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Monday, August 1, 2016
2016 Rio Olympics date and everything you need to know about the games
The 2016 Rio Olympics are just a week away, so whether you like it or not the bulk of the sports conversation will shift to the games over the next couple of weeks.
If you're like most Americans you haven't thought about the Olympics in four years, so you might be a little lost right now.
Don't panic. We're here to help.
Here is a quick cheat sheet to Rio that will help you sound like you know what you're talking about at the water cooler, during an Olympics party or when you're trolling the athletes on social media.
When are the Olympics?
Aug. 5 - Aug. 21, kind of.
A few sports like soccer start on Aug. 3 because their tournaments take longer to finish. The opening ceremony, however, is on Aug. 5.
Who's lighting the torch?
It's always kept a secret, but most think Brazilian soccer legend Pelé will do the honors at the opening ceremony.
Where are all the Russians?
They cheated -- big time -- and paid the price. Over 100 Russian athletes have been banned from the Olympics, including the entire track and field team.
While it may sound like a famous one-name Brazilian athlete, Zika is a virus suspected of causing birth defects that has spread across the Americas, including Brazil. It caused many potential Olympians to back out of the games.
Who's NOT going to the Olympics?
So you don't embarrass yourself, here are some notable athletes who will NOT be competing in Rio.
Basketball: Steph Curry, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul
Golf: Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, anyone else you've heard of.
Want to be able to spout off some names to make it sound like you're informed? Keep this list handy.
Michael Phelps, Swimming - At 31, the all-time leader in Olympic medals (22) and gold medals (18) is back for his fifth and final Olympic Games. No other American male swimmer has ever made five Olympic teams, and he'll look to add to his medal total in his last hurrah.
Simone Biles, Gymnastics - If Biles doesn't win gold in the gymnastics all-around it will probably be the biggest shock of the Olympics. She could take home five gold medals in total -- something no female gymnast has ever done. The 19-year-old has won four straight U.S. championships and three straight world championships.
Ashton Eaton, Track and Field - The world record holder and reigning Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, Eaton is the favorite to win again in Rio. At the World Championships last August he finished over 300 points ahead of his closest competitor.
Serena Williams, Tennis - In her fourth Olympics, the world's most dominant women's tennis player is in search of her fifth and sixth gold medals. She'll look for her second singles gold and her fourth in doubles paired with her sister Venus.
Katie Ledecky, Swimming - The Washington, D.C. native won a gold medal in the 800m freestyle at the London Games in 2012, and she is the reigning world champion in the 200-, 400-, 800-, and 1,500m freestyles. She owns the world record in the 800m so we should be seeing her on the podium at least once, but probably more.
Justin Gatlin, Track and Field - The oldest sprinter to make an American Olympic team (34) likely has the best chance of dethroning the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt. After serving a four-year ban for doping, Gatlin earned a bronze medal in the 100m at the 2012 London Games and finished second to Bolt in both the 100- and 200m at the 2015 World Championships.
Kerri Walsh Jennings, Beach Volleyball - The 37-year-old is looking for her fourth straight Olympic gold medal, but she'll have to do it with a new partner. Longtime teammate Misty May-Treanor retired after the London Games, so Walsh Jennings teamed up with April Ross -- who lost to Walsh Jennings in the title match in 2012. Ross is basically the Kevin Durant of the international beach volleyball scene.
Which international athletes should I know?
Extra points for being able to name foreigners!
Usain Bolt, Track and Field (Jamaica) - The six-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 100- and 200m received a scare at the Jamaican trials in June when he tore his hamstring. Bolt was named to the team anyway, and looked sharp in a tune-up race in late July. We'll see whether his health holds up enough for him to win three more gold medals in what he says is his last Olympics.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Track and Field (Jamaica) - She clearly doesn't let all the hyphens slow her down. Fraser-Pryce isn't as famous as Bolt, but she's just as dominant. She's going for a third straight Olympic gold in the 100m, something no woman has ever done.
Neymar, Men's Soccer (Brazil) - Brazil's latest one-name hero, the 24-year-old will try to lead the host country to its first Olympic men's soccer gold. Brazil suffered an embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup (also held in Brazil), so the team will be looking for redemption on the international stage. Justdon't expect Neymar to stop partying.
Caster Semenya, Track and Field (South Africa) - The subject of controversy, Semenya was ordered to undergo gender testing to prove she was a woman back in 2009. The tests revealed a naturally high level of testosterone, so she is free to compete in women's races. Some expect her to contend for the world record in the 800m -- which would surely lead to more controversy.
Novak Djokovic, Men's Tennis (Serbia) - The Olympic gold is the only title to elude the 29-year-old Serbian during his pro career. He completed the career Grand Slam this year, and a gold in Rio would give him the career Golden Slam (all four majors plus Olympic gold) -- something only Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal have accomplished in men's singles.
Oksana Chusovitina, Gymnastics (Uzbekistan) - She might look like a leotard-clad coach amongst a sea of teenage girls but, at 41, Chusovitina is the oldest female gymnast in Olympic history. For reference, the oldest member of the U.S. team is Aly Raisman, whom her teammates have dubbed "grandma" -- she's 22.
Which events should I watch?
NBC is airing 6,755 hours of coverage. In case you don't want to watch them all, here's where you should focus your attention.
Opening ceremony, Aug. 5 (8 p.m.) - The event that officially kicks everything off. With the way things have gone so far in Rio, there's a 99 percent chance something goes horribly wrong. So you'll want to check that out.
Men's swimming 4x100m freestyle relay final, Aug. 7 (9 p.m.) - This race provided one of the most memorable moments of the 2012 London Games, plus it's over quickly so you can still make the late Suicide Squad showing.
Women's gymnastics team final, Aug. 9 (3 p.m.) - The U.S. women are the favorites, and who doesn't want to see a bunch of jacked 5-footers doing flips and stuff?
Women's gymnastics all-around final, Aug. 11 (3 p.m.) - The Simone Biles Show. Watch and listen to the commentators have an embolism when she lands her vault.
Men's swimming 200m individual medley final, Aug. 11 (9 p.m.) - Phelps renews his rivalry with Ryan Lochte as they race against each other for the final time. Don't worry, no singing is involved in this medley.
Women's tennis singles final, Aug. 13 (5 p.m.) - It's Serena's gold to lose, but she was upset in three of the last four majors. And let's face it, Serena's the only reason you're ever going to watch tennis.
Men's swimming 4x100m medley relay final, Aug. 13 (9 p.m.) - Michael Phelps' last ever swim ... maybe. He retired once before, but insists this is really the end. Watch just in case.
Men's track 100m final, Aug. 14 (7:20 p.m.) - Bolt vs. Gatlin vs. the world. These guys run 100m in the time it takes you to get out of your chair.
Women's soccer final, Aug. 19 (4:30 p.m.) - The U.S. is the favorite to win a fourth straight Olympic gold, and Hope Solo is always a candidate to lose her mind and attack somebody.
Men's soccer final, Aug. 20 (4:30 p.m.) - If Neymar and Brazil can make the final it will surely be a frenzied atmosphere. Let that distract you from the fact that the U.S. men didn't even qualify.
Men's basketball final, Aug. 21 (2:45 p.m.) - Despite only two holdovers from the 2012 gold medal team (Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant), the U.S. will look for a third straight gold on the final day of the Olympics. What a way to celebrate a return to normal sports life.
Why don't I remember seeing these sports at the Olympics?
Don't be confused -- two new sports are making an appearance in 2016.
Golf - Back for the first time in more than a century, this will also likely be the last time we see the sport in the Olympics since most of the world's top golfers decided not to play.
Rugby sevens - You won't understand what's going on, but there's a lot of contact and American Carlin Isles is faster than anyone in the NFL. Invictus!
These sports really ARE NOT in the Olympics?
You're sure that these are Olympic sports. Guess again.