7 US teams to watch during the 2016 Olympics


Photo credit: Cybele Zhang

The 2014-2015 University of Southern California men’s volleyball team huddles during a game against Brigham Young. The USC team included Micah Christenson, starting USA setter.

Sunny beaches, lush rainforests, colorful neighborhoods and now the 2016 Summer Olympic Games — Rio has it all. With so many things to watch it can be hard to choose what to focus on. Keep reading to find out some highlights in the upcoming games.

The 31st Olympiad will begin on August 5 and run until August 21. This year’s games include over 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries.

There are 41 different sports, ranging from tennis and equestrian to trampoline and canoe slalom.

7. Men’s Volleyball

Volleyball is a fast-paced sport that is exciting to watch. In the Olympics, it is played in a bracket, which allows the viewer to really route for a team.

After a disappointing fifth-place finish in 2012, the men’s team is hopeful for a successful Olympic run. A final roster has not been released yet, but will mostly likely include Matt Anderson — 2015 FIVB World Cup MVP and member of the 2012 Olympic team, Micah Christenson — 2015 FIVB World Cup Best Setter and Erik Shoji — 2015 FIVB World Cup Best libero.


6. Men’s Swimming

Swimming can be a nail-biting sport with thrilling finishes that sometimes come down to the millisecond.

The USA men’s roster shows incredible depth this year. Michael Phelps, a new father, hopes to break his own record a become the most decorated Olympian in history. Phelps has already won 22 medals; 18 are gold. Ryan Lochte hopes to qualify too, thus becoming the third US male to qualify for four Olympic teams. Nathan Adrian will also hope to add even more depth to this veteran roster.


5. Women’s Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a sport that combines artistry with athleticism. It has something for everyone with events ranging from vault to floor routines.

The United States has dominated in recent history and won the past three Olympic all-around gold medals. Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas will certainly put up a strong fight for the United States. Biles was the first gymnast to collect 10 world championship gold medals and Douglass is reigning all-around Olympic champion.

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4. Women’s Volleyball

Women’s volleyball is played in the same format as men’s volleyball, but women’s games tend to have more back and forth, long rallies — which makes it very fun to watch.

The US women are currently ranked No. 1 in the world by FIVB and are favored to be a medal contender; the team won silver in the 2012 London Olympics. Although a final roster has not been released, it is likely to include multiple Southern California natives like Natalie Hagglund (USC) and Karsta Lowe (UCLA). It will likely also include veteran Jordan Larson, who won 2015 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Player of the Year and was part of the 2012 Olympic team. The team is coached by Karch Kiraly, greatest volleyball player of the 20th century according to FIVB.

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3. Men’s Basketball

Basketball is a fast-paced, high-scoring sport. The United States’ successful professional basketball league, the NBA, gives the US coaches lots of talent to choose from when selecting this year’s roster.

The USA is on a quest for their 15th gold medal. Among the hopeful to make the final roster is the Golden State Warrior’s Stephen Curry, who unanimously won NBA MVP for the second consecutive year. This would be his first Olympic appearance. Others who made the preliminary roster include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

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2. Women’s Football

This global sport, more commonly called soccer in the United States, is one of the most anticipated events of the Olympics. Football is an integral part of Brazil’s culture and the country is well prepared after hosting the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

The US women are coming off of a historic third FIFA Women’s World Cup win and are reigning Olympic gold medalists, so momentum is certainly in their favor. The Americans will initially compete in Group G against New Zealand, France and Colombia. Multiple players are threatening to boycott the event if they do not receive equal pay to their male counterparts.

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1. Women’s Beach Volleyball

Beach Volleyball is similar to indoor volleyball, but played on sand with two players and uses a smaller court with a lighter ball. The sand and wind add extra challenges for the players, which makes the sport more interesting. Beach volleyball is on the rise in the United States; 2015-2016 was the first season beach volleyball was as a NCAA sport.

One of the United States’ biggest assets is their team made up of April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings. Ross won silver at the 2012 Olympics with former partner Jennifer Kessy and Walsh Jennings won gold in the 2012, 2008 and 2004 Olympics with former partner Misty May-Treanor. A medal of any color would make her the most decorated beach volleyball athlete, male or female.

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