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Eight The Hard Way
1:18 | Olympics
Eight The Hard Way
SI Staff
Monday April 25th, 2016

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are fast approaching.

The world’s greatest sporting event will feature new faces (Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky), and old (Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps). And whether it’s in the pool, on the track, in the sand, on a balance beam or on the roads, one thing is for sure: history will be made.

April 27 marks 100 days until the Summer Games will officially begin on Aug. 5 with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at Maracanã Stadium.

With Rio just one hour ahead of the Eastern time zone, most marquee events will go off in prime time. Swimming and gymnastics will be among the top sports to watch in the first week with track and basketball coming in the second half.

Here are the top 100 storylines and athletes to watch in Rio from SI staff members:

1
Refocused Phelps Returns To Pool

Robert Beck

For so long, Michael Phelps's name has been synonymous with success in the pool. The incredibly gifted swimmer has won more Olympic medals than any other athlete and easily could have walked away on top after the London Games in 2012. Out of the pool, Phelps has managed his fair share of problems, including a DUI, which resulted in a six-month suspension by USA Swimming and a 45-day stay in rehab. Since then, however, he's refocused to prepare for his fifth--and likely last--Olympics. "I think we're going to see him go faster than he's ever gone," longtime coach Eddie Reese told Tim Layden. "He's going to be very, very hard to beat."
2
Bolt's Last Stand
Rio will be Usain Bolt's last Olympics, and he will be trying to win the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100-meter relay for the third consecutive time. (It had never been done twice.) He has been getting ever slower and will turn 30 on the day of closing ceremonies. Does he have one more show-stopping performance left? The sport beseeches him.
3
The Next Great American Gymnast
You may not know her now, but you will. Simone Biles is the favorite to succeed fellow American Gabby Douglas for all-around gold at the Rio Games. Already the most decorated female gymnast in history, Biles is ready to add an Olympic gold medal to her collection.
4
The most-watched Olympics ever?
Here's an Olympic-sized guarantee: The Rio Games are going to be the most-watched television event in U.S. history. More than 219 million people viewed the London Olympics--the current record for a single event--but Rio offers a much more television-friendly climate. Why? First, there's the huge swath of established Olympic stars (Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, to name two) competing in Rio. And then there's the advantageous time zone. Unlike London (five hours ahead of the East Coast) and Sochi (nine hours ahead), Rio is just one hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone). Enjoy live, Olympic fans.
5
Catch Her If You Can
Katie Ledecky made waves in 2012 when she won the 800-meter freestyle at just 15 years old. And she's only gotten better since. Arguably the most dominant swimmer in the pool right now, Ledecky is the first swimmer to ever sweep the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees in a major international competition. Only Debbie Meyer has swept the 200m, 400m and 800m free events at the Olympics before, so Ledecky will be chasing history--and world records--in Rio.
6
A Rare World Cup/Olympic Double?

Simon Bruty

Rio 2016 is the sixth Olympics to feature women's soccer, and none of the previous five have seen the reigning World Cup champion win the gold medal. The U.S. has as good a chance as any team to become the first, having triumphed in four of the five Olympic tournaments.
7
Coach K Era Comes To A Close
Following a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics, USA basketball went pro, filling the roster--and coaching staff--with NBA stars. But after a bronze at the 2004 Games, the first third-place medal for the U.S. since that defeat to the Soviets, the team went back to school, hiring Mike Krzyzewski after a run of three NBA coaches. Coach K helped turn Team USA around, compiling a nearly perfect record en route to becoming the first coach to win two straight golds. He'll look to make it three straight in Rio, his last Games before turning it over to Gregg Popovich.
8
Golf Returns To The Games
After a 112-year absence, golf returns to the Olympic games, but not without controversy. During construction of the course--built specially for the event--environmental protesters created several stops and starts, but American architect Gil Hanse was eventually able to complete a stunning new track that will stage the men's and women's competitions. Following the Olympics, the course will remain open as the nation's second public golf course, though plenty are skeptical that a golf boon will happen in soccer-mad Brazil.
9
(Not Going) Viral
The Zika virus began in Brazil and now carries the World Health Organization's designation as a "global health emergency." With the disease now implicated in birth defects, women athletes either pregnant or considering childbirth are likely to skip the Games. Indeed, the U.S. Olympic Committee has signaled to domestic sports federations that any athlete with misgivings can opt out. How high will the no-go count mount?
10
More Hardware For Serena?
World No. 1 Serena Williams will be defending a gold medal in singles and a gold medal in doubles with her sister, Venus, when she returns to the Olympics this summer in Rio. Serena and Venus have not played doubles together since the 2014 U.S. Open and Serena has said that she may want to play mixed doubles as well. The 33-year-old currently holds 21 Grand Slam titles, but depending on her performances at the French Open and Wimbledon, she could pass Steffi Graf's mark of 22 major titles ahead of the Games.
11
Still The World's Greatest Athlete

Simon Bruty

Ashton Eaton enters Rio as the prohibitive favorite to become the first two-time decathlon gold medalist since Daley Thompson of Great Britain in 1988 and '92. The only question is whether he takes a run at his own world record, which he first established in 2012 and broke last summer at the worlds in China.
12
Brazil Taps Neymar To Lead Gold Push
Remarkably, the Olympics are the only soccer trophy that has eluded five-time World Cup champion Brazil. That's why the host country has enlisted superstar Neymar to end the drought on home soil.
13
The Waters Of August
As part of Rio's bid, officials touted plans to reduce water pollution by 80%. Seven years later that promise is in shambles. Will sailors on Guanabara Bay, open water swimmers off Copacabana Beach, and rowers and canoeists in the Rodrigio de Freitas lagoon be at risk? Will events be moved, or will drier, cooler winter weather mitigate worst-case scenarios? And will organizers finally relent and conduct viral testing to go with bacterial testing, or simply whistle past the cesspool?
14
Don't Sleep On Gabby
Four years after winning all-around gold, Gabby Douglas is aiming to make her second Olympic team. A silver medal at the 2015 world championships and victories at the American Cup and Jesolo Trophy to open 2016 prove the comeback is no joke. The competition with Simone Biles will be tight, but another win would make Douglas the first all-around champ to compete at back-to-back Olympics since Nadia Comaneci did it in 1976 and '80.
15
Toughest Cuts Around
You won't find a roster in the world with tougher cuts than the 2016 USA Dream Team. With the NBA booming with homegrown talent, there simply isn't enough room in Rio for every franchise talent interested in representing his country. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are locks. So is Anthony Davis if he's healthy. Chris Paul's decision to bow out (prior to his injury) opens up a guard spot, but competition will be fierce with Damien Lillard, John Wall and Kyrie Irving all fighting for the position.
16
Breaking Barriers

AP

It doesn't always take a medal to make history at the Olympics. Ibtihaj Muhammad will do just that in Rio as she will be the first U.S. athlete to compete in the Games in a hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. The fencer has also been very vocal about state of Islam and Islamophobia in the U.S.
17
Did You Miss Missy?
At just 17 years old, Missy Franklin stole the show in London with her performance--she won four gold medals and a bronze, and set a world record--and lively personality. Almost four years later, Franklin remains a force in the pool, having competed at Cal for two years before turning pro and taking time off from school to focus solely on the Olympics. She took home two medals in individual events at the 2015 world championships; can she better that tally in Rio?
18
As Good As Gold
The safest gold medal bet at the Rio Games? It's the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team, which has won seven gold medals and is 58-3 all-time in Olympic competition. The 2016 U.S. team enters the Rio Games on a 41-game Olympic winning streak, dating to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medal game. This year will be the last Olympic cycle for stalwarts Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings (and possibly Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen) so celebrate this group. They've been sensational.
19
Grand Stage For Golf's Big 3
The golf competition will feature individual 72-hold stroke play, mirroring the format used in most professional tournaments, instead of a team setup similar to the popular Ryder Cup. Team format may have created more buzz, but now the game's biggest stars have a shot at gold. Expect golf's new-generation "Big 3"--Jordan Spieth (USA), Rory McIlroy (IRE) and Jason Day (AUS)--to be the favorites.
20
Next Wave Of Sprinting Stars
Both Trayvon Bromell (USA) and Andre DeGrasse (Canada) will be 21 at the Games and together they represent the post-Bolt future of sprinting. They tied for the bronze medal behind Bolt and Justin Gatlin at last year's world championships in Beijing. Can they speed up the calendar and catch both in Rio?
21
Wrestling With History

Al Tielemans

In Rio, Jordan Burroughs can become the third American to win back-to-back Olympic freestyle wrestling titles after George Mehnert (1904, '08) and John Smith ('88, '92). Burroughs has amassed a 124-2 record in international competition as one of the most dominant figures of his sport. Seconds after winning his final at the 2016 Olympic trials, he rushed into the crowd to meet his pregnant wife and one-year-old son.
22
A Shadow Over Track And Field
Russia is under threat of being banned from the Games for its track and field doping scandal. Kenya and Ethiopia are in danger of meeting a similar fate for non-existent domestic drug testing. Jamaica has struggled with the same problem for years. From 1996-2012, the U.S. leads the track and field medal count; the next four nations, in order, are Russia, Kenya, Jamaica and Ethiopia.
23
Hoop Powers In Question
Spain, Lithuania and other European nations could be left out of Rio as FIBA flexes its muscle in a long-standing conflict with the Euroleague. After failed attempts to lure elite club teams to join a new Champions League, the world governing body is removing rights of the federations to participate internationally. Eight countries have already been excluded from the 2017 Eurobasket, and official Olympic decisions are on the way. Also among those in jeopardy: Italy and Serbia, each designated to host qualifying tournaments in July.
24
The Refugee Team
The IOC looks to field a team of about 10 athletes with refugee status to compete in Rio under the Olympic flag. "These athletes have no national team to belong to, they have no flag to march behind, no national anthem to be played," President Thomas Bach said in March. "We will welcome these refugee athletes with the Olympic flag and with the Olympic anthem."
25
Brazilian Disgust
Including forced removals conducted for the 2014 World Cup, some 8,000 families will have been relocated to accommodate new venues and infrastructure by the end of the Rio Olympics. Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians have taken to the streets to protest spending priorities and condemn a corrupt political and industrial class. Is the sluggish pace of ticket sales a sign that the Brazilian people have reached their limit? Or will a lit cauldron touch off a reconsideration?
26
Golden Ambitions For Djoker

Getty Images

Eight years ago in Beijing, then-21-year-old Novak Djokovic defeated American James Blake to win the bronze medal. In 2012, the Serb lost to Andy Murray in the London semifinal. Fast forward to 2016 and the world No. 1 is a dominant force on the ATP Tour aiming to finish on the top of the podium in Rio. Along with a French Open title, Djokovic has made it clear that winning gold is one of his top priorities this season.
27
More History For Melo And LeBron
Since losing in the 2004 Olympics, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, teaming with Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul along the way, have been at the forefront of a movement that reinvigorated USA Basketball and ushered in a decade of success. The opportunity to go for a record third straight gold (they'd also be the first four-time Olympians in men's basketball) signals a shift in Olympic participation and the health of the NBA game in general.
28
USWNT's Electrifying Teenager
Few observers thought the 17-year-old Mallory Pugh would get the chance to make an impact this early in her career. But injuries, retirements and pregnancies of star players have opened the door for Pugh to become a starter on the wing for the U.S. this year, and she has made things happen with her speed and skill.
29
The Female Bolt?
Like Usain Bolt, but with far less fanfare, the five-foot, fast-starting Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM) has won the 100 meters in the last two Olympics. Unlike Bolt, she continues to perform near her best times, even at age 29.
30
Superman Seeks History
Known in his native Japan as Superman, the 27-year-old Kohei Uchimura has won six straight world all-around titles, twice as many as any other gymnast. The 2012 Olympic all-around champion (and 2008 silver medalist) is widely considered the greatest male gymnast of all time. In Rio he will be seeking to become the first man to repeat as all-around champion since his countryman Sawao Kato in 1972.
31
Curry's Olympic Debut

Getty Images

Barring injury, soon-to-be two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry will play in his first Olympic Games this summer--a sign of how far he's come in a short span of time. Considering the shorter three-point line and open style of play, he will likely be the center of attention on Team USA.
32
Unmatched Dominance
Last September, at the world rowing championships in Lac Aiguebelette, France, the U.S. women's eight took the title ahead of New Zealand and Canada. It was the American squad's 10th straight world championship, a run of dominance unmatched across Olympic sports. Though the final eight rowers for Rio have yet to be determined, the U.S. women will go into the Games as heavy favorites for a third straight Olympic gold.
33
Felix's Double
Approaching her fourth Olympics at age 30, with six Olympic medals and four individual world championships, Allyson Felix will try to become just the third woman in Olympic history to win the 200 and 400 meters in the same Games. She already has a gold medal in the 200 (2012) and is the reigning world champion in the 400.
34
A Legendary Pairing
Switzerland's doubles team will pair legends Roger Federer (2008 Olympic gold medalist, '12 silver medalist and multiple major champion) and Martina Hingis. They have combined to win 22 Grand Slam titles. Rio will mark 20 years since Hingis's last--and only--Olympic appearance.
35
A Triumphant Return?
Paul George's broken leg in a 2014 Team USA scrimmage ranks high in the most gruesome injuries in sports history. After playing only six NBA games in '15, George returned to play 81 of 82 for the Pacers this year, reclaiming his old form and making the All-Star team. The stage is now set for a triumphant return to international competition for PG, bringing his story full circle.
36
U.S. Men Eye All-Around Gold

Peter Read Miller

At the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships earlier this month, the U.S. men, led by Donnell Whittenburg and Sam Mikulak--who went two--three, respectively, in the all-around--won the team gold medal. The U.S. squad for Rio will be finalized at the Olympic trials in St. Louis on June 24-26. Both Mikulak, a veteran of the London Games, and Whittenburg, who's shooting for his first Olympic berth, should help make the U.S. a medal contender come August.
37
Bolt's Biggest Challenge?
At 34, Justin Gatlin has Olympic gold (2004) and bronze ('12) with a four-year steroid suspension in between. He is a polarizing figure, seen by some as a stain on the sport for his past transgressions and by others as a hard worker who has done his time. But if he can hold his best form for another year, he could present Usain Bolt with his biggest challenge.
38
Back For Another Knockout
Just 17 when she became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal, at London in 2012, Shields now heads to Rio with a chance to become the first U.S. boxer, man or woman, to win back-to-back golds. Shields, who endured a childhood of poverty and abuse in Flint, Mich., received few commercial offers after London and elected to put off turning pro for another four years. Since then, the 165-pounder known as T-Rex has run her record to 68-1 and collected a world championship and a Pan-Am Games title. In March, Universal Pictures announced plans for a feature film based on Shields's life story. Look for a knockout finish.
39
Favelambivalence
Organizers have tried hard to banish Rio's iconic shantytowns from the Olympic stage, never more callously than with the razing of Vila Autodromo, adjacent to the Olympic Park. Yet to many Cariocas, favelas are monuments to community and Brazil's resourceful spirit. Will favelados feature in the way the Games are presented and perceived, and in what light?
40
The Next Swimming Speedster
Caeleb Dressel is fast. Very fast. The 6' 5" Florida sophomore clocked an 18.20 in the 50-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships this year, which shattered American and NCAA records (the 50-yard free isn't an Olympic event as it's swam in a 'short-course' pool). Assuming Dressel's speed can translate to an Olympic-size pool, he'll be a threat to make the team for Rio.
41
A New Pair On The Sand

Robert Beck

Kerri Walsh Jennings underwent shoulder surgery in the fall. She remains determined to make her fifth Olympic team, but first one paired with April Ross. Walsh Jennings has won three straight gold medals alongside Misty May-Treanor but a fourth looks to be the most challenging against Brazil and its home-field advantage.
42
Former NFL QB's Daughter Aims For Gold
Vashti Cunningham, the 18-year-old high jumper, is the daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. A gold medalist at the world indoor championships in March, Vashti is not only a rising star in the sport, but also a genuine medal threat in Rio.
43
A New Outlook In The Pool
The Ryan Lochte from the 2012 Games is not the same Ryan Lochte of now. In '13 the 11-time Olympic medalist moved to Charlotte to train with a new coach and shifted his focus to shorter events. That means that he and Michael Phelps, both in their 30s, could square off again at Olympic trials in the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.
44
Which Rudisha Will We See?
The greatest 800-meter runner in history, David Rudisha's world record of 1:40.91 at the London Games was one of the most breathtaking races in Olympic history. Rudisha, however, missed the entire 2013 season with an injury. Despite winning the world title in '15, he hasn't returned to his best form and could be vulnerable.
45
Don't Sleep On El Tri
Nobody expected El Tri to beat Neymar and Brazil in the 2012 gold medal game, but they did. And few have predicted Mexico will repeat. But under-23 players like Hirving Lozano and Erick (Cubo) Torres were terrific in qualifying, and you can be sure Mexico's three over-23 players will provide a talent boost in Brazil.
46
Could Rio Be Costas's Last Games?

Getty Images

Bob Costas has served as primetime host for every Olympics on NBC since 1992, and he stands alongside ABC's Jim McKay as the standard for Olympic hosts. But Costas turned 64 this March and no doubt is thinking about how much longer he wants the assignment. As you saw at the Sochi Games two years ago when an eye infection caused him to miss multiple broadcasts, it's a different telecast without him. So enjoy Costas in Rio because it could be the last Summer Olympics with him in the main chair.
47
U.S. On Track
If the world indoor championships were any indicator of how the track medal table in Rio may look, the United States is in good shape. Russia topped the medal count at the 2013 world championships, but missed out on the world indoors due to its doping ban. Kenya, last year's winners, looks to avoid a similar punishment if it can get its anti-doping act together. The United States also looks to improve upon a disappointing showing from last summer where the Americans finished with just six gold, six silver and six bronze medals.
48
Rio's Mayor
He's a Brazilian politician yet to be definitively ensnared in the kickbacks scandal that has helped push president Dilma Rousseff to the brink of impeachment and implicated members of the country's "construction-industrial complex." Is Eduardo Paes in the crosshairs? Or will he emerge from the Games bathed in a Ueberrothian glow and as a future president-in-waiting?
49
The Greatest Marathoner Of All Time?
Eliud Kipchoge is the most dominant marathoner in the world after a 10-year career on the track, where he won Olympic bronze and silver medals at 5,000 meters. Since transitioning to the roads, Kipchoge has won six of his seven marathons, with his most recent 2:03:04 victory at the London Marathon being just eight seconds shy of breaking the world record. A gold medal may vault Kipchoge into the conversation of greatest marathoners of all time.
50
Rugby Returns To The Games
Rugby makes its return to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, albeit in a different form. In '24, three teams competed in the traditional 15-on-15 style, with the U.S. capturing gold (it also won in '20). In Rio, powerhouses like Australia, Fiji, Great Britain, New Zealand and South Africa will suit up for rugby sevens, a wide-open version of the game that moves much quicker.
51
Home-Field Advantage For Marta

David E. Klutho

The five-time World Player of the Year has never played in an Olympics or World Cup in her home country, and now she'll get her chance. If Brazil's women can produce, it could provide a jolt for their sport, which has too often gone ignored in their country.
52
More For Mo
Four years ago Mo Farah won the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in his home country Olympics, one of the greatest performances ever by distance runner. His blistering kick has kept him at the top of the sport and now he will try to repeat his double, which has been done only by Lasse Viren in 1972-76.
53
A Diving Rivalry Renewed
Four years ago, Boudia became the first American male diver to win Olympic gold in two decades. He punched his ticket to Rio with a silver medal in the platform at the 2015 world championships. Once there, he'll renew his rivalry with regining world champ Qiu Bo, who finished second to Boudia in London.
54
Caster In The Crosshairs?
Last summer, the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the "female hyperandrogenism" policy, which was adopted in 2011 by the International Association of Athletics Federations (track and field's governing body) and deemed high levels of natural testosterone as a competitive advantage. One star affected by this ruling will be South Africa's Caster Semenya: The '09 world champion and '12 silver medalist at 800 meters was subjected to gender testing in '10. She may be a favorite for gold at 800 meters but just a year after the CAS ruling, a win will not be without controversy.
55
Oldest Female Gymnast In History
At last week's test event in Rio, 40-year-old Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan qualified for her seventh Olympics. She'll be 41 at the Games, which would make her the oldest Olympic female gymnast in history. She won a team gold medal with the Unified Team of the former Soviet Union in her first Olympics, in 1992, and a silver on vault for Germany in 2008. She could challenge for another medal in the event in Rio.
56
Grappling With History

David E. Klutho

Becoming the first American woman to win gold in judo was a dream come true for Harrison in Rio. (Ronda Rousey is the only other American woman to medal in judo at the Olympics. She took bronze in Beijing.) She will face tough competition from Brazil's own Mayra Aguiar but another win would make her the first woman outside of Asia to defend her judo gold medal.
57
Triathlete Out For Revenge
Twenty-nine-year-old triathlete Gwen Jorgensen nearly quit the sport after a flat tire at the 2012 Olympics led to a disappointing 38th-place finish. Even after a 12th-place finish at the start of the 2014 season, Jorgensen continued despite the struggles. She won a string of 13 major races from July 2014 through early April 2016 and asserted herself as one of the most dominant female athletes in the world. The former Ernst and Young accountant is a favorite for gold in Rio.
58
One More For Meb
At 42, Meb Keflezighi enters his final Olympics. His resume already boasts victories at the New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon and U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, as well as a silver medal from the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. A gold medal in Rio would be frosting on the cake--a cake that's already topped with lots of frosting.
59
A Super Bowl Champ Eyes A Medal
New England Patriots running back Nate Ebner made his return to rugby sevens (when Ebner was 17, he became the youngest ever to play for the U.S. national rugby sevens team), competing for the U.S. at the Singapore leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series. He scored two ties against Portugal, significantly improving his chances of making the team for Rio. It may be a nice boost to have a Super Bowl champion when the U.S. takes on heavyweights like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and defending world champion Fiji.
60
Following In Jackie's Footsteps
Great Britain's Jessica Ennis-Hill made a triumphant return to the multi-events after giving birth, winning gold at the 2015 world championships. A star across the pond, Ennis-Hill looks to become the first heptathlete to win back-to-back Olympic titles since the great Jackie Joyner-Kersee did so in 1988 and '92. Without the home crowd from London that propelled her to victory, will Ennis-Hill hold off challenges by world indoor champion Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada and compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson?
61
Can Ko Hold Off The Field?

Jordan Murph

In women's golf, top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand will look to fend of a group of talented South Koreans and an American contingent that will likely include Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson. Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie also hope to play for the U.S. team, but as the Games approach both remain far outside the qualification rankings.
62
Women's 100-Meter Hurdles
Potential finalists in this event include 2008 gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson (USA) and '12 gold medalist Sally Pearson of Australia. But first Harper-Nelson has to survive the U.S. trials, during which she will face three of the four fastest hurdlers in U.S. history. Pearson will have to continue her comeback from a broken wrist.
63
A Post-Baby Bump?
After taking a break to have a baby, Dana Vollmer is back on top for U.S. women in the butterfly and may punch her ticket for an Olympic title defense at the Olympic trials. Her 55.98 in Mesa, Ariz. in April was the fastest by an American. A meeting against Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom, who broke Vollmer's world record at last year's world championships, awaits in Rio.
64
Men's 4x100-Meter Relay
The USA has gone three consecutive Olympics without winning gold (Great Britain won in 2004 and the Bolt-led Jamaicans in the last two Games.) Never before had the U.S. gone even two consecutive Games without a 4x100 men's gold. Can they deny Bolt in his final Olympic race?
65
An Unlikely Path To Rio
A former Division II college runner who once worked at McDonald's after his college career, Boris Berian has suddenly risen to become one of the best American 800-meter runners in history. He is the reigning indoor world champion and will be a threat to challenge world record holder David Rudisha at the Games.
66
A Remarkable Recovery

Bill Frakes

Aries Merritt is the defending gold medalist in the 110-meter hurdles and the also the world record holder in the event. More significantly, he underwent a kidney transplant last September, four days after taking the bronze medal at the world championships.
67
Another Run At Gymnastics Podium
Gabby Douglas isn't the only gymnast from the Fierce Five looking to make her second-straight team. Raisman, who finished fourth in the women's individual all-around in London, has posted strong results in the last few months (second in the all-around at the Pacific Rim Championships; third in the all-around at the P&G Championships) and seems poised for another run at the podium in Rio.
68
Pele
The soccer legend never played in the Olympics but is expected to be a prominent ambassador. Pele could be a candidate to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony in Maracana stadium on Aug. 5. While no details have emerged, he told NBC Sports he'd treasure the opportunity to kick off the Games.
69
An Expanded Encore
In 2012, Galen Rupp won a historic silver medal in the 10,000 meters, the first American medal in the 10k in 48 years. Now he's planning to race in the marathon (he won the trials in L.A.) and the 10,000 in Rio, and his tactical speed will make him a medal threat in both.
70
The Neymar Of Archery
Can the hotshot dubbed the Neymar of Archery bring the host nation a gold medal? Marcus Vinicius D'Almeida was just 16 last year when he finished second--by a single arrow--in a World Cup final. His target in Rio will be first.
71
A First-Time Cycling Feat

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Chris Froome, the two-time Tour De France champion, may be able to pull off an impressive double in winning the time trial and road race, a feat no man has ever accomplished before. (Jan Ullrich won the road race but finished second in the time trial in 2000, and Fabian Cancellara won the time trial and took silver in the road race at the '08 Olympics.) Froome could also repeat Bradley Wiggins's '12 feat of winning the Tour de France and Olympic gold in the same year.
72
Another NFLer In The Running
Marquise Goodwin, a Buffalo Bills wide receiver, and 2012 Olympian, returned to track and field last summer and it was as if he never left. Goodwin finished fourth at the U.S. Championships (almost making the team for the world championships) and earned a silver medal in the long jump at the Pan American Games. Goodwin owns a personal best of 8.33 meters, a mark which would have won him gold in London, but he's struggled on the big stage to this point.
73
The Tank Of Dagestan
Born in the Russian republic of Dagestan, Abdulrashid Sadulaev, who doesn't turn 20 until May 9, is widely regarded as the most dominant wrestler pound-for-pound in the sport today. Competing in the 86-kg. class, he has already earned two world titles, as well as the intimidating nickname of The Tank. He figures to roll to gold in his first Olympics.
74
The Younger Dibaba
Latest in a line of remarkable distance runners from her family, Genzebe Dibaba pulled out of the 2012 Olympics with an injury in the qualifying heats, but broke the world record in the 1,500 meters last summer and will be favored to deliver a stunning performance in Rio. She is also likely to run the 5,000 meters, but in both skeptics will wonder if her times are too fast to have been run without PEDs.
75
The Older Dibaba
The Dibaba clan has already seen success at the Summer Games with Tirunesh capturing gold at 10,000 meters in 2008 and '12. She is looking to make her return to the track after giving birth to a son, Nathan Sileshi (born March 2015 in Atlanta, Ga.). She is undefeated at 10,000 meters in her career and a win in Rio would make her the first athlete to win three gold medals at the distance.
76
Rhode Takes Aim At History

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Kim Rhode looks to become just the second person to win an individual event medal in a six consecutive Olympic Games after Italian luger Armin Zoggeler accomplished the feat in the Winter games from 1994 to 2014.
77
The Air Up There
Renaud Lavillenie, the defending Olympic champion holds the world indoor record of 20 feet, 2 1/2 inches and only the great Sergey Bubka has vaulted higher outdoors.
78
Pool Or No Pool
Jordan Wilimovsky's ticket to Rio is already booked--he won gold in the 10K at the 2015 open water swimming world championships to secure a spot on the Olympic team--but swimming in the murky water in Rio isn't the only thing on his mind. The 22-year-old is also training to qualify in the 1500-meter freestyle event. Just a few weeks ago, he swam one of the fastest times in the event this year, making him a true threat to double up in both pool and open-water events.
79
A 1-2 Punch For U.S.
Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson will attempt to medal in the 1,500 meters. Rowbury was sixth in London, but at least three finishers in front of her have since been found to have used PEDs. She won the world indoor title this year. Simpson is a former world outdoor titlist.
80
Another Paralympic Star At Games?
Oscar Pistorius competed against able-bodied athletes in London. Paralympic long jump champion Markus Rehm seems poised to follow. Rehm, 27, lost his legs in a boating accident. He's awaiting the results of a study that proves his carbon-fiber prosthesis gives him no advantage over able-bodied athletes. The study is expected to conclude by the end of June, which still gives him an outside shot at the German Olympic team. Rehm raised eyebrows in winning the 2014 national championships over able-bodied athletes and holds a personal best--and Paralympic record--of 8.40 meters.
81
First Olympian Born In 2000s

AP

Want to feel old? Kanak Jha will be the first U.S. Olympian born in the 2000s. The 15-year-old will compete in table tennis, where he has consistently been a member of the U.S. national team since 2014.
82
Olympian Born In 1954
Michael Poulin took home bronze for the U.S. in dressage at the 1992 Games at 47. Now 70, he's looking to return to the Games. Hopes are high for Poulin, who won the U.S. national championship in dressage last November. The craziest part? He wouldn't even be the oldest dressage Olympian ever. That honor belongs to Arthur von Pongracz (AUS), who was 72 when he competed at the 1936 Olympics.
83
India's First Female Gymnast
Dipa Karmakar, the 22-year-old from Agartala, India, is the first female gymnast from her country ever to qualify for the Olympics. Her specialty is the vault, in which she is one of only five women to have successfully landed the Produnova vault--a double front flip that is the highest-rated vault in the women's rulebook--in competition. She will hope to stick it in Rio.
84
Latest In Long Line Of Fencers
Alexander Massialas took silver at last year's world championships and returns to the Summer Games (he was just 17 in London) with an outside chance at the individual medals and a good chance at the team gold. His father, Greg, competed at the 1984 and '88 Olympics in fencing as well.
85
Tinder's Olympic Debut
USWNT goalie Hope Solo once estimated that 70% of athletes in the Olympic Village are sexually active. Tinder was first released in September 2012, which means the popular hookup app will make its debut at the Summer Games in Rio. Expect screenshots of the world's best athletes looking for a match.
86
Can Anyone Break High Jump Record?

Getty Images

The high jump world record of 2.45 meters has been held by Javier Sotomayor of Cuba since 1993. In recent years, Qatar's Mutaz Barshim (2.43m) and Ukraine's Bohdan Bondarenko (2.42m) have come close but failed to dethrone Sotomayor. The stars of the high jump are not shy of going head-to-head, which has elevated the event's competition to the next level. For context of how impressive the world record is, here is Barshim's personal best compared to the height of a basketball hoop .
87
A Versatile Threat
When he ran 9.98 seconds for 100 meters early in the 2016 outdoor season, Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa), the 23-year-old reigning world champion in the 400 meters, became the first sub-10 (100 meters), sub-20 (200 meters), sub-44-second sprinter in history. His best shot at an Olympic gold medal is in the 400.
88
U.S.-Brazilian Volleyball Rivalry
The U.S. men's volleyball team won gold in 2008 and then missed the podium in '12. They now will have their hands full with a No. 1-ranked Brazilian squad boasting homecourt advantage.
89
A Return To Form For Reese
Brittney Reese won the gold at every global championship from 2009 to '13 before an injury sidelined her at the world championships last year. But a gold medal at the world indoor championships in March signaled a return to form for the Olympic long jump champion, putting her in a strong position to become the first woman to win back-to-back long jump titles at the Olympics.
90
Will Pro Boxers Compete?
Will professional fighters be in the ring in Rio? AIBA, the organization that governs international amateur boxing, has said it will vote at the end of May on a proposal to allow pros to compete in the Olympics. While qualifying procedures (and financial issues) make it unlikely that many would actually make the choice, Manny Pacquiao, among others, has indicated an interest.
91
Gray To Gold

Getty Images

Watching the Olympics as an alternate in London fueled Adeline Gray to two world championship titles before she punched her ticket to Rio. She is looking to become the first American woman to win an Olympic wrestling title.
92
Can U.S. Relay Team Rally?
USA Track and Field has appointed Dennis Mitchell as one of the relays coaches for Rio but recent performances and his previous suspension for banned substances have put his role in question. The U.S. men's 4x100 relay lost its silver medal after Tyson Gay tested positive for a steroid. The team has been disqualified three times at the World Relays and most recently the men's 4x100 team was disqualified at the 2015 world championships.
93
Rule 40
Rule 40 was created to protect official Olympic sponsors that spend millions of dollars for exclusive marketing rights during the Summer Games. As a result, athletes are limited in how much they can advertise for their own personal sponsors and must obey rules during a "blackout period." Violations of the rule can result in disqualification or even medals being stripped. Athletes took to Twitter in London with #WeDemandChange. The IOC has since relaxed the rule to allow "generic" or "non-Olympic advertising" yet the topic will definitely remain a hot topic of debate among athletes and their sponsors.
94
Best Triple Jump Ever?
With world record Jonathan Edwards of Great Britain watching from the broadcast booth, Christian Taylor came within .09 meters of breaking the triple jump world record of 18.29. Last season's rise of Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo also led to the first competition in history where two men have jumped above 18 meters. Taylor and Pichardo will make for an electrifying Olympic final that could also yield a world record.
95
Another Triathlon Threat
Sarah True complements Gwen Jorgensen as the U.S.'s second contender for triathlon gold in Rio. She finished fourth in London and has consistently finished on the podium in the World Triathlon Series. She may have company in Brazil as her husband, Ben, looks to make the Olympic team on the track.
96
Metro Line 4

Getty Images

This extension of Rio's metro system, from Ipanema to the Barra da Tijuca cluster, is essential to reducing nightmarish traffic. But in the race to build it, every bit of good news--e.g., crews met a mid-April deadline to complete the tunnel through which the subway will pass--has been matched by something sobering. The next date to watch: a test of the trains scheduled for late June.
97
An End To U.S. Distance Dry Spell?
The U.S. has not won a gold medal in any distance over 800 meters since David Wottle's run at the 1972 Olympics. Ajee Wilson has been one of the strongest American middle distance runners after setting the world junior record at 800 meters and running the world's fastest time in 2014. Can she finally end the U.S. distance dry spell for gold?
98
From College Football Playoff To Rio
The Oregon Duck wide receiver is another football player looking to make his first Olympic team. Allen was the 2014 U.S. outdoor champion in the 110-meter hurdles but missed the 2015 track season as he recovered from a knee injury sustained during the College Football Playoff. He is healthy again and ready to compete.
99
Throwing Shade Over The Field
In 2012, shot putter Joe Kovacs fell just short of making the Olympic team, finishing fourth at the trials. But since then, he's continued to improve. Kovacs won gold at the 2015 world championships and at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco in July last year, Kovacs launched a 22.56-meter throw--the longest throw in the world since '03 and eighth on the all-time throwers list.
100
Los Angeles 2024
The USOC will do everything it can to promote and remind people of the United States's bid to bring the Summer Games back to the United States for the first time since 1996.

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