With the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics right around the corner, it’s time to start narrowing down your list of athletes and events to watch.
This year, the U.S. team is anticipating on sending around 600 athletes to the games. While you’ll likely already be watching some the familiar U.S. stars like the Williams sisters, Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Steph Curry, and Christian Taylor, there is a new generation of young athletes who are poised to make a big splash in this year’s games.
Here are the top 10 American athletes to look out for at this year’s Olympic games:
Sydney McLaughlin (Age 21) – Sprinter and Hurdler
McLaughlin was already on the track to stardom when she placed third in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2016 United States Olympic Trials. Then, she was 16.
At 19, she won silver in the same event at the 2019 World Championships, clocking a personal best and the second-fastest time in history at the championships. Now in 2021, the New Jersey-born star is chasing gold.
Hannah Roberts (Age 19) – BMX Freestyle
BMX Freestyle is making its debut as a sport in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. And Hannah Roberts, the first American to qualify for the games, is ready to set the stage. She’s only 19 and she’s already won two BMX world championships and three world cup events.
A heavy favorite to take the podium again in 2021, Roberts has her eyes on more than just gold. She’s ready to introduce the world to the awesomeness that is BMX Freestyle.
Caroline Marks (Age 19) – Surfing
Another sport making its debut at the 2021 games is surfing. And making her Olympic debut along with the sport is surfing star, Caroline Marks.
She’s both the youngest female to compete in a World Surf League event and also the youngest surfer to qualify for the women’s championship tour. And she’s making quite a name for herself, entering the 2019 season as the #1 ranked female surfer in the world.
Kanak Jha (Age 21) – Table Tennis
Kanak Jha was the youngest American to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. 5 years later, he has been the U.S. Men’s singles champion four times and is currently ranked 26 in the world. His training regimen of 6-7 hours of practice a day, six days a week has been paying off.
With the next best U.S. men’s player ranked 179, Jha is the undisputed best American player—though it’s worth mentioning that the #179 player, Nikhil Khumar is only 17 years old, and he will be joining Jha at the Olympics this year. Together, the two of them will be representing America in one of the fastest sports in the Olympics.
Nevin Harrison (Age 19) – Sprint Canoeing
In 2019, at just 17 years of age, Harrison was the first American canoeist to win a medal at the world championships—oh yeah, and she won gold. Two years later, Harrison is still undefeated in her medal event, the C-1 200m, making her a favorite to podium in Tokyo.
If she does, she will break a 29-year Olympic medal drought for the U.S. in canoe sports.
Colin Duffy (Age 17) – Climbing
Colin Duffy is one of the youngest Americans to be competing in this year’s games. But don’t let age deceive you--he’s been climbing since he was 4 years old. At 17, he’s already accomplished some of the most gnarly climbs in America—ones that most climbers would be happy to achieve over a lifetime.
Duffy will be competing alongside other members of the USA climbing team as the sport makes its debut in Tokyo.
See if you have what it takes to compete with Colin in the USA Climbing Virtual Showcase.
Brighton Zeuner (Age 16) – Skateboarding
At just 16, Bright Zeuner has already made her mark on the history books—and she’s poised to make history again at the games this year. In 2017, when she was 13, Zeuner became the youngest athlete to be crowned champion at the X Games.
Today, she has 2 X Game gold medals in her trophy case and has her eyes on being crowned a champion again. She also has her eyes on finally getting her driver’s license.
Sunisa Lee (Age 18) – Gymnastics
Although the Gymnastic Olympic trials are still underway, Sunisa Lee is a heavy favorite to make the team and potentially even medal in uneven bars.
In 2019, Lee finished second overall, behind gold-medalist Simone Biles. She achieved the highest score on uneven bars in the competition. If she makes the team, you won’t want to miss her routine!
Sha’Carri Richardson (Age 21) – Track
Just a few months ago in April, Sha’Carri Richardson ran a 10.72 second 100m dash. In case you don’t know much about track, that’s fast. Like 6th fastest of all time fast. Assuming all goes according to plan at the Olympic trials later this June, Sha’Carri Richardson is a heavy favorite to podium.
Of course, she’ll have to beat Jamaican star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who has two 100m Olympic golds. But if she does, she’ll bring America its first gold medal in the 100m sprint in over 25 years.
Michael Andrew (Age 22) – Swimming
Michael Andrew is not just chasing gold medals; he’s chasing world records. Just a few days ago, he nearly broke the 200IM world record in the 2021 Olympic trials. That record was set by Ryan Lochte back in 2010.
Andrew, who is trained by his father, is on track to continue the legacy of great American swimmers, and he may have a chance to do so alongside Ryan Lochte who is chasing his 5th Olympic appearance. Lochte finished only 2.23 seconds behind Andrew in that same trial. You won’t want to miss that race!