Rio Olympics: 11 Black athletes in less popular sports who are worth your time

The Summer Olympics are more glamorous than their counterpart every four winters. And of all the competitions being held in Rio de Janeiro over the next two weeks, none are more familiar than basketball, gymnastics, swimming, and track and field.

They are the Mount Rushmore of Summer Olympic sports.

But athletes will compete in roughly three dozen other sports that don’t enjoy the same popularity or appeal. These men and women have been working just as hard in their fields as Carmelo Anthony, Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

Toiling in more obscure sports, they won’t receive as much attention, adulation or airtime. However, the medals they seek are just as shiny and meaningful, valued prizes for the dogged pursuit of athletic excellence.

When it comes to the following sports, black athletes typically are few in number. But here are some participants you might see if you tune in to these events during the games:

Ibtihaj Muhammad and Daryl Homer, United States: Fencing

Ibtihaj Muhammad and Daryl Homer

Ibtihaj Muhammad and Daryl Homer help make this one of the most diverse teams representing the United States. Homer won the silver medal in saber at the 2015 Senior World Championships. Muhammad will make history as the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete in a hijab.

Ashleigh Johnson, United States: Water Polo

Ashleigh Johnson of the United States makes a save on a shot during the 2016 Olympic team trials at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on May 22, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson is one reason the U.S. women’s team is a favorite to win gold. She is the first black woman to represent the United States in water polo in Olympic competition. The Miami native was named the 2015 Collegiate Water Polo Association Player of the Year at Princeton.

Ygor Coelho De Oliveira, Brazil: Badminton

Ygor Coelho de Oliveira of Brazil plays Artem Pochtarev of Ukraine during the II Yonex Brazil Badminton Grand Prix - Aquece Rio Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympic.

Asian countries dominate this sport that was developed in Britain, but Brazil is making a push through a burgeoning youth program. Nineteen-year-old Ygor Coelho de Oliveira, ranked 62nd in the world, and 20-year-old Lohaynny Vicente (72nd), will be the first Brazilian badminton players at the Olympics.

Luc Abalo and Cédric Sorhaindo, France: Handball

Luc Abalo of France jumps to shoot during the Men's Handball preliminaries group A match between France and Sweden on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 6, 2012 in London, England.

The French men’s team comes to Rio with what’s considered one of the sport’s best squads ever. With assistance from Luc Abalo and Cédric Sorhaindo, France is hoping to win a third consecutive gold medal after becoming the first team to successfully defend its title in 2012.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Great Britain: Heptathlon

Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain in action in the Women's Heptathlon javelin during the Hypomeeting Gotzis 2016 at the Mosle Stadiom on May 29, 2016 in Gotzis, Austria.

Her countrywoman, and defending gold medalist, Jessica Ennis-Hill has better odds of reaching the medal stand, but 23-year-old Katarina Johnson-Thompson is looking to become Britain’s new standard-bearer. Johnson-Thompson broke Ennis-Hill’s British record in the pentathlon and won gold at the European Indoor Championships last year.

Colton Brown, United States: Judo

Colton Brown of the United States enjoys the moment during the 2015 Glasgow Men's European Open at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

A three-time national champion at San Jose State, Colton Brown is making his Olympic debut after medaling in six international competitions last year. Brown, 24, trained in Japan for four months after graduating from New Jersey’s Piscataway High School.

Patrick Dogue, Germany: Modern Pentathlon

Patrick Dogue of Germany competes in Combined during the Team Relay Mix Modern Pentathlon Tournament - Aquece Rio Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympics at Deodoro Olympic Park on March 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Superior pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horseback riding and running are what it takes to win this event, which debuted at the Stockholm Games in 1912. Germany’s Patrick Dogue finished second in the World Cup Final this year.

Abdelkebir Ouaddar, Morocco: Equestrian

Abdelkebir Ouaddar of Morocco riding Quickly de Kreisker celebrates winning the Grand Prix Hermes CSI5 show jumping event on day three of the Saut Hermes at the Grand Palais venue on March 20, 2016 in Paris, France.

In 2013, Abdelkebir Ouaddar became the first Moroccan to qualify for the World Championships. He was “raised as her own son” by Princess Lalla Amina of Morocco, and his horses are owned by King Mohammed VI.

Segun Toriola, Nigeria: Table Tennis

Segun Toriola of Nigeria in action during the singles mtach between Sharath Kamal Achanta of India and Segun Toriola of Nigeria in the Men's Team Table Tennis Final between India and Nigeria at Scotstoun Sports Campus during day five of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on July 28, 2014 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Segun Toriola of Nigeria is the first African athlete to make seven appearances in the Olympic Games. Only three other table-tennis players have accomplished the feat. Teammate Quadri Aruna is playing in his second Olympics; he reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup.

Source: The Root

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