2016 Rio Olympic GamesBy Afrique I. Kilimanjaro, Editor / August 4, 2016
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The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are set to begin this Friday, August 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, home of some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery and landmarks.
Spectators of the Rio Games, can frolick and dine at great restaurants along Copacabana Beach. Visitors can also partake in a Caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil made with Brazilian rum, Cachaa (distilled alcohol made from sugarcane juice), juice of sugar cane, lime juice and ice.
While in Rio, visitors should check out the city’s thriving arts and crafts markets, Samba to some Bossa Nova tunes, visit the local museums and take a tram ride up Sugarloaf Mountain to view the statue, Christ the Redeemer.
There will be 555 athletes representing the United States in Rio. Of that number, 292 athletes are women – the most ever on a team. The team also consists of 191 returning Olympians. Sports fans and Olympic supporters will have plenty to watch and here’s just a few of the American athletes who are poised to capture gold at the games.
Backflips for Simone Biles
U.S. gymnast Simone Biles is not yet a household name, but it is expected that after these Olympics she will be. This Texan is a three time all-around World Gymnastics Champion, the first American to accomplish this feat. She is the most decorated U.S. gymnast having captured 14 medals and 10 World Championship titles. Biles is favored to win five medals in the following events: all-around individual, all-around team, balance beam, floor exercise and vault.
Cunningham by Leaps and Bounds
Vashti Cunningham is an 18-year-old high jumper ready to compete in Rio. She is also the daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. Last March, the younger Cunningham captured a gold medal at the World Indoor Championships and she’s set to make her mark in Rio.
Allyson Felix runs like the wind
This four time Olympian is the winner of six Olympic medals and four individual World Championships. At Rio, Felix will run for the gold in the 200 meters, 400 meters and the 4×400 meter relay. She won the gold in the 200m at the London Games and she reigns supreme as the current world champion in the 400. If she succeeds in her quest for gold in Rio, Felix will be the third woman in Olympic history to win gold in those two events at the same Olympic Games.
Gay runs for redemption & love of his sport
After serving a year-long suspension for doping, sprinter and relay specialist Tyson Gay is back in form and ready to make a mark on these games. On Gay’s Web site, the Lexington, Kentucky native states, “This is the hardest I’ve worked my whole life.” Let’s hope it all pays off for the fastest man in the United States.
Cullen Jones is set to make a splash
This will be the third Olympic appearance for swimmer Cullen Jones. The North Carolina State University graduate from Irvington, N.J. won a gold and two silver medals during the 2012 Olympics and in 2008 he helped capture gold and set a world record in the 400m relay. Currently, Jones is the American record holder in the 50m freestyle. To make his mark in Rio, Jones has prepared by swimming 8,000 meters a day, five to six hours a day for six days a week. Get ready for Jones!
En guarde for Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad is an internationally ranked sabre fencer from Maplewood, N.J. This will be her first Olympic games. She will be the first Muslim woman representing the United States to wear a hajib in competition. This Duke University graduate, with degrees in international relations and African and African American Studies, began fencing at the age of 13. According to her bio, Muhammad has been a member of the United States National Fencing Team since 2010. She is ranked as the No. 2 fencer in the United States and No. 8 in the world. She is also a 5-time Senior World medalist and a member of the 2014 World Champion team.
Heads up for Mallory Pugh
Colorado native Mallory Pugh plays forward for the United States women’s national soccer team. She will be the only non-professional member of team U.S.A. Soccer in Rio. Pugh has received several awards such as the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year and the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
Claressa Shields – Queen of the boxing ring
At age 17, Claressa Shields became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing during the London Games (2012). Throughout her life, this Flint, Michigan native has beaten many odds. In the 2016 games, Shields is ready to box her way to a second gold medal. To learn more about Shields and her quest for gold, visit PBS.org and watch the Independent Lens documentary on this boxing phenomenon. She will be a force to reckon with in Rio.
Game, set, match for Serena Williams
At 33-years-old, she’s No. 1 in the world, holds 22 Grand Slam titles, physically fit to perfection, takes no prisoners on the tennis court and after Rio she will be a five time Olympian. Serena Williams is the queen of tennis and she’s slated to defend her singles gold medal and doubles gold in Rio with sister, Venus. During the games, Serena and Venus are slated to add to their Olympic gold count and Serena, who holds four Olympic golds, could become the most decorated Olympic tennis player of all time.