On The Right Track with Diane Dixon: On the Road to the London Olympics 2012

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The GAMES are finally here! July 27 will mark the opening ceremony with 30 sports, 17,000 athletes, 227 countries, over 20,000 journalists, 63,000 people involved in staging the Games, 500,000 daily spectators, and over 9 million tickets sold to engage in the Games of the XXX Olympiad.

The Opening Ceremony will commence on July 27 at 9:00 PM London Time.  The Queen of England will officially declare the Games open but before that James Bond, Paul McCartney and other high-profile celebrities and political heads will dazzle the crowd.  The theme of the night will be “Isles of Wonders”, a name drop from English playwright William Shakespeare.  First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, along with European royalty, will be in attendance.

Brooklyn’s own Lia Neal, will be one of those 17,000 athletes representing Team USA.  She is one of the youngest swimmers on her way to compete in the 4×100 Meter Relay.  Neal is only seventeen years old.  Growing up in the Fort Greene section, Neal was able to break through the stereotype that swimming is a costly sport due to expensive training costs, private lessons and travel by receiving a scholarship from Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics, a Manhattan nonprofit whose mission is to help people achieve health through sports and fitness; and her school, Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan, also contributed money to help defray the costs of training.  She will be the second African-American female athlete to make the team.  Neal will begin her Games’ experience on Saturday, July 28.

There will be the traditional parade of athletes from over 200 countries walking around the stadium.  From the United States, faces such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Abby Wambach and Jordyn Wieber will be the most recognizable during the march.  Other notables such as Tyson Gay, Kevin Durant, Allyson Felix, Gabby Douglas and Alex Morgan will also be there.

Some of the biggest stories will be Michael Phelps, with seven races to compete in, he needs three more gold medals to pass Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina as the most decorated Olympian of all time.  Phelps has 16 Olympic medals and Latynina has 18 Olympic medals.  Dubbed the “female” Michael Phelps, seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin is on the verge of swimming superstardom.  If she medals in all four of her individual events and makes each of Team USA’s three relay squads, she could become the first American female athlete to win seven medals at one Olympiad.

Four years ago, Usain Bolt was the quintessence of dominance, winning three gold medals in world record times. This year, he could be the first sprinter in history to win the 100-and 200-meter sprints in consecutive Olympic Games.  Led by Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach, the U.S. women’s soccer team would have to overcome their 2011 World Cup Final loss to Japan to get the gold medal.  Reigning World Champ Jordyn Wieber and U.S. Trials Champ Gabby Douglas could make history if each one gets gold; it would make a third consecutive title for Team USA.

American hurdler Lolo Jones remains a long-shot for Olympic Gold after hitting hurdle nine in Beijing on her quest to win has become a household name.  Due to her backstories on NBC Nightly News, HBO, ESPN cover, TIME magazine & spread in Rolling Stone magazine, expect to hear her name, especially if she makes it to the finals.  American sprinter Allyson Felix is missing one thing from her resume and that is an individual Olympic Gold Medal.  A prize she will seek in the 100 and 200 Meters.

Decathlete Ashton Eaton broke the event’s 11-year-old World Record at the U.S. Trials in Eugene, Oregon, he will be the most decorated athlete since Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson ruled the sport.  Valarie Brisco-Hooks, Michael Johnson and Marie-Jose Perec are the only athletes to win gold medals in the 200 and 400 Meters.  American Sanya Richards-Ross looks for redemption as she goes for gold in the 400 Meters after an upsetting third place at the Beijing Games.  Ross also holds the second-fastest time in the 200 Meters.  Perhaps she can add her name to this list.

American sprinter and U.S. record holder in the 100-Meters, Tyson Gay had multiple surgeries and is looking to win his first Olympic medal.  He will have to first get around World Record-Holder Usain Bolt and his teammate, 2011 World Champion Yohan Blake.  After defeating Bolt at the Jamaican Trials in both the 100 and 200 Meters, he could take his first step toward international celebrity if he wins the gold medal.

New Yorker gymnast John Orozco is one of the most talented gymnasts in decades and could become a major international symbol if he can bring home the gold.  Of course, let’s not forget the Williams sisters in Tennis.  Serena Williams could be the first woman to win double-gold since her sister captivated this at the Sydney Games in 2000.

Kenyan runner David Rudisha broke the 13-year-old 800-Meter World Record twice in one week, and has been virtually unbeatable since 2010. He will be one of the faces to watch this August.  American Galen Rupp has a chance to make history.  An American man has never medaled over 800 Meters since 1968 (excluding the Marathon).  Rupp could be the first man by running both the 5,000 & 10,000 Meters.

American quarter-miler and 2008 Olympic Champion Lashawn Merritt is looking to defend his title.  However, up-and-coming Kerani James from Grenada, at nineteen years old, has the potential to capture gold after defeating Merritt at the 2011 World Championships.

Good luck to Team USA at the London Olympic Games from July 25 –  August 12.  For more information, please visit:  http://www.london2012.com

For more information or questions, please contact OlympianDianeD@yahoo.com
Check out my blog website at http://blog.dianedixonfoundation.org
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