fans on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram like never before. Fans that follow athletes on snapchat will get to see an inside look at the Olympic village and Opening ceremonies.
2. Health and Security
The news has been filled with stories of pollution, crime, and disease covering the city at the same time as the games. Between the Zika outbreak and the alleged kidnapping of New Zeland athlete Jason Lee. Security in Rio is almost double what it was for London so it will be intersting to see how it all plays out. The Zika virus has caused athletes like Rory McIlroy, Steph Curry, Lebron James, and Tejay van Garderen to not participate in this years games.
3. The returns
Rugby is making it's olympic return after 92 years and olf returns after a 112 year hiatus. Although the two sports are opposites of each other, Team USA will be well represented in each sport.
Also watching athletes return to the games is always interesting. Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas, Michael Phelps, and Katie Ledecky are some of the veteran atheletes returning to this years games that are expected to have big years.
4. The final show down
At 3, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of any sport with 22 medals, 18 of which are gold. After his standout performance in Beijing and the photo that surfaced of him using a water pipe, Phelps was set to retire from the sport. In 2014 he came out of retirement before announcing that this years Olympic games will be his last. This marks the end of the Lochte-Phelps rivalry, a close race for the gold in the 200M individual medley. Currently Ryan Lochte is the world and American record holder in the event and it is the only individual one he will compete in Rio. It will be interesting to see who swims away with the gold in the last race.
5. Simone Biles
Simone Biles could be nicknamed the Golden Girl, and rightfully so. The 19 year old gymnast from Texas has won the past three world championships, 10 world gold medals, and 14 world medals overall. Simone is the first woman to win four straight national titles since 1974. She is favored to win multiple medals in Rio and is a strong competitor for the United States.
6. Chris Brooks
Unless you follow mens gymnastics you probably have not heard of Chris Brooks, but he is going to make an impact for Team USA this year. In London he was selected as an alternate and watched helplessley in the stands as Team USA let a chance to medal slip from their grip. This year it's different- Chris was selected for the team. At 29 years old, he is the oldest first time Olympian but after a strong performance at P&G Championships and Olympic Trials he is set to make a difference.
7. The missing pieces
Recently it was announced that any Russian athlete with a history of doping will not be allowed to compete in this summers games. It is now up to the individual sport federations to decide the fate of these athletes. Some of those banned are filing petitions, but the ban is adding fuel to the fire of those athletes who can compete. Multiple Russian athletes have been quoted saying "We will fight for those who are not able to go." It will be interesting to see the fall out and the performances of the athletes of those able to compete.
8. The Refugee team
This is the first year that there will be a team of comprised of refugee athletes. The team consists of 10 athletes from Syria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They will compete behind the white flag and come together to represent all refugees and their families who are struggling. One of these athletes, Popole Misenga said, ""We're fighting for all the refugees in the world. I'm not sad that I'm not going to carry the flag of my country. I will carry a flag of many countries." Another one of these refugee athletes, Yolande Mabika said, "I will raise the Olympic flag, but I'm a little bit sad in my heart and mind because I cannot march under the flag of my country... Everybody in the world talks about the refugees having no major importance," she said. "We are going to show that the refugee is capable of doing everything that other people around the world do." Watching these individuals unite in sport is what the Olympics is all about.