Olympians: What’s Next?
London produced an Olympic Games for Team USA to remember. U.S. athletes returned home with a world-best 104 medals, including 46 gold.
The London Games left many memories, but the Closing Ceremony hardly signaled the end of competition for U.S. athletes. Each Olympic sport moves forward with national and international competitions; some of which already have begun.
Below is a sport-by-sport look at some of the upcoming action. As several 2012 Olympians join the next generation in the journey to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, TeamUSA.org will be with them every step of the way. Check back regularly for features and information on the athletes who could make up the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
The “Fierce Five” women’s gymnasts are back on U.S. soil, and although the 2013 American Cup is still several months away, the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions will begin in Sept. 8 in San Jose, Calif. The 40-city tour will include members of the 2012 and 2008 U.S. Olympic Teams, including the gold-medal winning women: Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber. The cast also features several others, including 2008 Olympic all-around gold medalist Nastia Liukin and her 2008 Olympic teammates, Chellsie Memmel and Alicia Sacramone. Among the men performing on the tour are 2012 Olympians John Orozco and Jonathon Horton. Meanwhile, the FIG World Cup circuit starts back up in November and stops in the United States in March for the American Cup. As usual, the Nastia Liukin Cup will be held one day earlier at the arena in Worcester, Mass. As if that wasn’t enough, the world’s best gymnasts will be together again in September and October for the 2013 FIG World Championships in Belgium.
London Olympic stars Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte and other top U.S. swimmers could be back in action in November when the annual Grand Prix Series begins in Minneapolis. The Grand Prix is a competitive domestic tour stopping in seven cities around the country from November through June. There are several championships in 2013 to watch for as well. First is the AT&T Winter National Championships late November in Austin, Texas. Next summer, the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships will take place in June in Indianapolis followed by the FINA World Championships beginning July 19 in Barcelona.
David Boudia’s gold-medal-winning performance in the 10-meter platform at the London 2012 Olympic Games helped to produce a memorable year for USA Diving. Boudia was the first American man to win Olympic diving gold in 20 years. Some of the top U.S. divers are competing at the AT&T USA Diving National Championships, which conclude Sunday in Greensboro, N.C. After that will be the USA Diving Winter National Championships. Senior divers also compete in the World Cup, and the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix event is the lone U.S. stop on the FINA World Cup circuit.
TRACK AND FIELD:
Olympic track athletes go right from the Olympic track to other international tracks. The world’s best athletes compete in the Samsung Diamond League, which resumes with competition Friday in Stockholm, Sweden, and follows up next Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland. Further down the line, the Visa Championship Series will kick off in January 2013 at the U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Also coming up in 2013: USA Track National Championships and the World Track & Field Championships in Moscow. Among the many U.S. athletes to watch include 2012 Olympic medalist Justin Gatlin, who left London and already won the men’s 100-meter race at Wednesday’s DecaNation championships in France.
USA Triathlon conducts a number of national championships that most of its elite athletes participate in, including four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper, who is considering training for another U.S. Olympic spot in 2016. U.S. triathletes also compete internationally in the ITU World Triathlon Series and ITU Pan American Cup. The 2012 schedule finishes with the Grand Final in October in Auckland, New Zealand.
In addition to the Olympic teams that produced men’s and women’s gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, USA Basketball fields teams for FIBA world championships and FIBA Americas championships in several age categories, both men and women. Those teams feature the best high school and college players in the United States. The USA Men’s Hoop Summit held each June in Portland, Ore., features the best high school men’s players against an international squad. Meanwhile, the gold-medal members of the men’s team will be back with their NBA teams in the fall, and some of the women have already suited up with their WNBA teams. The WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, which features three gold medalists with Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore, resume its season Friday as it takes on the Washington Mystics.
Having recaptured Olympic gold with its victory over Japan in the championship game at the London 2012 Olympic Games, goalkeeper Hope Solo, new offensive star Alex Morgan will play in a Victory Tour in three cities. The first game is against Costa Rica Sept. 1 in Rochester, N.Y., the second is Sept. 16 against Australia in Carson, Calif., and the third is Sept. 19 against Australia in Commerce City, Colo. Afterward, the women’s team will concentrate on the long-range goal of the FIFA World Cup, set for 2015 in Canada. The U.S. men, which did not qualify for London, beat Mexico, 1-0, for its first victory on Mexican soil on Wednesday. They will soon begin qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be hosted by Brazil just two years before the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. The U.S. men’s team faces Jamaica Sept. 7 in Kingston, and then plays Jamaica again Sept. 11 in Columbus, Ohio.
There‘s no shortage of action at the beach. Less than a week after Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won their third consecutive gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Swatch FIVB Beach Tour was in full swing at a Grand Slam event in Poland. The FIVB Beach Tour is held most weekends during the late spring and summer with a strong international field at multiple international venues. The USA Volleyball Women’s National Team, which earned the silver medal in London, will prepare next year for the FIVB World Grand Prix and attempt to get its No. 1 ranking back. The Men’s National Team will play in the FIVB World League. Both are international tournaments that take place in various locations across the world.
US Sailing athletes will not have too long of a break following the 2012 Olympic Games. The 2012-2013 ISAF World Cup series kicks off in November and wraps up next June. Sailors will race across the world, in such cities as Melbourne, Qingdao, China, and Palma, Mallorca, Spain. U.S. sailors finished in the top-five in five of the 10 Olympic classes in the 2011-2012 ISAF World Cup standings.
USA Synchro swimmers will be preparing for two national championships in 2013, the U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Championships in April in Greensboro, N.C., and the U.S. Open Synchronized Swimming Championships.
Popularized in part by the Hollywood release of “The Hunger Games” movie in 2012, archery has become a big hit in the United States. Men’s recurve archer Brady Ellison is ranked No. 1 in the world; the USA Archery men’s team won silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Khatuna Lorig, a 2012 Olympian who placed fourth in London, helped train actress Jennifer Lawrence for her leading role in “The Hunger Games.” In addition to multiple national tournaments held each year, U.S. recurve and compound archers compete internationally on the World Cup tour.
USA Cycling conducts national championships in a number of disciplines, including road racing, mountain bike, track, Cyclo-cross and BMX. USA Cycling athletes compete in the UCI World Championships and World Cups. The 2013 schedule includes the UCI Road World Championships in Italy, the UCI BMX World Championships in New Zealand, and the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Louisville, Ky. Additionally, national team development programs send athletes internationally for competition.
Already this week, the competitive waters had barely calmed in London when the World Rowing Senior and Junior Championships began Wednesday in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The United States has entrants in all 20 boat classes, including seven senior boat classes not conducted at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The senior and junior worlds are combined only during an Olympic year. Once that’s over, rowers will begin to focus on 2013. National selection regattas will begin in March. Those selected to the national team will compete in the 2013 World Cup events, followed by the World Rowing Championships in August 2013 in South Korea.
USA Canoe/Kayak athletes compete in the ICF World Championships, ICF World Cups and national events, beginning in the spring. Some of the athletes compete in both canoe and kayak. Disciplines include sprint, slalom, canoe freestyle.
USA Wrestling athletes are divided into men’s Greco-Roman, men’s freestyle and women’s freestyle disciplines, and they will compete at multiple international tournaments leading up to next year’s FILA World Championships to be held in September in Hungary. Up first for the women in September are the Women’s World Team Trials. Among the big tournaments stateside in 2013 are the U.S. Open and the annual Dave Schultz Memorial Invitational in Colorado Springs.
Riders-and-horse combinations, tested and nominated for world championship teams by the U.S. Equestrian Foundation, compete all over the world in FEI championship events. Disciplines include dressage, eventing, jumping, vaulting and Para-equestrian. The largest equestrian event is the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which will next be held in 2014 in Normandy, France.
Athletes from USA Judo compete in a series of IJF World Cup and Grand Prix events internationally, which determine global rankings for the IJF World Championships, Pan American Games and The Olympics. Kayla Harrison, a gold-medal winner at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the first American Olympic gold medalist in judo, has emerged as No. 1 in the world in the women’s 78-kilograms weight class. The World Cup resumes in September with a tournament in Mongolia. The next IJF World Championships are in September 2013 in Tokyo.
USA Taekwondo athletes won a pair of bronze medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and now they will focus on World Cup and other international competition for the remainder of 2012 and the 2013 season. In October 2012, the 9th International Friendship Open will be held in Portland, Ore.
Fencers representing USA Fencing will compete internationally in a series of World Cup and Grand Prix events, beginning next fall, in the disciplines of foil, epee and saber. Athletes can win points at those events to qualify for the world championships, Pan American Games and the Olympics Games. Additionally, a series of North American Cup events are held at different venues throughout the United States for senior- and cadet-level athletes. St. Louis will be host to the October North American Cup.
Athletes representing USA Weightlifting will compete in a number of World Cup, World Championship and other international events over the next year. The 2013 IWF World Championships will be held in Warsaw, Poland. Lifters to watch include 2012 Olympians Holley Mangold, Sarah Robles and Kendrick Farris.
Margaux Isaksen finished an impressive fourth at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and now it’ll be back to the World Cup. The season for Modern Pentathlon begins in late winter and the World Cup circuit dots the globe, leading up to the World Cup Final and the IUPM World Championships. Palm Springs, Calif., will be host to the first World Cup event of the 2013 series, in February.
Serena Williams won Olympic gold in both singles and doubles, with her sister, Venus, in London. Mike and Bob Bryan claimed their first Olympic gold medal in men’s doubles in London as well. Next up is the U.S. Open, one of professional tennis’s Grand Slam events.
The USA Shooting team, which includes five-time Olympian Kim Rhode, will take to the ISSF World Cup circuit again in 2013. Next year’s schedule includes a World Cup stop in May in Fort Benning, Ga. The disciplines include trap, double trap and skeet.
The London 2012 Olympic Games essentially finished up the season for the USA Water Polo Women’s and Men’s National Teams (the U.S. women’s water polo won the gold medal in London) but now they’ll gear up for the FINA World Championships and FINA World League in 2013. The teams also play host to exhibition series at various sites in California.
The USA Field Hockey Women’s and Men’s National Teams will compete in a series of international friendlies, in addition to the FIH World Cup. The men’s squad, which did not qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games, will be host to the first round of the inaugural World League in November at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The World League consists of two years of games and will be a qualifier for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.
USA Boxing holds national tournaments in men’s and women’s weight classes, which determine spots in the AIBA World Championships and, in an Olympic year, the Olympic Games.
The top USA Badminton athletes compete in several international tournaments annually, including the Thomas and Uber Cups, World Championships and Sudriman Cup.
The USA Table Tennis men’s and women’s teams compete internationally, as well as at top tournaments in the United States. The USATT National Championships are scheduled for December in Las Vegas. Ariel Hsing, a 2012 Olympian, is the defending women’s champion.
The United States has not played in the Olympic Games since the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, but USA Team Handball is resuming its path toward the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. Both the women’s and men’s teams would need to qualify through Pan American qualifiers. Many of the USA Team Handball players train and play with professional teams in Europe, but also will return to the United States in the next year to train for tournaments.