Hey everyone! As the 2021 Olympic Trials come to a close and the US locks down on the dream team this summer, I thought it’d be the perfect time to highlight some of the most-anticipated female athletes to watch this year! The Summer Olympic Games have always been my favorite sporting event to watch - from gymnastics to swimming to beach volleyball, there’s a wide array of competition for every type of sports fan out there, and personally, I can’t get enough. So, in honor of this year’s events, I’ve composed a list of both Team USA newcomers and Olympic veterans that are sure to bring the competition and break some ground (and records) for women in sports.
1. Alix Klineman (Beach Volleyball)
Although this will be her first Olympic Games, former indoor champion and current beach player Alix Klineman is no rookie when it comes to medals and championships. As an indoor volleyball player at Stanford University, Alix was named a four-time All American and Volleyball Magazine's Player of the Year. In 2011, she even earned a bronze medal with Team USA at the Pan American Games. Her beach career has proved to be just as successful, as she has received numerous awards and honors both individually and with her teammates, including 2018 Association of Volleyball Professionals Team of the Year! Along with partner April Ross, Klineman is expected to bring home the gold this year for Team USA!
2. Coco Gauff (Tennis)
3. Caroline Marks (Surf)
This list just isn’t complete without shouting-out a badass female surfer! Meet Caroline Marks, the 19 year-old athlete who’s already made a name for herself in the surfing world. She’s won multiple national championships, and she is currently the youngest female surfer to compete in the renowned World Surf League. Caroline is one of two females on USA’s first ever Olympic surfing team, and she’s sure to make waves (pun intended) in the surfing world and continue to inspire female athletes.
4. Simone Manuel (Swim)
One of my favorite Olympic sports to watch is swimming, and this is partly due to Simone Manuel. You may remember Simone from the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she won a gold medal in the 100m freestyle and broke a world record! Additionally, she’s won six Division I NCAA Swimming Championships, through which she became one of three African American women to place in the top 3 in the 100-yard freestyle event. Make sure you catch this ground-breaking swimmer this summer in the 50-meter freestyle event.
5. Jordan Chiles (Gymnastics)
Last but certainly not least, Jordan Chiles qualified for Team USA after placing third in the Olympic Trials earlier this June. Another young athlete, 20 year-old Jordan excels on the floor, the uneven bars, and the vault. What I love about Jordan is her comeback story. After placing 11th in the 2018 US Nationals, she intended to retire her gymnastics career to pursue a regular teenage life, finish high school, and attend college. However, Simone Biles had different plans for her future teammate. She encouraged Jordan not to give up on her career and continue pursuing success. This type of comeback is unprecedented in the gymnastics world, and I can’t wait to see how she shines in Tokyo this summer!
By: Ali Mader