The Road to Tokyo: U.S. Athletes are already punching their ticket to the 2020 Games


Photo courtesy of Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

There are 266 days left until the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, and Team USA is slowly being formed athlete by athlete. The year leading up to the games is when these athletes get to realize their dreams of qualifying for the Games, something many of them have been working towards their entire life. 

   Despite the fact that there is still almost a year until the Games kick off in Japan, Team USA already has a number of members who have punched their ticket. This Olympic Games is different than the ones in previous years because next summer will feature the return of baseball and softball, as well as the addition of karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. These new additions will likely mean that Team USA, already one of the Olympic powerhouses, will only get bigger. 

   Already, three of these new sports have members that will be representing their country in Japan. Brooke Raboutou is an 18-year-old climber from Colorado, and she is the first climber to ever qualify for the Olympics from the U.S. Brooke comes from a family of climbers and has been climbing since the age of two.

   The United States women’s national softball team also qualified back in August after reaching the gold-medal game in the Women’s Softball World Championship. They were guaranteed a spot in the Games with a trip to the final game, win or lose, because their opponent, Japan, had the automatic qualification by being the host nation. It has been two Summer Games since softball was in the Olympics, so the veterans on the team are eager to avenge their silver medal at the hands of Japan in the 2008 Beijing Games. 

   Another new face that will be seen in Tokyo is surfer Kolohe Andino, a California native who qualified during the World Surf League Championship Tour. He is the son of pro surfer Dino Andino and is currently ranked fifth on the tour. Two women and another man will qualify to represent the U.S. in surfing and will qualify this spring. 

   Returning to Team USA for her second Games is road and track cyclist Chloé Dygert Owen. In the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, she won a silver medal in team pursuit and will be competing in both team and individual pursuit in Japan. She recently won gold at the World Championships for both events so she will be a strong competitor next summer. 

   One of the USA’s strongest events in the Summer Olympics is swimming. Three members have already been named to the powerhouse team, all for open water events. Haley Anderson, Ashley Twichell and Jordan Wilimovsky have all made the team. The rest of the potential team members have to wait until June to try to earn their spot on one of the hardest swim teams to make in the world. The Olympic Trials are set to be held in Omaha, Nebraska from June 21–28, 2020. 

   The remaining members of Team USA are from the track and field team. Samantha Achterberg and Amro ElGeziry have both qualified for modern pentathlon. Modern pentathlon is made up of five events: fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping and a combined event of pistol shooting and cross-country running. This is an event that has a little something for everyone! The final member that has already qualified for Tokyo is triathlete Summer Rappaport. While in college, she was a Division I two-sport athlete competing in both swimming and cross-country. Only after college did she combine the two to become one of the world’s most elite triathletes. 

   Up next is the field hockey team, which looks to qualify for the Games this weekend in a head-to-head, winner-take-all series against the team from India. The winner of the series gets a bid, and the other does not. 

   Team USA will continue to fill up in the months leading up to the Summer Games. You can stay up to date on who’s on the team and learn more about the qualifications for each individual sport at The countdown to Tokyo is here!