Sports

American girl power

US Olympic contingent features record number of female athletes

A record contingent of 292 women will be part of a powerful 555-strong United States team at next month's Rio Olympics.

The team, announced yesterday by the US Olympic Committee (USOC), will contest 244 of the 306 medal events in 27 sports.

The Americans topped the gold medal (46) and overall medal (104) table at London 2012.

The record number of women on the US team tops the previous mark of 289 by China in 2008.

It is the second time the American roster has featured more females than males, having fielded a team of 269 women and 261 men in London four years ago.

"I am especially excited for the historic achievement of our women's delegation which is a true testament to the strength and growing number of women's sport opportunities in the United States," US Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said.

Among the 191 returning Olympians there are three six-time Olympians, seven five-time Olympians, 19 four-time Olympians, 50 three-time Olympians and 112 two-time Olympians.

Equestrian rider Phillip Dutton and shooters Emil Milev and Kim Rhode are heading to their sixth Games.

Dutton, 52, will be the oldest team member, with 16-year-old table tennis player Kanak Jha the youngest.

Of the 68 who have won Olympic gold, 53 are looking to retain their titles from London, including 19 in individual events.

Topping the list of most decorated male and female competitors to make the team are swimming great Michael Phelps, whose 22 medals include 18 gold, and 30-year-old runner Allyson Felix, whose six medals include four golds.

Phelps, 31, who owns an Olympic record 18 golds and 22 overall, will swim in at least three events in Brazil.

Meanwhile, Felix, the most decorated US Olympic woman, will compete in the 400 metres and probably the 4x400m relay.

Joining Felix as four-time Olympic champions are sisters Serena and Venus Williams, who will look to match the Olympic record for overall medals in tennis of five.

RECORD

The US will also seek to continue their success in team sports, with the women's basketball team chasing a record sixth straight gold and the men's team aiming to win a third straight gold and 15th title overall.

The women footballers will try to become the first World Cup champions to win the following year's Olympic title while the US women's rowing eight haven't lost an Olympic or world title since 2006.

US women will look to repeat as Olympic champions in artistic gymnastics, having won the last four Olympic and world titles from 2011-15, with Simone Biles a strong favourite in the women's all-around.

And with historic Copacabana Beach serving as the backdrop, Team USA will also look to continue their storybook history in beach volleyball with Americans having reached the top of the podium at every Olympic Games since the sport was added in 1996.

- Wire Services.


This is it. This is it — no more. The body is done. This is my last one

— Swimming legend Michael Phelps on the Rio Olympics

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