The Rio Olympics are right around the corner! Every fourth summer, there are a host of storylines and events that you, your friends, and your co-workers are all talking about.
So far, all the talk is about the Zika virus and Brazil’s financial unpreparedness.
But once the games start, we’ll all be wondering why we’re so out of touch with the Olympics this year. (Seriously, why?)
It will (likely) be the last Olympics for Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. Basketball fans will get a preview of new Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant playing with his new teammates Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
But what other new stars are on the horizon? What are the must-see events?
That’s why we’re here. Check out our expert guide to the under-the-radar storylines you can impress your friends with next month.
1. Gabby Douglas… and her new U.S. gymnast teammates
The gymnast that stole our country’s hearts in London, 2012 will be back to recapture them in a few weeks. But it’s her new teammates we should get familiar with.
The Olympic trials, if you’re reading this at post time, start tonight on NBC. The all-weekend competition is set to conclude late Sunday night with the announcement of Gabby’s four teammates (she earned the automatic bid with the best all-around score for the US in 2012.)
The favorite to watch for: Simone Biles. (The full cheat sheet is here.)
2. Table Tennis is intense.
Wait, did you even know that Table Tennis is an Olympic sport?
Yes, the same sport you play in your rich friend’s basement or at a hip coworking space (hint hint, Factor co-founders.)
Well it is. But before you roll your eyes, understand that table tennis at its highest level is incredible.
Just look at this point:
— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) June 16, 2016
And this one!
Nigerian table tennis player refuses to lose rally. Glorious!https://t.co/GH6GZU9oBv
— BreatheSport (@BreatheSport) May 7, 2016
If you didn’t feel anything, you must be robot. (If you’re not a robot, keep reading.)
3. The Hammer Throw!
When I think of hammer throws, I think of Thor. But I have a feeling that will change next month.
This is the one “Field” event I’m making sure not to miss. Adding to the intrigue: the U.S. Women’s team is trending upward.
We’ll be represented by DeAnna Price, Gwen Berry, and Amber Campbell — the latter of which finished 12th at the 2012 Olympics and had the best mark ever for a U.S. women’s hammer throw.
Berry, meanwhile, broke the American mark this past May, though it was thrown out because she was using a banned asthma medication, which I guess is a thing.
Just marvel at this video though. This looks super badass.
4. Appreciating Water Polo
Water polo is already a fun, action-packed game that we’re reminded of every four years at this time. Little did I know though, all that action we see above water is just a part of the full picture.
This fascinating look by U.S. team captains Maggie Steffens and Tony Azevedo highlight what happens below the surface.
I now have a new appreciation for just how much leg work that is. *proceeds to do 50 air squats*
5. The most scandalous event in the Olympics is…
That’s right, your 39th guess (which is how many sports there are altogether).
Assuming you haven’t brushed up on your badminton results from 2012, there was a scandal in women’s doubles that saw two South Korean teams, a Chinese team, and an Indonesian team purposely throw matches to receive a better draw in the knockout round.
Apparently, the swings and misses were obvious enough to disqualify them all.
More recently, the men’s number one singles player, Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, served an eight-month ban for doping. (That’s him below.)
6. The Paralympics are in September!
Before we show love to the last, and probably coolest event if (I had to pick just one), we want to give some shine to the Paralympics as well!
The Games don’t stop in August. The Paralympics start up right after in Rio in early September.
Need one reason to watch?
How about this headline: Blake Leeper Loses Prosthetic Leg, Still Finishes Second. Yep, it’s as amazing as it sounds. Watch the video here.
7. Trampoline (!) is an event
I told you — coolest event of all.
We all know that the trampoline was a top five activity as a little kid. To see it performed on the world stage is seriously intriguing.
And the U.S. has a great story to root for: Logan Dooley.
He was the Olympic alternate in 2008 and 2012, which is the closest you can get to being an Olympian, without actually being able to call yourself one.
This year, he’s a full-on Olympian — and he has some interesting superstitions.
The takeaway here, speaking to all the parents, is that you can further encourage your child’s trampoline joy by telling them they can be an Olympic gold medalist one day.
Here’s the bar they have to reach (FF to 25:17):
So get your DVR ready, and enjoy feeling smug next month when you’re the only person in the office who can explain the Big Badminton Scandal.
Let the games begin!