Following an unscheduled delay, the Tokyo Olympics is ready and waiting to get underway. Officially still referred to as Tokyo 2020, the games will begin on July 23rd before coming to a conclusion on August 8th.
Over 11,000 athletes from more than 205 countries will take part in what remains as the biggest sporting spectacle on earth. More than two weeks of world class action awaits but who are the competitors set to stand out at the 32nd Modern Olympiad?
At the age of 24, Simone Biles is considered to have reached the veteran status as far as modern gymnastics is concerned. It’s incredible to think that the American first came to prominence as a 14 year old at Rio 2014 and, since that point, she’s become something of a celebrity and a cult icon.
Biles remains a serious competitor within the sport and, according to every sportsbook getting involved, she’s the clear favourite to win the all-around title. If she does so, Biles will become the oldest woman to scoop gymnastics’ biggest prize in five decades. It will be an outstanding achievement but Biles is no ordinary athlete.
Youth will take centre stage at the new Olympic sport of skateboarding in Tokyo and Sky Brown is one of the newest kids on the block. She’s almost certain to confirm her place on the plane and, when she does, she will become the youngest British athlete of all time.
Brown will celebrate her 12th birthday just days before the opening ceremony but she’s not just here as a novelty. Last September, she finished third in the Sao Paulo Park World Championships and many expect her to dominate the sport in the very near future.
It’s been a difficult year for tennis’ Naomi Osaka but the multiple Grand Slam winner seems determined to take part in the summer Olympics. Maybe she is being driven by the fact that she will be representing the host country Japan as she looks to put the recent past behind her.
On the court, Osaka is arguably the biggest talent in the modern game, even though she doesn’t hold the number one ranking at the moment. That accolade currently sits with Australia’s Ashleigh Barty who will be looking to prove herself at Wimbledon following injury concerns.
Naomi Osaka’s route to the final may be aided by the withdrawal of Serena Williams but the Japanese player shouldn’t need too much assistance. At the age of 23 she’s already won four Grand Slam titles and is the reigning champion at the Australian Open and the US Open. An Olympic gold medal would be a fitting reward and would cap a roller coaster season.
Golf reappeared at the 2016 games in Rio following a break of more than a hundred years. Great Britain’s Justin Rose took gold five years ago but all eyes are on American players in 2021.
One golfer to have changed the face of the sport in the last two years is Bryson DeChambeau. Known by many as The Scientist, the 27 year old takes an analytical approach to the game and he has his clubs specially designed to his own exacting specifications.
Alongside his specialist equipment, DeChambeau has bulked up to the extent where he has comfortably become the longest driver on the PGA Tour. The sheer distance of his hitting can reduce the effectiveness of most courses and he’s now won nine professional titles including one Major.
Bryson doesn’t always combine pinpoint accuracy with that phenomenal distance but he can shine brightly in Tokyo if he can just keep the ball on the fairways.
The United States women’s soccer team are the most dominant force in the game right now. Other players may be more flamboyant while claiming a greater percentage of media attention but Alex Morgan is the most important figure on the roster.
At the age of 31, the striker remains a prolific force in international football and currently has an incredible return of 110 goals from 178 matches for USWNT. Morgan is already an Olympic gold medal winner with a side that has dominated the international scene for some time. In 2021, the United States are favorites for the tournament once again and it’s Alex Morgan’s goals that are expected to take them to the top.
Great Britain has a solid record in track and field and their standout athlete at Tokyo 2020 is expected to be Dina Asher-Smith. She’s already regarded as the best British sprinter in history and is currently the reigning champion in three separate World Championship events.
Asher-Smith is widely tipped to replicate that world championship success in Tokyo. She’s listed to compete in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 100 metres relay and it would be a massive achievement just to win medals in all three disciplines. The experts, however, feel that Dina Asher-Smith can go all the way and win an incredible three golds in Tokyo.
These are the athletes most likely to shine at the 2021 summer games and they will all contribute to another memorable Olympics. All are widely tipped to make an indelible mark in Tokyo this summer. Whatever happens, we’re certain to witness an amazing 17 days which will add to the unforgettable list of Olympic memories.