Awesome foursome at Olympics


Individual brilliance lights up an Olympics. The enduring image of the Beijing Games was the otherworldly performance of Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

But team sports also have their days under the sun, even if they don’t get as much prominence as an individual champion. There are some teams at the London Olympics that are expected to mix style and substance to deadly effect.

Here is the lowdown on four top-class teams that are fancied to go all the way.

Basketball: USA: It is not the Dream Team of the 1992 Olympics but the class of 2012 isn’t bad either. LeBron James, who inspired the Miami Heat to the NBA title last season, is the leader of the group. Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers, Carmelo Anthony and NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook are also part of the all-star cast.

Add Blake Griffin to the mix and you get to know the awesome firepower of the US. The absence of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is a blow but not a fatal one as the strength in depth of the American squad is enviable.

Hockey: Australia: The Kookaburras only have a solitary gold to show for their consistence excellence in a sport, which had been India’s preserve at the Olympics for a long time. They may double their gold tally in London.

Ric Charlesworth has transformed Australia into a mean machine. Germany will be formidable as ever but Australia’s hunger for Olympic success and the presence of an inspirational player like Jamie Dwyer in their ranks give them an edge.

Football: Brazil: Coach Mano Menezes has no competitive fixture before the Confederations Cup next year to prepare his team for the 2014 World Cup. The Olympics is a great opportunity for him to test his managerial mettle.

He has a wealth of talent at his disposal: Neymar, Pato, Lucas, Ganso, Marcelo, Hulk and Thiago Silva. The Brazilian squad is frightening indeed. But Menezes’ boys have to contend with two-time defending champions Argentina and tiki-taka masters Spain.

Water polo: Hungary: No country has a better record at the Games. The Hungarians, who have nine gold medals at the Olympics, are chasing their fourth straight title in the pool. Hungary take pride in their excellence in water polo.

The main reason for the country’s pre-eminence in the sport is attributed to the availability of hot springs everywhere. Serbia, the reigning European champions, will be Hungary’s main rivals for gold. The Serbians have everything in their kitty except the Olympic title. Look out for the riveting battle between Hungary and Serbia for the ultimate glory.

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