The Top Five American Women to Watch in the 2016 Olympics

Looking to Defend Their Olympic Titles

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2016 Summer Olympics: Can the U.S. Maintain Its Dominance in Men's Swimming?

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2016 Summer Olympics: Can the U.S. Maintain Its Dominance in Men's Swimming?

The U.S. finished atop the medal standings at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games-winning 46 golds and 104 medals overall-for the #1 spot in both categories. Also noteworthy was the fact that more women than men participated for the U.S. for the first time. American women earned 40 invididual medals in London, including 18 golds.

The following list includes my top five American women who should be present to defend their individual Olympic titles four years from now in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

Allyson Felix: Prior to the London Games, Felix had been one of the world's top sprinters for nearly a decade. However, appearances on the track at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics resulted in less-than-satisfying results, with silver medals in the 200 meters at each of those Games.

In London, however, Felix secured her long-coveted individual Olympic gold in the 200 meters, and now has six Olympic medals overall to her credit. Look for more great things from her in the 200, and possibly the 400 meters, in 2016.

Missy Franklin: Franklin made a big splash in the pool in London by winning five medals-including four golds. Recently named the Swimmer of the Year by USA Swimming, fans should look forward to more Olympic titles from Franklin four years from now at the Rio Games.

Katie Ledecky: Ledecky burst onto the swimming scene in London at age 15, capturing the 800-meter freestyle. She should reach the peak of her career around the next Olympics, and hopefully will win gold in both the 400 and 800-meter freestyles in 2016.

Kim Rhode: Rhode is not only America's most successful shooter of all time, she is also the most decorated woman in the Olympic history of the sport, with three golds among her overall tally of five medals. Look for her to compete for another skeet shooting gold in Rio.

Kayla Harrison: At age 22, Harrison made history at the London Games by becoming the first American to win an Olympic judo gold. Her accomplishments in the sport thus far should inspire more young Americans to take up judo, and could eventually result in the U.S. becoming more competitive in judo against the world's best.

Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is already looking forward to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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