With the summer sports season reaching its peak,Team USA athletes are competing against the best of the world in world championships, national championships and everything in between. And don't look now, but winter will soon be upon us. Here are 10 storylines to follow in Olympic sports as summer comes to a close.
Can the women’s field hockey team continue its rapid ascent?
The U.S. women’s field hockey team has been on a tear lately. At the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals, the team earned a berth into both the 2017 World League Final and the 2018 Hockey World Cup by reaching the final four. It then won the tournament over Olympic bronze medalist Germany, helping to bump its ranking to an all-time high of No. 4 in the world. Next up for the red-hot squad is the Pan American Cup, held from Aug. 4-13 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. With expectations higher than ever, the team will face defending champion, No. 3 Argentina, for a shot at the title.
Track and field athletes return to London Stadium for the IAAF World Championships
London Stadium was the site of track and field at the Olympic Games London 2012. Five years later, that same track hosts the IAAF World Championships from Aug. 4-13. Team USA athletes will look to continue their momentum from last year’s Olympics in Rio, where they won a total of 32 medals. Among the London medalists returning to the site of their dominance are Allyson Felix, who looks for her second straight 400-meter title, and Aries Merritt, who continues his comeback after a kidney transplant. London can expect a week and a half of wall-to-wall action.
Who will reign supreme at the USA Diving National Championships?
With the FINA World Championships not far in the rearview mirror, many world and Olympic team divers have elected to end their seasons already. But never fear: a whole new crop of young divers are eager to take their places atop the podium at the USA Diving National Championships in Columbus, Ohio. The event is part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast. Senior competition begins on Aug. 9 and runs through the 12th. Of note is Olympian Laura Wilkinson, now 39 years old, who is coming off a decade-long retirement to make her return 17 years after winning Olympic gold.
A new women’s champion will be crowned at the P&G Gymnastics Championships
At the 2016 P&G Gymnastics Championships, the top finishers in the women’s all-around were as follows: Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Gabby Douglas and Madison Kocian. All five would go on to be named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, and all five are currently not competing. The door is wide open for rising stars to ascend to the throne. The men’s field includes Olympians Sam Mikulak and Alex Naddour; Mikulak will look to defend his 2016 title while Naddour tries to improve on last year’s 12th-place finish. Competition will be held from Aug. 17-20 in Anaheim, Calif.
The short track speedskating season kicks off with the Fall World Cup Qualifier
Though we’re still in the dog days of summer… winter is coming. The speedskating season will quickly be upon us, and the first step is the USS Short Track Fall World Cup Qualifier, held Aug. 18-20 in Kearns, Utah. Athletes will compete for spots on the 2017-18 world cup team, which takes on increased importance in an Olympic year. Expect to see Olympians JR Celski and Katherine Reutter competing to make the team, while Olympic hopefuls like John-Henry Krueger try to kick their Olympic dreams into high gear.
Paige Railey looks to grow her legend at the Laser Radial World Championships
The Laser Radial World Championships, held Aug. 19-26 in Medemblik, Netherlands, are Paige Railey’s domain. The two-time Olympian owns five career world championship medals – gold in 2005, silver in 2016 and bronze in 2010, 2011 and 2013 – which is more than any athlete in the history of the Laser Radial class. Though she finished 10th at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, she’s back on the water and vying for a medal that would write a new chapter of her own personal history book.
Will Jordan Burroughs win his fourth world title?
In the last year, it’s been proven that Jordan Burroughs is human. The prohibitive gold-medal favorite in Rio, he missed the podium entirely, and needed a comeback win against Kyle Dake at the U.S. Freestyle World Team Trials to make the world championship team. But make the team he did (was it ever really in doubt?), and he walks into the UWW World Championships, held Aug. 21-26 in Paris, as the defending champion. With 2011, 2013 and 2015 world titles (and a 2012 Olympic gold medal) to his name, think twice about underestimating him.
Which U.S. beach volleyball teams will come out on top?
Even though the FIVB Beach Volleyball Championships wrapped up on Sunday, the season isn’t over quite yet! The FIVB World Tour Finals are held from Aug. 22-27 in Hamburg, Germany, and a number of U.S. teams figure to be in contention for the crown. Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat lead the charge on the women's side while the men are led by Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. Both teams finished fifth at worlds.
With Kayla Harrison retired, who is USA Judo’s next megastar?
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison retired from judo in April and has moved on to mixed martial arts. Now the question remains: who might step forward to fill her shoes? The IJF World Senior Championships runs from Aug. 28-Sept. 3 in Budapest, Hungary, and Team USA is led by world No. 9 Marti Malloy in the -57 kg. weight class and No. 10 Angelica Delgado in the -52 kg. class.
Can Laura Zeng crack the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships podium?
Laura Zeng is the best U.S. rhythmic gymnast in history. She’s the first to medal at a World Cup series, the first to medal at a Youth Olympic Games, swept all gold medals at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and earned the best U.S. finish at an Olympic Games when she placed 11th in Rio. She made her Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships debut in 2015, placing 8th in the all-around for the highest all-around placement ever by a U.S. athlete at the event. Now two years more experienced, could the podium be in reach? The event runs from Aug. 30-Sept. 3 in Pesaro, Italy.