Five Tokyo 2020 Stars Who Will Be Surfing, Skating And Climbing Their Way To Gold

We look at five athletes who are ready to set Tokyo alight in six months time
17:00, 18 Feb 2020

157 days. That is all that is left between today and the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics, the greatest sporting show on Earth. The biggest athletes from around the world will do battle as they look to reach the pinnacle of their sports and get their hands on that Olympic gold medal.

To win gold is something truly special. We will see the likes of Dina Asher-Smith, Simone Biles and Christian Coleman light up the games but who are the slightly lesser-known athletes, looking to make a name for themselves in the East this summer? 

We have taken a look at the five athletes who you probably haven't heard of and who are ready to set Tokyo alight in six months time.

Armand Duplantis (SWE) - Pole Vault

What a name. What a man. The super Swede is simply iconic. At just 20 years of age, he has broken the pole vault World Record twice in the past week and he has the personality to match his remarkable talent. Born in America, he first tried the sport at the age of three and now represents Sweden due to his mother’s nationality. All signs show he should win gold in Tokyo.

Having said that, on the big stage last year, the World Championships, he finished second to Sam Kendricks, despite clearing the same height (1.98m). However, his world record now stands at 6m 18cm which shows just how much he has improved since then. He is still developing physically and looks as if he could go even higher. Move over Zlatan, Sweden have found their new sporting superstar.

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) - Surfing

Tokyo will welcome five new sports to their Olympic Games including surfing, which means a whole new host of sporting stars will be thrust into the limelight. Australia’s Stephanie ‘Happy’ Gilmore is at the top of her game and is looking to make history by becoming the first Olympic surfing gold medalist.

Her journey has been far from easy. After winning her fourth world title in 2010 she was attacked with a metal bar in her neighbourhood, an assault that left her with a sliced skull and a fractured left wrist. It took her two months to recover physically but the mental trauma is something she still has to deal with, given the attack happened at home.

She has returned to the very top of the sport and now has seven world titles to her name having last won the WSL World Title in South Africa in 2018 but she will face close competition from the upcoming American youngster Caroline Marks. We can’t wait to see surfing make a splash on these games.

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Sky Brown (GBR) - Skateboarding

Set to become Britains’s youngest ever Olympian this summer, Sky Brown is not your normal 11-year-old girl. She is something spectacular.

Sky is Team GB’s top hope in another new sport making its Olympic debut, skateboarding. The Tokyo Olympics will be particularly special as her parents met in Japan and Sky was born there, and she now splits her time between Japan and the United States.

She is epresenting Team GB thanks to her British father Stu and the welcoming attitude of Lucy Adams, the Skateboard GB chair. If the games had not been in Japan, a country who had also asked her to join their team, Sky would not be competing according to her father. 

He told BBC Sport: "It's a tough one but I don't think we would be going if it wasn't in Japan. We wouldn't have had it on our radar from Japan asking her to be on their team. To be honest, if it hadn't been for Lucy.... we were adamant we weren't going to let Sky do it."

Things are looking positive for Sky in 2020. At the X-Games last summer she became the first female in history to land a frontside 540 while 2019 was also special as she scooped bronze at the World Championships. Oh, and she has never had a skateboarding coach, instead choosing to learn tricks from YouTube. It is a truly remarkable tale that she is competing at an Olympic Games and a medal is not out of the question.

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Caeleb Dressel (USA) - Swimming

Whisper it quietly, but Caleb Dressel has already been touted as the next Michael Phelps and with good reason. He is a serial winner and an absolute animal in the water. At 23, he is still improving yet he scooped six golds and two silvers at the 2019 World Aquatics Championship. He is a phenomenon.

He holds two world records across two different strokes, freestyle and butterfly yet this is not his first Olympic Games. In 2016 he won two relay golds, one of which came in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay alongside the great Michael Phelps while he finished sixth in the individual 100-metre freestyle. 

Dressel is expected to absolutely clean up in the pool and start making up ground on Phelps ridiculous record of 28 Olympic medals. 

Janja Garnbret (SVN) - Climbing

She is the best climber in the world at the age of 20 and could well become the best competitive climber of all-time. The Slovenian began climbing at the age of seven and hasn’t looked back. Competing in both the lead and bouldering events, it is the latter which is her speciality and she has had a record-breaking historic 2019.

Garnbret became the first person ever to win all six bouldering golds across the season while she also completed 74 out of the 78 problems at the Bouldering World Cup. She is set to make history in Tokyo and could inspire several other young teens to take up the sport of climbing!