The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are on track to be the most talked about and anticipated in the past two decades—but not exactly for the right reasons. With the looming threat of the Zika virus, super bacteria in the waters of Guanabara Bay, doping scandals, and half-finished stadiums and venues, an entire nation’s reputation is on the line.
Brazil’s one remaining salvation: Sport itself. Because no one cares if the roof isn’t finished when an athlete takes the field and utterly dominates.
Come tonight, clear your schedule, crack a beer, and root for your home team at the ultimate away game without list of 2016 Olympic sports to watch, ranked.
Here are the top ranked 2016 Olympic sports to watch.
One of the original nine events at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, shooting is as American as apple pie and just as familiar. With three categories including rifle, pistol, and shotgun, and multiple firing positions, admire theses sportsmen and women’s perfect aim and let shooting put a bang in your summer.
Despite a potentially biologically hazardous body of water, Rio’s sailing events are set to cut a stylish swath through Guanabara Bay with the latest yachting designs and technology. With six events for men and four for women, don’t miss your chance to see the US Sailing Team harness the wind and battle it out against sea and spray.
This isn’t your backyard badminton! At the 2016 Rio Olympics, badminton is a fast-paced, small-spaced, game of skill and strength, making your backyard version seem sedate. Try not to strain your neck while whipping it back and forth in an effort to keep your eye on the ball, or in this case, the shuttlecock.
7 Canoe & Kayak Slalom
Nothing is more exciting than humans hurtling down man-made rapids on tiny boats built for maneuverability and speed. Originally based on ski slalom, Olympic Canoeing and Kayaking became official in 1972 and we haven’t looked back. At 250 meters, the course is short on time, but big on thrills.
6 Track & Field
From pole vault, to long jump, to hurdles, to shot put, Track & Field at the 2016 Olympics has it all. Fast paced and ripe for photo-finishes, these events incite armchair coaches and critics alike. Set your DVR for August 12th through the 21st to see some of the fastest men and women in the world duke it out for the title of World’s Greatest Track Star.
5 Table Tennis
Dominated by China, which holds the majority of Gold medals won for table tennis over the past two decades, this is not your grandma’s ping pong. Olympic Table Tennis players are hardcore, with hand-eye coordination an archer would envy and an almost unmatched drive to win. Tune it to see if the US Team can finally take the Chinese in 2016.
Swimmers may very well be the ultimate athletes. Unlike almost every other sport, swimmers compete in a medium (water) that is 784 times denser than air. Every stroke is a masterpiece of muscle and coordination. Michael Phelps, the 22-time Olympic Medalist, is once again headed to Rio for 2016. Though his times are less impressive than before, he’s still on track to score a few more Gold, stroking what must surely be a sore spot for our toughest opponents, the Australians.
Most people would refuse to hurl themselves off a 33-foot platform all the while tucking, piking, and pointing their toes, but Olympic divers do it with only a little hesitation. And sometimes, even in synchronization. Marvel at the moves these fearless athletes flaunt and feel free to do some armchair judging on the height and size of their splash. Hint: the less the better. And to top it all off, who doesn’t love laughing at “diver face.”
2 Beach Volleyball
Sand, sun, and bronzed bodies, Beach Volleyball at the Rio Olympics is set to sport some of the best athletic eye candy of the games. But don’t let these athletes’ beauty blind you, they’re tough as nails and won’t hesitate to take a mouth full of sand for a save.
Whether it’s a woman flipping head over heels during a tumbling pass or a muscle-bound man holding his body perpendicular to the floor and suspended only by rings, Gymnastics is as athletically difficult as it is acrobatic and elegant. More importantly, it’s a thrill to watch and The Manual‘s top pick for can’t miss viewing. Follow along as the various competitors attempt to deny physics and fly, if only for a few moments. And keep your eyes peeled for US all-around winner, Simone Biles, speculated to be the greatest female gymnast in the world and favored to win the women’s all-around competition. She already has a move named after her and it’s a stunner.
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games begin with the opening ceremony tonight at 7:30 on NBC.