Stats & Info: 2012 London Olympics

Getty Images/Adam PrettyJordyn Wieber is trying to do what hasn't been done at the Olympics since 1996.

The gymnastics portion of the Olympics began on Saturday with men’s qualifying, and the women begin competing on Sunday. Both American teams are filled with medal hopefuls, and the women are favored to bring home team gold.

Women’s Gymnastics
The United States women have won team gold once previously, at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, when an injured Kerri Strug nailed her final vault to secure first place.

Since then, the United States has medaled in each Olympics, winning silver behind Romania in 2004 and China in 2008.

Americans Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas are the two favorites to win the individual all-around, and either would be the third straight American to win gold in that event, following Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008.

Wieber is the 2011 world champion, but Douglas edged her at Olympic Trials. Recent history bodes poorly for Wieber: in the previous 40 years, the only reigning world champion to win Olympic gold was Ukraine’s Lilia Podkopayeva in 1996.

Other American women are also expected to contend in individual disciplines. After winning bronze at last year’s World Championships,

Aly Raisman seeks to win the United States’ first gold medal in floor exercise. McKayla Maroney took gold in the vault at World Championships, and she could be the first American gold medalist in that event.

Men’s Gymnastics
Don’t forget the United States men, who finished runner-up to Japan in 2004 and won bronze in Beijing, marking the first time they medaled in the team all-around in consecutive Olympics.

The Americans surprised everyone by finishing first in Saturday’s qualifying, though scores are wiped clean before Monday’s team final. The United States’ only team gold medal came in the boycotted 1984 Olympics.

Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Danell Leyva posted the best individual all-around score in qualifying, with teammate John Orozco finishing fourth.

Either could join Paul Hamm (gold in 2004) and Peter Vidmar (silver in 1984) as the only Americans to medal in the individual all-around.

Leyva also placed third in the horizontal bar, for the best apparatus result by an American in qualifying.

Jonathan Horton was fifth on horizontal bar, an event the United States men have had recent success in, with Hamm winning silver in 2004 and Horton winning silver in 2008.

Elsewhere, Jake Dalton tied for fourth in floor exercise, and Sam Mikulak qualified fourth on vault. Winning a medal in either event would be an accomplishment.

An American man hasn’t medaled in vault since 1984, and the last U.S. medalist in floor exercise was Peter Kormann in 1976.

Getty ImagesMichael Phelps and Ryan Lochte will go head-to-head twice in the pool at the 2012 London Olympics.
The swimming events at the 2012 London Olympics kick off on Saturday morning, beginning with one of the most highly anticipated races of the entire schedule, the men’s 400-meter individual medley.

The 400m IM will be the first of two head-to-head races between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in London (the other is the 200m IM). Lochte is the reigning world champion in the event and beat Phelps at last month’s U.S. trials, but Phelps owns the world record, which he set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Michael Phelps
Phelps will swim seven events in London (200m and 400m IM, 100m and 200m butterfly, 3 relays), looking to add to his Olympic record of 14 gold medals and his total of 16 Olympic medals. He needs three medals to pass Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina as the most-decorated Olympian ever.

Phelps also has a chance to become the first man to win an Olympic swimming event three times. He has already won two golds in the 400m and 200m individual medleys and the 200m and 100m butterflies, and will be competing in each of those events in London.

Ryan Lochte
Lochte is Phelps’ biggest rival and has arguably surpassed him as the world’s best swimmer since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His ascent began in 2010 at the Pan-Pacific Championships, where he went a perfect 6-for-6, winning one more event there than Phelps.

He then won four individual golds and one relay gold at the 2011 World Championships, setting the world record in the 200m IM. It was the first long-course record set since high-tech suits were banned in 2010. Lochte has qualified for five events in London (200m backstroke, 200m and 400m IM, 200m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay).

Missy Franklin
The biggest name on the women’s swimming team is 17-year-old phenom Missy Franklin, who became the first American woman to qualify for seven swimming events (100m and 200m backstroke, 100m and 200m freestyle, three relays).

She is trying to become the first female swimmer to win seven medals at an Olympics. The only female athlete to win seven medals in a single Olympics was Soviet gymnast Mariya Horokhovska in 1952.

Franklin certainly has the pedigree to rewrite the record books. She won five medals, including one individual gold in the 200m backstroke and two relay golds, at the 2011 World Championships at the age of 16. Later in 2011 she set the 200m backstroke short-course world record at a FINA World Cup meet in Berlin.

Rebecca Soni
Another American name to know in the pool is Rebecca Soni, who has qualified for the 100m and 200m breaststroke, along with the 4x100m medley relay. Soni won gold in the 200m breaststroke, and took silver in both the 100m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay at the Beijing Olympics.

If she gets gold again at 200 meters, she would be the first woman to win two Olympic golds in the 200m breaststroke. She also could become the second woman to sweep the three breaststroke events, joining South Africa’s Penny Heyns in 1996.