By Sherri Middleton, Executive Editor
Competition is heating up as Team USA prepares for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo July 24 and what better time to see some of the country’s Olympic hopefuls than now.
The road to Tokyo is now in full swing and several events have already taken place laying the groundwork and setting rosters for the team of athletes who will compete.
A lot of news regarding the Olympics has already caused excitement in the sports world, including six new or returning events that deserve mention. I’ll get to those in a minute. First, let’s see what you might have already missed.
The U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials are scheduled for April 4-5 at Penn State. Only one wrestler per weight class will qualify for Tokyo. Both the men’s and women’s competition should be exciting.
The U.S. Olympic Diving Trials will head to Indianapolis in June. Positions on the team for the top two individual events and synchronized events will qualify for Tokyo if the U.S. qualifies remaining spots at the FINA World Cup. Also, in June, the U.S. Open will bring 11 U.S. male golfers to compete against the top 17 male golfers. Only four of the golfers will go to Tokyo.
The U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials and the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials round out the events leading up to Tokyo.
Big names in these final trials include Katie Ledecky, in the 100m and 200m freestyles, Simone Biles in St. Louis along with Allyson Felix, Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles in Eugene, Ore., for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
New or Returning Sports
Men’s and Women’s skateboarding will debut with two events – park and street. The street course replicates street skating with stairs, ramps and rails that riders can use for tricks. The park event takes place on a bowl-shaped course and riders are judged on difficulty and originality.
Karate also debuts in Tokyo in two disciplines for men and women – Kata and Kumite – joining taekwondo and wrestling. Athletes will be judged using a points system for kata and in Kumite, two weight-matched opponents will spar for three minutes and receive points when landing strikes, kicks or punches. The athlete with the most points or the first person to reach an eight-point lead is the winner.
Sport Climbing will feature three disciplines: bouldering, lead climbing and speed climbing. Climbers compete in the three events separately in world cup competition and Olympic athletes will compete in each discipline with rankings determined by combined scores.
Speed climbing involves two athletes who race each other to the top of a 15-meter high wall.
Bouldering does not use safety ropes and athletes ascend as many fixed routes on a 4-meter high wall as they can in four minutes. In lead climbing, athletes climb as high as they can on a 15-meter high wall in six minutes using safety ropes. The fastest person to the highest point on the wall wins.
Surfing makes its debut for both men and women in Shidashita Beach with four athletes competing at the same time. Athletes catch as many waves as they can during a heat that lasts 20 to 25 minutes. Athletes are judged on the difficulty of the maneuvers they perform and execution on large waves. The two highest scores for each athlete counts.
Men’s baseball and women’s softball return to the Olympics this year after a two-game break. And some new events will be showcased this year that deserve mentioning, include a mixed team archery event, a 4-on-4 basketball event, canoe/kayak, BMX racing events, fencing, judo, rowing for women’s events, shooting with a mixed team event, mixed doubles table tennis, a mixed triathlon event and more women will compete in water polo this year.