7 stories to watch at the Rio Olympics 2016

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Image: NBC Sports

Image: NBC Sports

Well, folks, we’ve been talking a big game for the past couple months or so when it comes to the 2016 Rio Olympics – whether or not it reaches full dumpster fire is about to be put to the test – and its already looking to be one of the most talked about (and criticized Olympics) since Berlin hosted in 1936. Now that we’ve reached the few days preceding the 2016 Olympic Games, there are more stories rolling in from the Olympic Village that seems ill-equipped to handle close to 10,000+ athletes and coaches as they compete – the USA basketball teams have elected to stay in a luxury cruise ship, rather than stay in the Olympic Village “suites.”

We’ve heard plenty of talk about Zika virus, the super bacteria, the lackluster Olympic Village, and crime that seems to run rampant throughout Rio de Janeiro, but not much else about the positive story lines leading into the 2016 Opening Ceremonies.

With that in mind, here are 7 positive (and one not so positive) storylines that serve to intrigue the Olympic viewer throughout the Games.

Usain Bolt Farewell Tour

The fastest man on the planet, who captivated the world with his brazen on-track antics and cocky demeanor, Usain Botlt’s career appears to be coming to an end just as quickly as it started. He is an all-time great, one of the best Olympians ever – in terms of ability and trash talking – and an absolute icon, but after a number of injuries in the Caribbean qualifiers, Bolt’s final runs may not be as blistering as originally expected. Nevertheless, don’t underestimate Bolt and his ability to pull out one more phenomenal 100 meter for the ages.

Michael Phelps (Possible) Farewell Tour

He’s widely considered to be the greatest American Olympian of all time, and arguably the greatest Olympian period (even with that whole bong thing). Being the man whose training diet has become the stuff of legends (12,000 calories a day), and has accrued a record 18 gold medals, its safe to say that Phelps’ legacy is more than cemented. That being said, Phelps’ fifth career Olympics (unprecedented in itself) will be his last – an opportunity to further his legacy to the point of being virtually unattainable – with a chance to score three more gold medals.

Darya Klishina and the Russian Doping Scandal

Every Olympics, it seems inevitable that Russia is involved with some sort of scandal – from gymnastics faux pas to host city slander – and this year is no exception. Being the “we are superior” country East, Russia has spared no expense in trying to maintain their athletes performance, even of it comes in the form of doping. More than 100 Russain athletes – most of whom are on the track team – have been banned from the Olympics for some for of PED or substance infraction. That being said, there is a single Russain track athlete who has been permitted to compete in the track and field events she qualified for (hurdles), Darya Klishina, who will compete as an individual athlete, and not for the Russian track team.

Rugby is Back, Baby!

Events coming and going in the Olympics is nothing new, and this year sees the return of rugby, which had been absent from the Games since 1924. Its certainly the toughest sport in the Olympics in terms of getting the crap knocked out of you, so if you’re missing (American) football at all, you should check out the rugby powerhouses of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the USA go head to head, literally.

USA Basketball

This is the one Olympic sport that has always been dominated by the USA, ever since the sport was introduced to the Games in 1936, and women’s in 1976. An interesting wrinkle this year is that three of the four best players in the world – LeBron James, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook – will not be participating in this years’ Games, primarily for injury reasons. Another interesting wrinkle is both basketball teams electing to stay in a docked cruise ship in Rio’s Maua Pier, due mostly to the fact that US Olympic basketball players are far more famous than most other athletes competing, along with the fears of less-than stellar living conditions in the Olympic Village.

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Ibtihaj Muhammad is one of the United States’ best fencers, as well as one of the best in the world. She will also be the first Muslim woman who wears a hijab to qualify for the United States Olympic Team. Muhammad is revered amongst the US Olympic team, as she finished second in team voting for who would be the USA’s Opening Ceremonies flag-bearer.

The State of Rio de Janeiro

It’s a sad sign of the times/state of affairs when the most familiar aspect of this year’s Olympics is not the competitive storylines coming out of Rio, but rather, the seemingly utter disarray the host-city seems to be in. From the Australian team expressing their distinct disappointment in various aspects of Olympic Village living – and getting robbed during a fire – to Chinese hurdlers being robbed, and then all the aforementioned Zika and super bacteria talk. It’ll be a tough go of it all for Rio, but hopefully after these Olympics finally come to an end, people (and the Olympic Committee) will have learned a thing or two about choosing host cities (but then again, you’d have to take away all their bribes, which ins’t going to happen soon).

This article originally appeared on as 7 Storylines to watch at the Rio Olympics 2016.

Sean considers himself a poor man's polymath and finds solipsism amusing. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @mchugh_sean, or not. That's fine.

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