Rappers are champions. They carry metal and go for gold. The international competitive landscape of the Olympics has long been a rich reference bed for MCs, and with the 2016 Rio Summer games kicking off tonight (Aug. 5) we're looking back at the many athletes mentioned in lyrics throughout the years.

Sprinters like Michael Johnson, Marion Jones and Usain Bolt provide the perfect analog for a rapper's speed and agility, while a diver like Greg Louganis makes it possible to describe the splash one is about to or has made. Legends like Wayne Gretzky and Muhammad Ali aren't always thought of for their Olympic achievements, but they've participated in the games and the opening ceremonies. Rather than fill things out with every basketball player to bear the red, white and blue, we selected the Dream Team as a whole instead, the references to the 1992 super squad by name continuing to spill out today.

For some athletes, there is no higher accomplishment than standing on that tallest podium as his or her country's anthem is being played, and those moments, whether they be Jesse Owens raising his fist in defiance or something less culturally significant, stick with viewers and rappers alike.

There are no bigger rings in the world than the five multi-colored Olympic ones, and it's only right that rappers want that sort of glory for themselves and their teams. In the gallery above we choose 20 lyrics that reference 20 different athletes, with a brief history of that athlete's Olympic feats. Grab your torch, clear the high hurdles and dive in like Greg Louganis, if that's the type analogy you favor.

More From XXL