Anything can happen at the Olympics. But when it comes to making predictions for the Summer Games in Rio, we’re pretty sure at least four U.S. athletes will be finding their way to the podium.
And it’s also fairly certain that their key athletic partners will be placing big marketing bets on these names in the coming weeks. Under Armour already unveiled a major campaign starring its gold-winning swimmer, and Nike has plenty of great talent to celebrate.
Here are our picks for the Olympic sure things. Keep watching Footwearnews.com this week for profiles of some of the newer athletes to watch.
Nike’s Serena Williams
After claiming victory at Wimbledon, Williams will take time out from her Grand Slam tour to defend her Olympic gold medals in singles and double tennis (where she competes alongside sister Venus). What she’ll likely be wearing: her signature NikeCourt Flare sneakers.
Under Armour’s Michael Phelps
The most decorated Olympian of all time is heading back to the games for one more taste of glory. The Under Armour-sponsored swimmer will compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly, and the 200-meter individual medley.
Nike’s Kevin Durant
The newly minted Golden State Warrior is bringing his fighting spirit to the Olympics to defend Team USA’s gold medal. In 2012, he was the top scorer on the basketball roster and is expected to be a leader in Rio. What he’ll likely be wearing: his signature Nike KD9 high-tops.
Nike’s Justin Gatlin
America’s 100-meter track and field champion was denied Olympic gold at the London Games. But with rival Usain Bolt suffering a hamstring tear, 2016 is looking like Gatlin’s time to shine. What he’ll likely be wearing: Nike Zoom Rival track spikes.