The games of the XXIX Olympiad kick off in 6 weeks and today you will get a preview of some stories and events to watch for in Beijing.
One of the main stories I will be following is the medal count. The USA has been on top of the medal count since the bootleg "Unified Team" in 1992. While we are the favorites again, I think we are inching closer to Chinese domination in the Summer Olympics. They just keep getting better and with the games being in Beijing, it could be a close down the stretch.
I am not going to comment on the men's basketball because I still refuse to believe we will ever lose to another country no matter how many times we do it (cough, Puerto Rico, cough). The August 16th game against Spain will be the only test of the group stages.
This will be the last time baseball will be an Olympic event, so I have high expectations for USA in this event. We open up with South Korea, which is scary, and then get Cuba in Game #3. Week 2 of the games will feature a ton of baseball so enjoy it because it will be gone after this year unless later reinstated.
One guy to root for if you are a boxing fan is Deontay Wilder, a 22 year old Heavyweight and reigning US Amateur Heavyweight Champion. Wilder is 6'7 and a southern boy from Alabama with a huge right hand and recently upset Rakhim Chakhkeiv, the Silver medalist at the 2007 World Boxing Championships. On top of the Olympic Gold, you can root for Deontay in hopes that a good, young heavyweight will FINALLY emerge in the pro ranks.
For the Track and Field fans, a guy to follow is Tyson Gay. Gay won the 100m and 200m gold medal at the 2007 World Championships. He is also on the 4x100 relay team that will be favored to win gold. Gay will have to deal with newly crowned "fastest man in the world" Usain Bolt, but is the top American sprinter and will be a huge threat.
Defending gold medalist in the 110m hurdles, Liu Xiang, will have quite the task in repeating. Although once again the favorite for the gold, Cuban Dayron Robles set a new world record just 2 weeks ago and 2-time Olympic silver medalist and SW Dekalb graduate Terrance Trammell is also in top form. David Oliver, another American, should also compete for a medal in this event.
The biggest story of the games in the US has a chance to be one of the biggest stories in Olympic history - the saga of Michael Phelps. After winning 8 medals including 6 golds in 2004, Phelps will enter 9 events in Beijing and attempt to match Mark Spitz's record of 7 golds. Currently a world record holder in 23 events, the idea of Phelps winning 7 or more is a very distinct possibility. He has been killing folks lately, doing some of his best swimming in 2007.
Get your alarm clocks ready - a 12 hour time difference means early events will start around midnight and prime time starts will be around 7:30 am EST. You can always watch tape-delayed stuff, but what fun is that?