Who Will Take the Gold? The Team USA Athletes You Won't Want to Miss

The Tokyo Olympics continue through August 8

By Kyrie Collins, publisher of Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo. July 29, 2021

The United States is sending more than 600 athletes — 284 men and 329 women — to the Tokyo Olympics. Following are just a few of the exciting individuals who make up Team USA. You might not recognize some of their names now, but many of them will likely be household names before the Olympics ends Aug. 8.


Brady Ellison: Widely recognized as one of the most successful archers of all time, Brady Ellison will be attending his fourth Olympics. He earned a silver medal (team) in London and both a silver (team) and bronze (individual) in Rio — and has only improved since then. Not only is he favored to medal in the individual event (possibly even bringing home the gold), but he will be key to helping the men's team and mixed team reach the podium as well.

Beach Volleyball

April Ross and Alix Klineman: April Ross competed with Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio, where they won the bronze medal. Now teamed up with Alix Klineman, who will be making her first Olympics appearance, the powerful pair are expected to bring home the gold.

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Phillip Dutton: Originally from Australia, Phillip Dutton emigrated to the USA in 1991. At age 57, Phillip Dutton is the oldest U.S. athlete, and Tokyo will be his seventh Olympic appearance. Hey, if Tom Brady can win another Super Bowl ring at age 43, there's no reason Dutton can't earn a gold medal at age 57. As Dutton notes, "The horse is the athlete. There's no question about that."


Simone Biles: This tiny powerhouse (she's only 4'8") has dominated the headlines for years as the GOAT of gymnastics. She has ten more world championship gold medals than any other female gymnast in history and is the defending Olympic champion. With four elements named after her — and potentially a fifth if she completes the Yurchenko double pike in Tokyo — and a jaw-dropping floor routine, she is expected to bring down the house... and could win as many as five more gold medals.

Sunisa Lee: Sunisa Lee is best known for her expertise on the uneven bars, performing what has been trademarked as The Hardest Bar Routine In The World. Her parents emigrated here from Laos when they were children, and she is the first Hmong American on the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.

Brody Malone: In June, Brody Malone won his first senior all-around title, besting teammate and six-time national champion Sam Mikulak. Malone's high bar routine earned the top score at the Olympic trials and could make him a medal contender for that event, although the competition is especially fierce. Japan's Kōhei Uchimura, who already has seven Olympic medals and will be competing in his fourth (and probably final) Summer Games, is expected to take gold.

Yul Moldauer: This first-time Olympian was born prematurely with medical issues — but you'd never guess it when you look at him now. He is a strong addition to the men's gymnastics team, especially on parallel bars, floor, and rings. Where his teammate Brody Malone appears calm and quiet after he finishes an event, Moldauer can not contain his excitement. His enthusiasm is infectious and makes him even more fun to watch.

Siblings to Watch: Nelly Korda recently won the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and is the #1-ranked golfer in the world. Her older sister, Jessica, has won six titles on the LPGA Tour and is currently ranked #13 in the world. They will both be making their Olympics debut.

Skateboarding (new event)

Nyjah Huston (Street): Nyjah consistently pulls off the kinds of tricks most people can only achieve in a video game. His technical expertise has led to 13 X Games gold medals. He has competed in 11 World Championships — and has 11 medals (6 gold, 5 silver). You'll have a greater appreciation for the kids at the local skate park once you watch him in this year's Summer Games.

Teams to Watch: Baseball and softball return to the Olympics in Tokyo, thanks to an IOC rule that allows the host city to propose the addition of certain sports to the program. Baseball and softball are not part of the 2024 games. The top-ranked U.S. softball team is favored to bring home the gold. Japan is favored to take gold in baseball, but the American team will likely bring home silver or bronze, and certainly has the potential for an upset.

Surfing (new event)

John John Florence: John John Florence caught his first wave with his mother when he was only 6 months old — and hasn't let up since. Even after an ACL injury in 2019 and a knee injury earlier this year that required surgery, he's still a solid medal contender for this new event.


Caeleb Dressel (100m Butterfly; 50m and 100m Freestyle): Caeleb Dressel is the world record-holder in the 100m butterfly (which Michael Phelps previously held for a decade), the 100m individual medley, and the 50m freestyle. He won every event in which he participated in the June Olympic trials. He's favored to win gold in all three of his individual events and will also be competing in four relays.

Katie Ledecky (200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m Freestyle): Katie Ledecky was the youngest U.S. athlete in London in 2012... and earned her first gold medal there. Now a five-time Olympic gold medalist, world record-holder in the 800m freestyle, and the defending champion in the 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle, she's the hands-down favorite to win the 1,500m freestyle, a new event for the Summer Games. When she isn't training or competing, she volunteers with the Wounded Warrior Project, serves food to the homeless, and repairs donated bicycles for people in developing countries.

Ryan Murphy (100m and 200m Backstroke): Ryan Murphy already has three gold medals from the 2016 Rio Olympics and is the current world record-holder in the men's 100m backstroke. After the semifinals at the June Olympic trials, Murphy joked that shaving his chest might have been the key to his success. When the reporter asked what he'd do before the finals, he replied, "I'm going to shave my back." Now that's commitment!

Regan Smith (100m Backstroke and 200m Butterfly): Growing up, Regan Smith idolized Missy Franklin and didn't think anyone could ever break Franklin's 200m butterfly world record of 2:04.06. Then, at the 2019 FINA World Championships, Smith was the one who did, finishing in 2:03.35. At the same competition, she also broke Kathleen Baker's 100m backstroke world record in her relay split (which has since been broken by Australia's Kaylee McKeown). With so many competitors in both events, a medal isn't a given... but it wouldn't be a surprise to anyone either!

Track and Field

Allyson Felix (400m and 4x400m Relay): Tokyo will be Felix's fifth — and last — appearance at the Summer Games. She's already earned nine Olympic medals; if she medals in Tokyo, she will tie Carl Lewis for the most Olympic medals by an American track and field athlete. A strong advocate for women and mothers, Felix recently made headlines by partnering with Athleta and the Women's Sports Foundation to provide $200,000 for child care costs for female athletes.

Noah Lyles (200m): The reigning world champion will be making his Olympics debut. Lyles recorded the fastest time this season (19.74 seconds), and he is favored to take gold in Tokyo. He's also a musician. You can find his music on Spotify under his pseudonym, Nojo18.

Sydney McLaughlin (400m Hurdles): At the Olympic trials in June, McLaughlin set a new world record of 51.90 seconds, becoming the first woman to finish the competition in under 52 seconds. The record she broke belonged to her teammate (and Rio gold medalist), Dalilah Muhammad. To add to the excitement, they'll compete against each other in Tokyo in one of the most anticipated races this summer. McLaughlin is also a champion off the track, using her platform to advocate against bullying.


Helen Maroulis: In 2016, Helen Maroulis became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling (check out the flashback below). We'd love to see her win another!

Kyrie Collins is the publisher of Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo.