14 days. 206 countries. Over 11,000 athletes. The Summer Olympics are here! I don't know about you, but there's just something so incredible about watching athletes from all over the world come together for a little friendly competition (as I lounge on my couch in pajamas eating cookie dough). And of course, who better to cheer for than our very own Team USA? Each and every one of these athletes is exceptionally talented, but there are going to be a couple of big names thrown around throughout the games that you should pay attention to.
Simone Biles: She was too young to compete in the London games, but she won 10 gold medals at the World Championships (a new record). She even has a new gymnastic routine move named after her! She will be joined in Rio by her teammates Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian, and Laurie Hernandez.
Sam Mikulak: The Michigan alum is expected to lead his team to victory after the men's team finished with an embarassing fifth in London in 2012. Mikulak has been described as the greatest American male gymnast of his generation and is a four-time national champion. Both of his parents were skilled gymnasts, so it's only natural that he's expected to be a front runner.
Michael Phelps: The most decorated Olympian of all time will be returning for his fifth and final Olympic Games. Phelps has decided to come out of retirement to add a couple more medals to his already impressive collection of 22 medals (18 of those are gold). He will be swimming the 200m individual medley, the 100m butterfly, and the 200m butterfly.
Missy Franklin: She will be defending her Olympic title as the fastest women's 200m backstroker. Missy also holds the American record for the fastest 100m and 200m backstroke. You can watch for her in the 200m freestyle and the 200m backstroke.
Katie Ledecky: Considered one of the most versatile swimmers ever, you can watch for Ledecky in the 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle.
Track and Field
Justin Gatlin: Gatlin won gold and bronze in the 2004 Olympics, and has a very good chance of beating Usain Bolt (the fastest man in the world!) in the 100m dash. He lost to Bolt in the World Championships last year by a hundredth of a second. With Bolt recovering from a hamstring injury, Gatlin might just be able to beat him.
Ashton Eaton: Ashton Eaton might be 2016's Bruce Jenner. After winning gold in the decathlon at the London games, he's favored to win this year as well. He's one of the only two athletes in history to earn more than 9,000 points in the decathlon.
Allyson Felix: I'm partially biased towards Allyson Felix because she spells her name the same way that I do, but she's a serious contender on the track. Returning for her fourth Olympic Games, she's looking to add 2 more gold medals to her collection of 4 in the 200m and 400m dash.
Jenn Suhr: Jenn Suhr has been America's best pole vaulter for 10 years, holding the world record at 16-5.5 feet (5.02 meters). She's super close to beating the Olympic record, which is 16.56 feet (5.05 meters).
Kerri Walsh Jennings: Kerri will be competing for the first time without her partner Misty May-Treanor. The pair has won 21 consecutive matches, and has only lost one set. Her new partner is April Ross.
Women's Team: The women's team will be going for their third consecutive Olympic gold led by co-captains Carli Lloyd (midfield) and Hope Solo (goalkeeper).
Venus and Serena Williams: The sisters that play together, slay together. Isn't that what they say? The Williams sisters have a great chance of winning their fifth gold medal in doubles, and Serena has a good chance of medaling in the singles tournament.
Bubba Watson: Golf hasn't been played in the Olympics for 112 years! Bubba Watson has won two Masters Tournaments, and is also a left-handed golfer, which is pretty unusual.
Women's water polo: Our women's team is favored to win the event. The goalkeeper, Ashleigh Johnson, is the first black American woman to compete in water polo.