Sports

Olympic rivalries to keep an eye on in Tokyo

Rivalries don’t have to be longstanding when it comes to the Olympics. However, that tends to make things more fun if they happen to be. Some are promising while others might just be starting out. Here’s a look at some established and potential rivalries that could be renewed or brewing at the Tokyo Summer Games. 

 

1 of 17

Men’s basketball: United States vs. Spain

Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports

The Americans are eying a fourth consecutive Olympic men’s basketball gold medal. With Kevin Durant (seeking his third gold) leading the way, plus Damian Lillard and Devin Booker also on the roster, it would be a shock if Team USA didn’t prevail. That said, Spain is the No. 2 team in the world and features veteran talent in brothers Paul and Marc Gasol, plus guard Ricky Rubio. The Spaniards won Olympic silver in 2008 and ’12 before earning a bronze medal in 2016.

 

2 of 17

Men’s skateboarding: Nyjah Huston (United States) vs. Yuto Horigome (Japan)

Men's skateboarding: Nyjah Huston (United States) vs. Yuto Horigome (Japan)

Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

Skateboarding is one of the new sports added to the Tokyo Summer Olympics program. And, it might be the most anticipated of the newcomers. Huston is arguably the biggest and most well–known personality in the sport and a four-time world champion in the Street competition. However, host favorite Horigome topped Huston in a recent competition that leads pundits of the sport to believe he might have the inside track for gold in Tokyo this summer. 

 

3 of 17

Women’s skateboarding: Sky Brown (Great Britain) vs. Kokona Hiraki (Japan)

Women's skateboarding: Sky Brown (Great Britain) vs. Kokona Hiraki (Japan)

Brian Powers/The Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA TODAY

No offense to Japanese medal hopefuls Misugu Okamoto and Sakura Yosozumi, but skateboarding fans would love to see these two young sensations be in the hunt for the gold. Also from Japan, 12-year-old Hiraki might be a long shot for gold, but she finished fifth at the final Olympic qualifier — also a Dew Tour event — in the Park discipline. Brown, who will be 13 when these Games start, was born to a Japanese mother and British father. She’s among the most exciting skaters in the world and should be in the hunt for an Olympic medal after recovering from a head injury following a serious training fall

 

4 of 17

Women’s soccer: United States vs. Japan

Women's soccer: United States vs. Japan

David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

It’s common knowledge that the USWNT has some unfinished business to take care of in Tokyo this summer after being stunned by Sweden in penalties in the 2016 quarterfinals at Rio. The Americans are no doubt the favorite to win gold, which they’ve won four times over the six tournaments in Olympic history. While the U.S. has a solid mix of seasoned veterans and some up-and-coming, dependable talent, host Japan, which brought home silver in 2012, is a somewhat young, but certainly hungry group that could potentially make things interesting.

 

5 of 17

Softball: United States vs. Japan

Softball: United States vs. Japan

Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire

Softball is back on the Olympic card. And the United States is looking to once again regain its place at the top of the international softball pedestal. The Americans won the first three Olympic golds before losing to Japan in the 2008 final — the most recent Games the sport was held. It’s expected that the U.S., with legends Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman on the roster, and host Japan will again compete for gold among the six teams in the field. The two nations will meet in the group stage on July 26.

 

Women's Surfing: Carissa Moore (USA) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (Australia)

Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

Another new sport to the Olympic docket is surfing. And, when it comes to the women’s side of the event, it should be quite the one-two punch when it comes to winning gold. Hawaii-native Carissa Moore is the reigning world champion, and surfing experts consider her the favorite for gold in Tokyo. However, Gilmore is a seven-time world champion and the queen of the cutback. There’s no doubt she’s been waiting for this moment. Should be fun.

 

7 of 17

Men’s men’s 4×100 medley relay: United States vs. Great Britain

Men's men’s 4x100 medley relay: United States vs. Great Britain

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

What’s remarkable is that the United States has won gold in the 4×100 medley relay at every Olympics its taken part in since the inception of the event at the 1960 Games. While the American squad is certainly talented with the likes of Ryan Murphy and Caeleb Dressel on board, Great Britain topped the U.S. in the event at the 2019 world championships. Adam Peaty and Duncan Scott are two of the best in the world, but do they have enough to end the Americans’ reign in the 4×100?  

 

8 of 17

Women’s swimming 100-meter breaststroke: Lilly King (USA) vs. Yulia Efimova (Russian Olympic Committee)

Women's swimming 100-meter breaststroke: Lilly King (USA) vs. Yulia Efimova (Russian Olympic Committee)

Gian Mattia D’Alberto/LaPresse/Icon Sportswire

The rivalry between King and Efimova was essentially born during the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio. King wasn’t happy about Efimova’s doping ban, gave a famous finger wag, then went out and beat the Russian in the 100 breaststroke. Entering the Tokyo Games, King is the undisputed favorite while Efimova might be hard-pressed to challenge for the gold. Still, getting another chance to compete against King could make this one race to watch.

 

9 of 17

Women’s swimming 200-, 400- and 800-meters: Katie Ledecky (USA) vs. Ariarne Titmus (Australia)

Women's swimming 200-, 400- and 800-meters: Katie Ledecky (USA) vs. Ariarne Titmus (Australia)

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Ledecky is a five-time Olympic gold-medal winner and reigning champion in each the 200, 400 and 800. However, enough international swim analysts believe the upstart 20-year-old Titmus could end up touching the wall ahead of Ledecky in all three events at Tokyo that the Tasmania-born budding star has taken over as favorite. Titmus nearly delivered a world-record performance in the 200 and 400 at the Australian Olympic trials and should have plenty of confidence entering these Games — even with the mighty Ledecky in the way. 

 

10 of 17

Women’s swimming 4×100 medley relay: United States vs. Australia

Women's swimming 4x100 medley relay: United States vs. Australia

Andrew Cowie/Colorsport/Icon Sportswire

The U.S. women won gold in this event at both the 2008 and ’12 Olympic Games. But even with the likes of Lilly King leading the charge for the Americans, a talented Australian group might have what it takes to dethrone the U.S. in Tokyo this summer. Aussie Cate Campbell thrives as the likely relay anchor while Kylee McKeown is among the top backstroke swimmers in the world. The U.S.-Australia rivalry in the pool is expected to be quite entertaining in Tokyo.

 

11 of 17

Mixed swimming 4×100 medley relay: Lilly King (USA) vs. Adam Peaty (Great Britain)

Mixed swimming 4x100 medley relay: Lilly King (USA) vs. Adam Peaty (Great Britain)

Insidefoto/Imago/Icon Sportswire

One of the new events on the Tokyo swim program is the mixed 4×100 medley relay. Two men and two women will swim for each country, covering the four primary strokes — backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. So, wouldn’t it be something if King and Peaty, the two premier stars of the breaststroke in the world, find themselves head-to-head with the inaugural gold medal on the line? Olympics swim fans can only hope.

 

12 of 17

Men’s 100 meters: Trayvon Bromell (USA) vs. Ronnie Baker (USA) vs. Akani Simbine (South Africa) vs. Andre De Grasse (Canada)

Men's 100 meters: Trayvon Bromell (USA) vs. Ronnie Baker (USA) vs. Akani Simbine (South Africa) vs. Andre De Grasse (Canada)

Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Usain Bolt has left the Olympic stage, opening the door for a new star to emerge. Many sprint pundits feel Bromell could be the guy in the 100. After recovering from two Achilles surgeries to repair a bone spur, Bromell finally appears ready for prime time. That said, fellow American Ronnie Baker should not be cast-off as only a silver-medal favorite. Not to mention, international standouts in De Grasse, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, and the uber-talented Simbine — each seemingly worthy of challenging for the title of “fastest man in the world.” 

 

13 of 17

Men’s 200 meters: Noah Lyles (USA) vs. Erriyon Knighton (USA)

Men's 200 meters: Noah Lyles (USA) vs. Erriyon Knighton (USA)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

There will be plenty of eyes on Lyles, who enters his much-anticipated Olympic moment as the favorite in the 200. He didn’t totally dominate at the U.S. track and field trials last month, but we’d be stunned if he wasn’t on top of his game for the 200 in Tokyo. Knighton, meanwhile, is a 17-year-old phenom who might be that one youngster that captures the world with a superstar showing at the Olympics. It would not be a shock to see Knighton (who already has bested Bolt’s Under-18 records in the 200) push his American teammate for the gold this summer.

 

14 of 17

Men’s 400-meter hurdles: Rai Benjamin (USA) vs. Karsten Warholm (Norway)

Men's 400-meter hurdles: Rai Benjamin (USA) vs. Karsten Warholm (Norway)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Let’s consider this more of a potential upset special than anything else. Warholm is a world champion and record-holder in the 400 hurdles with a time of 46.70 seconds. That makes him a heavy favorite to win gold at Tokyo. But, Benjamin has continued to progress to an elite level and should seriously challenge Warholm. Thus, potentially creating a rivalry that could become pretty special. 

 

15 of 17

400-meter women’s hurdles: Sydney McLaughlin (USA) vs. Dalilah Muhammad (USA)

400-meter women's hurdles: Sydney McLaughlin (USA) vs. Dalilah Muhammad (USA)

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

This might be the race to watch over the entire women’s track and field program at Tokyo. Muhammad won gold in the 400 hurdles at the 2016 Summer Games. McLaughlin, however, now holds the world record in the event (51.90 seconds) after she edged Muhammad in the final of the U.S. track and field trials last month — besting her teammate’s mark by 0.26 seconds. Assuming everything falls into place for the two Americans, the final of the 400 hurdles at Tokyo should be appointment viewing.

 

16 of 17

Men’s tennis: Roger Federer (Switzerland) and Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

Men's tennis: Roger Federer (Switzerland) and Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports

Between them, Federer and world No. 1-ranked Djokovic have won nearly 40 Grand Slam titles. But, two of men’s tennis’ best of all time will try again to win Olympic singles gold for the first time. These two, along with Andy Murray, highlight the men’s Olympic tennis field this summer at Tokyo. It would seem highly probable that Federer and Djokovic could square off in the gold-medal match with their own personal history on the line.

 

17 of 17

Women’s tennis: Naomi Osaka (Japan) vs. Coco Gauff (United States)

Women's tennis: Naomi Osaka (Japan) vs. Coco Gauff (United States)

Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports

There will be no Williams’ sister vying for Olympic gold in Tokyo. However, Osaka’s return to the court is one of the biggest non-American storylines at this year’s Summer Games. After pulling out of the French Open for a mental-health break, the 23-year-old Osaka will be the star attraction for the home nation. The two-time U.S. Open champ is favored to win singles gold. The 17-year-old Gauff is the marquee name on the American squad and it would be something to see the two square off with an Olympic gold medal on the line.

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.


Checkout latest world news below links :
World News || Latest News || U.S. News

Source link

Back to top button
SoundCloud To Mp3