The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is all set to start July 23 with a host of COVID-19 protocols in place. With the Summer Games postponed from last year due to the pandemic, the Japanese authorities have set their eyes on making the global event a success. While we wait for the Games to begin, here’s a list of athletes (global) that can go big at the Summer Games.
Simone Biles, United States
She is the most decorated gymnast in Olympic history. Her gravity-defying moves, coupled with her tremendous speed and power have been her winning formula. At the 2016 Rio Games, Biles won four golds. If she repeats the same in Tokyo, she could become the first woman in 53 years to defend an Olympic all-around title.
Sunisa Lee, United States
Sunisa Lee, 18, proved her worth at nationals in 2019, winning a gold medal on the uneven bars. At the world championships in the same year, she won a team gold medal and two individual medals – a silver and a bronze.
Simone Manuel, United States
Simone Manuel made history in the 2016 Summer Games by becoming the first African American woman to win an individual swimming event. However, in Tokyo, she will be competing in the 50-meter freestyle. She had won a silver in the same event in Rio.
Katie Ledecky, United States
24-year-old Ledecky is a five-time Olympic gold medalist. She is also the two-time defending Olympic champion in the 800-meter freestyle and the reigning champion in the 200 and 400 freestyles. It will not be a shock if she increases her medal tally in the Tokyo Olympics.
Track and Field
Joshua Cheptegei, Uganda
At 24-years-old, Cheptegei holds three world records – the 5000 metres, 10,000 metres and the five kilometres (road race, not an Olympic event). He finished sixth in the 10,000 and eighth in the 5000 in the Rio Olympics but returned with a gold at the 2018 CWG. In Tokyo, he will be hoping to get the yellow metal around his neck.
Allyson Felix, United States
Felix is a winner of nine Olympic medals, including six golds. In Tokyo, she will compete in the 400 meters and the 4×400-meter relay.
Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya
Kipchoge is the only man to run a marathon in under two hours. He is also the defending champion in the Olympic marathon. The marathon runner will be defending his 2016 gold medal in Tokyo this summer.
Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad, United States
McLaughlin beat Muhammad to win the 400-meter hurdles at the US trials. By doing so she broke Muhammad’s world record. McLaughlin finished in 51.90 seconds and became the first woman to complete the race in 52 second. At Tokyo Olympics she will be favourite to win a medal.
Noah Lyles, United States
Lyles, 22, became the 200-meter world champion in 2019. With a personal best of 19.50 in the 200 meters, he will be aiming to overhaul Usain Bolt’s world record of 19.19.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Bahamas
Miller-Uibo won the 400 meters in 2016 and edged USA’ Felix. However, she has made it clear that she will be more focused on winning the 200 meters at the Summer Games.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica
The sprint legend will be pumped as she is set to appear in her fourth and final Olympics in Tokyo. A winner of the 100m races in the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games, respectively, the 34-year-old will be competing in the 100m and 200m races.
Naomi Osaka, Japan
Osaka is arguably Japan’s biggest sports star. After pulling out of the French Open and Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics will be having her undivided attention.
A’ja Wilson, United States
She led South Carolina to its first NCAA. title in 2017 and became the WNBA’s No. 1 draft pick. She eventually won the Rookie of the Year winner in 2018 and went on to win the Most Valuable Player prize in 2020. This time she will be hoping to add another feather on her cap.
Shanshan Feng, China
Feng, 31, is the first Chinese woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association. She is also the winner of a major and the first from her country to reach the women’s world No. 1. In 2016, she won a bronze medal and this time around she will be aiming to change the colour of her medal.
Laurel Hubbard, New Zealand
The first transperson to ever compete at the Olympics, lifted 339 pounds over her head in the super-heavyweight category at the last world weight lifting championships. While she isn’t very likely to win a medal, she can make a lot of noise at the Games.
Men’s Judo (heavyweight)
Teddy Riner, France
He has claimed medal in the last three Olympics, including golds in both London and Rio. Now he has his focus set on this year’s Summer Games. The 32-year-old is 208 centimetres tall and built in a bulky manner. At world level, he has only been beaten nine times and also has claimed a gold at the Judo World Masters in Dubai in January.
Azizulhasni Awang, Malaysia
Known as the ‘Pocket Rocketman’, he became a national hero in Rio when he won his nation’s first summer games medal with a bronze in the men’s Keirin. And this time around he would love to convert the bronze into gold and anybody taking him lightly might just get trumped.
Armand Duplantis, Sweden
At 21, he is all set for his maiden Olympics. He set an indoor pole vault record of 6.18 m in February 2020 and later that year he broke legendary athlete Sergey Bubka’s outdoor world record by clearing a height of 6.15 m. A gold is just in his sight.