If you happen to haven’t marked your calendar but, you could be the one one. The 2016 Rio Olympics are predicted to be the most-watched tv occasion in U.S. historical past (topping the 219 million viewers of the London Video games). Regardless of Zika, water air pollution and excessive political unrest, Rio would be the final stand for among the most achieved athletes the world has ever seen: Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Serena Williams — the listing goes on.
However maybe no enviornment can be extra alive than Rio’s Engenhão Olympic Stadium observe. From a 40 (sure 40!) year-old sprinter, Kim Collins, to American legends-in-the-making Allyson Felix and Ashton Eaton, the sphere is, as they are saying, stacked. And don’t low cost the inaugural refugee staff, as 5 South Sudanese observe and discipline athletes re-write their historical past on the observe. Right here’s a better have a look at why it is best to tune into each second of the Olympic Observe and Area occasions.
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All Eyes on Observe and Area: 6 Tales to Watch
1. The World’s Best Athlete
Scratch that. The world’s biggest athlete…of all time? That’s how specialists are billing Ashton Eaton, the overwhelming favourite for the 2016 Olympic Decathlon, often known as essentially the most grueling 10-part show of athleticism, velocity, agility and energy that received Eaton a gold medal and a world file in 2012.
“His sheer athleticism and laser focus are simply a part of what makes him so thrilling to observe,” says Julia Lucas, a former teammate of Eaton’s and Nike+ Run Membership (NRC) Head Coach in NYC.
Not solely should the decathletes excel in 10 disparate occasions over the course of two 15-hour days, they should be extraordinarily good and mentally powerful, Lucas says. (Extra on Eaton’s game-day technique right here). “You may wager Ashton is considering the place the wind is coming from, if the bottom is moist that day, how his opponents are wanting — and if he has to do one thing large and daring or if he has to maintain it secure.”
If the Nike-sponsored athlete repeats in Rio, that may make him the primary two-time decathlon gold medalist since Daley Thompson of Nice Britain in 1988 and 1992. “Simply watching him is being part of historical past,” Lucas says.
2. A Place for Refugees
If there’s one factor that strikes us each 4 years, it’s the sensation of hope that surrounds the Olympic Video games. And that’s very true this yr, as Rio welcomes its first ever Refugee Olympic Workforce (ROT). The staff can be comprised of 10 athletes displaced by warfare and social unrest of their native international locations, together with 5 South Sudanese observe and discipline athletes, one Ethiopian marathoner, two Congolese judokas and two Syrian swimmers.
In line with IOC president Thomas Bach, “This can be a logo of hope for all of the refugees in our world, and can make the world higher conscious of the magnitude of this disaster. Additionally it is a sign to the worldwide neighborhood that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society.” Count on a heartfelt welcome on the Opening Ceremonies and within the Olympic village, a house the ROT athletes say they’re desirous to share with others from across the globe.
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3. One Final Bolt to the End
You heard it proper: Rio will seemingly be Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s final hurrah. His objective: Nabbing gold within the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100-meter relay for the third consecutive time. However after a slight hamstring tear that pressured him to drag out of the Jamaican trials, the elusive “treble-treble” could be a stretch for the Lightning Bolt. (Let’s not overlook the USA’s ever-controversial Justin Gatlin who was simply one-hundredth of a second behind Bolt on the World Championships in Beijing final yr.)
Plus, there’s a brand new class of younger sprinting sensations — together with USA’s Travon Brommell and Canada’s Andre DeGrasse — each hungry for a spot on the rostrum. (What have been you doing at age 21, btw?) One assure: These heats can be quick. And the smack speaking can be livid.
4. Subsequent-Stage Tech
What’s the largest drag for runners? In a phrase: drag. That’s why attire sponsors have been again within the lab to develop essentially the most aerodynamic kits for his or her athletes. And Nike, with its new AeroSwift know-how, is hoping to drag away from the pack. Look carefully (HD most well-liked) and also you’ll spot tiny rubber spikes throughout the material, aka Nike AeroBlades, adhered to areas of the best wind resistance. Nike athletes may even sport them instantly on their pores and skin with kinesiology-like tape. In line with Nike, the proprietary magic blades “goal to chop a measurable podium-making fraction of a second from sprinters’ instances and a number of seconds from marathon runners’ data.” Overlook the Jetsons — the long run is now.
5. This 40-12 months-Previous Sprinter
Whereas it’s not unusual for distance runners to peak a bit later in life (err, early 30s), it’s principally unparalleled to dominate dash occasions in these sundown years. Enter: Kim Collins, the 40-year-old phenom who can be representing St. Kitts and Nevis in Rio. This can be his sixth, sure sixth, Olympic Video games. And although it’s unlikely the 2003 100-meter world champ will medal, we’re contemplating this a win for the Gen X demographic. (We’re additionally mildly obsessive about 41-year previous gymnast Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, who would be the oldest Olympic feminine gymnast in historical past — by rather a lot. She would possibly even be a medal contender.)
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6. America’s Sweetheart, Allyson Felix
This isn’t the place we gush about how good, likable and beautiful Allyson Felix is. (OK high-quality, we simply did.) The numbers inform a fairly compelling story on their very own: six Olympic medals, 4 particular person world championships, and, on the ripe age of 30, this can be her fourth Olympic look. The Golden Woman of the observe can be a vocal advocate for clear sport. “On this Olympics, the place medication have been such a difficulty, and with Russia being banned, Felix is simply somebody you could be assured in,” Lucas says. If she wins the 200 and 400 meters in Rio, that may make her the third girl in Olympic historical past to take action. Contemplating her 2012 gold within the 200 meters and her reigning world championship title within the 400, Workforce USA must be feeling fairly golden proper now.
The 2016 Olympic Observe and Area occasions will happen over the past 10 days of the Video games, from August 12-21. Watch reside on NBC, at NBCOlympics.com or by way of the NBC Sports activities app.
Word to reader: This story was reported from the USATF Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR, on a media journey sponsored by Nike.