Matthew Kitchen, NBC Olympics
It’s hard enough to win one gold medal, let alone two in a row. But three in a row? That’s just absurd. Here are five events American athletes are looking to win gold in again this summer (and one three-peat we’re hoping doesn’t happen). It’s our Five for Friday:
5. Beach Volleyball
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings are looking to win their third straight gold in London after triumphs in Athens and Beijing, but this year will be their toughest test for the queens of the beach, since they’re no longer the favorites. That honor goes to Larissa Franca and Juliana Silva. Age, injury, and the country of Brazil have caught up to the back-to-back champs, but the pair is poised for what would be their greatest victory if they can actually pull it off this summer.
There’s a number of events we could list as three-peat possibilities for Michael Phelps (the 400m medley for example), but the 200m butterfly has defined the career of America’s most decorated champion. Phelps finished fifth in the event in Sydney and has dominated ever since, winning every event he’s entered and breaking the world record eight times. Teammate Tyler Clary recently talked about how satisfying it would be to beat Phelps at this event. Good luck, sir. We expect Phelps to dominate again.
3. Women’s all-around
It may be different women in the different leotards, but the run by American female gymnasts has been incredible in the last two Olympics. Carly Patterson took home gold in Athens and Nastia Liukin elegantly equaled the feat in Beijing while fighting stiff competition from the hometown favorites. Now Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas are America’s best hopes to make it three in a row. Wieber won the Nationals by the slimmest of margins and Gabby got her back at the Trials. So who will win? No idea, but hopefully one or the other will bring back gold from London.
2. Show jumping
Equestrian team show jumping isn’t something most Americans tend to talk about around the water cooler when the Olympics come around, but that’s only because they’re not paying attention. The team has taken home gold in back-to-back Olympics on the talents of riders Beezie Madden and McLain Ward. Teen phenom Reed Kessler and silver fox Rich Fellers, both hoping to strike gold at their first Summer Games, will join the unstoppable pair in London. Unfortunately none of them are riding Mitt Romney’s horse, Rafalca.
1. Women’s soccer
Team USA has won three of the four gold medals in women’s Olympic soccer (they lost to Norway in 2000), but another victory isn’t a foregone conclusion. The ladies lost to Japan in the World Cup last year, have a tough match-up against France in this summer’s opener, and have barely held off Brazil in the last two gold medal games. Leaders Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan hope to steer the team to their third straight Olympic championship in London and pray Hope Solo doesn’t do something stupid in the meantime.
And one three-peat we hope doesn’t happen:
Bonus coverage: Shooting, 50m Three-position
Matt Emmons has been one shot away from gold in consecutive Olympics. In Athens he somehow shot at the wrong target, earning him zero points and dropping him to eighth. Four years later he needed a paltry 6.7 to win, but his gun went off early and a 4.4 dropped him to fourth. But hey, he met his wife, Katerina, in the process, so it wasn’t all bad. Emmons is still one of the best shooters in the world and should be in position to win again in London. Here’s hoping his is one three-peat you’re not reading about in August.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.