If you’re anything like me, the excitement of London 2012 seems like it was only yesterday, but here we are again: Rio 2016 is about to kick off. Here’s a guide to the top-notch student athletes to watch, and the unmissable events of the games this summer.
Amazing Student Athletes at Rio 2016
University can often seem like one mammoth balancing act, with social commitments, work, keeping yourself alive, remembering to call your parents, and so on. Olympic competitor for Great Britain, Dina Asher-Smith, 20, manages to juggle a degree in History at King’s College London with her sprinting career: she is currently the fastest woman in British history, having run the 100m in under 11 seconds at the London Anniversary Games last year.
Dina told Athletics Weekly about her hectic schedule ahead of Rio:
‘My normal day? University all day then training all night. Most days I start at 9am ‘til I don’t know, about four, except Fridays when it’s 11 to six. Training starts at seven until nine.’
‘So I come home, eat, sleep, get ready for training, go training, come back, get ready for the next day, go to sleep […] But you know what? I really enjoy it. I love doing it.’
Look out for Dina Asher-Smith competing in the Women’s 200m for Great Britain on August 15.
Other GB student athletes to watch this year include the International Hockey Federation’s Rising Star of the Year, University of Birmingham Sport and Exercise Sciences student Lily Owsley, who will be competing in the Women’s Field Hockey tournament (beginning 7th August) and the University of Bath’s Andrew Pozzi who will be competing in the men’s 110m hurdles.
Rio is jam-packed with amazing events, from athletics to water-polo, here’s a few you’d be bonkers to miss:
The Opening Ceremony, Friday 5 August
After Danny Boyle’s maypole filled extravaganza of London 2012, the opening ceremony in Rio is bound to be quite different. The ceremony will be taking place in the rebuilt Maracana Stadium, and, according to the BBC, Rio’s ceremony director Fernando Meirelles is speculated to have a budget one-tenth the size of Boyle’s £31m.
That said, organisers told the BBC that the ceremony will be ‘the biggest event in the world – not just Brazilian culture but world culture”. 207 teams will take part in the parade of nations, with a 10-strong refugee team, created by the International Olympic Committee, marching 206th for the first time.
Women’s Team Gymnastics, Tuesday 9 August
Women’s team gymnastics (final at 20:00) is one of the Olympics’ most popular events, especially for the US, who secured gold back in 2012. Look out for Simone Biles, 19, on the US team who is the most decorated female gymnast in World Championships history.
Track cycling, Thursday 11 August
Great Britain won an impressive nine medals in track cycling back in 2012 and hopes remain high for us this year in Rio. The hotly-anticipated men’s team sprint final takes place at 22:21 and features 2012 champions Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny with a new teammate, Callum Skinner, who replaces Sir Chris Hoy following his retirement.
Another ‘Super Saturday?’, Saturday 13 August
On the evening of 4 August, 2012, Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis all won gold medals for Great Britain in a triumphant evening known as ‘Super Saturday.’ All three will be competing for gold again this year in Rio, with Rutherford’s long jump starting at 00:50 UK time on Sunday, Farah’s 10,000m at 01:25 and the 800m finale of Ennis’ heptathlon at 02:53. Whether it’s another ‘Super Saturday’ or not, this is not an evening to miss.
The Men’s 100m, Sunday 14 August
Due to the time difference between the UK and Brazil (we are four hours ahead), you’ll have to stay up late or record Usain Bolt’s hotly anticipated bid for his third consecutive Olympic 100m title, as the semi-finals are from 01:00 Monday and the final is at 02:25. He’ll be competing against 34-year-old American Justin Gatlin who is one of the favourites for gold, having run the 100m in 9.80 seconds.
The Closing Ceremony, Sunday 21 August
If after all this Rio excitement you’re already thinking ahead to 2020, watch the closing ceremony (23:15 start), as Tokyo’s organisers will have eight minutes to give us a hint of their plans. The details of the ceremony are kept very much under wraps, so watch it and see for yourself!
By Georgia Tindale