Hyderabad: The Olympics is the place where heroes are born. Driven by sheer grit and determination, athletes get a chance to showcase their potential on the world’s biggest stage. US swimmer Michael Phelps remains the most decorated Olympian in history with 28 medals consisting 23 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze.
The next best is gymnast Larisa Latynina from the erstwhile Soviet Union with 18 medals. The Tokyo Games is set to witness some exciting moments with the first transgender athlete in action to introduction of four new disciplines. This edition features 330 medal events in 33 disciplines across 42 venues. Here is a list of a few stars set to etch their names in the record books.
Simone Biles (Gymnastics)
The US artistic gymnast, already a legend in her sport, has five Olympic medals, including four gold medals, from her maiden appearance in the Rio Games. With over 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, she is considered the most decorated female gymnast of all time. However, she had trouble during the lockdown period, suffering exhaustion, abuse, and lockdown. She revealed that she also mulled quitting last year revealing that her athleticism is not it was five years ago. But she came back stronger, adding new moves in her routine to dominate on the world stage once again. No Olympic gymnast has ever retained the all-round title twice since 1968 and she is set for another outstanding outing.
Caeleb Dressel (Swimming)
Entering the Tokyo Games, the US swimmer Caeleb Dressel has a lot to prove his credentials. With Olympic great Michael Phelps retiring and second best US swimmer Ryan Lochte, who has 12 Olympic medals, failing to qualify for his fifth Olympics, all hopes are on this superstar Dressel. The 24-year-old enters the pool as a strong favourite too. People back in the US are already comparing him with Phelps, though he has a long way to go in his career.
The freestyle and butterfly swimmer holds the world records in 100m butterfly, 50m freestyle and 100m individual medley. He also holds the American records in 50m, 100m freestyle and 50m, 100m butterfly. With just two golds to his name, he has a long way to go to match Phelps. But he is set to rule the waters tipped to win six gold this time. He will be seen in action in three individual events – 50m, 100m freestyle, 100m fly and in team relays as well.
Laurel Hubbard (Weightlifting)
In a historic first, the Tokyo Games will have the first ever transgender athlete competing in the Games. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has been allowed by the IOC to compete in the 87kg category. ICO has changed its rule to allow transgender athletes to compete as woman if their testosterone levels are below certain point.
Having competed in men’s section before coming out as transgender in 2013, all eyes will be on this 43-year-old athlete. She broke the men’s national record as a junior and her inclusion is seen as a milestone for equality.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Athletics)
Coming from the land of Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the earth, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has created her own identity. The 34-year-old sprinter has six Olympic medals – two gold medals, three silver and a bronze – to her name. Despite being in her 30s, she is in the form of her life. She ran the second fastest 100ms of all time at 10.63 seconds in June. She is the one of the only three women in the history to successfully defend their Olympic 100m title. No one ever has won a third 100m gold and she is bidding to become the first one. However, the nine-time world champion will face a stiff competition this time around.
Allyson Felix (Athletics)
The US athlete Allyson Felix is just a medal away from becoming the most decorated Olympian in the women’s track and field history and set to join legendary Carl Lewis as the most decorated Team USA track and field athlete.
Competing in her fifth Olympics at Tokyo, which itself is a big achievement, the 35-year-old has nine Olympic medals including six gold, three silver. Felix, who made her debut at 2004 Olympics in Athens, clinched her first gold in 2008 Games in 4x400m relay and a silver in 200m event. In London in 2012, she won three consecutive gold medals in 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m. At the Rio Games, she won two gold medals 4x100m and 4x400m and a silver in 400m dash. She will be seen in action in 400m, 4x400m and 4x400m mixed relay events for Team USA and if she wins in them, she will be a 12-time Olympic medalist.
Novak Djokovic (Tennis)
World No.1 Novak Djokovic is in red hot form winning three Grand Slams of the year – Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. He also joined the elite list of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slam titles. He is in the form of his life and wants to make the most of it.
Though he was not sure of his participation in Olympics after Wimbledon victory, he then decided to take a shot at the golden slam (Olympic medal and a calendar year of all slams) to become second after Steffi Graf to do so. With three Slams already in his pocket this year, he eyes a gold in Tokyo and hopes to clinch the US Open. With No Federer and Nadal in fray in Tokyo, he is an overwhelming favourite. A Golden Slam here would definitely put him ahead in the debate over who the GOAT is.
Katie Ledecky (Swimming)
US Swimmer Katie Ledecky is another top swimmer entering the fray. The five-time Olympic gold medalist is also the world record holder in women’s 400m, 800 and 1500m freestyle events. She made her debut at the Olympics as a 15-year-old in London where she won a gold and then added another four at Rio. In Tokyo, she will be busy in the pool competing in four freestyle events, including the 1,500 m. The 24-year-old will swim both the 200-m and 1,500-m freestyle finals in the same two-and-a-half-hour session.
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