Women To Watch At The 2016 Rio Olympics
With the 2016 Olympic games just weeks away, we’re rearranging our schedules accordingly in sheer anticipation. (We wouldn’t normally condone being glued to the TV for days on end, but this is a special occasion, and a very special year at that.) With so much talent funneling into Rio, we couldn’t possibly give sufficient kudos to all the incredible athletes attending this year’s event—but in an effort to highlight just a few standout stars, we’ve put together this list of women on the US team we can’t wait to watch. From seasoned veterans to impressive newbies, these are the seven females to keep your eye on this August.
Boxing: Claressa Shields
Talk about changing the game: In the 2012 London Olympics, Claressa was the first American woman to win a gold medal. Eager for more, she'll undoubtedly garner the attention she deserves this year (many consider her victory four years ago as going fairly unrecognized). If you don't know her name by now, you definitely will soon—it's reported that Universal Pictures has picked up the rights to her story for a movie.
Follow Claressa on Instagram: @claressashields
Swimming: Katie Ledecky
At just 19, Katie has already broken multiple world records and is considered by many one of the greatest athletes in the country. Having won her first Olympic gold medal in 2012, she's still one of the youngest members of the US women's swim team (along with Lilly King, Simone Manuel and Abbey Weitzeil) and is expected to totally crush it once again in the freestyle events. ESPN said it best: Let the summer of Katie Ledecky begin.
Follow Katie on Instagram: @kledecky
Track & Field: Allyson Felix
As a world champ and gold and silver medalist, 30-year-old Allyson has accomplished quite a bit in her career, and she's determined to continue her winning streak at this year's games. This is the first year she won't be competing in the 200-meter sprint (she won the gold for it in 2012), but she will run the 400 meter, which she's currently working on perfecting.
Follow Allyson on Instagram: @af85
Track & Field: Sydney McLaughlin
Sydney, who's yet to even graduate high school, just made major headlines. At only 16 years old, she's the youngest US track-and-field Olympian to compete since 1972. She set a national junior record in the indoor 400-meter race earlier this year, and her time at the trials for the 400-meter hurdles earlier this week was the sixth fastest in the world. Watch out—this is clearly just the beginning for Sydney.
Gymnastics: Simone Biles
Small but mighty, four-foot-eight Simone has been widely touted as the most dominant female athlete—the Michael Jordan of gymnastics—in the game right now. At 19 years old, she's a three-time all-around world champion and four-time national champion, but this will mark her very first Olympics—we can't wait to watch her inevitably sweep the games in Rio.
Follow Simone on Instagram: @simonebiles
Soccer: Julie Johnston
While several women on the US soccer team will be playing in their third games (Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Hope Solo), it will be Julie's first time at the Olympics (along with 10 other players). Last year, she was awarded the National Women's Soccer League's rookie of the year honor and was a member of the US women's team that won the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Follow Julie on Instagram: @juliejohnston2
Volleyball: Kayla Banwarth
Having parents that both played volleyball, it's fitting that Kayla has a natural knack for the sport. With a handful of national rankings under her belt, her career hits a new milestone with the upcoming Olympics, as it'll be her first time in the games.
Follow Kayla on Instagram: @kaylabanwarth