Scott: This summer, millions from around the world will head to London, England to see the 2012 Olympic games in person. Many more will watch on TV.
But who are the athletes to watch this year? Here is a look at some of the big names heading to the big games.
The Olympic games are the ultimate tests between the world’s best athletes. From the opening ceremonies to the medal presentations, fans cheer on their country’s athletes as they go for the gold.
The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was such a mega-event that it attracted the attention of more than 4 billion TV viewers. That is much more than half of the population of our entire planet!
Two of the big winners from the 2008 Olympics were U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamacian track star Usain Bolt. Phelps set a record for most gold medals won in a single Olympics, taking home eight. And Usain Bolt officially became the fastest man in the world, setting the world record in the two-hundred and one-hundred meter sprints, with ease.
For Olympic athletes like Bolt and Phelps, the road to greatness starts young.
Many athletes, like American track and field superstar Bryan Clay, credit their parents for putting them on the path toward Olympic success.
Bryan Clay: What got me started in track and field was I… I wasn’t a good kid. I made a lot of mistakes growing up, made a lot of bad decisions. And so, my mom, you know, gave me the option. She said, you can either run track and field or you can swim. I didn’t want to wear Speedos, so I chose track and field.
Scott: Clay was born in Austin, Texas and raised in Hawaii. As the gold medal winner of 2008′s Olympic decathalon, he is now considered “the world’s greatest athlete.” That is because Clay, a decathlete, competes in ten different track and field events every competition.
But what about the other, lesser-known Olympic events, like synchronized swimming or table tennis? Sixteen-year-old table tennis star Ariel Hsing of San Jose, California is getting ready for the 2012 London games by practicing, practicing, and… you guessed it, practicing.
And Hsing’s parents are making sure she keeps her grades up, too. They have a deal. She can compete as long as she gets all A’s.
Ariel Hsing: I mean, I’ve never tried to test out this theory.
Scott: For young olympians like Hsing, balancing school and sport is a crucial part of preparing for the 2012 London games. Just ask Centennial, Colorado’s Missy Franklin.
Missy Franklin: It’s definitely difficult juggling my swimming and my school work. But it’s something that you have to learn to do. Education is very important to me.
Scott: Or USC water polo player Kami Craig.
Kami Craig: I knew you couldn’t have one without the other. I knew you had to succeed in school and get good grades to be on an athletic team. If you had bad grades, they wouldn’t let you compete. So, it was hand in hand.
Scott: The balance is a struggle for many young athletes. But for members of this year’s U.S. Olympic team, failure on the track, in the pool or in the classroom, is just not an option.
The games run from July 27th through August 12th. And you can follow all the action over at channelone.com.
- What does it take to become an Olympic athlete?
- How important is education and grades to an aspiring Olympic athlete?