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Get to know your worldwide Olympic athletes!

Simone Manuel (r.) had a moment in Rio. Will she get another?

Simone Manuel (r.) had a moment in Rio. Will she get another?
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There will be thousands of athletes at this year’s Olympic games. Some are international celebrities, some will go back to their main jobs by mid August. But all will get free condoms at the Olympic village.

Good luck containing that “bubble,” IOC!

While we can’t profile every single athlete at Tokyo 2020…21, we can still give you a few names to watch.

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Gabby Thomas, USA, Track and Field

Gabby Thomas, USA, Track and Field

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In a recent interview with CBS News, sprinter Gabby Thomas said she has two goals:

  1. Win gold at the 2021 Olympics
  2. Help fix racial disparities in health care

The Harvard alum graduated with a degree in neurobiology and global health /and health policy. Now, the runner is pursuing her masters at the University of Texas in public health. At UT, she studies epidemiology and health care management.

The racial health inequalities made clear from the pandemic only made Thomas more fervent in her post-track career choice.

“What we’re seeing with COVID, and what we saw with COVID, was nothing that I was surprised by, it just really solidified that I wanted to do what I was doing,” she said.

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Sky Brown, Great Britain, Skateboarding

Sky Brown, Great Britain, Skateboarding

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Want to feel old and unproductive? At 12-years-old, (12 freaking years old) Sky Brown will soon become one of the youngest Olympians of all time. She’s also one of the best park skaters in competition. Brown, who will turn 13 on July 12, is currently ranked No. 3 in the world.

As early as 10 years old, this Japanese born skater — who competes for Great Britain — had an endorsement deal from Nike.

She’ll drop in later this month when skateboarding makes its debut at the Olympic games.

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Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Olympic Athlete from Russia, Wrestling

Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Olympic Athlete from Russia, Wrestling

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Yes, there’s no “Team Russia” in this year’s Olympics.

Drugs are bad. Remember?

Instead we’ll get the “Olympic athletes from Russia.” One name to know from that totally neutral and, I’m sure, drug-free team is Abdulrashid Sadulaev. He also goes by “Russian Tank.”

Sadulaev won gold in the 86kg division in Rio. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want that tank pointed anywhere near me.

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John John Florence and Carissa Moore, USA, Surfing

John John Florence and Carissa Moore, USA, Surfing

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Have you ever seen LeBron James wave an Ohio flag after a win? What about a Michigan emblem on the back of Serena Williams? Of course you haven’t. Most American Olympians don’t compete with their state flag.

But two athletes in a new Olympic sport will wear a different red, white, and blue this year.

In most surfing competitions, John John Florence and Carissa Moore represent Hawaii, not the United States. The islands, which officially became the 50th state in 1959, are believed to be the birthplace of modern surfing. Surfers, especially, take pride in representing the home of the sport they love.

But Florence and Moore will be two of four Hawaiian surfers heading to Tokyo. All four will represent the United States.

“There’s a little bit of tension with that, going into the Olympics under a U.S.A. flag,” Florence told the New York Times. “I don’t want to divide at all. I’m not anti-anything. I’m pro-Hawaii.”

Carli Lloyd, USA, Soccer

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It has been a banner year for older athletes. Tom Brady won a Super Bowl, Mickelson won a major and Carli Lloyd could win another Olympic Gold.

At 39, the soccer star will be the oldest USWNT player to go to a Games. The two time FIFA player of the year will compete in her fourth Olympics this year.

What’s next? Maybe another NFL tryout?

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Adam Ondra, Czech Republic Sport Climbing

Adam Ondra, Czech Republic Sport Climbing

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The inaugural climbing competitors are screwed over for having to compete in three completely different events for one Olympic gold. That said, if anyone could capture that medal, it’s Adam Ondra. He spends time on real rocks and fake rocks, and he’s pretty legendary on both kinds of walls. That should set him up well for the bouldering, speed climbing, and lead climbing events at this year’s Games.

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Sue Bird, USA, Basketball

Sue Bird, USA, Basketball

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There aren’t too many 2021 Olympians who have played in every Games since 2004. The ageless wonder Sue Bird is one.

She’ll try to help Team USA win its seventh consecutive Gold medal.

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Luka Dončić, Slovenia, Basketball

Luka Dončić, Slovenia, Basketball

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The young NBA superstar helped lead Slovenia to its first ever Olympic games.

But what would mean more to Luka, an NBA title or an Olympic gold?

Yeah, both sound good, too.

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Simone Manuel, USA, Swimming

Simone Manuel, USA, Swimming

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After losing her Olympic qualifier in the 100m, the event she won in Rio, Manuel made the 50m roster. She won the qualifier by one one hundredth of a second.

“This year has been difficult, especially the last couple months,” Manuel told NBC after her race. “But before I dove in, I felt like it was my moment.”

We’ll see if she gets another one in Tokyo.

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Katie Ledecky, USA, Swimming

Katie Ledecky, USA, Swimming

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At 15 Ledecky surprisingly won her first 800m freestyle. Four years later, she left Rio with four more golds, two silvers, and two world records. Not bad.

At 24, what more can she do in Tokyo?

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Laurel Hubbard, New Zealand, Weightlifting

Laurel Hubbard, New Zealand, Weightlifting

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Hubbard will be the first transgender athlete to participate in the Olympics. She participated in men’s weightlifting events prior to coming out as transgender in 2013.

The 43-year-old will be able to compete in the women’s competition as the IOC now allows transgender athletes to compete as women as long as their testosterone levels are below a particular threshold.

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Sydney McLaughlin, USA, Track and Field

Sydney McLaughlin, USA, Track and Field

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Usually, just qualifying for the Olympics is a life altering event for athletes. But what about qualifying for the Games and breaking a world record? That’s what Sydney McLaughlin recently did.

The world record McLaughlin broke came from her teammate, Dalilah Muhammad. Either one could take home the gold in Tokyo.

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Naomi Osaka, Japan, Tennis

Naomi Osaka, Japan, Tennis

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It’s not a grand slam, but Osaka will make her return to international competition on her terms after leaving the French Open due to mental health concerns. She also opted out of Wimbleton.

She’ll be one of the biggest stars in Japan, playing on her home turf or, should I say, court.

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Simone Biles, USA, Gymnastics

Simone Biles, USA, Gymnastics

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Do I need to spell out G.O.A.T. for you? What else is there to say?

All signs are pointing to a summer of Simone in Tokyo. Any event she’s in is pretty much hers to lose.

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Uladzislau Hancharou, Belarus, Trampoline

Uladzislau Hancharou, Belarus, Trampoline

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At 20 Uladzislau Hancharou won gold in the Men’s Trampoline event at the 2016 Rio Games. Can he go back to back?

I have no idea. But I can watch this sport all day. You probably can, too.

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April Ross and Alix Klineman, USA, Beach Volleyball

April Ross and Alix Klineman, USA, Beach Volleyball

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April Ross has a new partner in Tokyo. After winning bronze with Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio, Ross has a new teammate in Klineman.

The new duo aim to be the first American women to win beach volleyball gold since 2012.

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Rosie MacLennan, Canada, Trampoline

Rosie MacLennan, Canada, Trampoline

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Thought I was done giving you trampoline videos to watch? Nope.

Rosie MacLennan has won not one, but two (back-to-back) gold medals for the north. Can she get No. 3 in Tokyo?

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Hannah Mills, Great Britain, Sailing

Hannah Mills, Great Britain, Sailing

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Mills won gold for Team GB in Rio with Saskia Clark. But she’s also the founder of Big Plastic Pledge. It’s an organization that aims to eradicate single use plastics in sports — something, unfortunately, we see a lot in MLB dugouts and other sporting events.

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Gwen Berry, USA, Track and Field

Gwen Berry, USA, Track and Field

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If you don’t know Gwen Berry’s name by now, that rock you’re living under must be heavy as hell.

But, seriously, if you don’t, allow my colleague Carron Phillips to explain.

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Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya, Marathon

Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya, Marathon

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You won’t see a “marathon GOAT” segment on First Take for a multitude of reasons. But if they had one, it would end early. Just like Eliud Kipchoge’s races.

He is, quite simply, the best runner out there. In 2019, Kipchoge became the only person to run 26.2 miles in under two hours. So, can anyone catch the 2016 gold medalist in 2021?

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Allyson Felix, USA, Track and Field

Allyson Felix, USA, Track and Field

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The 35-year-old sprinter and new mother will compete in her fifth Olympics. She already has nine Olympic medals, six of which are gold.

Can we get one more in Tokyo, please?

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Henny Reistad, Norway, Handball

Henny Reistad, Norway, Handball

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Henny Reistad will be playing in her first Olympics for Norway — a team that could win gold in Tokyo. As my college Jesse Spector notes, she’s definitely one to watch.

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Bryson DeChambeau, USA, Golf

Bryson DeChambeau, USA, Golf

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Only four American golfers can qualify for the mens and womens Olympic team, respectively. With Dustin Johnson opting out of the Games, that puts Bryson DeChambeau in the No. 4 slot. Who are the alternates? Patrick Cantlay is the first reserve. Then it’s either Patrick Reed or, you guessed it, Brooks Koepka.

If DeChambeau grabs a medal while Brooks stays home, expect the pissing contest to continue.

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica, Track and Field

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica, Track and Field

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Thought age would slow Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce down? Nope. The Jamaican speedster recently became the second-fastest woman of all time before the start of this year’s Olympics. She ran a 100m race in 10.63 seconds. Sheesh.

She already has six Olympic medals in the bag. How many more can she add in Tokyo?

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Race Imboden, USA, Fencing

Race Imboden, USA, Fencing

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At the 2019 Pan-Am Games, the two-time Olympian was put on probation by the USOC for kneeling on the medal stand. He said he knelt to protest against racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and then-President’s Trump’s vitriol.

The only time Imboden took an Olympic podium was in 2016, as a Bronze medalist.

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Ryo Kiyuna, Japan, Karate

Ryo Kiyuna, Japan, Karate

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Kiyuna contracted coronavirus in December 2020, but he is still the Olympic favorite in the Kata event. The 30 year old is from Okinawa, the home of karate.

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Brady Ellison, USA, Archery

Brady Ellison, USA, Archery

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Ellison owns a lot of medals, but none are Olympic gold. He won a silver in London and Rio and an additional bronze in 2016, too. He’s been a world No. 1 before. Can he finally be No. 1 on the podium?

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Damian Warner, Canada, Decathlon

Damian Warner, Canada, Decathlon

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Every now and then, one hot take artist or twitter meathead will go on some diatribe about his — it’s usually his — opinion on which sport is the hardest. Has anyone ever mentioned the decathlon? You know, the sport with literally 10 events in it. No? Well, meet Damian Warner. He’s one of the best decathletes in the world.

The 2016 bronze medalist will look for another spot on the podium in Tokyo.

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Cat Osterman, USA, Softball

Cat Osterman, USA, Softball

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The 38-year-old softball legend is out of retirement and back on team USA.

Osterman, the only athlete on the team with an Olympic Gold, wants to add another to her collection and help her teammates win the revived international competition.

“I am really motivated for this younger generation. I think there was an Olympic dream that they lost because [softball] got voted out after 2008,” she told Deadspin.“To be able to be part of this journey with them and hopefully give them a chance to stand on that top podium in Tokyo, that’s really what motivates me everyday.”

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Masahiro Tanaka, Japan, Baseball

Masahiro Tanaka, Japan, Baseball

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The former Yankees ace and current pro in his home country was recently named to Japan’s 24-man roster. Tanaka competed in baseball in 2008, before the event was pulled. He’ll join other ex-major leaguers at the games.

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Vashti Cunningham, USA, Track and Field

Vashti Cunningham, USA, Track and Field

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America’s best high jumper will participate in her first Olympic games this summer. In qualifying she recorded a personal best at 6 feet, 7½ inches.

Oh, and does the last name ring a bell? It should. Vashti is the daughter of former NFL QB Randall Cunningham.

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Jessica Springsteen, USA, Equestrian

Jessica Springsteen, USA, Equestrian

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Speaking of famous last names, here’s another. Springsteen, 29, will make her Olympic debut in Tokyo. She’s ranked 27th in the world in show jumping and apparently has a decent chance to win a medal.

Running is overrated. Jessica was born to ride.

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Megan Rapinoe, USA, Soccer 

Megan Rapinoe, USA, Soccer 

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Rapinoe is in a league of her own. At 36, this could be her last Olympic Games. Which, sure, is upsetting for the USWNT and all. But it’s also terrible for those of us who enjoy watching the worst people in the world get triggered by athlete-activists like her.

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Nyjah Huston, USA, Skateboarding

Nyjah Huston, USA, Skateboarding

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Huston was once a skateboarding child prodigy himself. But now, at 26, he remains one of the best street skaters in the world.

With skateboarding making its debut at the Games, he’ll get his first chance to go for Olympic gold.

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