Few events attract the eyes of the entire world like the Summer Olympics. Beginning next Friday, July 27, every moment of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London will be shown live on NBC’s family of networks and its website. For those counting at home, that’s some 5,535 hours of coverage. Over 17 exciting days, familiar sports icons like LeBron James and Usain Bolt will be heard time and again. But for every Michael Phelps and Serena Williams, there are literally hundreds of other athletes around the globe with amazing talents and fascinating stories to share. Here are 10 largely unknown Olympic athletes we’ll be keeping up with over the spirited weeks ahead in London, as well as a guide to the best times to see them each in action.
Cassidy Krug (United States, Diving)
There are actually a couple of cool stories in the U.S. waters this year –The Dumais Family will be sending two or three representatives to the London- but this one about Krug, a talented young lady making a splash in the same sport as both parents once did, is something straight out of a Hallmark Channel movie. Best Time to Watch Her: August 9, 12AM (Eastern), Telemundo.
Oscar Pistorius (South Africa, Track & Field)
Some are debating whether Pistorius’ inclusion in the Games is fair or not. The only thing we’re wondering is where the man’s story ranks among sports’ most inspiring. Oz, as he’s affectionately called, is a double amputee. His participation isn’t simply heartwarming; it’s darn right historic. Best Time to Watch Him: August 10, 8PM, NBC.
Rani Rampal (India, Field Hockey)
We don’t know a lot about field hockey, but we do know the seven goals Rampal scored in the 2010 Women’s Hockey World Cup at just 15 were crazy impressive. Now a wrinkly old 17, the super quick stick is ready to smash even more international marks. Best Time to Watch Her: July 29, 8:30AM, NBCOlympics.com.
Hiroshi Hoketsu (Japan, Equestrian)
When you turn 71, we bet you won’t be participating in the Summer Games. But guess who is? Hoketsu, the 2012 Olympics’ oldest athlete, has won numerous honors on a horse. Merely qualifying here, while most his age contemplate their next nap, might be most impressive feat yet. Best Time to Watch Him: August 2, 4PM, MSNBC.
Carol Huynh (Canada, Wrestling)
Huynh’s message during competition is “Courage and Confidence,” words she’s lived her whole life by. The freestyle wrestler’s parents are Vietnam immigrants who moved to the little town of New Hazelton, British Columbia. She won Canada’s first women’s gold medal in the sport in ’08. With courage and confidence in spades, she aims to repeat. Best Time to Watch Her: August 8, 4:15PM, MSNBC.
Yekaterina Gamova (Russia, Volleyball)
Tina Charles and Brittney Griner are impressive physical specimens on the basketball court, but even they have to acknowledge that this 6′ 8″ net assassin is a site to behold. We’d watch her matches just to see how towering she could smash the ball. Best Time to Watch Her: August 5, 4:15PM, NBC Sports Network.
Andy Murray (Great Britain, Tennis)
If Murray can parlay an emotional Wimbledon finals appearance into a long Olympics run, then that would be great for the sport. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will be favorites, of course, but the world’s No. 4 has one advantage over the tennis trio—the roar of the home crowd. Best Time to Watch Him: August 2, 7AM, Bravo.
Teddy Riner (France, Judo)
Weren’t you just saying the other day how the sport of judo needed an outspoken, Jay-Z-listening, Akon-texting contender to take the world by storm? Well, here’s your guy. A bronze medalist in 2008, Riner will likely osotogari his way to gold this time. Best Time to Watch Him: August 3, 4:10PM, NBCOlympics.com.
Im Dong-Hyun (South Korea, Archery)
Though he has 20/200 vision, which is considered legally blind in most circles, Dong-Hyun doesn’t look for any special attention or wear any constructive eyewear on the range. All he wants is your respect and total quiet while he does his thing with the bow. Best Time to Watch Him: July 28, 5:45PM, NBC Sports Network.
Marta (Brazil, Soccer)- The only thing missing from the female Messi’s trophy case is Olympic gold. If the five-time World Football Player of the Year can work her magical feet against soccer powers like Germany and U.S.A., she should reach her goal. Best Time to Watch Her: August 6, 12PM, NBC Sports Network. –DeMarco Williams
(Editor’s Note: Though he rarely struts his copious sports knowledge here on GGT, our Senior Editor DeMarco Williams is a veteran sports journalist who has worked for ESPN and Slam Magazine and formerly ran the Bleacher Report website.)