3 international stories to follow at the 2016 Olympics

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The history of the Olympics is littered with inspirational and motivating moments.

These include Equatorial Guinea native Eric Moussambani struggling to complete two lengths of the swimming pool in 2000, Jamaica entering a bobsleigh team in 1988 and the victory of the men’s US Olympic hockey team in 1980, despite featuring a selection of amateurs.

Here are three of the more rousing storylines heading into the 2016 Olympics:

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Rio will see the first ever US athlete compete wearing a hijab when Muhammad steps onto the fencing piste.

The 30-year-old from New Jersey began fencing at the age of 13 and is competing in the sabre class, a discipline in which she won a bronze medal earlier this year in the Fencing World Cup in Athens.

Muhammad has been ranked as high as number seven in the world previously and missed out on qualifying for London in 2012 because of torn ligaments in her hand.

Ning Zetao

The participation of Barcelona striker Neymar for the Brazilian Olympic football team helps him stand out as one of the poster boys of the Olympics. But if a relatively unknown worldwide star is to develop, Chinese swimmer Zetao could step up.

A stereotype exists that Asian men and sex symbols are not two things that fit together, but Zetao, who will compete in both the 50m and 100m freestyle in Rio, has already made great waves at moving the goalposts.

The 23-year-old’s handsomeness has already boosted his popularity in China and on his Olympics debut, having won gold at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Russia, his appeal can go global.

Kazuki Yazawa

Japanese canoeist Yazawa already has the experience of competing at two Olympics, but the difference this time is that this will be his first as a Buddhist priest.

In 2008, he finished 18th in the men’s kayak slalom singles, before improving to ninth in the same event four years ago.

He returns for a third crack in Rio, training now for 90 minutes, six days a week to fit in with his main job, which he took up in 2013. The 27-year-old won the Japanese canoe slalom national tournament last year.

Ladbrokes is not an official sponsor of the Olympics and is no way affiliated with any of the competing athletes, events or competitions being held in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.