Let the Games begin: U.S. Olympic athletes train for the gold

Paige Bunker ‘20, LyonLife Editor-in-Chief

This summer, the entire world will come together as the commemorated torches are lit and athletes compete in summer sports for the 29th time in history. With the official name of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, the 2020 Summer Olympics will be held in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Japan. With the previously hosted 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo’s past, its infrastructure can already support the majority of the competition in 35 of its existing buildings; the construction of eight new downtown venues will take care of the rest.

This need for expansion is due largely to the addition of several new sports to the 2020 Summer Olympics roster, including karate, skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing. Even baseball and softball will be making their anticipated returns after a two-Games absence. As a softball player herself, senior Kendra Blackie is excited to support her country in her favorite sport. Blackie said, “Softball is such a popular sport for women across the country. I was shocked to hear it was removed from past Olympics but can’t wait to watch it again this summer.” With 206 nations competing in about 33 sports, there is no doubt that this summer will provide athletes with numerous opportunities to fight for the gold.

U.S. Star Athletes

As always, the United States is ready to bring the best of the best across the world to Tokyo. Many Americans are looking forward to watching their star gymnast, Simone Biles, show off her skills on the beam, bar, vault, and floor as she strives to top her four-time gold medal record from the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

In the world of swim, Katie Ledecky, whose first gold medal was won at a mere 15 years old, is training hard to top her four other gold medals from 2016 in the 800-meter freestyle. For men’s swimming, Caeleb Dressel is also coming in strong with a several medal sweep at the 2017 World Championships. 

On the track, Justin Gatlin will be finishing his final run with five gold medals in his Olympic experience, and young Noah Lyles is ready to live up to just as notable of a reputation. In an interview with The Associated Press, Lyles said, “I’m going to get three golds… They’re going to say I’m an icon.” With the confident presence of an entertainer and “ICON” tattoo’d across his chest, some might find this American sprinter to possess a cocky flair, but all can agree that his performance ensures he is not just all talk.

Even Lebron James is strongly considering making a return to the men’s basketball team this summer. At only 19 years old, his team won a bronze in the 2004 Olympic games and two golds after that. Senior Drew Sawicki anticipates watching “one of [his] favorite professional basketball players” make an appearance in this worldwide competition this summer. The United States is ready to bring an unstoppable lineup of athletes to Tokyo.

Training

As always, American athletes are ready to bring home the gold and are training hard to ensure success. In order to do so, they must practice in conditions similar to those found in Japan; thus, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center will create matching weather conditions to those in Tokyo. This Training Center will help American Olympic athletes control their fluid intake under high humidity. It will also give them experience in training under high temperatures that are expected to occur next summer in Tokyo. 

Technology is heavily integrated into sessions at this training center to provide athletes, coaches, and sports scientists quality feedback for performance and health optimization. Some of these technological advancements include thermometers shaped like multivitamins for long distance runners to swallow in order to measure core temperatures and wearable bands to provide 3D body form and motion depictions to gymnasts and divers. 

All of these preparations are what can ultimately determine success or defeat for U.S. athletes next summer. They do not want to face any surprises once they are in Japan, and the thorough planning and training that U.S. Olympic athletes take part in should ensure just that. Until then, us Americans must wait until July 24 when the torches are lit and the Games begin to watch our prized athletes show off the skills they have dedicated their lives to achieving. 

 

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Zenkovich

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