13 athletes to get excited about at the Tokyo Olympics

  • The Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics is on July 24, 2020. 
  • The Games will feature the debut of karate, skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing.
  • While big names like Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky are set to compete, some Olympic hopefuls are poised for a breakout on the world stage. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are less than one year away. 

Baseball and softball will be back, while karate, skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing will be making their debut.

Thousands of athletes will step foot on the world stage and vie for Olympic gold in their sport. While some are already established, like Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky, others will be attempting to become household names.

As competition increases and the field narrows, here are 13 Olympic hopefuls to watch as the Games approach.

13 PHOTOS13 athletes to watch at the 2020 Tokyo OlympicsSee Gallery13 athletes to watch at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Mariya Lasitskene

Country: Russia

Sport: Track and Field

One thing to know: High jumper Mariya Lasitskene was considered a favorite to win the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, she was barred from competing due to the upheld decision to ban the Russian Track and Field Federation from the Games for systematic doping. She has since competed under a neutral flag.

Lasitskene won the gold medal at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships. Ranked No. 1 in the world in women’s high jump, she will finally have her chance at an Olympic medal if she qualifies.

Caeleb Dressel

Country: United States

Sport: Swimming

One thing to know: Michael Phelps had three records broken in July 2019. Caeleb Dressel broke two of them.

Dressel won a record eight medals at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships to break Phelps’ previous record of seven medals in a single meet. He also broke Phelps’ world record in the 100-meter butterfly.

While Dressel was a member of Team USA during the 2016 Rio Olympics and took home two gold medals, they were in team relays. In 2020, he’ll be looking to secure his first individual Olympic medal.

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Lois Toulson

Country: Great Britain

Sport: Diving

One thing to know: 19-year-old Lois Toulson is a 10-meter platform specialist. She made her Olympic debut in 2016 in the women’s 10-meter synchronized event.

She will be making her individual 10-meter debut in Tokyo.

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Michael Andrew

Country: United States

Sport: Swimming

One thing to know: Michael Andrew was 14 years old when he turned professional, making him the youngest swimmer in United States history to do so. Andrew competed in five events at the US Olympic Trials in 2016 but did not qualify.

He has gained a lot of buzz because of his non-traditional style, which involves Ultra Short Race Pace Training. The method has swimmers in a pool for a maximum of two hours per day, training at the pace they will swim in meets.

(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Takeru Kitazono

Country: Japan

Sport: Gymnastics

One thing to know: Takeru Kitazono is the future of Japanese gymnastics and the successor to gymnastics great Kohei Uchimura.

At the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, he won five gold medals to become the first artistic gymnast ever to achieve the feat in a single Youth Olympic Games. Those five medals came in the all-around, floor, rings, parallel bars, and horizontal bar events.

While Uchimura is expected to compete for a final time in Tokyo, Kitazono is one to watch if he qualifies for Japan’s team.

(Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

Regan Smith

Country: United States

Sport: Swimming

One thing to know: Regan Smith swam in the 2016 Olympic trials at just 14 years old, but did not qualify for those Games.

Her chances of qualifying for 2020 are much higher. During the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, Smith broke Missy Franklin’s 200-meter backstroke world record and went on to win her first World Championship title. She currently holds the world records in 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke, as well as a part of the 4 x 100 Medley Relay.

(Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Morgan Hurd

Country: United States

Sport: Gymnastics

One thing to know: Simone Biles may be the biggest name in gymnastics, but Morgan Hurd is poised to join her on Team USA. The 18-year-old was named to the women’s national team in 2016. She won the 2017 Artistic Gymnastics World Champion all-around title, a five-time World medalist, and took home a gold medal as a member of the 2018 World Champion team.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Noah Lyles

Country: United States

Sport: Track & Field

One thing to know: 22-year-old Noah Lyles clocked in at 19.65 at the 2019 Diamond League meet in Paris for a new meet record. The former record of 19.73 belonged to sprinting legend Usain Bolt.

Lyles has his eyes set on three gold medals at Tokyo: the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 4×100 meter realy titles.

(Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Sydney McLaughlin

Country: United States

Sport: Track & Field

One thing to know: Sydney McLaughlin was 16 years old when she qualified in 400-meter hurdles for the 2016 Rio Olympics, making her the youngest athlete to make the USA Olympic track and field team in 36 years.

Ever since her Olympic debut, where she finished fifth in her semifinals heat and failed to make the finals, McLaughlin has risen to the top of the sport. In June, she defeated former Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad.

At the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships in July, she earned silver behind Muhammad, who obliterated the world record in the event.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Kliment Kolesnikov

Country: Russia

Sport: Swimming

One thing to know: 18-year-old Kliment Kolesnikov made his debut at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships, where he set two world junior records.

That same year, he became the first swimmer born in the 2000s to hold a world record in an individual event.

At the 2018 European Championships, Kolesnikov established a new 50-meter backstroke world record and took home six medals (four team and two individual).

(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Nyjah Huston

Country: United States

Sport: Skateboarding

One thing to know: Street-skater Nyjah Huston needs no introduction to the skateboarding community, and soon the rest of the world will know about him too.

Huston was the overall champion at the Street League Skateboarding competition series in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2017, and 2019. He also has 12 Summer X Games gold medals.

One of the highest-paid skaters to date, Huston is one of the favorites to take home gold for Team USA in Tokyo.

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Janja Garnbret

Country: Slovenia

Sport: Sport climbing

One thing to know: As sport climbing makes its Olympic debut in 2020, so will Janja Garnbret.

Garnbret won the International Federation of Sports Climbing (IFSC) Climbing World Championships in bouldering and combined climbing in 2018 and 2019. She also became the first athlete to win all Bouldering World Cup events in a season in 2019.

When she arrives in Tokyo in summer 2020, the 20-year-old will be the heavy favorite for Olympic gold.

(Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

Kristof Milak

Country: Hungary

Sport: Swimming

One thing to know: Kristof Milak shattered Michael Phelps’ 200-meter butterfly record during the 2019 World Aquatics Championships to win the gold medal.

The 19-year-old won three gold medals during the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics and will be a strong competitor in the pool if he qualifies for the Tokyo Games.

(Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

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