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Jerry Sullivan identifies six athletes whose are sure to captivate at Rio Games

Jordan Burroughs


Burroughs, 28, won gold at 163 pounds (74kg) in London. Out to become the first U.S. wrestler to win back-to-back Olympic golds since John Smith in 1992. Three-time world champ is 124-2 in international competition. Former all-American at Nebraska, where he serves as assistant coach. New Jersey native is married to Buffalo native Lauren Mariacher and is a Bills fan.

Ashton Eaton


Eaton, the world record-holder in decathlon and indoor pentathlon, is a heavy favorite to become the first repeat decathlon champ since Daley Thompson in 1984. The Portland, Ore., native broke his own world record with 9,045 points at last year’s World Championships. His wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, will compete in the Olympic heptathlon for Canada.

Michael Phelps


Most decorated Olympian ever, Phelps came out of retirement in 2014 and is first American male swimmer to qualify for five Olympics. Has record 22 Olympic medals, 18 gold. In 2008, he won eight golds to break Mark Spitz’s record. Holds world records in the 100m and 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley. At 31, could become oldest male swimmer to win gold.

Simone Biles

Artistic Gymnastics

Biles, 19, is being called the greatest gymnast ever, and she hasn’t been to an Olympics. She was too young for London, but has dominated the sport since, winning four straight U.S. all-around titles and three world championships. An extraordinary athlete at 4-foot-8, she has an edge going into any competition due to the unprecedented difficulty of her routines.

Katie Ledecky


Ledecky burst on the swimming scene as a 15-year-old in London, winning gold in the 800-meter freestyle in the second-fastest time ever. She has dominated the freestyle since, winning 15 international golds and breaking 11 world records. The Bethesda, Md., native holds the world record in the 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyle and could win five gold medals in Rio.

Vashti Cunningham

High Jump

The daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham won the world indoors in the high jump this past season as an 18-year-old high school senior. Cunningham cleared 6-6¼ at indoor nationals, making her the 10th-highest jumper in U.S. history. She can become the youngest American female to win an Olympic track and field medal since Willye White in 1956.

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