1. Michael Phelps
Breaking Mark Spitz’s seemingly unbreakable medal record? Check. Dominating all competition? Check. Shattering records for speed? Check. Smoking pot? Oh yeah. Michael Phelps is an Olympic hero for the Seth Rogen generation, and he gives hope to all of us gangly, tall dudes out there. If we spent our whole lives training and hitting bongs, we too could be Olympic champions. That’s the moral here, right? Phelps will return to the Olympics this summer in hopes of replicating the magic of 2008.
2. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh
These two enjoyed a reign of dominance over the volleyball world that only compares to Tiger Woods at the height of his powers. At one point the pair rode a win-streak for 112 MATCHES. They’ve won two straight gold medals in volleyball and will be defending their crown come July.
3. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is a hyper-competitive assbag — the accepted product of “asshole” and “douchebag” (though some schools of thought endorse “douchehole”). This often alienates fans in the NBA, but come Olympic time, Kobe’s unapologetic stink-face is downright patriotic. Despite being the “old man” of the 2008 Gold Medal team, he dominated games and was (in every way) their leader.
4. Nastia Liukin
Liukin (along with her teammate Shawn Johnson) captured the country’s imagination in 2008 with her pursuit of the women’s gymnastics all-around gold medal. Liukin would achieve the feat, making her only the third American woman in history to do so. She would later guest star in a whole bunch of teen dramas (Gossip Girl, Make It Or Break It, and Hellcats.
5. Apollo Anton Ohno
Any man who makes people gather around their TVs to watch speed-skating has to be one of the most exciting people ever. Besides having an awesome name, Ohno was one of the best skaters in the world for years, winning a total of eight Olympic medals. He also has hilarious hair and was on Dancing With The Stars, so the man knows something about giving people what they want.
6. Natalie Coughlin
Natalie Coughlin is so awesome that despite her biggest achievement coming while Michael Phelps was thoroughly dominating both the swimming pool and the hearts and minds of the American people, she did not go unnoticed. Do you know how amazing it is that people even knew she became the first woman in history to win back to back gold medals in the 100m backstroke? In that media climate? It’s a testament to how great she is.