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20 Olympic Events You Shouldn’t Miss

From the opening ceremonies to Phelps and Bolt’s Olympic swan songs to the closing ceremonies

20 things not to miss olympics 2016 rio serena williams

Serena Williams of the US serves during the women's singles final against Germany's Angelique Kerber on day thirteen of the 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 30, 2016.

Greg Wood/Getty

It’s finally here. After years of waiting, the summer Olympics from Rio de Janeiro are set to take over everyone’s collective attention spans with no doubt equal parts amazing feats and stunning defeats. With hundreds of events on the horizon, here are 20 upcoming gold medal moments that you should pay attention to or risk being left out of water cooler conversation in the days to come. 

Opening Ceremony
Friday August 5th, 7pm
The pomp! The music! The geography! Opening ceremonies are traditionally a fun, long, and weird affair and despite NBC’s decision to air it on a tape delay (boo!), Rio’s kickoff party should be no different. Not only will you get a lesson in world affairs thanks to the parade of nations, but this year’s opening reportedly features the likes of both Giselle Bundchen and Dame Judi Dench. Now that’s range.

Men’s Water Polo
Saturday, August 6th, 9:20 am
Hey, it’s the Olympics… so why not check out some Water Polo? The first match of the games belongs to a face-off between Croatia and Team USA, which counts breakout player Tony Azevedo among its ranks.

Men’s Singles Tennis
Saturday, August 6th, 9:45am
Don’t focus on the fact that some of the biggest stars in tennis are going to be MIA this Olympics (Roger Federer, we’re looking at you). Instead, take a glass half-full approach and concentrate on who is going, like Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Great Britain’s Andy Murray.

Women’s Singles Tennis
Saturday, August 6th, 11:45am
One of Team USA’s brightest stars attempts to bring home the gold as Serena Williams begins her quest for Rio Olympic glory and continue her already landmark year.

Women’s Doubles Tennis
Saturday, August 6th, 3:30pm
Of course we can’t forget about Serena’s sister Venus as the two are looking to dominate Rio as a duo in Doubles.

Men’s Gymnastics Team Final
Monday, August 8th, 3pm
It’s time for the dudes to leap and jump on their way to Olympic glory, and while the United States may or may not be favorites this year (they finished in fifth place in London), it’s worth a peak to see if they can improve their standing in Rio.

Women’s Swimming 200m Freestyle
Monday, August 8th, 12pm
Believe it or not, besides Michael Phelps there are plenty of other fish, erm, swimmers in the water. On the woman’s side, Team USA star Missy Franklin won a total of four golds and a bronze in London and looks to bring home even more hardware when she struts her stuff in Brazil during the 200m Freestyle.

Men’s Rugby Sevens
Tuesday, August 9th, 12pm
After nearly a hundred-year absence, rugby makes its much-anticipated return to the Olympic games this summer. The US has the distinction of participating in its first match when they face off with Argentina for a lunchtime showdown.

First Round Men’s Golf
Thursday, August 11th, 6:30am
Get that coffee brewing for early morning Olympic golf! While many of America’s biggest golf stars opted out of Rio (we’ll miss you, Jason Day!), PGA pros Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson will be there on a quest to lift a weak roster.

Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Final
Thursday, August 11th, 3pm
Even before competing in Rio, Team USA’s Simone Biles is already considered the breakout star of this year’s Olympics, and this medal competition should seal her fate considering Biles and her USA teammates are favorites in this final.

Michael Phelps of the United States competes in the final heat for the Men's 100 Meter Butterfly during Day Seven of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 2, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Men’s Swimming 100-meter Butterfly Final
Friday, August 12th, 9:20pm
While it’s not guaranteed Michael Phelps will make the final in this event, a betting man would put down some serious cash on the possibility. That’s because not only is this Phelps’ last Olympic competition ever, but he previously brought home the gold in the 100m in both London and Beijing.

Badminton, Mixed Doubles
Saturday, August 13th, 2:55pm
When the heck can you ever watch some wild badminton action? During the Olympics, that’s when. For this matchup, Team USA faces off against the Netherlands.

Men’s Track and Field 100-meter final
Sunday, August 14th, 9:25pm
It’s legendary runner Usain Bolt’s time to shine as the fastest man on earth goes for a medal during the 100-meter final. If he does indeed grab a gold, Bolt will become the first person to win the event at three separate Olympics.

Women’s Beach Volleyball Final
Wednesday, August 17th, 11pm
The only thing more fun than playing beach volleyball is watching beach volleyball, and Rio’s woman’s is looking to be a good time with Team USA’s Kerri Walsh keen on getting a fourth straight gold medal.

Women’s Field Hockey, Gold Medal Match
Friday, August 19th, 4pm
Who needs ice when you can check out some fierce field hockey action in the middle of a hot Brazilian summer? While Team USA doesn’t have a men’s squad (they previously finished dead last back at the Atlanta games in 1996), the women’s team has a chance to make America proud as they shoot for gold and hopefully wind up at this final face-off.

Men’s Diving 10m Platform
Friday, August 19th, 3pm
What’s a summer Olympics without some diving action? This year, star British Olympian Tom Daley is the one to watch as he goes head-to-head with Team USA’s Dave Boudia and Steele Johnson.

Men’s Soccer Final
Saturday, August 20th, 4:30pm
Olympic soccer: just like the World Cup, but with (a little) less corruption. Here’s hoping the match’s play-by-play announcers are working on their best “Goallllllllllll!”

Men’s Basketball Final
Sunday, August 21st, 2:45pm
One of America’s most buzzed-about teams is its all-star contingent of basketball players headed to Rio in search of Olympic glory Since their favorites to get a gold, watch them (presumably) face off against Japan on the last day of the Rio games.

Women’s Middleweight Boxing Final
Sunday, August 21st, 1pm
The men’s basketball final isn’t the only event to watch on Rio’s final day. Team USA’s Claressa Shields looks to defend her gold she won in 2012 in the Women’s Middleweight boxing final. Odds say the 20 year-old Michigan native will do just that.

Closing Ceremony
Sunday, August 21st, 7pm
After two and a half weeks of Olympic action, it’s time to say goodbye with one last hurrah from Rio. Also on tap, a preview of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. 

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