Finally, the London Games are here.
As a lifelong Olympics junkie, I am proud to represent the National Football Post's Daily Jolt section and provide this preview ahead of the Summer Games in London.
Today, as the Opening Ceremony takes place, let's take a look at some of the biggest storylines for the Summer Olympics.
What more can American Michael Phelps actually accomplish after his eight-gold performance in Beijing? Well, the swimmer will be competing in seven events in London (he actually qualified for eight) and it's a foregone conclusion that he will become the most decorated Olympian of all time. Phelps will overtake Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina with just three medals at the Games (Latynina hauled in 18 medals over three Olympics). The 14 career gold medals Phelps owns are already five more than the nine of Latynina, Mark Spitz, Paavo Nurmi and Carl Lewis. Phelps can also become the first man to win an Olympic event three times, as he'll have chances in the 400 IM, 200 IM, 200 fly and the 100 fly. Japan's Kosuke Kitajima could get the honor Sunday, however, if he claims the 100 breaststroke for the third time.
The next big thing?
Of course, the athlete who many believe is poised to become the face of the Games despite the presence of Phelps is American teammate and friendly rival Ryan Lochte, who bested Phelps in the 400 IM at the U.S. Trials. Lochte is also poised to contend with Phelps in the 200 IM, the event that was won by Phelps by .09 seconds at the trials. But Lochte is the world-record holder in that race. Even if Phelps has another huge Games, his swims at least will be compelling because of Lochte's presence.
The female Phelps?
The buzz around 17-year-old Missy Franklin is nearing Phelps-ian levels, as the 6-1 Colorado native has the talent, poise and charm to steal the show for the Americans in London. Like Phelps, she'll swim in seven events and is a serious contender to medal in five. She owns the world's top times this year in the 100- and 200-meter backstrokes, and she should medal in the medley relays. The real question will be whether she could surprise the field in the 100 and 200 freestyles. Natalie Coughlin currently holds the female record of six medals in a single Olympics in 2008, but Franklin could reach that here or in 2016.
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