Rio 2016: Big Olympic stars you didn’t know about

The countdown has well and truly begun! With less than a month until the 2016 Olympic Games kick off we are already speculating who will be the world’s fastest, strongest and fiercest. In this post we want to share a few of the big Olympic stars you didn’t know about who have a real shot at striking gold in Rio. Each week another athlete will be shared in this post in the run-up to the games.

#1 Lena Schöneborn
The modern pentathlon is a play of five disciplines – fencing, swimming, horse riding, shooting and running. The athletes do not directly compete against one another in the five events. They gain points for their performance in each event and scores are combined to give the overall total. These points are converted into time for the final one, which is a 3.2km run, where the first three finishers claim the medals.

The original idea behind the event was to test the ideal picture of a ‘complete athlete’. The game was introduced in the year 1912. This year there will be 36 men and 36 women competing for gold in Rio. The athlete to watch in the women’s event is Lena Schöneborn. The 30-year old athlete from Germany already has one World and two European titles to her name. Her biggest competitor is Lithuania’s Laura Asadauskaite who won Olympic gold in London, 2012.

The modern pentathlon event takes place in one day and will be hosted across three different venues: Deodoro Aquatics Centre, Deodoro Stadium and Youth Arena. We wish Lena the very best of luck in Rio!

rio 2016

#2 Oussama Mellouli
Thirty-two year old Oussama Mellouli heads to the Olympics for the fifth time to compete in the 10 kilometre Open Water Marathon. The Tunisian won Olympic swimming gold when the event made its debut in Beijing, 2008. He was the first swimmer to win Olympic titles both in the pool and open water in the same edition of the games.

The marathon is held over 10 kilometres, in the magical setting of Copacabana Beach. That is 400 lengths of your local 25 metre pool! Twenty-five men and 25 women will compete in the event, and this year the event is a standalone discipline following its rise in popularity over the years.

Mellouli has not yet decided whether to also compete in the pool or just focus on the marathon. Anyhow, Mellouli is a perfect example of what an impact focus and determination can have if someone is willing to put in the hard work. We are looking forward to see him compete!

ousamma mellouli

#3 Claudio Villanueva Flores
Claudio Flores is one to watch in Brazil having won the Olympic test event in his discipline at Pontal beach in February. The 27-year old from Ecuador competed in the 50 kilometres race walk, crossing the line in 4 hours, 23 minutes and 37 seconds earlier this year. Only seven of the 18 starters managed to complete the race due to the high temperatures – luckily the temperatures are much kinder in August, given that it will be winter in Rio.

At the Olympics in Rio two racewalking distances are contested: the 20 kilometres race walk (men and women) and the 50 kilometres race walk (men only). The race walk is competed as a road race, with the circuit skirting the coast of Pontal island, a beautiful, scenic setting for the spectators. We’ll be cheering for Claudio!

claudio villanueva flores