1 Year Out From Rio 2016! What Sports and Athletes Will Be Hot?
I can’t believe we are 1 year out from another Summer Olympic Games, Rio 2016. In my career I have been to the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Athens, Vancouver, Beijing and London. Each magical in their own right. Every city figures out how to build stadiums, transportation hubs and infrastructure in time!
The people of each hosting city embrace the Olympic fan in varying ways but by in large it is positive and a great experience. Although I will tell you that in Athens, Greece I needed to start telling everyone I was from Canada because of the on-going tongue lashing I got in 2004 about “George Buuush”. Oh well, I took one or two for the good ole US of A!
What should never get lost in all the geo-political conversation about what part of the world deserved an Olympics more based on the bid process, or how was the housing situation or was the airport up to snuff, never forget that from the beginning of the Games, the Olympics has been and will forever be about the athletes. The athletes are the only group of people if they were shipped off to an island, the Games couldn’t run without! So in honor of the athletes and some of the great sports to watch on-site or on your giant high def TV, here are my picks for things to watch!
- Simone Biles/Gymnastics: No one has been more dominant in the world of gymnastics in the last 30 years than the USA. Mary Lou Retton, Magnificent 7 of Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller and Kerri Strug, Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and Gabby Douglas have paved the way for Simone to be great and great she is!
- Katie Ledecky vs. Missy Franklin/Swimming: It is hard to speak about swimming in the USA if you don’t include Michael Phelps. And rightfully so, as the greatest swimmer who ever roamed the earth without gills. But, the current debate on the pool decks around the world is about who is the best swimmer currently in the world. Katie Ledecky, the Stanford commit who breaks World Records every time she comes close to a pool or Missy Franklin who has been annointed as the next “It” girl of the Olympics by many in the press. Truth is, if you go by marketability, Missy wins because she is a pro athlete now and as of today Katie is going to be a Cardinal. If you go by performance since the 2012 Olympics, most everyone with a stop watch and a whistle would tell you it is hands down Katie Ledecky. Per the World Championships taking place this week, Ledecky has broken a World record (in a non-contested Olympic distance) won the 200m + 400m freestyle event vs. Franklin who hasn’t broken through for an individual medal yet.
- Kerri Walsh/April Ross/Beach Volleyball: What could be better than to chill on Copa Cabana beach in Rio during the Olympics? Um, NOTHING! And advertisers, media and fans know it as well! There is so much excitement about the sport being played in this glorious back drop, it is almost easy to forget the dirty warriors siding out and digging for gold in the soft sands of South America! (Pretty poetic right?) The top of the sport is Kerri Walsh with her 3 Gold medals and a bucket full of FIVB and AVP tour championships! Her partner for Rio is April Ross who was an Olympic silver medalist in London with ex-partner, Jen Kessy who plays now with AVP champ Emily Day who partnered in the past with AVP champion Summer Ross! The nature of the sport is teams playing together and often breaking up which has just happened on the Men’s side. If Kerri Walsh’s aging shoulder holds up, she will be the favorite for the gold. If not, it is wide open! On the men’s side, the most dominant US team on the International scene Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal broke up in late July. Their new partners (Nick Lucena for Dalhausser and Theo Brunner for Rosenthal) were partners and positioned as the #2 team in the US. The #1 team is Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb. Unknown to many on outside the AVP tour, Patterson with his good looks and big personality coupled with Gibb’s multiple Olympic games experience have been tough to beat.
Bottom line, beach volleyball is the sport to go out and grab some friends on a weekend and watch anywhere in the world. I call it a car accident at the net every play! Dynamic and electric, these athletes can also load up like Nascar drivers with logos and sponsor tattoos! Really a sight to see!
If your company, brand or organization is interested in finding a current Olympic athlete or an iconic retired athlete for your event, conference, PR campaign or as a spokesperson for Rio 2016, contact me and let’s discuss the opportunities, cost and email@example.com
In full disclosure, I rep 8 of the top beach volleyball athletes which just means I know what I know!