Here Are the U.S. Olympians You Should Watch For

Part of the fun of watching the Olympics is knowing there’s no telling who will unexpectedly emerge as a star. That said, these Americans are safe bets for success. Here are a few to watch in Rio.

 

Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson of the USA poses for a portrait during a practice round ahead of THE PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 6, 2014 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

One of the few elite pros to take part in the first Olympic golf competition since 1904, Bubba is already a two-time Masters winner and a man with a knack for putting himself in the spotlight, even when he isn’t using his golf cart jetpack.

 

 

Julie Johnston

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Soccer player Julie Johnston poses for a portrait at the USOC Rio Olympics Shoot at Quixote Studios on November 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Harry How/Getty Images)

This defender has already won a World Cup. Johnston was one of five players to play every single minute of all seven matches in the tournament. Next item on the list: gold in women’s soccer. Not bad for a 24-year-old.

Jordan Burroughs

(Valerie MaconAFP/Getty Images)
(Valerie MaconAFP/Getty Images)

Already a wrestling gold medalist in 2012, his popularity is largely credited with keeping wrestling in the Olympics. (Incidentally, keeping wrestling in the Olympics is one of the few things on which the U.S. and Russian have agreed in recent years.) He’s a favorite to win another in 2016.

 

 

Ryan Lochte

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 07: (EDITORS NOTE: A special effects camera filter was used for this image.) Swimmer Ryan Lochte poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Harry How/Getty Images)

While he had the strange fortune to be an American swimmer at the same time as record-obliterating Michael Phelps, with five golds already entering Rio, Lochte has still has had a remarkable career. At 32, this may be his last Olympics, but he’s already done one thing Phelps never did: play a “sex idiot” on 30 Rock.

 

 

Ibtihaj Muhammad

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 09: Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The 30-year-old fencer became the first American athlete to compete in the games wearing a hijab. She also became the first to get a victory, advancing to the round of 16. She will compete in the team event as well.

Simone Biles

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 07: (EDITORS NOTE: A special effects camera filter was used for this image.) Gymnast Simone Biles poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Harry How/Getty Images)

The smallest American Olympian in Brazil, Biles has already contributed in a mammoth way. Her tumbling routine helped the United States team win gold for women’s all-around gymnastics. She’s poised to be a breakout gymnastic star of the magnitude of a Mary Lou Retton or Nadia Comaneci. (If you want to learn more about her, go here.)

Kerri Walsh Jennings

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings poses for a portrait at the USOC Rio Olympics Shoot at Quixote Studios on November 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Harry How/Getty Images)

With Misty May-Treanor, she won gold in beach volleyball in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Now she’s going for gold #4 with a new partner. (No pressure, April Ross.)

 

 

Mikaela Mayer

QINHUANGDAO, CHINA - MAY 19: Bronze medalist Mikaela Joslin Mayer of the United States attends the award ceremony of the Women's 64kg Final during the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships on May 19, 2012 in Qinhuangdao, China. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
(Feng Li/Getty Images)

One of two women boxing for the U.S., there’s already been speculation that after the Olympics she’ll give up the sweet science for mixed martial arts and the UFC. Mayer credits Muay Thai training with giving her the focus to pull her life together after getting kicked out of three different high schools.


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