9 Olympic athletes to watch at the 2020 Tokyo Games
Camryn Rabideau • July 23, 2021if( has_post_thumbnail( $post_id ) ): ?>
The 2020 Summer Olympics are even more highly anticipated than usual, as they were postponed for a full year, and it’s safe to say that both the Olympic athletes and their fans are eager for the games to get underway in Tokyo, Japan at the end of July.
Once the Olympics start, numerous events will take place every day. If you’re wondering where to focus your attention during the competitions, be sure to keep your eye on these nine talented athletes—you might even see one from your town!
1. Rugby: Ben Pinkelman from Centennial, Colorado
Pinkelman was recently named a starter for the U.S. men’s Olympic rugby sevens squad. The 27-year-old was a standout collegiate athlete and is known for playing in both the sevens and 15s formats of the game. He competed in the 2016 Olympics and the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and at this year’s Olympics, you can see him in action during the men’s rugby events, which will take place from July 26-31.
2. Diving: Andrew Capobianco from Holly Springs, North Carolina
Capobianco, age 21, will make his first Olympic appearance in Tokyo this year. The newcomer started his career competing in gymnastics and diving, and he even won the Level 8 Junior Olympic national title on floor exercise in 2013. For the 2020 Olympics, he will compete for Team USA with Mike Hixon, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, in the men’s synchronized springboard event and the individual event, which will take place from July 25 to August 7.
3. Gymnastics: Simone Biles from Spring, Texas
Mark your calendar for Saturday, July 24, when all eyes will be on Biles, a five-time Olympic medalist, as she competes in Tokyo this year. The well-known 24-year-old gymnastics powerhouse currently boasts 25 world championship medals—the most in U.S. history—and is widely regarded as one of the best gymnasts of all time. You don’t want to miss her performance in the artistic gymnastics events this year, as many predict it will be her last Olympic appearance.
4. Swimming: Katie Ledecky from Bethesda, Maryland
Ledecky, a 24-year-old distance freestyler, is already a highly decorated athlete with five gold medals and one silver from her appearances in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games. However, she’ll be back for more in Tokyo, competing between July 24 and August 1 in the 200-, 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyles.
5. Track and field: Noah Lyles from Alexandria, Virginia
Not many athletes have the potential to break records set by Usain Bolt, but many believe Lyles could do it. The 23-year-old sprinter has a PR of 19.50 seconds in the 200-meter event, which isn’t that far off from Bolt’s world record of 19.19 seconds. Can the young athlete close the gap? You’ll have to tune in on August 3-5 to find out.
6. Tennis: Naomi Osaka from Osaka, Japan
While she’s not one of the Team USA athletes, 23-year-old tennis player Naomi Osaka of Japan is worth watching at the 2020 Olympics. She recently made headlines when she withdrew from the 2021 French Open after being fined for not attending media events, and many praised her for shining light on the mental health struggles of professional athletes. She also opted out of Wimbledon this year, but fans will be glad to hear she’ll be on the court in her home country for the Olympic women’s singles tennis event, which starts on Saturday, Jul 24.
7. Skateboarding: Nyjah Huston from Davis, California
Huston competed in his first X Games at age 11, and now the 26-year-old will get to compete in Japan as skateboarding makes its much-anticipated debut as an Olympic event. He’s sure to be a fierce competitor, as he’s one of the most accomplished street skateboarders, with 10 gold X Games medals. You can watch as Huston goes for gold in the men’s Olympic street skateboarding events on Sunday, Jul 25.
8. BMX: Hannah Roberts from Buchanan, Michigan
Freestyle BMX is another sport that’s being showcased in the Olympics for the first time, and Roberts will be proudly representing Team USA. The 19-year-old cyclist has been riding since she was eight, and at age 17 she won a gold medal in the 2017 UCI World Championships. It’s safe to say we’re excited for her performance in Tokyo, which will take place on July 31 and August 1.
9. Archery: Brady Ellison from Glendale, Arizona
Team USA hasn’t won an Olympic gold medal in archery since 1996, but if anyone can change that, it’s Ellison. The 32-year-old recurve archer is a three-time Olympian who’s won silver twice and bronze once, and he’ll be in Tokyo this year, hoping to clinch the gold. Archery events will take place between July 23-31.
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