The 2021 Tokyo Olympics are right around the corner.
The highly anticipated sporting event is taking place this month, beginning on July 21, and it will be a historical one as the Olympics are adding a plethora of new sports to the games, including: skateboarding, surfing, karate, and sport climbing.
In addition to the new sports, there will be a number of new (and familiar) faces stepping into the spotlight for 19 straight days. And because these hardworking athletes will soon become household names — if they haven’t already — we thought it’d be a good idea for you to get to know them.
Below, FN has compiled a list of the the rising Team USA stars to watch.
The Phoenix Suns guard was named a member of the 2021 USA National Team and U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team on June 28. Of course, that isn’t Booker’s only honor. He was named a 2020 NBA All-Star and named to the to the 2019-20 NBA All-Seeding Games first team and was runner-up for NBA Player of the Seeding Games (‘Bubble MVP’) behind Damian Lillard.
Booker has also totaled 7,683 points in five seasons and became the fourth-youngest in NBA history to reach 7,000 points at 23 years old.
When it comes to brands, Booker is a Nike-sponsored athlete.
Hailing from the Milwaukee Bucks, is a Los Angeles-born athlete, who participated in the 2013 USA National Team minicamp. He is also a member of the victorious USA White Team, started and recorded 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 26:54 of action.
Aside from his talent, Holiday has been recognized for his sportsmanship, as he was the recipient of the Joe Dumars Trophy as the winner of the 2020-21 NBA Sportsmanship Award. The award is given to a player who best represents sportsmanship on the court.
Like Booker, Holiday is also a Nike-sponsored athlete.
Holiday’s Bucks teammate Khris Middleton was also named a member of the 2021 USA National Team and U.S. Olympics Men’s Basketball Team. His other highlights include, being named a finalist for the 2020 U.S. Olympics Men’s Basketball Team, and being a member of the 2019 USA World Cup Team. In 2020 Middleton was selected as an NBA All-Star for the second straight season.
Before his professional career, Middleton played three seasons at Texas A&M University.
A’ja Wilson is taking the world by storm. The Las Vegas Aces player, who began playing basketball when she was just 11 years old, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft — making her the youngest on the team. In 2020 she was honored as the WNBA MVP. Her honors include, being a member of the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying All-Tournament Team; 2015 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year; 2015 FIBA U19 World Cup MVP and 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship MVP.
Wilson is a Nike-sponsored athlete.
Ariel Atkins is another young star on the team. She was drafted No. 7 by the Washington Mystics in 2018. In 2020 Atkins played in the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia, and averaged 6.3 points per game in her USA National Team debut.
She graduated from the University of Texas in Austin, where she played for four years and majored in sports management.
Simone Biles is the greatest. The gymnast, who has competed in the Olympics over four times, has the most World medals — 25 — and the most World gold medals — 19. Additionally, she hasn’t lost an all-around competition since 2013.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Biles events include Team, Floor Exercise, Balance Beam, Vault, All-Around. When she’s off the court, Biles can be seen on the covers of Vogue, Time and Glamour.
Earlier this year, Biles ended her partnership with Nike to team up with Athleta — Gap’s female-focused activewear brand. The transition came after Biles had been with Nike for six years.
Suni Lee is the first Hmong American to make the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team. The 18-year-old finished second behind Biles at the 2019 Nationals — definitely making her someone to watch.
Amid her accomplishments, Lee has had her fair share of challenges. Before heading to her first senior U.S. championships in 2019, Lee’s dad had an accident and became partially paralyzed. Still, she persevered and competed. She has since won a number of world championship medals.
Simone Manuel — a Houston, Tx. native, is no newbie when it comes to the Olympics. The athlete is a two-time gold and two-time silver medal winner after competing in the 2016 games. Her big swimming events vents are the 50-meter freestyle, the 100-meter freestyle, and the 4 x 100-meter freestyle.
By now, we’re sure you’ve heard of Nyjah Huston. Considered the world’s top-ranked skater, Huston won a silver medal at the Worlds and qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo.
Of being named a part of Team USA, Huston shared in an interview with TeamUSA.org that competing in the Olympics “is definitely one of the ultimate goals in life.”
When it comes to the sport, Huston is known for his difficult tricks and best runs and while competing in the Olympics is a first, he’s already a four-time world champion and a Nike-sponsored athlete.
On the women’s team there’s Bryce Wettstein. At only 16 years old, the California-born athlete is headed to Tokyo. While skateboarding in the Olympics is major, Wettstein explained on her website that the event “does not define me.”
“The best thing about contests starting up again is is getting to hang out with all my international skate friends again… And Tokyo 2021 will come and go, but skateboarding will keep going on forever.”
Sydney McLaughlin is a star. Last month, at the the U.S. Olympic Track and Field 400-Meter Hurdles Trials in Eugene, Oregon, qualified for Tokyo, but also set a world record. That day, she became he first woman ever to complete the hurdles in less than 52 seconds.
“I knew from the moment I woke up today that it was going to be a great day… It was just the final, ‘I did it!’ moment and I’m going to cherish it for the rest of my life,” McLaughlin said in an interview with TeamUSA.org.
In addition to her talent, McLaughlin has appeared in a number of campaign videos for New Balance and has worn the sportswear brand’s apparel on the track.
Coco Gauff will be the youngest Olympic tennis player since 2000 at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. She’s second only to Jennifer Capriati when it comes to the youngest U.S. Olympic tennis players of all time.
Gauff, who is a New Balance-sponsored athlete, has made quite the name for herself in recent years. She reached the third round at all four Grand Slams and the quarterfinals of this year’s French Open.
Sport Climbing is another sport making its debut this month — and Kyra Condie will certainly be turning heads. What’s perhaps so interesting about Condie’s story is that she was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 11 — but did not let that hurdle get in the way of her love of climbing. At the age of 13, Condie had back surgery and just four months later she became a was youth national champion.
Sakura Kokumai was the first U.S. karate athlete to qualify for the new Olympic sport in March of last year. Her other career highlights include being a member of the USA Karate Team since 2007 and she is also a seven-time National Champion.
Kokumai was born in Hawaii, but grew up in Los Angeles.
Track & Field
Allyson Felix is a four-time Olympian and a nine-time Olympic medalist. She’s competed in Rio, London, Beijing and Athens. At the trials, Felix competed in the 400m trial finals on Sunday, finishing in second place behind Quanera Hayes and securing her spot in Tokyo.
Making her return to the Olympics even more exciting, this time around Felix is a mom. Additionally, Felix recently announced the creation of her own footwear brand after splitting up with Nike in 2019.
Felix revealed her brand — Saysh — in a report with Time, a company she co-founded with her brother, Wes Felix. Saysh is described as a by women, for women imprint, which also has a strong community focus — something Wes Felix said was non-negotiable for his beloved athlete sister.