Rio’s intriguing Olympic stories

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Photo courtesy of CNN

With the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games just days away, here is a look at a few of the biggest stories surrounding them, minus the Zika virus, of course.

Can Michael Phelps go out on top?

The man who made his Olympic debut at the ripe age of 15 looks to finish where he started: at the top.  Since coming out of retirement, Phelps became the first American male swimmer to qualify for a fifth Olympics and has his sights set on three more gold medals.  He qualified for both the 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly in addition to the 200-meter Individual Medley.  However, the 31-year-old Phelps will have to fend off 25-year-old Tom Shields, who finished second in both butterfly events.  Not to mention rival Ryan Lochte, who was hampered by an injury but still qualified for the 200-meter IM.  Competition will be lurking in the water.

The unqualified gold medalist

Another familiar face has similar goals to Phelps, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.  Although a hamstring injury caused him to withdraw from the Olympic Trials, Bolt still found his name on the Jamaican roster.  Despite not qualifying, it is anticipated he will compete in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4 x100-meter relay.

To dope or not to dope

It seems almost every Olympics we learn that someone we have grown to love has failed a drug test and therefore is stripped of their medal.  Just a few weeks ago, the entire Russian track and field team was banned from Rio amid doping sanctions.  Arguably Bolt’s biggest competition in the 100-meter will be 34-year-old American Justin Gatlin, who served a four-year ban from the sport after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.  He recently posted his personal best and won the Olympic Trials, becoming the oldest American to ever qualify for the Olympic team.  Many of Bolt’s fellow Jamaican teammates have also been placed on probation after failed tests.  Since the 2012 Olympic Games, six of the top nine finishers in the women’s 1500-meter have been banned from the sport. Although it is one of the most entertaining events to watch, track and field has been caught up in “dirty play” for quite some time. Expect to see much of the same to transpire in 2016.

Golden Beam

The United States women’s gymnastics team is also looking to repeat gold in Rio. They are led by Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, who, along with the team all-around gold, earned individual gold medals in 2012.  However, just as they did in the London games, they will have to fend off Russia, which took home the silver medal.

Enjoy the 16 days of action packed coverage, because before you know it we will be looking ahead to the 2020 games.