Las Vegas athletes, others to watch at 2016 Rio Olympics

There have been complaints about safety, sanitation, housing, transportation and a rare virus in Brazil.

There has been a doping scandal that has barred over 110 Russian athletes, including the country’s entire track team, from competition.

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are happening anyway.

From August 5 to 21 there will be 306 gold medals distributed to various athletes in 28 different sports. The 206 participating countries will set a new Olympic record, as will the number of athletes (over 11,000) competing.

The United States is expected to top the overall and gold medal count, just as it did when it edged China by 15 medals and eight golds at the 2012 London Games. The Americans are favorites in many of the most notable events, such as women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and men’s and women’s basketball.

The competition will be nearly non-stop in the next two-plus weeks, but here’s a list of the top local athletes and big-picture storylines to follow when the 2016 Olympics begin.

WHO TO WATCH

A number of athletes with local connections will attempt to fulfill their athletic dreams in Rio, from those who grew up in Las Vegas to those who just trained there. The athletes’ schedule and TV availability can be found below, to track them from the preliminaries to the medal ceremonies.

Vashti Cunningham (USA)

  • Event: Women’s high jump
  • Expectations: Medal contender
  • Schedule: qualifications Aug. 18, finals Aug. 20 (KSNV-3)
  • Storyline: The 18-year-old daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham is one of the favorites to take home gold in her event. Cunningham and fellow American Chaunte Lowe are the only two athletes who have cleared 1.93 meters this year.

Connor Fields (USA)

  • Event: Men’s BMX
  • Expectations: Medal contender
  • Schedule: seeding Aug. 17 (NBCSN), quarterfinals Aug. 18 (KSNV-3), semifinals and finals Aug. 19 (KSNV-3)
  • Storyline: Fields, a Las Vegas native who lives in Henderson, hopes to medal in Rio after crashing and taking seventh in 2012. The 23-year-old was the top-ranked rider in the U.S. before an injury setback this spring, but he is back on his bike and ready to race.

Inbee Park (South Korea)

  • Event: Women’s golf
  • Expectations: Medal contender
  • Schedule: Round 1 Aug. 17 (GOLF), Round 2 Aug. 18 (GOLF), Round 3 Aug. 19 (GOLF), Final Round Aug. 20 (GOLF)
  • Storyline: Park, a Bishop Gorman graduate, enters the Olympics ranked third after her success on the LPGA Tour this season. She became the youngest player to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame earlier this year, and now will try to medal in the first Olympic golf competition in 112 years.

Cody Miller (USA)

  • Event: 100-meter breaststroke
  • Expectations: Medal contender
  • Schedule: heats and semifinals Aug. 6 (KSNV-3), finals Aug. 7 (KSNV-3)
  • Storyline: Miller, a Las Vegas native, comes into the Olympics with the fourth-best time of 2016 in his event. He swam a 59.09 at the U.S. Olympic Trials to take second behind Kevin Cordes, whose 58.94 is the second-best time this year.

USA Basketball

  • Event: Men’s and Women’s basketball
  • Expectations: Gold medal favorites
  • Schedule: Men’s Group A play Aug. 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 (NBCSN, NBC Basketball, NBC Universo), quarterfinals Aug. 17 (NBCSN, NBC Basketball, USA), semifinals Aug. 19 (NBCSN, NBC Basketball, NBC Universo), gold medal game Aug. 21 (KSNV-3, NBC Basketball, Telemundo); Women’s Group B play Aug. 7, 8, 10, 12, 14 (KSNV-3, NBCSN, NBC Basketball), quarterfinals Aug. 16 (NBCSN, NBC Basketball), semifinals Aug. 18 (NBCSN, NBC Basketball), gold medal game (KSNV-3, NBC Basketball)
  • Storyline: The U.S. men’s basketball team, which trained in Las Vegas to prep for Rio, is once again expected to cruise to gold in Mike Krzyzewski’s last Olympics. The women are likewise expected to win behind a slew of stars that includes Maya Moore, Brittney Griner and Sue Bird.

Other locals

  • Alex Cejka (Men’s golf, Germany); Uhunoma Osazuwa (Heptathlon, Nigeria); Jake Dalton (Men’s gymnastics, U.S.)

WHAT TO WATCH

The Rio Games offer plenty of intrigue from a broader perspective, with many of the world’s most notable athletes trying to cement their place in history. Big names such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt may be on the world stage for the last time, and here’s a preview of their Olympics along with a few other notable storylines.

Biles’ attempts to hoard gymnastics medals

  • Events: Women’s gymnastics team, all-around and event competition
  • Schedule: Aug. 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16 (KSNV-3)
  • Storyline: The U.S. women’s gymnastics team is expected to win the team competition for the second consecutive Games, and Simone Biles should have a chance at many of the individual medals. The 19-year-old Ohio native is the all-around favorite, the reigning world champ on floor and beam and upgraded one of her vaults this year.

Phelps’ swan song?

  • Events: Men’s 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley, 4×100 freestyle relay
  • Schedule: 200 fly heats and semifinals Aug. 8, finals Aug. 9; 200 IM heats and semifinals Aug. 10, finals Aug. 11; 100 fly heats and semifinals Aug. 11, finals Aug. 12
  • Storyline: Michael Phelps, 31, will swim in three events in his fifth and possibly final Olympics, though he left the door open for a return in 2020 at a press conference Wednesday. Phelps already has a record 22 medals and he is expected to contend for gold in all three of his individual events in Rio.

Can Bolt strike thrice?

  • Events: Men’s 100- and 200-meter dash, 4×100 meter relay
  • Schedule: 100-meter preliminaries and round 1 Aug. 13, semifinals and final Aug. 14 (KSNV-3); 200-meter round 1 Aug. 16, semifinals Aug. 17, finals Aug. 18 (KSNV-3); 4×100 round 1 Aug. 18, finals Aug. 19 (KSNV-3)
  • Storyline: Usain Bolt became the first man to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the 100, 200 and 4×100 meters in London and in Rio he’ll be going for a three-peat. He injured his hamstring at the Jamaican Olympic Trials, which could affect his slowing times, but he remains the favorite in all three events.

Walsh Jennings’ chemistry with Ross

  • Event: Women’s beach volleyball
  • Schedule: Pool C play Aug. 6, 8 and 10, Round of 16 Aug. 12-13, quarterfinals Aug. 14, semifinals Aug. 16, gold medal match Aug. 17 (KSNV-3)
  • Storyline: To get a fourth consecutive gold medal, Kerri Walsh Jennings will have to break in a new partner. Longtime companion Misty May-Treanor is retired, so the 37-year-old is working with 34-year-old April Ross to continue her Olympic career. Ross, along with Jennifer Kessy, lost to Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor to take silver in London.

Will golf make par?

  • Events: Men’s and women’s golf
  • Schedule: Men’s Round 1 Aug. 11, Round 2 Aug. 12, Round 3 Aug. 13, Final Round Aug. 14 (GOLF); Women’s Round 1 Aug. 17, Round 2 Aug. 18, Round 3 Aug. 19, Final Round Aug. 20 (GOLF)
  • Storyline: Golf is making its return to the Olympics after an 112-year absence, and athletes such as Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson are competing. Many of the world’s best are staying home though, including Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, depriving the sport of much of its potential sizzle.

Other notables

  • Katie Ledecky (USA, 200, 400, 800 freestyle and 4×100, 4×200 freestyle relay), Kohei Uchimura (Japan, men’s gymnastics all-around), U.S. women’s soccer team

HOW TO WATCH

KSNV-3 and the NBC lineup will be offering constant coverage of the Olympics on television, online at NBCOlympics.com and on mobile with the NBC Olympics app. All KSNV-3 coverage will be tape delayed three hours except for the final two days of competition, but it will be the primary channel to view all the major events.

TV: KSNV-3, NBCSN (640 Century Link, 38 Cox, 159 Dish, 220 DirecTV), CNBC (216 CL, 35 Cox, 208 Dish, 355 DTV), MSNBC (215 CL, 47 Cox, 209 Dish, 356 DTV), USA (125 CL, 34 Cox, 105 Dish, 242 DTV), BRAVO (182 CL, 53 Cox, 129 Dish, 237 DTV), TELEMUNDO (39 CL, 9 Cox, 24 Dish, 406 DTV), NBC BASKETBALL (636 CL, 888 Cox, 97 DTV), NBC SOCCER (635 CL, 889 Cox, 98 DTV), NBC UNIVERSO (193 CL, 142 Cox, 838 Dish, 410 DTV), GOLF CHANNEL (641 CL, 339 Cox, 401 Dish, 218 DTV)

Online: NBCOlympics.com, NBC Olympics app, Telemundo.com, Telemundo Desportes app

Other: Sling TV, Playstation Vue

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