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London Olympics 2012: Team USA Women to Watch

London Olympics 2012: Team USA Women to Watch

The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games is a little more than a month away, so with that, let’s take a closer look at just a few of the U.S. Women’s National Team gold medal hopefuls.

The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games is a little more than a month away, so with that, let’s take a closer look at just a few of the U.S. Women’s National Team gold medal hopefuls.

Some will arrive in London to compete for their very first medal, while others will return as reigning champions, determined to remind the U.S., and the world, just how driven and skilled they are at their craft.

The Olympic trials for some events (Track & Field, Swimming, Cycling) are still ongoing, so the final rosters for the games are not set at this time. However, the list below is comprised of world-class athletes, who consistently compete at a higher level, and who could represent the U.S. on the world stage.

9.Amber Neben – Cycling

Neben has been a mainstay in the world of cycling for over a decade, winning the UCI world time trial championship in 2008 and the U.S. national road race championship in 2003. She is the only active American female cyclist to win multiple UCI category 1 stage races, the Gracia Tour in 2002, the Tour du Montreal in 2003 and the Tour de l'Aude in 2005 and 2006. She was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 2008, leading the pack for most of the race, until the final climb when she shifted gears, jamming her chain and her Olympic dreams. She is the ultimate survivor, overcoming spinal meningitis at a young age and by making a full recovery from melanoma in 2007.

8.Destinee Hooker – Volleyball

Hooker has won gold medals at the 2010 and 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix and the 2011 NORCECA Championships, as well as first team honors as one of the college AVCA All-American players of the year in 2008 and 2009. Her position on the court is opposite attacker, and her individual honors include MVP of the FIVB World Grand Prix with 101 total points scored (consisting of 90 kills, 8 blocks, 3 aces), while finishing fourth in Best Spiker with a 42% kill percentage.

7.Missy Franklin – Swimming

Franklin is a 5-time medalist (3 gold) at the World Aquatics Championships and a 2-time silver medalist at the World Short Course Championships. She currently holds the world record in the 4×100-m medley relay and the world record in the 200-m backstroke. In 2011, she earned FINA Swimmer of the Year honors. London 2012 will be the first Olympic games of Franklin’s young, and very promising, career.

6.Allyson Felix – Track

Felix is a 2-time Olympian, winning Gold in Beijing in 2008 in the 4 x 400m relay, silver in the 200m individual, and silver in the 200m in Athens in 2004. She is also an 8-time Gold medal winner at the World Championships dating back to 2009 in Berlin. She is the youngest gold medalist sprinter in the 200m at the World Championships, and is a proud participant in the US Anti-Doping Agency's "Project Believe" program, where she is regularly tested to ensure that her body is free of performance-enhancing drugs.

5.Marlen Esparza – Boxing

With women's competitive boxing set to make its Olympic debut this year, Esparza’s name was added to the record books as the first fighter to be added to the roster. This flyweight/featherweight (112 pounds), has won 6 consecutive USA boxing titles, a bronze medal at the 2006 World Championships and a Gold medal at the 2008 Pan American Games.

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4.Jordyn Wieber – Gymnastics

Wieber is the reigning 2011 All-Around World Champion, the 2011 U.S. Senior National Champion and the 2011 American Cup Champion. Earlier this year she won the AT&T American Cup, and her second U.S. Senior National Championship. In total, she boasts more than 13 Gold medals from worldwide competitions including the World Championships, Pacific Rim Championships, the American Cup, and the Visa Championships.

3.Kerri Walsh/Misty May-Treanor - Beach Volleyball

Treanor and Walsh are 2-time gold medalists (Beijing and Athens), and are arguably the most successful female beach volleyball team. They won their first FIVB tour championship in 2002, and in 2003 they received “Team of the Year” honors recording an undefeated 39-0 season and 8 tourney wins. They had an undefeated streak of 112 matches until late 2008, when they fell to fellow Olympians Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs at the AVP Shootout. This year they finished second in the Volleyball World Championships.

2.Diana Taurasi & Company - Basketball

The U.S. women's team has won four consecutive gold medals and is riding a 33-game win streak going into international competition this year, but the squad assembled for 2012 has limited playing time together. However, being lead by UConn headcoach Geno Auriemma, and boasting a roster including UConn alums Taurasi, Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Ashja Jones, Maya Moore, and Tina Charles, it is fair to say that half the team is used to grinding out wins together. With the remaining roster including talent like Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Sylvia Fowles, Angel McCoughtry, Lindsay Whalen, and Candace Parker, it’s going to be interesting to see how the other countries fare against the U.S.

1. Abby Wambach & Company - Soccer

So far, in 2012 Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and company are 11-1-1, the Japan women’s team being the only team able to put a dent in their armor. The U.S. crew lost 1-0 to Japan in March at the Algarve cup and they tied 1-1 during an internationally friendly in Japan back in April. Wambach is currently fourth in all-time scoring in international soccer history, but missed Beijing in 2008 due to a broken leg. This is her year for a comeback on the Olympic stage, her ability to wear down defenses with her physical play, aerial game and hard running has long been a key to the USA’s success. The WNT is outscoring their opponents by a 59-5 margin. It’s looking like the road might lead to a 2011 Women’s World Cup rematch, with the Gold medal game most likely coming down to the U.S. vs. Japan.

The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games is scheduled for Friday, July 27th on NBC. Log on to the London 2012 website for more info on the schedule or the Team USA website for more information on the athletes. 

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Leslie Dobbins