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2020 Tokyo Olympics Mini Mega Preview

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2021 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championship Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Longtime readers will know that my love for college basketball pales in comparison for my love for the Olympics. Sadly the specter of Covid threatens to dampen if not outright cancel the games, but hopefully this preview will get you somewhat in the mood.

Jayhawks in the Olympics

Kansas is sending a contingent of tracksters to the Olympics (if I missed someone, please let me know):

Bryce Hoppel, the 2019 800 meter champ at both the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships, is an outside medal threat in Tokyo, although he’s run only the 15th fastest time in the world this season.

Gleb Dudarev, a multi time All American in the hammer throw, will be representing Hungary

Mason Finley won the discus at the olympic trial, and will be a medal threat.

Alexandra Emilianov will also throw the discus, representing Moldova, and has the 15th farthest throw in the world thus far.

Storylines to Watch

  • Katie Ledecky is already probably the best female swimmer in history, but can cement herself as such in Tokyo. Three golds will tie her with Jenny Thompson for most career golds by a female swimmer. Ledecky, however, only has 1 relay gold among her 5 whereas all 8 of Thompson’s are in relays. Ledecky is the overwhelming favorite in the 1500 and 800 meter races and should have a chance in the 200 and 400 as well.
  • Only 2 women have won multiple Olympic golds in the all around gymnastics competition, with the last coming in 1968. Simone Biles is the overwhelming favorite to become the third, which would likely cement her place as the greatest gymnast ever.
  • For the first time, surfing, skateboarding, sportclimbing, 3 on 3 basketball, and freestyle BMX will be medal sports at the olympics, and baseball, softball, and karate are all back on the card after hiatuses. The United States is expected to excel at skateboarding and surfing, especially surfer Carissa Moore, who is a 4 time tour champion and became a world surfing hall of famer in 2014 when she was just 22.
  • Maybe the event to watch will be the mens 400 m hurdles. American Rai Benjamin has run the 3rd fastest time ever, but in July Norway’s Karsten Warholm broke the then longest standing world record, running 46.7 seconds. It’s thought another world record will be required to win gold.
  • A few countries have a chance to win their first ever Olympic gold: Qatar’s beach volleball duo of Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan are ranked 2nd in the world. Botswana’s Nigel Amos is the favorite in the mens 800m. Serghei Tarnovischi won bronze in Rio in canoe singles, but it was later stripped due to a positive drug test. Whoops. Eumir Marcil is the favorite to win men’s boxing. Thankfully nothing has ever gone wrong in olympic boxing.
  • San Marino has multiple legitimate medal contenders, inlcuding trap shooter Alessandra Perilli. If San Marino claims a medal, it would be the smallest country in terms of both population and area ever to do so.

Various Medal Predictions

In the past I have predicted every medal but with the short time frame and all of the covid uncertainty, I have paired it down to the main events as well as some personal favorites that I tend to keep track of during the “off” years.

Men’s Basketball

Gold: United States

Silver: Australia

Bronze: Nigeria

Women’s Basketball

Gold: United States

Silver: Australia

Bronze: Serbia

Despite some struggles in the exhibitions, adding shotmakers like Devin Booker and Khris Middleton should give the US a big boost, as will adding a defensive stalwart like Jrue Holiday in the backcourt.

Modern Pentathlon

Gold: Adam Marosi, Hungary

Silver: Valentin Prades, France

Bronze, Jun Woongtae, South Korea

One of my favorite sports, modern pentathlon combines swimming, fencing, horseback riding, running, and shooting.

Water Polo - women’s

Gold: United States

Silver: Australia

Bronze: Hungary

The US women’s water polo team might be the most dominant team in the world. They won the last two olympic golds, the last 7 world league titles, the last two world cups, and the last three world championships.

Fencing - Individual foil

Gold - Gerek Meinhardt, United States

Silver - Alessio Foconi, Italy

Bronze - Race Imboden, United States

Only 2 Americans have ever won fencing gold, and no US man has done it since 1904. They’ll have three medal contenders, including Alex Massialas.

Team Handball - Men

Gold - Germany

Silver - Denmark

Bronze - Russia

Team Handball - Women

Gold - Germany

Silver - Russia

Bronze - Hungary

Handball is one of the best sports in the Olympics. Just watch it.