As the XXXI Olympic Games kickstart in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro on August 5, there is a lot of excitement and anticipation about who is going to take home gold and win the hearts of die-hard sports fans. Here, five-time Olympic medallist Nastia Liukin from the United States, and former Australian Olympian Tamsyn Lewis Manou share their expectations for the Rio2016 Olympics. Go Aussie!
Nastia Liukin is a five-time Olympic Medallist Gymnast, motivational speaker and broadcaster for NBC at this year’s Rio2016 Olympic Games. As a gold medallist at World Championships, Pan American Games and the Pacific Rim Championships, Lukin blitzed the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, winning bronze for her floor routine, silver on balance beam and uneven bars, silver for Team USA and gold for her performance in the all-around title. A true Olympic champion, here are her most anticipated things to watch out for during Rio2016.
Top events to watch out for during Rio2016?
“Gymnastics is the event I’m definitely most excited for. The US is going in as the reigning Olympic Team Champions and hoping to get another gold.
“For water sports, Michael Phelps will be the one to watch out for – he is just a legend. And for diving – my good friend David Boudia is going for gold again! Beach Volleyball is always fun, and this year it will be held on the famous Copacabana Beach.
“Then, of course, I’m excited to see what the host country will create for the Opening Ceremony.”
What athletes should we watch out for?
“Simone Biles is the one to watch (gymnastics). She is capable of winning five gold medals this summer. Also Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas – all Team USA athletes in Gymnastics. Both (gymnasts) are part of the gold medal-winning team at the 2012 Games, so they will be back and ready to reclaim their titles.”
What else are you most excited about for Rio2016?
“The competition, for sure. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to explore, since I’ll be working quite a bit.
“But there is something so special about the Olympic Games. To see every single nation unite for (more than) two weeks and share one goal and one dream is incredible.
“This year will be my first time commentating for NBC at an Olympic Games. The last four years I have done the national and world championships but this will be my first Games!
“All of my favourite moments and memories at the Games so far have been as an athlete. But as a spectator I definitely have more time and the ability to take in a little more of the action. As an athlete I wasn’t able to watch any other sporting events because we were always training or competing.”
More Brazil inspiration:
Tamsyn Lewis Manou
Tamsyn Lewis Manou is a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and a winner of 17 Australian Championships at 400m, 800m and 400m hurdles. Lewis Manou will join Bruce McAvaney for expert commentary at the athletics for Channel 7 during Rio2016
What are the top events you are looking forward to during Rio2016?
“Obviously I'm completely biased so the majority of my events are track and field ones…
“Men’s 100m – Usain Bolt is going for the three-peat, which is unheard of. It is not only about the race it’s the event of the Olympics – the buildup, the atmosphere in the stadium, and the reaction after it… It’s an event that the world stops for.
“Men’s 400m – I think a world record could go. Wade van Niekerk of South Africa is an amazing runner. He won't have it all his way, though. LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James, as well as a host of others, will be right on his heels.
“All the middle distance races (800m and 1500m) – such great races to watch live. The tactics are unknown before the gun goes off. These aren't paced races like many of the lead-in meets. These are championship races with rounds and anything can happen and usually does. The emotion plays out right in front of us and it is always special to watch.
“Better throw in another sport – the men’s basketball! I would love to see an Aussie versus USA final with the Aussie boys taking the win!”
Who are the athletes to watch out for during Rio2016?
“Obviously the king of the track, Usain Bolt, is a show man and always comes ready to compete. All the Aussies in our track and field team.”
What are you most excited about for Rio2016?
“The track and field program to start.”
What are your expectations and how will these Games be different or special?
“I think they are bound to be special. It's the first time the summer Olympic Games have come to South America and I think, like the World Cup of soccer two years ago, it will have a really fun, relaxed and happy vibe surrounding it.
“I expect it to be like all Olympics, though, in it will be full of stories of triumph and heartache. Records will tumble.
“Some athletes will step up and succeed, others will flounder and be left with shattered dreams. Their emotions will all play out in front of us and we will be able to feel just for a moment we are on the journey with them. Oh how I love the Olympics.”