Matthew Kitchen, NBC Olympics
LONDON – You’re just not going to beat the story of Lopez Lomong escaping poverty and war in the South Sudan to become an American Olympian (and please, don’t try), but here’s seven athletes with seven great stories who we’d love to see carry the flag:
Bryshon Nellum – After suffering gunshot wounds to both legs during a 2009 act of gang violence, the Southern Cal track star wasn’t sure he’d walk again. He not only made it to the track, but won All-America honors and won his way to London by surprising the field with a career best 44.80 in the 400m at Trials.
Shannon Boxx – The midfielder is participating in her third Games and going for her third gold, but Boxx revealed she’s been battling lupus, a debilitating autoimmune disease, for years. “I want people to see I’m playing through this,” she told USA Today. “And to encourage them to stay active. I never want to use the disease as an excuse.”
Misty May-Treanor / Kerri Walsh Jennings – Maybe too obvious a choice, but these women are more than just bikini-clad athletes; they’ve won back-to-back golds and are going for their third in London. They’re arguably the female face of Team USA and are aiming to be considered the best ever in their sport.
Queen Underwood – The five-time national champ and second most notable Queen in London represents the face of American women’s boxing, a sport that has persevered controversy to finally be included in the Games. She’s a gold medal contender and an advocate for girls everywhere who’ve suffered sexual abuse.
Alex Meyer – This open water swimmer is preparing for his first Olympics with a heavy heart after losing friend and training partner Fran Crippen, who drowned during a race in 2010. Meyer helped lead the two-hour search and now swims with a dual purpose: winning for Crippen and making open-water swimming safer for its participants.
Kim Rhode – The trap and skeet shooter is one of America’s most unknown decorated Olympians, winning a medal at each of the last four Olympics including golds in 1996 and 2004. She’ll be the first American to go five-for-five if she can win one in London and making her the flag bearer would be a great way to celebrate her accomplishments.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.