Looking Back At Team USA’s Young Stars In Tokyo

by Bob Reinert

Jordan Chiles competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo.


After her good friend, Simone Biles, stepped away from the team competition, the 20-year-old Chiles did everything she could to help the U.S. succeed. She took Biles’ place on the uneven bars and balance beam. Her efforts were rewarded with a team silver medal.

Colin Duffy during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 3, 2021 in Tokyo.


While U.S. teammate Nathaniel Coleman grabbed most of the headlines with his silver medal in the combined competition in the sport’s debut, Duffy, 17, had a solid competition, as well. Duffy also reached the final, where he finished third in lead, fourth in bouldering and fifth in speed.

Katie Grimes looks on after competing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 29, 2021 in Tokyo.


The youngest member of the entire U.S. Olympic Team in Tokyo at age 15, Grimes gave a mature performance in the women’s 800-meter freestyle. She finished just off the podium in fourth place with a time of 8:19.38. Teammate Katie Ledecky won the event in 8:12.57. Grimes was the youngest U.S. Olympic swimmer since 14-year-old Amanda Beard in 1996.

Nevin Harrison reacts to winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo.


Harrison, just 19, won a gold medal in the 200-meter sprint canoe event. In 2019 she had already become the first American world champion in sprint canoe. Hers was the initial U.S. Olympic win in women’s sprint canoeing. It was the first Olympic canoeing medal for the U.S. since 1992 and the first for an American woman since 1964.

Torri Huske competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo.


Huske, 18, 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. Huske, who also finished fourth in the 100-meter butterfly, set the American record for that event at the Olympic trials.

Lydia Jacoby poses at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo.


Seward, Alaska, erupted when the 17-year-old became its most famous current resident with a stirring, come-from-behind win in the 100-meter breaststroke. She’s the first Alaskan to win an Olympic gold medal or even make the U.S. team in that sport.

Erriyon Knighton competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 3, 2021 in Tokyo.


Maybe he was the youngest member of the U.S. track and field team, but the 17-year-old Knighton was looking for a medal — not experience — in the men’s 200 meters. He had to settle for fourth place in 19.62 seconds. Andre de Grasse of Canada took the gold medal in 19.62 seconds. Fellow Americans Kenny Bednarek and Noah Lyles took the silver and bronze, respectively.

Evy Leibfarth competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo.


Only 17 years old, Leibfarth gained valuable experience at the Games. She placed 12th in women’s slalom kayak in 1:52:73. The top 10 competitors reached the finals. She also placed 18th in women’s slalom canoe. Leibfarth is the reigning junior world champion in women’s slalom kayak.

Athing Mu celebrates at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 3, 2021 in Tokyo.


Mu flew home with a pair of Olympic gold medals at age 19. She won the women’s 800 meters in an American record time of 1:55.21, breaking Ajee Wilson’s four-year-old mark by .40 of a second. She then anchored the U.S. women’s 4x400-meter relay to a win.

Brooke Raboutou reacts at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 6, 2021 in Tokyo.

The 20-year-old Raboutou placed fifth in the sport’s debut during the Tokyo Games. Though she missed the podium, she has already proven to be a rising star. She won a silver medal in lead and a bronze in bouldering at the 2021 world championships and has three total world championships medals in a pair of appearances.

Hannah Roberts competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 1, 2021 in Tokyo.


The reigning world champion, 19-year-old Roberts collected a silver medal in the Olympic debut of freestyle BMX. Roberts finished in second place behind Great Britain’s Charlotte Worthington, who took the gold medal by accomplishing the first-ever 360 backflip in a women’s competition.

Bryce Wettstein during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 4, 2021 in Tokyo.


In the Olympic debut of the discipline, Wettstein finished sixth in the women’s park final. The 17-year-old had a top score of 45.40 in one of her three 45-second runs. Wettstein had entered the competition ranked No. 8 in the world.

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.
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