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Athletes to watch at the Rio Olympic Games

Jason Lewis jlewis@ourweekly.com | 8/4/2016, midnight
The world’s attention will be focused on Brazil for the next two weeks, with the opening ceremony for the 2016 ...

The world’s attention will be focused on Brazil for the next two weeks, with the opening ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games scheduled tomorrow. That will launch a two-week athletic spectacle, where the world’s fastest, strongest, and most skilled athletes will compete in various events.

Many star athletes are attracted to the Olympic Games, many stars are born during these Games, and there are several fascinating storylines.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, two American women stole the show, and they both look for repeats at the Rio Games.

Gymnast Gabby Douglas rose to fame as she won gold medals in the individual all-around and team competitions. She was the first American gymnast two win gold medals in both of those competitions in the same Olympics, and she was the first African American woman to win the individual all-around gold at the Olympics.

Douglas went on to become a public figure over the past four years, and she looks to defend her title. While she is one of the favorites, her teammate Simone Biles’ star is rising, and she is looking to become the next household name. Biles is already the most decorated female gymnast in history, as she has racked up United States and world championships over the past three years. The competition between her and Douglas may be the most exciting storyline of the Olympics.

At the London Games, sprinter Allyson Felix shared the stage with Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt. It was Felix’s third Olympic games, and she took home gold medals in the 200-meter dash, and both the 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay. In Rio, she will look to become just the third woman in Olympic history to win the 200 and 400 meters in the same Games.

There are also other athletes who are looking to make Olympic history.

Wrestler Jordan Burroughs can become the third American to win back-to-back Olympic freestyle wrestling titles. He has a 124-2 record in international competition and is one of the most dominant figures in the sport’s history.

Boxer Claressa Sields became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal when she competed at the London Games. Now she heads to Rio with a chance to become the first U.S. boxer, man or woman, to win back-to-back golds.

At 42, Meb Keflezighi enters his final Olympics. The UCLA graduate won the silver medal in the marathon in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Sprinter Aries Merritt is the defending gold medalist in the 110-meter hurdles and also the world record holder in the event.

Sprinter Justin Gatlin was the world-record holder in the 100-meter dash before he was suspended for four years for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. That was just before Bolt became the most dominant sprinter ever. At age 34, Gatlin could give Bolt a run for his money.

Former NFL quarterback Randell Cunningham’s daughter ,Vashti, won the gold medal at the world indoor championships for the high jump in March, and she is a rising star in the sport.