2012 Summer Olympics Athletes: Five Brazilian Athletes to Watch

Abstract: The 2012 London Summer Olympic Games are almost here. Brazil is one of 41 countries from the Americas who will send athletes to the Summer Olympics. Get to know more about five of Brazil's best Olympians.

Per its official website, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games are almost here. The Olympics will run from Friday, July 27 through Sunday, August 12. Brazil is one of 41 countries from the Americas who will be participating in the Olympics. The nation made its Olympic debut in 1920 and has taken part in 21 Summer Olympic contests (including the upcoming London Olympics). At the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, Brazil's Olympic team brought home 3 golds, 4 silvers, and 8 bronze medals.

Some of Brazil's best athletes will be traveling to London with dreams of achieving Olympic glory. This article provides information on five of the country's top Olympic hopefuls.

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (Men's Soccer)

According to ESPN, Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is only 20 years old; however, he has already developed into one of the best soccer players in Brazil. Some experts believe that Neymar might eventually become one of the best strikers of all time. Neymar is not only a gifted dribbler; he is also a great passer (when he chooses to be) and an excellent scorer. The forward will anchor a men's Olympic soccer team that, per an ESPN article, has an excellent chance of taking home the gold medal.

Fans will enjoy watching Neymar's electrifying performances on the soccer field during the Brazilian team's Olympic contests. They just have to hope that the player can avoid the disciplinary problems that have sullied an otherwise amazing career to this point.

Marta Vieira da Silva (Women's Soccer)

Per a BBC article, Marta Vieira da Silva is one of the top athletes to watch at this Olympic Games. She is one of the best female soccer players in the world, as indicated by the fact that she was named FIFA's (women's) player of the year five straight times (2006-2010). In fact, per a CBS article, she is arguably one of the best women's soccer players of all-time. What is perhaps most amazing is that Marta has achieved this level of recognition at a fairly young age; the striker is only 26 years old.

As the CBS article notes, fans of Olympic soccer will want to see the Brazilian team's matches, so they can watch Marta's brilliant performances. At the same time, they can watch one of the best women's soccer teams in action. The Brazilian squad could easily come home from London with a medal, though the color of that token is unlikely to be gold.

Murilo Endres (Men's Volleyball)

According to NBC, Murilo Endres, an outside hitter on the Brazilian men's (indoor sixes) volleyball team, is one of the best volleyball players in the world. Endres is an excellent hitter; however, he is best known for his passing skills. In 2011, he won the Best Receiver award for his play in the World League. In the previous year, he was MVP of the World League.

Fans who tune in to watch the Brazilian men's volleyball team compete during the Olympics will enjoy watching Endres display his passing and hitting skills. However, they will also get the chance to watch one of the best men's volleyball teams in action. According to the Federation de Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the sport's governing body, the Brazil squad is currently ranked first in the world. The team has an excellent chance to win a gold medal at the London Olympics.

Juliana Felisberta da Silva (Women's Beach Volleyball)

Juliana Felisberta da Silva could arguably be the best women's beach volleyball player in the world. Per Beach Volleyball Database, the 28 year old Brazilian athlete received the FIVB's Most Outstanding Player award three years in a row from 2009 through 2011. Additionally, Felisberta and her partner, Larissa Franca, finished as the top seed in Olympic qualifying matches per the FIVB.

Olympic beach volleyball is fun to watch, especially when top players, like Felisberta, are in action. Felisberta and her partner have a good chance of snagging a gold medal while in London; however, they will have to beat some other great teams from countries like China and the United States (per information on the FIVB's website).

Alison Conte Cerutti (Men's Beach Volleyball)

Alison Conte Cerutti, at 26 years old, is one of the best beach volleyball players in the world. Per Beach Volleyball Database, Cerutti has garnered a number of honors in his short career. Most recently, in 2011, he was named the FIVB's best blocker, hitter, and overall offensive player. The young Brazilian and his partner, Emanuel Rego, are the top ranked men's doubles team in the world per the FIVB.

Beach volleyball fans will want to tune in to see if Cerutti and his partner can bring home the gold medal for Brazil. In order to accomplish this feat, they will have to beat some quality teams, including, per the BBC, the American duo of Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser. Rogers and Dalhausser won the gold medal in 2008.

The author is a freelance writer who is an avid fan of the Summer Olympic Games. He played recreational volleyball during his youth and early adulthood, as well as one year of club level volleyball at Roanoke College.

-- Anthony Hopper

#sports #volleyball #soccer #SummerOlympics #Olympics #SummerGames #Brazil #London

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