Arts & Culture

Southern Olympic Hopefuls

Southern names to know in the lead-up to the Rio games

Mackenzie Brown
This twenty-one-year-old Flint, Texas, native is aiming for Olympic gold. The top-ranked woman on the U.S. archery team and fourth overall in the world, Brown began shooting in middle school. A decade later, her toughest competition at her first Games will be archery’s perennial powerhouse South Korea.

Simone Biles
The nineteen-year-old Texan is a woman of firsts and mosts: first African American All-Around World Champion; first woman to win three consecutive World All-Around titles; most decorated female U.S. gymnast in World Championship history (fourteen medals). At press time, the U.S. women’s team was not yet finalized, but it’s hard to imagine this athlete stumbling. If she sticks her landing and earns a spot, the only question is who can stop her.

Sean Ryan
After failing to qualify for marathon swimming’s first Olympic event in 2008 and again in 2012, the Tennessee athlete finally dismissed the monkey on his back with a strong finish in the World Championships in Russia last year, qualifying him for competition at Rio. The ten-kilometer swim will take place off the famed Copacabana Beach.

Helen Maroulis
One single point kept Maryland native Maroulis from making her first Olympic appearance at the London Games in 2012, and ever since then she’s had Rio in her sights. In addition to claiming a world championship, Maroulis hasn’t lost a match in international competition for almost two years, and she arrives at the Games as a favorite for a gold medal.