U.S. athletes who can win gold in Tokyo

The United States is likely to again top the medals table during these Summer Games in Tokyo and, also lead the way in gold-medal victories. Here’s a look at 20 American athletes who seem to be destined for gold this summer.


1 of 19

Rai Benjamin (men’s track and field)

Rai Benjamin (men's track and field)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

There might be notable male names on the United States’ track and field team headed to Tokyo than Benjamin. However, when it comes to positioning oneself for gold this summer, Benjamin might be the guy in the most ideal spot. At the recent U.S. track and field Olympic trials, Benjamin won the 400-meter hurdles in 46.83 seconds — the second-fastest effort in the history of the race. Also racing in the open 400, Benjamin is certainly worth watching in Tokyo.


2 of 19

Simone Biles (women’s gymnastics)

Simone Biles (women's gymnastics)

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With Biles, it’s not necessarily if she’s going to win a gold medal at Tokyo this summer, but rather how many? She earned four golds at Beijing in 2016, highlighted by her all-around title — which she’s favored to pull off again. Is it possible she can make it five golds this summer? That’s what U.S. Olympic fans are hoping for, and it will be interesting to see if she’s able to do that. All signs point to it being a real possibility.


3 of 19

Trayvon Bromell (men’s track and field)

Trayvon Bromell (men's track and field)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Usain Bolt has retired, but that doesn’t mean the international sprint world is void of talent. At the forefront seems to be Bromell, who won the 100 meters in a world-best 9.77 seconds at the U.S. track and field trials in June. That should certainly do wonders for Bromell’s confidence as he looks to become the first American to win the 100 at the Olympics since Justin Gatlin during the 2004 Athens Games. 


4 of 19

Ryan Crouser (men’s track and field)

Ryan Crouser (men's track and field)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Crouser is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the shot put. And, judging by his stellar performance at the U.S. track and field trials, there’s a good chance he will repeat that achievement in Tokyo this summer. His toss of 23.37 meters (76-8.25 inches) at the trials shattered the 31-year-old world record that many associated with the event felt would never be broken. 


5 of 19

Bryson DeChambeau (men’s golf)

Bryson DeChambeau (men's golf)

Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports


Caeleb Dressel (men's swimming)

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

In 2016 in Rio, Dressel won a pair of relay gold medals for the United States. However, there a pretty good chance most of his success at Tokyo will come on the individual front. He’ll certainly be in contention for gold while swimming in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle, plus the 100 butterfly. He’s the first U.S. swimmer to qualify in those three events at the same Olympic Games since Matt Biondi in 1988.


7 of 19

Nevin Harrison (women’s canoe)

Nevin Harrison (women's canoe)


The United States has never won an Olympic medal in canoeing. It’s possible, though, that will change this summer in Tokyo. Harrison, who just turned 19, won gold in the women’s C-1 200-meter event at the 2019 world championships and also the Pan American Games that same year. If there’s one under-the-radar athlete U.S. Olympic fans might want to go out of their way to follow, it should be Harrison.


8 of 19

Grant Holloway (men’s track and field)

Grant Holloway (men's track and field)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Holloway at the Tokyo Summer Games is whether he can set a world second in the 110-meter hurdles? The top sprint hurdler in the world, Holloway topped the field in the event at U.S. trials in a time of 12.81 seconds — a personal best. The 23-year-old Holloway does currently own the world record in the 60-meter hurdles with his surge of 7.29 seconds. 


9 of 19

Nyjah Huston (men’s skateboarding)

Nyjah Huston (men's skateboarding)

Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

Skateboarding is one of the new sports added to the Tokyo Olympic program. It’s also likely to be one of the most popular events at the Games. Especially if Huston is at his dominant self. At the moment, there is no better — or wealthier — male skateboarder on the planet. The 26-year-old Huston is a four-time world champion in the Street competition and won gold 12 times at the Summer X Games since 2011. The tattooed-covered, life-loving Huston is poised to be one of the Games’ star attraction.


Katie Ledecky (women's swimming)

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Ledecky won five of her six Olympic medals in 2016 in Beijing. Is she capable of another performance like that this summer? There will be plenty of eyes on Ledecky, who like Simone Biles, is appointment viewing when it comes to potential dominance. She’ll be looking for a third consecutive gold in the 800-meter freestyle. In all, Ledecky has five Olympic golds to her name and seems all but certain to increase that total.

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Lilly King (women's swimming)

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

King has been so dominant in the 100 breaststroke that she has not lost a race in the event since 2015. As confident as they come — in and out of the pool, King is again the favorite to win the 100 back this summer at Tokyo. She might not draw the same amount of attention as teammate Katie Ledecky or budding star Katie Grimes, but King is as good as it gets when it comes to succeeding when the lights are brightest.


12 of 19

Sunisa Lee (women’s gymnastics)

Sunisa Lee (women's gymnastics)

Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

Simone Biles is obviously U.S. gymnastics’ golden girl, but the 18-year-old Lee is worth keeping an eye on as the potential future of the program. At the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials last month, Lee finished first on the balance beam and also the uneven bars. That helped her finish second in the all-around, and open the door to have a real shot for some noteworthy success at Tokyo this summer. 


Carli Lloyd (women's soccer)

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With more than 300 career national-team caps and 120 goals, Lloyd is already a legend in the annals of U.S. women’s soccer. She’ll enter this summer’s tournament with an Olympic-record 16 appearances. Her eight goals in Olympic competition are also a record. Lloyd will be aiming for a third gold medal. Along with the rest of her American teammates, she’s extra determined after the U.S. women were upset by Sweden in the quarterfinals, on penalties, during the 2016 Games at Rio.


14 of 19

Noah Lyles (men’s track and field)

Noah Lyles (men's track and field)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Though Lyles did not qualify for the 100 meters out of the U.S. trials this season, he’s still likely the favorite to win gold at Tokyo in the 200. Lyles will be making one of the more anticipated Olympic debuts in recent American track and field history, so it will be interesting to see if he can handle the pressure. Lyles won the 200 at the U.S. trials with a time of 19.74 seconds. Yet the aura of the Olympics is a whole new world.


15 of 19

Sydney McLaughlin (women’s track and field)

Sydney McLaughlin (women's track and field)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports


16 of 19

Tamyra Mensah-Stock (women’s wrestling)

Tamyra Mensah-Stock (women's wrestling)

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA TODAY

At 28-years old, Mensah-Stock might be running out of time to achieve Olympic glory. That’s why we expect her to be extra determined this summer in Tokyo. She’s a three-time Pan American champion at 68 kg and the 2019 World Champion. Earlier this year, Mensah-Stock also won gold at the prestigious Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome. All that seems to bode well for potential success at Tokyo.


17 of 19

Ryan Murphy (men’s swimming)

Ryan Murphy (men's swimming)

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Caeleb Dressel might be garnering a lot of attention at the men’s end of the pool for the U.S., but Murphy is also looking for another strong Olympic showing. In 2016, Murphy won gold in both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events. If that was not enough, he added another gold as a member of the 4×100 medley relay team. Murphy is also the first American swimmer to compete in both the 100 and 200 backstroke in two straight Summer Games since Aaron Peirsol (2004, 2008).


18 of 19

Kyle Snyder (men’s wrestling)

Kyle Snyder (men's wrestling)

Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

He also goes by the name of “Captain America.” At least to those in the know about USA Wrestling. It’s a fitting name since Snyder was 20-years old when he stunned the Olympic wrestling world by winning gold in the 97 kg weight class at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Snyder has since won another world championship and four golds at the Pan American Games. There’s little reason he won’t be atop the podium this summer.


Diana Taurasi (women's basketball)

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At age 39, Taurasi is still playing at a relatively high level. Yes, the wear and tear of the game is catching up to her, but the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer recently reached the 9,000-point mark. In Tokyo, she’s trying for a fifth gold medal as a member of the U.S. women’s national team. Taurasi and the U.S. women will be looking for the program’s seventh consecutive Olympic championship. The American women are 66-3 in Olympic play.

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.

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