With the Olympics beginning August 5th and the nation gearing up to support our beloved athletes, we look at some of the bigger storylines of this year’s Rio Olympics. There is no shortage of stories surrounding this year’s Olympics, between athletes refusing to go because of the Zika virus, all the way to golf, sevens rugby, and kitesurfing being added. Not much can compete with the storylines made during the Olympics because of the heartbreak and triumphs, but here are some of the stories to keep an eye on for the upcoming global event.

Michael Phelps Return

He’s back! Arguably the greatest Olympic athlete ever, certainly the most decorated Olympian ever with 22 medals, 18 of which being gold. In 2012 after the London Olympics, Phelps retired from competitive swimming. In 2014 he announced he was coming out of retirement, to swim again. This was a long way from the Olympics and Phelps was not in peak shape by any stretch but he wanted this. Phelps was hoping to get back to the Olympic spotlight but first came training then the 2015 US Nationals. Phelps ended up winning three events, at the same time he put up the fastest times for each event in the world. Then in the winter of 2015 Phelps swam in the Winter Nationals, winning the same three events. He then swam in the US Trials for the 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, and the 100m butterfly, all of these he won and qualified for his fifth Olympic games. Michael Phelps can add to his legacy at Rio, but he also has the opportunity to go out on top, how he’d like too.

U.S. Women’s Triumph

At the Olympics, the US Women dominate sports like soccer, basketball, and gymnastics to just name a few. To give you some background, the US women’s basketball team is going for a sixth straight gold medal, and the soccer team is going for a fourth consecutive gold. If that isn’t defined as dominate, then I’m not quite sure what is. The US is also the reigning gold-medal winner in women’s gymnastics thanks to the “Fierce Five”, the women’s water polo team and rowing team also brought home gold in 2012. All three of these teams are in turn the same from the 2012 games and all are favored in their events. One athlete to really keep an eye on is Claressa Shields who at just 17 years old won the gold at the 2012 games in London for boxing. She is returning for the Rio games and is on a mission to prove to everyone that she is the best in the sport.

Russia and Zika

If you have seen the news in the past month, I am betting you’ve heard of Russian Olympic team using performance enhancing drugs in 2012 and I am sure you’ve heard of Zika virus. I’ll begin by saying I hope that none of the Olympic athletes from anywhere in the world even come close to getting the Zika virus so let’s look a little further into this. Zika is primarily spread through a mosquito bite and Rio is the epicenter of it. There has been a list of athletes that have turned down the opportunity to compete because of this virus. There is no vaccine for Zika either, which is a big concern for many. Some symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, and headache.  All of these can be very detrimental to an Olympic athlete. On another note, a number of Russian athletes will not be at Rio, 118 to be exact. They will have 271 competing but in some events, they will have zero representation. Russia as a nation is not happy, but there is nothing they can do now as the Olympics kick off August 5th. One thing is for sure as the team has mentioned, this is motivation to go out and prove to the Olympic Committee and the world, that Russia is no longer doping and wants to win.