Per its official website, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games will start on Friday, July 27 and run through Sunday, August 12. Australia is one of 17 countries from the Oceania region that will take part in the Olympic competitions. The nation made its debut at the Athens Summer Olympic Games in 1896, and, per NBC, is one of only four countries to have fielded a team at every Summer Olympics.
According to the NBC article, Australia has done well at the Summer Olympics over the years, having won 443.5 medals since 1896. Only eight countries have won more Olympic medals. In 2008, Australian athletes outperformed all but four other countries by winning 46 medals at the Beijing Olympics. Per information on its official website, Australia's Olympic team is likely to snag a bevy of medals at the London Olympics.
Here are five Australian Olympic hopefuls that fans should watch during the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. They are representative of the diverse array of experiences and skills possessed by the members of Australia's Olympic squad.
Glenn O'Shea (Men's Cycling-Track)
Per the Australian Olympic team's official website, Glenn O'Shea is only 23 years old and will be making his first trip to the Olympic Games. Nonetheless, he is one of the best cyclists in Australia and has a chance to medal in two Olympic competitions - the men's team pursuit and the men's omnium (in which riders compete in six different events).
Fans of cycling can tune in to watch the Olympics' first ever omnium racing competition. O'Shea placed first in the men's omnium at the 2012 World Championships and is favored to take the gold medal in this multi-event race. O'Shea has an excellent chance to win another medal in men's team pursuit, though its color might not be gold.
Sally Pearson (Women's Track and Field)
Sally Pearson will compete in the 100 meter hurdles at the London Olympics. The Telegraph put her on its list of the 10 Australian athletes who are most likely to leave London with a medal. Per the Australian Olympic team's official website, that is probably the case. Pearson is currently the best in the world in the 100 meter hurdles, having placed first in the event at both the 2011 World Championships and the 2011 World Challenge. In that same year, she won the Female World Athlete of the Year award from the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Fans of Olympic track and field should tune in to watch this Australian athlete in action. They will likely come away impressed with Pearson's speed and agility. The gold medal is hers to lose.
Jamie Dwyer (Men's Field Hockey)
Jamie Dwyer has been part of the Australian national field hockey squad for 10 years and has scored over 170 goals during that period. Per the Australian Olympic team's official website, the 33 year old has been named Best (Field) Hockey Player in the World five times. Dwyer has helped his country's national team win the gold medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004, the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and first place in the 2010 World Cup.
Field hockey fans will want to view the Australian team's matches so they can see Jamie Dwyer's electrifying performances. They will also have the opportunity to watch one of the best men's field hockey teams in the world in action. According to an NBC article, the Australians are favored to win the gold medal at the London Olympics.
Stephanie Rice (Women's Swimming)
As the Australian Olympic team's official website notes, Stephanie Rice is only 24 years old; however, she has already made waves in the swimming world. She won three Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, breaking three world records in the process. She followed up that performance by winning three medals at the 2009 World Championships. An injury in 2010 sidelined her for a while; however she came back to secure a couple of third place finishes at the 2011 World Championships.
At the London Olympics, she will compete in the 400 meter individual medley and the 200 meter individual medley swimming events. According to The Telegraph article, she may also get the chance to participate in a team relay race. She might earn multiple medals in London; however, they probably will not be gold.
Malcolm Page (Men's Sailing)
As The Telegraph article notes, Malcolm Page may be a few years older than many of the other Olympic athletes; however, the 40 year old is still one of the best (if not the best) in the world with regards to the men's 470, a type of sailing contest pitting two-man teams against each other. Per the Australian Olympic team's official website, he and his partner, Matthew Belcher, are currently the top ranked team in the world in the men's 470, having placed either first or second in the last eight major sailing events they have entered.
People interesting in the Olympic sailing events will want to watch the men's 470 competition to see if Malcolm Page can win his second gold medal in a row (he won a gold medal in the event in Beijing). He is the odds on favorite to accomplish that feat.
More from this contributor
The author is a freelance writer who is an avid fan of the Summer Olympic Games. He has followed the Olympic competitions since 1988.