The Wonderkids: Rio Olympics
As the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio draw ever closer, the world prepares to be captivated by the likes of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill. But Rio also represents the perfect platform for the lesser-known and up-and-coming to propel themselves into superstardom and become household names by 2020. Today we will look at some of the unknown and raw talent to look out for at Rio’s summer spectacular.
Christian Taylor (Athletics)
This American triple jumper leapt within 8cm of beating Johnathan Edward’s unchallenged, 20 year record of 18.29m at last year’s World Championships as he earned a gold medal in the process. However, this was the first time Taylor jumped over 18m, so it remains to be seen if it was a one-off or if he can replicate those heights in Rio. Nevertheless, if Taylor manages to overcome Edward’s record it will be one of the greatest moments of the whole games.
Stephen Curry (Basketball)
If you follow the NBA, or sport in general, then you will probably have already heard or seen just how good the 6’3” point guard is. However, if you have been living under a rock the last few months then prepare to see one of the greatest point-shooters in history grace the courts of Rio and score big for the US national team. He holds the record for the most three-pointers in a single NBA season and has topped the league's three-point scoring charts in each of the past three seasons meaning no corner is off-limits to the supernaturally precise Curry.
Wayde van Niekerk (Athletics)
The men’s 400m is one of the most anticipated events of this year’s games and the South African is looking to marshal his way through a tough crowd and find a place on the podium. This time last year, he registered the fourth fastest time in history in Beijing at the World Championships winning a gold medal in the process and ensuring he is the man to beat in Rio. Van Niekerk's time was faster than the great Michael Johnson's gold medal-winning run at the 1996 Games and a third of a second behind the American's 17-year-old world record. But could he propel himself beyond Johnson in Brazil?
Genzebe Dibaba (Athletics)
Women’s athletics equivalent of Usain Bolt, the global superstar of 2016, Ethiopia’s very own Genzebe Dibaba. The 25-year-old is recognized as the greatest distance runner’s over the past two years as she set four new world records, one of which stood for 22 years, across events from 1,500m to 5,00m, all by a considerable margin. The younger sister of three-time Olympic champion, Tirunesh Dibaba, she is looking overcome all competitors and records as she competes for gold in Rio.
Marcus Vinicius D’Almeida (Archery)
We appreciate that Archery may not be your first choice for viewing this Summer, however, the “Neymar of Archery”, is possibly the host nations best hope at a medal despite being only 18-years-old. D’Almeida shot to fame by finishing second at the 2014 World Archery Championships at 16 only missing out on first position by one solitary arrow. Showing unrivalled composure under pressure despite his tender age, D’Almeida is certainly one to watch in Rio
Yana Kudryavtseva (Rhythmic Gymnastics)
Russia may not even appear in Rio. Either way, they have a star in their midst who is already accustomed to perfection, flawlessness and winning. Kudryavtseva, became the youngest ever all-round world champion, at the age of 15, as she frolicked towards three gold medals at the 2013 World Championships. However, Rio will be her first appearance on the Olympic stage.
Rio is sure to be a great party, as the youngsters and hidden gems attempt to de-throne the big boys and girls on the biggest stage of them all.