Come July 28 and all eyes will be on the London Olympics. Business Standard Weekend lists six athletes who could set the Games on fire
His “lightening bolt” celebration is perhaps one of the most iconic sights in the world of athletics and Usain Bolt is ready to show more of that in London. The fastest man in the world won three gold medals in Beijing and also broke world records. This time around while he is expected to win the medals, it might not be easy for him to break his own world record — 9.58 seconds in 100 metres. At a recent event, he clocked 9.76 seconds. Bolt has been training hard and working on his strength, speed, endurance as well as technique. His training regime this time round, he said, includes a good night’s sleep. His main rivals would be Asafa Powell and Kim Collins.
It is hard to believe that Michael Phelps is only 26 years old. He already has 16 Olympic medals to his name. This includes a record eight gold medals in swimming which he won in Beijing 2008. Before that in Athens, four years ago, he won six gold and two bronze medals. The London Olympics might be Phelps’s last. He has said that he intends to call it a day after.
Phelps has also said that he hasn’t been training as hard as he was four years ago. His coach, Bob Bowman, said he isn’t as “relentless” and hasn’t prepared as much as he would have wanted to. Phelps’ main rival would be fellow American Ryan Lochte.
It is said about Kohei Uchumura that he rarely has a bad event and is nearly flawless. The triple-world champion in artistic gymnastics settled for a silver medal at Beijing Olympics, but in the last three years he has won almost every competition he entered. He remains the only man to win three consecutive world titles. Uchumura, 23, combines style with skill. Even his rivals say it is hard to imagine anyone but him winning the gold medal.
After finishing second twice at the World Championships, Uchumura’s rival, Germany’s Phillip Boy, in fact lamented that he was born in the wrong era.
(Pole Vault, Russia)
She is a serial record-breaker and with 30 world records against her name in pole vault, Yelena Isinbayeva is regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Like Phelps, London could be her last Olympics and she has in her sights pole vaulter Sergei Bubka’s record of 35 world records. She has two Olympic gold medals in her kitty and is expected to add more in London. She knows, and even admitted in an interview, that her only competition is herself. Expect a few records to be broken by her again in London.
Two years ago at the World Indoor Championship, she finished fourth and took some time off from the sport. She came back in 2011 and since then has been training hard for what could be her last Olympic Games.
(Czech Republic, Decathlon)
Not exactly a household name but Roman Sebrle will participate in the toughest discipline at the Olympics. Sebrle is the only man in the world to score over 9,000 points in the ten-sport event. He won the gold medal in Athens 2004. At 35, Sebrle will take part in a two-day gruelling event which includes 100m, long jump, decathlon shot, high jump, decathlon 400m, 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m. Sebrle has already stated that he intends to participate in the 2016 Olympics as well, but in golf.
Nicknamed “Super Dan”, this 28-year-old shuttler has won everything on offer in badminton — Olympic medal, World Championships and Super Series Events. Dan has had a slow start to 2012, losing a few tournaments. But over the last three months, he has won the All-England Open, German Open and Thomas Cup with China. He is ranked number two in the world right now and looks in great shape to defend his Olympic medal.
His chief rival in London would be fellow Chinese and world number one, Lee Chong Wei, and Indonesia’s Taufiq Hidayat.