With the 2012 Olympics less than 100 days away, London is gearing up to host the athletes and crowds of international fans. To be held this summer from July 27 through August 27, the Olympics will welcome seasoned competitors as well as new stars.

Kerri Walsh and Misty May

Misty May and Kerri Walsh

One of the main attractions in this year’s competition is the surprisingly controversial beach volleyball. Out of respect for various cultural beliefs, the International Volleyball Federation (IVF) passed a rule this year allowing players to choose between the traditional bikinis or the newly approved, and more conservative, shorts and top.

While some Brits don’t recognize beach volleyball as an elite sport, members of the British government seem to be big supporters of the game. Apparently, they bought more tickets for this sport than for the more traditional track and field. Questioned about this decision, they replied that they bought these tickets not because of the bikinis, but for the convenient weekend scheduling of beach events.

Americans Kerri Walsh and Misty May won gold medals in Athens and Beijing, and they are favorites to win at this year’s London games. Asked about the new IVF ruling, the teammates made it clear that they plan to wear the “comfortable” crowd-pleasing bikinis.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps
Claiming a record eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps can boast a career total of 16 Olympic medals. His events were so popular that, in 2008, NBC’s ratings jumped every night that Phelps competed and dropped when he was not on air. This year the 26-year-old swimmer should be an even bigger hit. If Phelps wins just 3 medals at the games, he will become the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Amanda Beard

Amanda Beard

Another swimmer, Amanda Beard, hopes to make a return this year. Competing in her first games at only 14, the swimmer later became overwhelmed by the pressures of public expectations. In her new book, “In the Water They Can’t See You Cry,” she talks about her body issues and how she tried to cope by cutting, bulimia and abusive relationships. Surprisingly, Beard is not the first Olympic athlete to confront a serious eating disorder. Numerous gymnasts, figure skaters, and even ski jumping athletes have had to cope with issues over weight and nutrition. For more information about athletes, nutrition and eating disorders, check out the “Topics in Nutrition” section at Nutrition Degrees Online.

As a testament to her newfound confidence, Beard accepted an offer in 2007 to pose for Playboy. Honored by the offer, the Olympic swimmer took it as an opportunity to show the world what an athletic body looks like.

Gabrielle Douglas

Gabrielle Douglas

Last on the list, newcomer Gabrielle Douglas promises to make a statement at this year’s gymnastics competition. The 16-year-old left her family in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to train in Des Moines, Iowa with the famous coach of Shawn Johnson, Liang Qiao.

Placing as an alternate on the team, Douglas was allowed to perform her routine as if she was competing at the AT&T American Cup in March. Shockingly, she earned the highest score of the day, placing her in the ranks of other Olympic champions. In fact, three of the recent American all-around champions (Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin) all won at the American Cup.

Though not everyone can make it to the Olympics, sports-minded fans can get involved in the excitement and make a difference by selecting a sports-related profession such as sports agent, scout, coach, event management, fitness management, or even community relations. Learn more about sports management careers to decide if this would be a fun career path. Either way, the upcoming London games should make for an exciting and entertaining show.

Sources

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (2012)

“Time” (2012)

NBC (2012)