Who to Watch: Olympic Edition 2012

If you’ve had some time to do any channel surfing in the past three days, you’ve probably noticed that the 2012 London Olympics (and Michael Phelps) are dominating three television stations. It is a good year to be a fan of sports and the spirit of competition.   If you missed the opening ceremonies and are feeling out of the loop, don’t worry. You have plenty of time to set up your DVR before competitions in the Marathon and Track and Field start onFriday August 3rd.  Team USA has quite a few events and athletes that you’ll want to keep an eye on. Here are the three that I am most eager to watch.

Ashton Eaton. Nuff said. Image via Shape.com

1. Men’s Decathlon (Catch as many of the ten events as you can on Wednesday August 8th and Thursday August 9th)

Athletes compete in a total of ten events in two busy days. The athletes’ versatility ranges from the 100 hurdles to discus to the 1500 meter run. These guys excel at running, jumping and throwing. It’s impressive to watch.

The athletes compete against other athletes, but also against time/distance standards. Points are awarded for performance in each event. (For more info on the scoring tables and mathematical formulas used to award points, look to the IAAF)

The USA has a strong history in this event.   This year, the world leader and athlete to watch is USA’s Ashton Eaton. Not only is he easy on the eyes, but he also set the World Record at the USA Olympics Trials earlier this summer.

Tune in to live streaming on August 8th to see if Ashton will add to the USA legacy in this event.

Team USA’s Olympic Marathoners, from left, Shalane Flanagan, first, Desiree Davila, second, and Kara Goucher, third, embrace after running in the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

2. Women’s Marathon (Watch online on Sunday, August 5th at 6:00 AM EST- a perfect time to host brunch)

I’ve developed an appreciation of the marathon through my own experience with it over the years. That appreciation and excitement peaked in January of this year watching the Olympics Trials. The race for the Olympic team came down to the final few miles. I have been excited for the London Olympics Women’s Marathon ever since.

This year features three, fierce American competitors, Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher and Desi Davila, who aren’t afraid to put themselves in the big race. All three ladies have experience racing the front-running Kenyans and Ethiopians at World Marathon Majors in Boston and New York. They are tenacious and gutsy and give the USA a great chance for a medal.

The latest news regarding this race is Desi’s hip flexor injury.  I am hopeful that Desi will be healthy and competitive. But rumors are swirling around the internet about an alternate, who it should be, if Amy Hastings can double 10k/marathon with only 48 hours turn around, etc, etc. Keep your fingers crossed for Desi.

Your Women’s 1500 meter Olympics Team. Photo by John Barnhart McClanahan @Photo Run. www.photorun.NET

3. Women’s 1500 meters (Final Friday, August 10th)

The women’s 1500 meter run was heavily contested at the US Olympic Trials with a myriad of ladies demonstrating the potential to make the team. In the end, it was Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury, and Morgan Uceny. These three ladies have similar running resumes. Jenny is the defending World Champion from 2011. Shannon was a World bronze medalist in 2009 and finished seventh at the 2008 Olympics Games. The highest American finish at 1500 meters in Olympic history. And Morgan? Morgan was the top-ranked women at 1500 meters 1 year ago. She suffered from an ill-timed loss of balance during the finals of the 1500 meters at the World Championships (the same race which was won by jenny Simpson). Never underestimate the power of a women on a mission.  Although the bookies don’t have strong odds favoring the American’s, I look for them to work together through the qualifying rounds and turn some heads in the finals.

Other events sure to exhilarate include the Women’s 100 meter (Final on August 4th) and 200 meter (Final on August 8th) dashes which will be a battle between Jamaica and the USA.  And if you are a fan of the fair-weather type, an event that is sure to  please is the 4 x 400 meter relay for Men (August 10th) and Women (August 11th).

The five hour time difference between London (Greenwich Mean Time) to Eastern Standard Time (EST) lends itself to watching live coverage, moreso than the 12 hour time difference between Beijing (China Standard Time) and EST. Be sure to check out  NBC’s website for live streaming and a TV schedule of running events from August 3rd through August 12th.

What do you love most about the Olympic Games? Which races are you most anxiously anticipating?

I'm a pediatric physical therapist by day. Running mostly early am miles as I balance life as the mom of a toddler. With PR days in the past, my primary running goal is to be a lifelong runner. With 20+ years behind me, I still love the sport and I am truly grateful for every day I get to run.

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  1. I love everything about the Olympics! I would love to see Tyson Gay win the 100 meters. Plus Sanya Richards-Ross is always so fun to watch – she really gets her game face on. And I’d love to see Lolo Jones get her Olympics due. So yeah, basically I’m a big ol’ Olympics nerd!

  2. I love watching the swimming and diving. And in just two days I have to say that Missy Franklin is going to be a total star. 2 medals including a gold at 17 and she going to high school and swims on her HS team. Plus she’s photogenic without being like a cutsy doll.

    Also beach volleyball is fun to watch.