In 2016 the eyes of both specialists and enthusiasts of the sports world are going to be focused on Rio de Janeiro. The spectacular Brazilian city will be hosting the 31st edition of the Olympic Games, on August 5 – 21. This is going to be the first time ever that this event takes place in South America and local athletes will certainly do their best to deliver their finest performance of all time. Will they make?
In London Olympic Games, back in 2012, Brazil finished 22nd on the medal table, with 17 medals (3-5-9); Cuba occupied the 16th position, with five titles, and Jamaica ranked 18th by conquering four titles. In Rio, these countries might not finish in the same order; on the other hand, Canada is likely to climb to a new high. After Toronto, the Canadian athletes will certainly surpass the lonely gold medal they won in the British capital.
PanamericanWorld invites you to take a look at the main challenges to be faced by several of the continent’s stars in this edition of the Olympic Games.
Usain Bolt: An Olympic Legend (Jamaica, Athletics)
The best sprinter of all time might put an end to his career after Rio Olympic Games. Bolt has been unbeatable in his two Olympic performances. In Beijing he won in 100 meter dash and set a world record at the time, with 9.69 seconds, which he later broke in Berlin; he set another record in 200 meter dash by clocking 19.30 seconds and, as a final flourish, a new Olympic and world record was set in the 4×100 meter relay, along with Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell.
Four years later, in London, Bolt took his legend up to a new level. He was victorious in 100 meter dash, with 9.63 seconds (Olympic record), won the 200 meter dash race, with 19.32 seconds and repeated the victory by joining Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Yohan Blake in 4×100 relay, which amazed everybody with a world record of 36.84 seconds. Bolt will be 30 years old in Rio. His skill level is not the same, but he still stands out as the main sprinting figure. He owns the highest number of titles in world championships and he’s the only sprinter in the history that has climbed to the highest position of the podium, in 100 and 200 meter, in two Olympic Games in a row. Will he Bolt do it again in Rio? That would be the best way to say goodbye to active sports.
Ruben Limardo: Another Golden Sword Thrust (Venezuela, Fencing)
In London Olympic Games, the Venezuelan fencer made history by winning in individual sword. In Toronto Pan-Am Games, this great athlete was untouchable and he won two titles, one of them as a team (he fought along with his brother Francisco). The challenge is going to be hard for Limardo in Rio Olympic Games, and he’s one of the main Olympic hopes of his country.
Brazilian Volleyball: The Dream of the Olympic Triple Championship
In the 1990s, the Cuban women’s volleyball team won three Olympic titles in a row. It seemed that no other team would repeat such achievement; nevertheless, in Rio the Brazilian volleyball players will try to match it. In Beijing and London, the South American team defeated the United States in the final. Nobody would be surprised if these two teams meet again in the discussion for the gold.
Golden? Strokes by Cesar Cielo in front of his Audience (Brazil, Swimming)
This swimmer amazed the world with his Olympic title in 50 meter, free style, in Beijing Olympic Games, 2008, where he also won the bronze in 100 meter. Afterwards, in London, he finished third in 50 meter. This is his favorite modality, since he has also won it three times in World Championships. The Brazilians are hoping that, in Rio, Cesar can touch the golden sky in the fastest swimming test.
Yane Marques Dreams about Gold in Rio (Brazil, Modern Pentathlon)
Yane Marques is one of the main figures of the Brazilian sports realm. In London Olympic Games she got the bronze medal and finished with silver in the 2013 – 2015 World Championships. Moreover, she stood out in Toronto Pan-Am Games, by prevailing over Mexican Tamara Vega for one point. In Rio, 32-year-old Marques will try to go up to the top of the podium. In previous competitions she has already left behind the two latest Olympic champions, Lithuanian Laura Asadauskaite and German Lena Schöneborn; therefore, she’s undoubtedly one of the favorites for the gold medal.
Mijain Lopez: The Last Round of a Fighter (Cuba, Greco-Roman Wrestling)
Twice Olympic champion and owner of five world gold medals, the Cuban athlete is described as one of the best wrestlers of all time. In Rio, Lopez might fight in his last competition. He is the favorite to hold the title in the +120 kilogram division, although he’ll find a strong rival in Turkish Riza Kayaalp.
Neymar Jr.: The Year of the Golden Ball? (Brazil, Soccer)
The Brazilian soccer player had a great 2015 season win the Barcelona team, with five titles. His weak spot last year was the set-to in the game against Colombia, in the America Cup, and the subsequent sanction. In 2016, the Barcelona players are looking forward to improving the results obtained in the previous season and Neymar will certainly go for the title with Brazil in the Centenarian America Cup. With such media pressure and the interest of sponsors, this magnificent player is likely to play with the Brazilian team, which is mainly made up of soccer player under 23 years old, and fight in the Olympic tournament for the only title he hasn’t collected.
Idalys Ortiz (Cuba, Judo)
In Rio, Cuba’s finest judoka will try to hold the Olympic crown she won in London and add a third medal to her successful Olympic career. This strong athlete, who fights in the +78 kilogram division, won the bronze in Beijing. Four years later she defeated Japanese Mika Sugimoto in the final. Over the past four-year period, she has been on the podium in the main events (World Championships, Grand Prix) and in the Brazilian city, although perhaps her finest moments are in the past, she’s still labeled favorite in her weight.
Tri: Another Gold in Soccer?
The victory of the Mexican soccer team in the final against Brazil is being still enjoyed by that country. That was Mexico’s 13th title in the history of Olympic Games. Is Mexico going to be able to surpass the seven medals won in London? The Tri, although not many people has it as a favorite to the highest position of the podium, will be one of the candidates for medals.
Mariana Pajon: A Gold-Value BMX
In London 2012, Colombia delivered its best performance in Olympic Games, by winning eight medals in seven different disciplines. The largest applause, of course, for Mariana Pajon, who