These 15 Team USA Stars Made The World Take Notice In Tokyo

by Bob Reinert

At every Olympic Games, America gets introduced to a new crop of breakout athletes, some of whom may become the faces of their respective sports for years to come.

Here are some of the bright, shining stars that we met during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

 Valarie Allman competes in the Women's Discus Final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 2, 2021 in Tokyo. 


Making her Olympic debut, the former dancer immediately struck gold in discus with a throw of 68.98 meters. She became the first American track and field gold medalist in Tokyo. She is the third American woman to win an Olympic discus gold medal and the first since 2008.

Triston Casas competes during the gold medal game at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 7, 2021 in Yokohama, Japan.

Casas, a Boston Red Sox prospect, helped power the U.S. to a silver medal. Casas was one of five Americans named to the All-World Team after the Games. The first baseman led the tournament with eight runs batted in and tied for the lead in home runs with three.

Nathaniel Coleman competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo.


Coleman barely made the finals of climbing in its debut at the Games, but he made the most of it once he got that far. The only one of the final eight climbers to solve two of the three “problems” in bouldering, Coleman climbed up the standings into second place and took the silver medal.

Bobby Finke reacts after the men's 1,500m freestyle final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 1, 2021 in Tokyo. 


Unless you follow U.S. swimming quite closely, chances are that you had never heard of Finke. Now you have. Finke made a big splash in Tokyo, coming out of nowhere to win the men’s 800-meter and 1,500-meter freestyle events. It was the first time Finke, a two-time NCAA champ at the University of Florida, had broken through on the world stage.

Torri Huske competes in the women's 4x100m medley relay at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 1, 2021 in Tokyo.


Just 18 years old, Huske won a silver medal as a member of the U.S. women’s 4x100-meter medley relay team. Huske swam the butterfly in the third leg of the relay for the Americans, who placed second to Australia. Huske, who also finished fourth in the 100-meter butterfly, set the American record for that event at the Olympic Trials.

Nevin Harrison celebrates at the medal ceremony at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo.


In her Olympic debut, Harrison won a gold medal in sprint canoe. The 19-year-old, who had already become the first American world champion in the event in 2019, earned the first U.S. Olympic win in women’s canoeing. Hers was the first Olympic canoeing medal for the U.S. since 1992 and the first for an American woman since 1964.

Lydia Jacoby reacts after a race at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo.


In one of the Games’ most memorable moments, pandemonium ensued in Seward, Alaska, on national television when the 17-year-old Jacoby became the first resident of that state to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming — or make the U.S. Olympic Team in that sport, for that matter. Jacoby came from behind to win the 100-meter breaststroke.

Krysta Palmer poses during the medal ceremony for the women's 3-meter springboard final on Aug. 1, 2021 in Tokyo.


Palmer became the first American woman to win an Olympic bronze in the individual 3-meter springboard event since 1988. She also was the first U.S. diver to take home a medal in an individual diving event since 2000.

Raven Saunders reacts after winning the silver medal in the women's shot put at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 1, 2021 in Tokyo.


Affectionately known as “The Hulk,” Saunders lived up to the nickname by winning a silver medal in the women’s shot put. Saunders effort of 19.79 meters was just off her personal best of 19.96 meters and good enough for second place. She improved on her fifth place showing in 2016 at Rio.

Xander Schauffele plays his shot from the first tee during the final round at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 1, 2021 in Saitama, Japan.


Schauffele became the first American to win the Olympic gold medal in 121 years. He shot an 18-under par total of 266 in the tournament, held at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Charles Sands was the last U.S. golfer to win, having done so in 1900 in Paris.

Molly Seidel crosses the finish line of the women's marathon final during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 7, 2021 in Sapporo, Japan.


In just her third marathon, Seidel overcame oppressive heat and humidity and kept pace with the world’s best at the distance to take a bronze medal. She finished with a time of 2:27:46. It was only the third medal ever for an American woman and the first since Deena Kastor won a bronze in 2004.

Will Shaner poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the 10-meter air rifle at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan.


In an impressive Olympic debut, Shaner shot his way to a gold medal. Shaner posted an Olympic-record score of 251.6 and missed the world record by just 1.2 points. He won the first U.S. gold in the event and became the youngest American to win an Olympic rifle competition.

Mykayla Skinner poses with the silver medal on the podium for the women's vault at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 1, 2021 in Tokyo. 


About to get on a flight for home, Skinner got a chance at her first Olympic medal when Simone Biles withdrew from the competition to take care of her health. Skinner made the most of it, turning the opportunity into a silver medal. During her improbable journey, Skinner had also overcome COVID-19.

Jessica Springsteen reacts after the jumping team final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 7, 2021 in Tokyo.


While dad Bruce makes gold records, Springsteen now has a silver — medal — after she and U.S. equestrian teammates McLain Ward and Laura Kraut took second place in the team jumping event.

Richard Torrez Jr. (R) competes in the men's super heavy (+ 91kg) final bout at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 8, 2021 in Tokyo.


Although he fell short of his goal of winning Olympic gold, Torrez still returns home with a silver medal. Torrez dropped a 5-0 unanimous decision to 6-foot-7-inch Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan in the Olympic super heavyweight final, his first major senior international medal and the first for Team USA in super heavyweight since Riddick Bowe in 1988.

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.