12 Olympics Storylines We’ll Definitely Be Watching at the Tokyo Games

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In the 200-meter and 400-meter frees, the five-time Olympic gold medalist is ranked second in the world this year behind Australian rival Ariarne Titmus. She is ranked first in the 800 meters and 1500 meters—an event that is making its debut at the Tokyo Games, and one which Ledecky dominated at the trials with a world-leading time of 15:40:50. She is poised to win gold in both long-distance disciplines.

Manuel and Ledecky will be representing a U.S. team that includes 11 teenagers (the most teenagers on the team since 1996), in a move that reflects a generational shift as the national team adjusts to a Games without Michael Phelps—the first since 1996, The New York Times reports.

Watch Manuel, Ledecky, and the rest of Team USA compete during the Olympic swimming session from July 24 through August 1.

9. Softball returns to the Games with the U.S. on the hunt for gold.

After 13 years, softball is finally making its return to the Olympic program. The U.S. roster includes two veterans who contributed to the country’s podium finishes in 2004 and 2008. Cat Osterman, the 38-year-old left-hander who led Team USA to gold in 2004, is returning along with Monica Abbott, who competed on the 2008 team that lost to Japan in the gold medal game. Before that match-up, the Americans outscored opponents 122-4 and won two gold medals during their 22-game Olympic winning streak that started in 2000.

Catch Team USA’s gold medal pursuit, which starts during the six-nation group stage on July 21. The gold medal game is scheduled for July 27.

10. The U.S. is looking for a cycling sweep.

Team USA has a lineup with the potential to win gold in all four women’s cycling disciplines: BMX, mountain, road, and track. In BMX, the U.S. is bringing contenders Hannah Roberts and Alise Willoughby. Kate Courtney will take on the mountain discipline, and Chloe Dygert will compete in road and track. The U.S. has never won an Olympic women’s title in BMX, mountain or track, but that could change this summer, according to NBC Sports.

Watch the Americans attempt to make history starting on July 25 with the road discipline. The mountain bike competition will begin on July 27, BMX is scheduled for July 28, and track begins on August 1.

11. Bird and Taurasi could make history with five Olympic gold medals.

Sue Bird, 40, and Diana Taurasi, 39, are leading U.S. women’s basketball into Tokyo, where the national team aims to win its seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal. Both athletes represented the U.S. in 2000 at the Sydney Games and have starred on the court ever since. If Team USA wins this summer, Bird and Taurasi will become the first basketball players of any gender to win five Olympic gold medals.

Watch the veterans lead Team USA once again during the women’s basketball tournament, which begins on July 26.

12. Adeline Gray is out for redemption in Tokyo.

After having her two-year winning streak snapped in the quarterfinals of her Olympic debut in Rio, Adeline Gray, 30, has made an inspiring comeback to women’s wrestling after a tough year and a half.

In March 2020, the five-time world champion fractured her ribs at the Pan American Championships in Ottawa, which took place at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Olympic postponement gave the American record-holder more time to heal and recover from her injuries, just in time to make another Olympic team. At the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in April, the veteran champion scored 20 points in less than three minutes to dominate the match against 17-year-old challenger Kylie Welker.

Watch Gray attempt to win her first ever Olympic medal during the women’s wrestling session, which starts on August 1.

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