Here are some athletes to watch in the coming Beijing Games. Everyone knows Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant, Yao Ming so I am throwing out five other that I will be keeping an eye on:
Allyson Felix (United States, Track and Field) – Can she help save Track and Field? Daughter of a preacher, she teaches Sunday School in the offseason. With Marion Jones in jail because of doping and lying, Felix has all the tools to be the face of American women’s track and field for a long time. She’s only 22, but has already won a World Championship in the 200m, is articulate, well managed and has the face, body and legs that could help her explode into a megastar if she can pull off victories in the 200m and on the 4x400.
Taylor Phinney (United States, Cycling) – Son of a not just one, but two Olympic medalists (Dad won bronze in time trial in 1984, mom took gold in road race), Phinney might be the future of US Cycling. He's obviously blessed with good genes but only recently took up competive cycling. Then, surprise, found out he's good at it. Probably not a medal favorite, but don't count him out. Oh, and he's only 18 years old.
Jake Deitcher (United States, Greco Roman Wrestling) – At 18, he just graduated high school. He’s the youngest Olympic wrestler for the United States since 1976. Not really a medal favorite, but he’s a great story and a kid with huge potential. In the trials, he showed that he is a fighter and you cannot count him out, even against more seasoned competition. He's heading to national power University of Minnesota next year and will be a favorite to contend for a NCAA championship as a freshman.
Ben Askren (United States, Freestyle Wrestling) – The "Funk"! Askren made a career at the University of Missouri with his crazy wrestling style (Funk), crazy hair, and outlandish personality (and two NCAA titles). He has guaranteed a gold in Beijing, so now let's see if the kid can back his word against some great competition.
Liu Xiang (China, Track and Field) - Surpised the field by winning the 110 Hurdles in Athens, the first Chinese athlete to win gold in men's track and field. China has made a huge push to compete with the United States in the medal count and no one is under more pressure than Xiang. Just imagine having the hopes and expectations of 1.3 billion people on your shoulders. That's what Liu Xiang has. Anything less than gold will be a disappointment for an entire nation of believers.