Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sat July 12: The Threats to Team USA

There are 28 sports and 302 events. Over the next two weeks as we countdown to Beijing, we're going to preview as many events as we can, including all the big name events like track and field, swimming and gymnastics.

But first, let's look at the competition overall. The United States is expected to be at the top of the medal count by the end of the Olympics. But there are several nations that could give the U.S. a good run for its medals.

Predicting the Medal Table For The Olympics

The only real threat to the United States in terms of medal count is the host nation, China. After all, the benefit of being the host nation is that it gets to enter athletes in all the events. And in Athens four years ago, China showed that it was preparing its athletes very well for their moment this summer. The most outstanding and memorable performane by the Chinese was in the men's 110 meter hurdles where Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang won the gold medal in world record time (see video here). Since then, he has been training and running harder to prepare for this summer's meet where surely he looks to make his country proud in front of a sell-out home crowd.

The strongest sport than the Chinese will most likely dominate is in the diving events. At last year's national championships in Melbourne, the Chinese won 9 of the 10 available gold medals and won 14 medals in total.

And China will be a strong force in gymnastics too. The Chinese won multiple medals at last year's world championships in Stuttgart, including gold medals in the men's team final and men's individual all-around. In Beijing, viewers will want to especially look out for Yang Wei, multiple gold medalist and world champion as well as an integral member of the gold medal winning team in Sydney 2000 and at the past two world championships.

Other than China, there aren't that many nations that pose a credible threat to the United States in getting the top of the medal table. But if I had to pick a contender to place behind China and the United States in the medals table, Russia would be my pick. Why? Because the Russians are always determined to win. They always seem to have a contender in every sport, from gymnastics to swimming to wrestling. If you have seen past Olympics, the Russians always field a large team. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been in the top 3 of the medal standings. Don't count Russia out, they could give the United States several upsets and scares during the games.

Other than that, look out for the usual suspects in different sports. For swimming, look out for the Australians. In track and field, look out for the Jamaican sprinters and the African long-distance runners. The Germans may be heard more than once in the rowing and canoe/kayak events and the Koreans will be big in archery.

We'll talk more as we look at the individual events and sports in the next coming days and weeks as we get closer to the opening ceremony.

Other notes...
Former Yankees great and broadcaster Bobby Murcer dies at the age of 62.

Dwain Chambers Wins 100 meter Final at British trials

Wladimir Klitschko knocked out former sparring partner Tony Thompson in the 11th round to successfully defend his heavyweight titles Saturday.

Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva broke her own world record while others failed to remain consistent at the Golden League Meet in Rome.

Brazil defeated Cuba in straight sets to capture World League title.

Thanks for reading, sorry this came out so late...

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