Kids and adults alike carry anticipation for this summer's XXXII Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan—not only because we had to wait an extra year, but because a number of new sports have been added, including surfing, skating, climbing and karate!
If your young athlete has a sport of choice, they'll definitely have no problem following their favorite athletes and events, but the Olympic Games as a whole have a monumental degree of excitement no matter how much experience or knowledge you have. It's undeniably exciting to watch the highest-caliber athletes from all over the globe compete against one another in the same place, no matter how old you are.
From classic Olympic sports like swimming and track to the newer events like climbing and surfing, we've gathered up a number of male and female American athletes who are both new and returning Olympic competitors that your kids will be excited to learn about and watch compete.
Of course, the list of exciting, inspiring athletes could just go on and on—read more about team USA's 2021 Olympic hopefuls here!
There's fast and then there's Allyson Felix fast. Her personal bests include a 10.98-second 100-meter sprint and a 21.69-second 200-meter sprint. You and your kids will probably recognize her name from her previous Olympic showings, with two gold medals and one silver medal just from the 2016 games in Rio. She holds a total of six gold and three silver medals from all of her Olympic competitions, but this summer she's back for her fourth showing, and she's ready to prove herself once again as a U.S. favorite for the track and field team in the 400-meter and 4x100-meter races.
Fast-paced and long-established, swimming is one of the most-watched events in the summer Olympic games and a highly accessible sport for kids to enjoy. Katie Ledecky is one of the most well-known names in the sport after her breakthrough performance at the 2016 games. With five gold and silver silver medals, along with many World Championship titles, she's recognized as one of the most dominant athletes in the sport. Back this summer to prove that her success in Rio five years ago was no fluke, she will no doubt be an exciting athlete to follow.
For the first time ever, the 2021 Olympic games will include skateboarding—something Heimana Reynolds almost knew would happen having set out to become an Olympic skateboarder long before there was even talk of adding the sport to the games. From Honolulu, Reynolds will be representing the United States, the state of Hawaii and his sport in the park skating competitions. He holds the 2019 world championship gold medal and is a fan favorite, up-and-coming star at age 22. These events will be a great foray into the Olympic Games for little ones who enjoy skateboarding and watching other competitions likes X Games and Street League.
This young gymnast is a rising fan-favorite, and at 18 years old she's poised to qualify to compete at this year's Olympic Games (a goal she has been working toward for years). Kids will find it easy to cheer for Lee, as her talent has brought her lots of success at such a young age. She has been placing in national competitions since 2015 when she was 12, with her first international competition win in 2017 at the age of 14. Recently, she earned a gold, silver and bronze medal at the 2019 world championships, and she's on her way to shine at this summer in Tokyo!
Blink and you'll miss him, Noah Lyles is here for his first Olympic Games, representing team USA in track and field. In 2014 he won a gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games, and at the 2019 world championships he won gold in the 200-meter and 4x100-meter relay. His 100-meter personal record is 9.86 seconds, with 19.50 seconds for 200 meters, and he's ready to test his talents against some of the best athletes in his field this summer. Your little ones may even be inspired to visit your local track and test their speed in 100- and 200-meter dashes like Lyles!
It's fitting that Brooke Raboutou is the first U.S. climber to qualify for the Olympic Games, as the sport makes its big debut at the 2021 Olympics. She's from a family of climbers, is said to have started climbing before the age of two and as a young climber she set age-group records as early as 9 years old! Tuning in for Raboutou's events in climbing will prove to be nail-biting excitement for the whole family.
Once a young swimmer in awe of Michael Phelps, Caeleb Dressel emerged as a world-class athlete after winning gold with his teammates in the 4x100-m free and medley relay events inn Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He claimed gold and silver medals in numerous events in the recent 2019 world championships, adding to his total now of 19 golds and 5 silvers. This summer he will return for his second Olympics competing in the 100-meter freestyle and 4x100-meter freestyle. He's facing stiff competition in the pool this year, both from U.S. and international athletes, so his events are likely to captivate and engage kids and adults alike with neck-in-neck races and close finishes.
You can't have a list of "exciting athletes" without Simone Biles. She skyrocketed to international stardom after her 2016 showing in the Rio where she won four gold medals and one bronze. She has since won gold in the 2019 world championships and is ready to compete this summer in her second Olympics. Young, cheerful and hard-working, she's a great inspiration to young gymnasts (and kids in general) all around the world. It's hard not to root for her in any event, and your kids will surely agree!
Professional surfer Kolohe Andino will be representing the United States in the first Olympic surfing events ever—an exciting moment for all of us to witness! With an incredibly successful early career in youth surfing events and many professional runner-up showings, Andino brings a great deal of talent, energy and experience to this year's competition. The beauty of the ocean and "cool factor" of the sport alone will likely attract your kids' attention (and keep it!).
If you follow women's pro cycling, you'll no-doubt remember Dygert's devastating crash and resulting injury whilst defending her title in the 2020 world championship individual time trial. With her eye on two gold medals this summer, Dygert has fought hard on the road to recovery this past year to be back in full force in Tokyo for her second Olympics! She will be supported by and competing against a strong cast of other female American cyclists, making for an exciting series of races for you and your family to watch.
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