As the Summer Olympics kick off, we’ve got the athletes to watch and the ones to follow. Here are 15 of our Olympic favorites whose road to Rio and Olympic journey can be seen through their own eyes and Instagrams. Click on the images above and follow these athletes as they go for the gold!
ROW 1: ALLYSON FELIX. Competing in the Women’s 400m, 4×100 and 4x400m relay, this will be Allyson Felix’s fourth Olympic Games, and she is still a medal contender. Unfortunately we won’t see her in the 200m, the event in which she won Olympic gold in 2012, having come up .01 seconds short in the Olympic trials. USAIN BOLT. The fastest human ever, holding both the 100m and 200m world records, Usain Bolt is back to defend his back to back gold medals (2008 and 2012) in both these events. MICHAEL PHELPS & RYAN LOCHTE. Michael Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history with 22 medals, 18 of them gold, is back for more in Rio, his fifth Olympic games. Having come out of retirement with a refreshed attitude, a stint in rehab behind him, he is a new father as well the flag bearer for Team USA. Back in Rio as well is friend and rival Ryan Lochte, who failed to qualify for the 400IM, the event in which he won the gold medal in London 2012, but who will be swimming in the 200IM.
ROW 2: VENUS WILLIAMS & SERENA WILLIAMS. The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, are the two-time defending Olympic women’s doubles gold medalists and have a combined eight golds between them, four apiece. They are competing in both singles and doubles here in Rio, with Serena seeded no.1 and Venus no.5. MISSY FRANKLIN & KATIE LEDECKY. Missy Franklin will be swimming the 200m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay, but missed the cut in the 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke, the event in which she won gold in 2012. Teammate Katie Ledecky is heavily favored to be one of the most decorated swimmers of the 2016 Olympics, having swept the 2015 World Championships in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500-meter freestyle events and blowing away the competition in the US Olympic Swimming Trials. SIMONE BILES & TEAM USA GYMNASTICS. The most powerful gymnast the sport has ever seen, Simone Biles has redefined what is possible in gymnastics and is heavily favored to win the all-around gold medal, in addition to multiple individual events. Biles and her teammates are defending their 2012 team gold medal and favored to win again, with 2012 all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas returning, along with Aly Raisman, another individual gold medalist from the London games.
ROW 3: MEGAN RAPINOE & THE US WOMENS SOCCER TEAM. Still hot from their 2015 World Cup win, Megan Rapinoe and her teammates are poised to take home the gold in Brazil! IBTIHAJ MUHAMMAD. Ibtihaj Muhammad is America’s first hijab-wearing Olympian, a fencer competing in the Sabre events, a relatively new discipline of the sport in the Olympics for women. Muhammad, who at 30 is a first time Olympian, is a legitimate medal contender, ranked no.2 in the US and no.8 in the world. KERRY WALSH JENNINGS & APRIL ROSS. 3-time gold medalist Kerry Walsh Jennings is going for her 4th here in Rio in Beach Volleyball, but with a new partner and former rival, April Ross. Longtime teammate Misty May Trainer retired after the London games. Both have something to prove and are looking for the win here in Rio, where Beach Volleyball reigns supreme.
Follow all these athletes and lots more US Olympians on TEAM USA!