Making it to the big games once in your lifetime is a huge accomplishment in itself but these reigning champs have proved that they are not to be messed with. Whether these star athletes are looking to redeem themselves after a not-so-great season, finish out their careers with a bang, or simply defend their titles, they are must-watches. We’ve given you our top newcomer athletes, but there’s nothing like seeing a comeback from your tried-and-true favorites!
Michael Phelps – Swimming (USA)
Coming up on his 22nd gold, Phelps is nothing short of a phenomenon in the pool. The 31 year old has been making history since 2008. In the last few years he’s had his fair share of personal trouble and setbacks, but this year a newly focused and determined Phelps has reemerged. Looking to reclaim his spot on top before he retires this year, so far Phelps has blown his competition out of the water. If he continues on this winning streak (which is very likely) he could leave these games with 5 golds and end his impressive career on an extremely high note.
Usain Bolt – Track & Field (Jamaica)
As the fastest man alive, Bolt is looking to make history at his last run in the games. Though he has been slowing down a bit in the past few years, he is determined to keep breaking records, including his own. This year he plans to win the 100 meter, 200 meter and 4×100 meter relay for the third year in a row (he was the first to win all 3 in two consecutive games). You won’t to miss this last chance to see Bolt in all his glory!
Katie Ledecky – Swimming (USA)
Ledecky made a name for herself back in 2012, when she won the 800 meter freestyle at the young age of 15. Since her triumph, she’s only been training harder and has been dominating in the pool again this year. She is on track to sweep the 200 meter, 400 meter and 800 meter freestyle which would earn a place in the history books and elevate her to the likes of Debbie Meyer. This year she’s already beat the record for the 800 meter (a groundbreaking time of eight minutes, 12.86 seconds) which she herself set back in 2012.
Kerri Walsh Jennings – Beach Volleyball (USA)
The undefeated champion strikes again! After Walsh Jennings underwent shoulder surgery earlier this year, the world was eager to see if she would be able to defend her title as number one this August. With partner April Ross, she has dominated competition and made it to Round 16 this year. Tune in and don’t miss Walsh Jennings make her triumphant comeback.
Phil Dalhausser – Beach Volleyball (USA)
Lovingly known to his fans as the Thin Beast, the 6’9″ Dalhausser has dominated the beach volleyball game for over a decade. In 2008, Dalhausser and partner Todd Rogers brought home gold, but they failed to make the podium in 2012. With new partner Nick Lucena, Dalhausser is determined reclaim that number one title. So far they have been killing it in the competition; stay tuned to watch them take it all!
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Track & Field (Jamaica)
As the worlds fastest woman, Fraser-Pryce has been a force to be reckoned with in her signature event, the 100 meter. She blew her competition away and won titles in both 2008 and 2012. She has been performing steadily since and it looks like she’ll continue her winning streak this year in her third go at the big games.
Ashton Eaton – Track & Field (USA)
Back in London 2012, Eaton set a world record in the decathlon, which he then broke last year at the World Championships in China. He’s the prospective favorite to win it all this month at the decathlon. Tune in to see if Eaton will be the first two-time winner and if he can break his own impressive record.
Gabby Douglas – Gymnastics (USA)
After four straight years of being number one at all-around, Douglas is ready to made a comeback this August. The past couple years have been solid for Douglas: she won silver at the 2015 World Championships and was the champion at both the American Cup and Jesolo Trophy. She has proved that she is more than serious about her comeback. Although she was beat out by newcomer and teammate, Simone Biles, in all-around, Douglas has continued to show us all why she is a legend.
Jordan Burroughs – Wrestling (USA)
In London 2012 Burroughs took home the win in freestyle wrestling. If can do the same again this year he will become the third American to win back-to-back titles. He is one of the most fierce competitors in his sport right now and is determined repeat his triumphant victory from four years ago, cementing his name in the history books.
Allyson Felix – Track & Field (USA)
At just 18, Felix made he debut in Athens 2004. Since then she has won six medals and four world championships. Now, 30 years old, she is set to compete in her fourth games. As the reigning world champion in 400 meter, tune in to see if she can she beat out the fresh faces to maintain her number one title.
For many of these veteran athletes, this could be their last chance to grab that big win. Emotions are high and the stakes are even higher. You don’t want to miss a single minute! Don’t forget to check out our weekly watch guide to stay in the loop for exactly when to tune in on these can’t-miss moments. Tag us and tweet us @66audio with your favorite moments so far; we love to see what everyone out there is watching!