We Are 365 Days From The 2016 Rio Olympics So Here’s Some Things To Look For Well In Advance

I guess I’m the official Stitched Up Olympics guy huh? Well, that’s a cross I bear with honor.

Today’s August 6th, 2015, for you calender aficionados out there. On August 5th, 2016, the Opening Ceremonies for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad will take place at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. That means that the events will be underway (with the exception of a few preliminary soccer matches that will occur a day or two before the Olympic Flame is lit up on the 5th) on August 6th, 2016.

So by my fuzzy math, that means we’re 365 days away from me being glued to my couch and unproductive while watching America kick ass!!!! And you wonder why I’m so infused with the Olympic spirit!!!!

NO CHRIS MARTIN! DON’T FUCK THE OLYMPICS! (This was gold live…yeah idk if I’ve told you but I went to Coldplay)

For athletes and spectators alike, we’re entering the home stretch to the Games. In fact, while it is the final year of waiting, it always seems to be the one most packed with vital events. Qualifiers and World Championships will be occurring lehft and right, and the rosters for each country and each sport will be filling up.

It’s always good to get ahead of the 8 ball when it comes to this stuff, which is why I’m here to give y’all mutts a list of what to keep an eye out for once the Summer Olympics peaks its head again. For my fans of ESPN Classic’s Cheap Seats, “it’s what to look for, it’s what to look for.” Don’t know what I’m talkin’ about? YouTube the show. If you’re a sports fan it’s worth a view, absolutely hysterical. But I digress…here’s what to watch over the next year prior to the start of Rio 2016.

Listen for full effect because it’s a kick ass tune:

Opening Ceremony/Closing Ceremony: How Bitchin’ Will It Be?

This might be the easiest of all questions to answer at this very moment. Yes, I can assure you that these ceremonies are gonna be fyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Considering that Beijing, the capital of a nation known for having a stick up their ass at basically all times, put on a helluva show, I’d expect Rio, the party capital of South America and maybe even the world, to put on a show a la Carnival. The real question is: how much Gisele do we get?

Michael Phelps: How Will He Do and Are Any Americans Gonna Challenge Him?

Y’know, Michael Phelps, guy who can swim really well, greatest Olympian of all-time, iconic athlete, you know him right? Well if all goes well he’s gonna be back for (at least) one more rodeo for a shot at Rio to cap off an illustrious career. I mean, I assume it’s his last Games but the dude has no quit in him so we’ll see what this Olympic cycle brings. But nevertheless, the dude has fallen off a bit. He had a DUI in September which made him sit out the currently ongoing World Championships, and he’s now vowed not to drink until the Rio Olympics are finished at the earliest; he also mentioned he may go completely sober.

“Going into 2008 and 2012,” Phelps said, “I didn’t do that. I didn’t say I was going to take a year off from drinking and not have a drink.”

So if he’s not pulling our leg, he’s in the fuckin’ zone. It says a lot when Phelps tries to stay out of the recreational substance activities, so he’s gonna be committed for Rio if that fire is still there inside of him. However, fire means nothing if there’s no tremendous skill; in May, he came home from a swim meet without a top 2 finish in an event for the first time since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. I trust Phelps to get the ball rolling again, but you’ve gotta wonder if he’s gonna find that magic once more or not.

And that fire still has to be there, because at the moment the men’s team is noooooooooot lookin’ too hot. Ryan Lochte is looking to bounce back after expectations were sky high in 2012 and he fell right on his face in London. I was a guy who thought he was gonna overtake Phelps as the best US swimmer due to his performance at Worlds the year prior; nope. Lochte failed to mature enough and it cost him big time. He was good, sure, but he failed to make the big leap towards becoming a superstar. However, 2016 is a new chapter and the biggest douchebag on the team has a chance at redemption. He can establish himself as a leader and true competitor in what could probably be his last Games as well. Lochte is a top competitor in the 200M individual medley at Worlds this week, per usual, but he only finished 4th in the 200M freestyle a few days ago. He’s got a lot more catching up to do.

The Americans have some other good competitors in Tyler Clary, Jimmy Chitwood, Matt Grevers, and Nathan Adrian, but none of those guys are really powerhouses or swimmers who are gonna turn heads. You know how I know that? Only 3 out of those 4 guys are real swimmers and you probably didn’t even notice. Jimmy Chitwood is one of the main characters in the movie Hoosiers which is about high school basketball in Indiana. To be fair, Clary was a World Swimmer of the Year in 2013 so he should be a solid piece if all goes well. Hey, he beat out Lochte in the 200M backstroke to win gold at Worlds, where Lochte fell off badly and finished with the bronze.

The US is still gonna be contenders, but they may be entering Rio as an underdog. France has really stepped up their game and could be seen as the favorites to bring home the most male swimming medals. China’s up there too, as Sun Yang is currently KILLING it at Worlds. The France and Chinese takeover can be prevented if Phelps can whip up one more historic performance, which isn’t out of the question for him. Basically, US men’s swimming’s performance at Rio 2016 is directly correlated to how Michael does.

Missy vs. Katie: Who’s Gonna Come Out On Top?

While the men’s team is struggling a lil’, the women now have probably the two best swimmers in the world: Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.

We should all know about the Missle. The 20 year old broke multiple world records in London at the ripe old age of 17 and emerged onto the scene as the future of US swimming. She walked away from the 2013 World Championships with 6 gold medals, and already has a few medals to add to her resume at Worlds this year. However, she did come in 5th in the 100M backstroke; this is unlike her, so it shouldn’t be too much of a worry.

But Ledecky? You might not have heard of her, although you should. She’s 18 years old (younger than me…Jesus…) and made her Olympic debut in London, just like Franklin. Like a well timed RKO, she came outta nowhere to win the 800M freestyle at just 15 years old. In comparison, I was probably sitting on my ass at the same time that she won. From there, she took the swimming world by the balls. In short, she’s broken many world records, has won 7 golds combined between 2013 and 2015 Worlds, and won back-to-back World Swimmer of the Year awards in 2013 and 2014, an award Missy won in 2K12. Need physical proof to how dominate she is? She broke her own world record in the 1500M freestyle without even fucking trying, per Business Insider.

“My coach told me to swim the first 900M easy, build over the next 300, then the final 300 was my choice and to be honest, it felt pretty easy. I wasn’t kicking much and I think breaking the world record is testament to the hard work I have put in and the shape I am in right now.”

Wow. She’s, uh, she’s fast.

So this is gonna be the dynamic duo for the Americans when it’s time to d-d-d-d-dddddduel in Rio. If these two ever go at it individually, and they will, I’m gonna go with Ledecky 9 times out of 10. I love Missy, but the once-distance focused Ledecky is finally emerging into Franklin’s territory after she just won the 200M freestyle at Worlds, the event Missy won at Worlds in 2013. Granted, Franklin only finished less than a second behind her and got the bronze, but with the win Katie established herself as the girl to beat in Rio. No matter who wins in their individual events, though, they’ll be part of one hell of a relay or two.

Usain Bolt: 100M, 200M, and 4x100M Three-Peat?

Usain, the world’s fastest man, is now 28 years old. Coincidentally, he’s turning the big 3-0 on the same day as the Closing Ceremonies for Rio 2016, August 21st. In track years, and especially for a huuuuuuge human being who has been working to the brink for years now, that’s old. As a matter of fact, Bolt announced earlier this year that he’s calling it quits after the 2017 World Track Championships.

So this is the last time we’ll see, arguably, the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen. Is he, in terms of domination, better than Carl Lewis or Ben Johnson? Time wise, of course he is, but those two guys completely changed the sprinting playing field. Lewis, for that matter, is considered by many to be one of the best Olympians ever, maybe even the best.

But Bolt will have a chance to end the discussion all together with these Rio Olympics. He is the only man to win two consecutive 100M, 200M, and 4x100M golds in the Olympics, and can make it three in a row in all three in 2016. The “triple-triple” as he calls it has never been accomplished, so if he pulled that off he would no doubt be the best sprinter who ever lived.

But this won’t come without adversity. Bolt has had to battle injuries all of last year and this year and hasn’t been at tip top shape. The two individual sprints seems to be his Achilles’ heels this time around, so if he doesn’t win one or both of these events, who will?

Yohan Blake, the 25 year old and fellow Jamaican? Nah, probably not. He’s been “running scared” after hamstring injuries over the last few years. He has the potential to beat Bolt-he’s done it before-but the injuries is a huge factor for him specifically. He’ll contend and have an awesome shot to medal, but he won’t win.

Tyson Gay? No. He’s Tyson Gay.

The answer is Justin Gatlin. The 33 year old American is no stranger to the Olympics. He won the 100M dash and received bronze in the 200M at Athens 2004, and he’s the last guy to do so before Bolt’s reign atop the track world. After coming off of a multi-year ban for doping half a decade ago, he’s now running better than he ever has before: he hasn’t lost an individual race since September 2013.

The two are going at it at Worlds in a few weeks to see who’s gonna be the favorites. I feel like Gatlin is gonna win at Worlds, but give me Bolt at the Olympics. Blake was a threat for the throne three years ago after an impressive pre-Olympic performance, but Bolt showed up where it counted and won in London. Granted, Gatlin is a different and tougher test and Bolt is gonna be that much older, but I think he’ll find a way to pull out the wins.

I’m not gonna be rooting for Bolt, though. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love the dude and I think he’s the shit…but I can’t root against an American.

What’s The US Women’s Gymnastics Team Gonna Look Like?

The days of the Fierce Five are behind us, and a new wave of gymnasts are heading in…or are they?

Well, some of the Fierce Five will be sticking around, and some won’t.

So long to Jordyn Wieber, who’s now retired, but the other four are looking for their spots on the team.

Gabby Douglas and Kyla Ross, in my book, are mortal locks. You don’t just say “fuck off” to the all-around champion from 2012 when she’s only 19 years old, and Kyla Ross is still just 18 and improving as the days go by. She was the youngest on the team in 2012, and will be looking to add to her track record in Rio.

Needham’s own Aly Raisman is looking to make a comeback, but I don’t think there’s gonna be enough in the tank for her. She can pull it off for sure, but the US is just too packed with talent.

And then, of course, there’s my girl McKayla. Oh McKayla, you baddie, why’d you have to fuck up your leg? She hasn’t competed since 2013 and is “highly unlikely” to compete this year. She still wants to go to Rio and can still wreck havoc on the vault, but I don’t see her returning to the team. But hey, prove me wrong babe!

Go Red Sox tho.

So who takes those other three spots?

First one is easy: Simone Biles. 18 years old and just an absolute savage.

She’s won the all-around title at her last 8 competitons, including the 2013 World Championships. Since that tournament, she has a combined 23 gold medals…that’s pretty neat-o. She’s drawing comparisons to a bunch of past stars and seems destined to be the main attraction in women’s gymnastics. The expectations are there, and deservingly so.

Baille Key has proven herself in the past to potentially be another solid addition to the squad. In 2013, she won the all-around gold in every event she took part in, and while she took time off in 2014, she looks ready to strike again in 2015. I expect her on the team.

Much like McKayla Maroney was in 2012, MyKayla (similar name, I know) Skinner is a vault expert. Unlike Maroney, her leg isn’t screwed up. She can get the team valuable props in the team competition on the vault and can also contribute to individual events to a great extent. I think she makes the team and replaces my vaulting gymnast who’s name-sounds-like-“mah-kay-lah” needs.

The most beautiful smile is the one that struggles through tears💙

A post shared by MyKayla Skinner (@mykaylaskinner2016) on

Hey what’s up hello MyKayla!

Men’s Basketball: Who’ll Be the Group Of Americans That’s Gonna Dominate?

The USA is gonna win gold in men’s basketball; there’s not really a question about that. They won the FIBA World Championship without a whole lot of height and without guys like LeBron or KD.

So when 2016 rolls around, we may see the most dominate American team in a while. Yes, better than 2012 or 2008. I’ll just hop right into it.

PG-Chris Paul– Staple on the team. Coach K likes to use pure PGs, and Paul is the most pure point guard in all of basketball

SG-Steph Curry– Not at the point but his jump shot is too much to pass up and leave out of the starting 5.

SF-Kevin Durant– Duh.

PF-LEBROOOONNNN JAAAMES– Duh.

C-Anthony Davis– Duh.

BENCH

James Harden– Good 6 man to have I guess. I almost put him in the starting 5, and he’s surely good enough to put at SG, but having him off the bench will keep the tempo up and the points coming. Not having that beard in the starting lineup is a good problem to have if you’re the US.

Paul George– He’ll have a bounce back year in 2015-16, and he’s already been told that he has a spot waiting for him due to his horrible injury in a USA jersey. A terrific defensive presence that this team could totally utilize.

LaMarcus Aldridge– Got Blazerrrrssssss Spursssssss, Aldridge. He’s a more versatile player than a guy like Blake Griffin and can knock down the mid range unlike any other PF out there, opening space for other guys to make plays.

Kyrie Irving– It’s scary how many nasty guards this team has.

Russel Westbrook– See?

DeMarcus Cousins– Maybe the best center in the NBA, he’s a must off of the bench.

Kawhi Leonard– Arguably the best perimeter defender in the world, Coach K will look to create some more defensive pressure with him.

NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS

Dwight Howard, John Wall, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose– Sorry guys, you’re still good.

Brian Scalabrine, JJ Redick, Glen Davis– Didn’t wanna dominate the Games too much.

Which Four Americans Will Be Golfing?

For the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904, the rules state that only the top 4 golfers from each country according to the world rankings will be eligible to golf in Rio. So hypothetically speaking, golfers ranked 1-5 worldwide can all be American, but one of those guys would be on his couch watching the other four rock the red, white, and blue.

Thaaaaaaat kinda blows.

So, who’s it gonna be?

Well Jordan Speith is a mortal lock. Currently ranked #2 worldwide behind Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, dude is killin’ it out on the links as of late, taking home the Green Jacket from the Masters and the US Open title. He’s gonna be in Brazil.

Bubba Watson is right behind him at #3 and should also make it. Every golfer pretty much hates him, but there’s no denying his skill. The two time Masters winner should make a huge impact on the course with his booming drive.

Jason Day from Australia is currently #4, and then a trio of Americans make up 5, 6, and 7 respectively: Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, and Dustin Johnson.

If I had to pick the odd man out there, it’s Fowler. Furyk is really consistent and although Johnson has some issues with driving accuracy, he’s a birdie machine. Zach Johnson, the 5th highest ranked American, is at #12, and Jimmy Walker is next at #14. I don’t see those guys making the cut.

Give me Speith to win the gold, McIlroy for silver, and fuck it, Louis Oosthuizen to win bronze. Why? Because he’s the shit.

A whole lot can (and will) change by the time that tournament starts, so let’s wait and see before I lock in an official prediction.

So there you have it. You’re officially up to date on all of the burning Olympic issues. I’m sure as the Olympics come closer you’ll be hearing more from me on the issue. Until then, I leave you with the best of the 2012 Games.

Man, the Olympics are fucking awesome.