Tokyo Olympics: Gabby Thomas to Grant Holloway, top 10 track and field athletes to watch
The upcoming international multi-sport event will begin on July 23 and end on August 8
The Tokyo Olympics is just around the corner after getting delayed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the eyes of the whole world are on the athletes participating in this year’s competition. As per reports, more than 11,000 athletes are taking part in the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, which will begin on July 23 and end on August 8.
Though a number of new events like skateboarding, sport climbing, karate, surfing, and BMX Freestyle have been added to this year's competition, fans of the Olympics still root for sports with a long history like track and field. Below is the list of the top ten track and field athletes who are at the top of their game and promise extraordinary performances at the Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo Olympics: Full list of sports making their debut or comeback at the games
Erriyon Knighton: Knighton is 17-year-old, who secured his place to participate in the Olympics on Sunday night, July 4, in 200 meters. The Florida native is reportedly the youngest man from the US to make the Olympic track and field team since Jim Ryun in 1964. He made history in the US track and field trials after breaking two of Usain Bolt’s records. Knighton had even earlier compared his running style to Bolt “because he's tall like me.”
Allyson Felix: This year’s international multi-sport event is going to be her last for Felix. The 35-year-old from Los Angeles, California, is a pro in the 200 meters. She eventually shifted to the 400 meters later in her career. However, after the birth of her daughter in 2018 (for which she had an emergency C-section), this Olympics will be her first as a mother.
After qualifying for the competition, Felix said, “I feel a mix of all emotions. I’m real excited obviously to be going to Tokyo. There’s a part of me that’s sad because this has been my life for so long. This is my last time around. I feel sad for that, but also excited for what’s to come.”
Gabby Thomas: Harvard graduate Thomas is reportedly eyeing gold at Tokyo Olympics. At the Olympics trial, she won the women’s 200 meters by crossing the finish line in 21.61 seconds. After her win, she said, “I’ve been working so hard. I moved to Austin, Texas to train for this. I still just cannot believe it. I’m so, so happy. I’ve been working so hard. I’m really grateful.”
“Since coming here my expectations for myself have gotten even higher. Now when I step on the track, I do expect to run sub-22, which is something I love for myself and I’m really excited about,” said Thomas, who recently got to know about a tumor in her liver. To her relief, the tumor was a benign one and she won’t have to undergo any surgery.
Grant Holloway: The Virginia native is believed to be another US track and field gold medal hopeful. As per reports, the 23-year-old came first in the 110 meters hurdles event by crossing the finish line in 12.96 seconds. About his expectation to win gold, Holloway told Runners World: “We’ll find out. I just think at this point it’s definitely possible… It’s just executing at a very high level and figuring out ways to continue to get better.”
Rai Benjamin: Benjamin, who is from Mount Vernon, New York, is another strong candidate at the Tokyo Olympics. Though the 23-year-old failed to break the previous world record in 400m hurdles set by Kevin Young, he was not very far from achieving it. The 2019 World Championships silver medallist said of coming agonizingly close to Young’s record: “I know it’s there. I just have to tweak some more things… I can run so much faster. I know it. I can feel it.”
Sydney McLaughlin: McLaughlin has already set the expectations high as she recently defeated 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist, Dalilah Muhammad, in the 400m hurdles. The 21-year-old New Jersey native not only crossed the finish line in 51.90 seconds, but also broke Muhammad’s two-year-old world record, which was 52.16 seconds. McLaughlin later told NBC Sports, “All the glory to God. Honestly, this season just working with my new coach and my new support system, it’s truly just faith and trusting the process. I couldn’t ask for anything more and truly it is all a gift from God.”
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce: The 34-year-old Jamaican star has won medals at the Olympics six times. She has also been named world champion nine times, making her one of the greatest sprinters of all time. But four years ago, Fraser-Pryce thought her career was over when she became pregnant with her son, Zyon. In 2017, she was preparing to defend her world 100m title at the 2017 championships when she got pregnant.
“Pregnancy was the last thing on my mind. A couple of tests later, I found out I was pregnant. I stayed home for two days. I was shocked because, truth be told, I was thinking I just had to finish track and field before I could start a family,” Fraser-Pryce told BBC in January 2021, before noting that her baby was a “blessing”. She added: “You still have to train and find creative ways to get the work in. Trying to do that with a three-year-old is very difficult.”
Dutee Chand: Chand from India is very hopeful to win a medal in the Tokyo Olympics. The 25-year-old ace sprinter is reportedly training hard after she qualified for the quadrennial event in both 100m and 200m races through the World Rankings quota. “My training is going on pretty well. I practice in the morning from 6 am-10 am, 11 am-12 pm, and then from 4 pm-6 pm, I train for approximately six to seven hours,” Dutee told ANI. She added: “I am very happy that I would be representing India in Tokyo Olympics. I am very proud to know that I am participating in an individual event for the second time. I represented India in the 2016 Rio Olympics in 100m. I will perform well in the Olympics and will try to win a medal for India.”
Yusuke Suzuki: The 33-year-old from Japan currently holds the title of world champion in the men’s 50km walk. He is also the current world record-holder in the men’s 20km walk. In 2016 during the Rio Olympics, Suzuki did not compete because of a groin injury, but this time he’s believed to be a strong claimant of gold in the 50km walk at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ryan Crouser: Because of his family background, the 28-year-old is believed to be one of the most experienced participants in the list of track and field athletes. At the Rio Olympics in 2016, Crouser won the gold medal in shot put. Not just that, he is also the record-breaker, who registered a distance of 23.37m in 2019 at the World Championships in Doha and broke the record of 23.12m by the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games’ gold medalist Randy Barnes.