After surviving threats of cancellation and a year long postponement, the 2021 Summer Olympics hosted in Tokyo is merely two weeks away. With the addition of Karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing and the return of baseball and softball, there is much to anticipate this summer.
Big name athletes such as four-time Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Simone Biles and six-time Olympic Gold Medal sprinter Allyson Felix will be making a return this year competing for Team USA. But a generation of new athletes have made it past the trial phase, all with impressive and promising reputations.
Jordan Chiles – Gymnastics
Oregon native Jordan Chiles will be debuting her career as an Olympian this summer in Tokyo. The 20-year-old who attends UCLA holds three gold medals from the Pacific Rim Championships in 2018. In the same year, Chiles competed in the Worlds Team Selection Camp where she scored third on vault– one place lower than current teammate Simon Biles. More recently, this past February Chiles became the first ever women’s all-around Winter Cup champion. Proving to be the well rounded gymnast that she is, Chiles is expected to be a useful addition to the USA Gymnastics team.
Simon Biles – Gymnastics
Biles, who has had many moves created and named after her, has been the person to watch ever since she entered the scene in 2016 at age 19. At 24, she is still performing gravity-defying moves that no other competitor can pull off. The Texan native, who started training at age eight, has excelled into a lane all her own carrying 19 gold medals along the way. She is the most awarded gymnast in her sport, and this year she plans on maintaining her crown while helping others like Chiles and Lee along the way.
Naomi Graham – Boxing
Though it may be her first year in the Olympics, North Carolina’s middleweight boxer Naomi Graham is no rookie to sport. Since 2014, Graham has bagged 14 first place titles in tournaments, national championships and international championships. Not only is Graham an incredible boxer, she is also a staff sergeant for the U.S Army– making her the first active female military member to represent Team USA in the Olympics. With her track record, it’s anticipated that Graham will bring home the gold for the U.S
Rachel Garcia – Softball
The postponement of the Olympic games allowed for California native Rachel Garcia to finish out her senior year at UCLA, where she was named as the nation’s best softball player for two consecutive years. The right-handed pitcher won an overwhelming amount of awards and titles the year she led the UCLA Bruins to the 2019 Women’s College World Series. Among these honors include the Honda Cup as the nation’s top female athlete, USA Softball Player of the Year and NFCA National Player of the Year. Garcia is expected to be a vital component within Team USA’s softball team this summer.
Coco Gauff – Tennis
As the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association, 17-year-old Coco Gauff from Georgia is known for her upset win against Venus WIlliams in the opening round at Wimbledon 2019. Gauff has been under the spotlight since the debut of her professional career at the age of 14. Since then she has improved her game consistently, giving her a reputation of perseverance. With her underdog status, Gauff will definitely give you a match to watch.
A’ja Wilson – Basketball
Professional basketball player A’ja Wilson is ranked as the WNBA’s second best player, this year being only her fourth in her career. As a three time WNBA All-Star and MVP, Wilson is a crucial part of Team USA. The 24-year-old from South California won Rookie of the Year in 2018 and was the lead in blocks in the WNBA for the year 2020. Even before playing for the Las Vegas Aces, Wilson was a three time SEC Player of the year, three time All-American and an NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award recipient. To put it shortly, Wilson was built for the Olympics.
Sunisa Lee – Gymnastics
This 18-year-old gymnast got into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by besting top G.O.A.T. Biles on June 27 at the Olympic qualifiers. This impressive feat was accomplished by holding her own throughout every event while Biles made some mistakes such as stepping out of bounds. Biles won by 2.266, but Lee was tighter in certain areas than Biles. Lee was also part of the gold-medal winning team for world championships. Lee who is descended from the Hmong people, mostly populating in China, is the first of her people to compete for America in the Olympics.
This summer, Team USA has packed its roster with only the best to bring the gold home. And in doing this, the country gets to showcase it’s female athletes and their excellence. To stay updated, visit the Olympics website.