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The youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics

Tue 03 August 2021 | 4:30

As a new generation of promising athletes has prepared themselves to take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, age has been proven to be just a number. Let's take a glimpse at some of the youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics.

No other sporting event more than Olympics has ever seen such diversity in age spectrum that on one hand, we have teenagers who have not even step into college yet, while on the other hand, we have grandparents who are decades older than those of youngest.

Despite Coronavirus Pandemic and its side effects on the youngsters' mental health, it seems that Tokyo Olympics has not been an exception in this regard.

So the Tokyo Olympics has observed the participation of some youngest athletes in the history of the modern Olympic games.

Although many might assume that age and experience are the main pillars of winning the ultimate gold medal, some of these youngsters, notwithstanding their tender ages, have defied the odds and already have smashed records in their own discipline.

Although no universal minimum age for athletes has been set by the IOC, individual sports have eligibility limits. Just consider Gymnasts who must be 16 years old to participate in the Games, while the age limit for boxers is 18 years old.

Yet, it is pertinent to note that, there is not any minimum age requirement for Olympic skateboarding and therefore it opened the door for many youngsters listed here including the likes of Brown and Hiraki.

Besides, the youngest athlete in the modern history of the Olympics who managed to receive a medal was the 10-year-old Dimitrios Loundras, a Greek gymnast who led his team to get a bronze medal in team parallel bars at the 1896 Athens Summer Games. Although Loundras never participated in another game, he served on Greece’s Olympic committee as an adult.

The youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics

According to the statistics of IOC, 11,300 Olympians have taken part in Tokyo Games. Here we would get to know some of its greener faces seen in table tennis, swimming and skateboarding generally called the Youngest Olympic athletes 2021.

Claire Curzan

  • Age: 17 

  • Country: United States

  • Sport: Swimming

As an American competitive swimmer who competes for the TAC Titans in North Carolina, she is assumed to be the 3rd fastest American performer ever in the women's 100 m butterfly, with a time of 56.20 seconds.

Likewise, she is the record holder of fastest ever time for any female swimmer, aged 18 or under, in the 100-yard butterfly, with a time of 49.51.

When at the age of 16 in 2021, she was ranked second in the finals of the 100m butterfly at the US Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, she became qualified to accompany the Olympic Team.

As one of

the youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics

in the 100-meter fly event of the this tournament, she swam at 57.49 seconds so as to finish 10th in the preliminaries and qualify for the semifinals, but she failed to go through the finals.

Reportedly, she was chosen to swim the butterfly leg in the 4x100 women’s medley relay preliminaries at the Tokyo Games as well. It is pertinent to note that in case you are interested to know more about swimming at the Olympics, you could check out 

Swimming at Olympics history

.

Mollie O’Callaghan

  • Age: 17 

  • Country: Australia

  • Sport: Swimming

The 17-year-old Australian swimmer started swimming when she was just four years old, and Tokyo is her Olympic debut, therefore she is included in our list of the youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics.

As O'Callaghan has swum at St Peters Western under Dean Boxall, she performed impressively at the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials, which led her to be part of the Olympic team as the youngest member on their whole squad.

In the heats of the 4x100 freestyle relay in Tokyo, she produced such a wonderful swim that secured a gold medal as a member of the Australian team.

She also led off Australia’s 4×200 free relay and lowered the previous record of 1:55.43 set by Yang Junxuan of China at the 2019 World Championships, so as to win bronze in the Women's 4x200m freestyle relay as well. That is to say, just Missy Franklin has been faster than her as a world junior swimmer.

Likewise, she broke her own personal best time of 1:56.29 from the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials in mid-June as she shaved 1.18 seconds off her time to set a new record. 

Erriyon Knighton

  • Age: 17 

  • Country: United State

  • Sport: Athletics

Although 17-year-old American athletics sprinter, Erriyon Knighton started his professional career only in 2019, he has already made his mark as he would race the 200m for Team USA after qualifying in third at Trials last month.

As one of The Youngest Olympians Competing at the Tokyo Olympics, he is also assumed to be the youngest runner to contest on Team USA's men's track-and-field since Jim Ryun ran at Tokyo in 1964.

He amazingly twice smashed the under-20 world records of eight-time gold medalist Usain Bolt in the 200 meters in the U.S. track and field trails last month so as to secure his spot on Team USA.

Precisely as saying, he broke Usain Bolt's under-18 record as he ran the 200-meter in 20.11 seconds. Moreover, he impressed once more time as he even smashed his own record as he ran an event in 19.84 seconds.

As a result, he was introduced as one of the rising stars of the U.S. Olympic track and field team since he finished third in the men’s 200m final at the Olympic trials.

Among

The 13 Youngest Athletes At The Tokyo Olympics

, he has a strong chance to win a medal in the tournament as his first competition is set to be in the 200-meter  preliminary on August 4.

But aren't you curious to know more about Sprinting at the Olympics, let's see what kind of endurance, sprinters should have to build up at the tournament with the intriguing article on 

Track and field related sports in Olympics

.

Brighton Zeuner

  • Age: 17 

  • Country: United State

  • Sport: Skateboarding

The 17-year-old American professional skateboarder started skateboarding when she was 6 years old and made her mark in 2017 as she became the youngest gold medalist of all time at X Games Minneapolis following her 13th birthday.

Likewise, she is considered to be the youngest female X Games contender, as she have skateboarded at the age of eleven in 2016. She tends to win competitions with high-flying and twisting tricks and strong fundamentals with moving over obstacles in parks.

She joined the 16 members of the inaugural U.S.A Skateboarding National Team announced in March 2019. Therefore as Skateboarding is among the sports of the 2020 Summer Olympics, she is believed to be a potential gold medalist for Team USA, so as to become one of

the youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics

as well.

Jessica Guo

  • Age: 16

  • Country: Canada

  • Sport: Fencing

The 16-year-old Canadian left-handed foil fencer began fencing when she was 7 and started competing at the age of 9 years old. Then just after the passage of four years, she managed to win an individual bronze and a team silver at the 2018 Pan American Championships.

Afterwards, in 2019, she was awarded two silver medals at the Pan Am Games in Lima as well. That is to say, she was beaten by Lee Kiefer, who is a right-handed foil fencer and won the gold medal in the women's foil event at the competition.

As she had qualified to represent Canada at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, she participated in the women's foil individual tournament in Tokyo and finished in 13th place; yet she is still honoured to be enlisted among

The Youngest Olympians Competing at the Tokyo Olympics

.

Katie Grimes

  • Age: 15

  • Country: United States

  • Sport: Swimming

The 15-year-old is the new up-and-coming distance freestyle swimmer that America has kept an eye for her. She was born in Las Vegas in 2006 and started her swimming career for the Sandpipers competitive team in Nevada.

In the qualification of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the 800m freestyle, she swam a time of 8:20.36 so as to earn the second spot at the US Olympic Trials behind Katie Ledecky (8:14.62), who already set the record of being the youngest US Olympic swimmer following her competition at the 2012 London Games.

That is to say, Katie Grimes became the youngest American swimmer since Amanda Beard in 1996; while she is included on the list of

the youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics

.

Eventually, in her debut appearance at the Tokyo Olympics, Katie Grimes took the second position overall after the heats of the 800m, with a time of 8:17.05 - half a second behind first-place swimmer Ledecky.

Summer McIntosh

  • Age: 14

  • Country: Canada

  • Sport: Swimming

The 14-year-old Canadian swimmer began competitive swimming when she was 7 years old. Amazingly she has smashed more than 50 age group national swimming records.

In May 2021, with swimming a 4:05.13 in the 400 m freestyle, she set the record of fastest time ever by a 14-year-old swimmer worldwide.

As a member of the 2021 Canadian Olympic swimming trials in Toronto, she won the 200 m freestyle event, setting the personal best time of 1:56.19, being marked the fastest time ever by a 14-year-old swimmer worldwide.

This was enough to make her qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Then she went on to win in the 800 m freestyle event in another personal best time of 8:29.49.

But as one of the

Youngest Olympic athletes 2021

, she performed such brilliantly not only amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic but also through the obstacles of confronting her coach death along with the diagnosis of her father cancer who is still recovering.

Not to mention that she has already earned the fourth spot in the women's 400m freestyle at the 2020 Summer Olympics as she smashed the Canadian national record with a time of 4:02.42.

Quan Hongchan

  • Age: 14

  • Country: China

  • Sport: Diving

The 14-year old Chinese diver was born in 2007 and started diving at the age of 7 years old. Her parents are honest farmers and apparently her mother is not in a very good health condition to such an extent that she needs to be under treatment all year round.

Because of such hardships in her family life, she has become a very strong woman at this tender age. In fact, it was just in 2014 that for the first time she was exposed to diving and undeniably had to train very hard to join the Guangdong Provincial Team in 2014.

She received the gold medal as a 13-year-old last October at the 2020 National Diving Championship, which was considered to be the world championships and Tokyo 2020 qualifiers.

Otherwise stated, she won two of three qualifiers to burst onto the scene at such a young age while she dedicated the wins to her sick mother.

Therefore, as one of

The Youngest Olympians Competing At The Tokyo Games

, she is set to contest in the women's 10m platform diving on August 4th.

Rayssa Leal

  • Age: 13

  • Country: Brazil

  • Sport: Skateboarding

The 13-year-old Brazilian skateboarder was born in 2008 and began grabbing online attention at the age of 8 when she posted a video of herself skateboarding in a fairy costume on Instagram.

She competed in the 2019 Street League Skateboarding Championship in London and grabbed the third position with a score of 26.0.

She also placed first at the Street League Skateboarding Championship in Los Angeles and won the fourth position for her first X Games appearance.

With her participation at the Olympics this year, not only she is considered to be one of the youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics but also she is the youngest Brazilian ever to take part in the Olympic Games.

Eventually, she took home the Olympic silver medal in the final and placed 3rd in the qualifiers of the skateboarding street competition so as to become the youngest Olympic medalist in 85 years.

Momiji Nishiya

  • Age: 13

  • Country: Japam

  • Sport: Skateboarding

The 13-year-old Japanese skateboarder was born in 2007 and debuted for Japan in the women's street event at the 2020 Olympics and etched her name in history as one of the Youngest Olympic athletes 2021.

She took part in the 2019 Summer X Games in the women's street event and scored 90.00 so as to win a silver medal. Likewise, she contended at the 2021 Street Skateboarding World Championships scoring 14.17 and winning the silver medal again.

In June 2021, she earned the fifth spot in the Olympic World Skateboarding rankings and became qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

At the Tokyo Olympics, in the women's street competition, she eventually managed to score 15.26 and secured her gold medal at the tournament.

That is to say, at the age of 13 years, she became honoured to be the youngest Olympic gold medalist for Japan and got the third position among the youngest gold medalist in Olympic history.

Sky Brown

  • Age: 13

  • Country: Britain

  • Sport: Skateboarding

The 13-year-old skateboarder was born in Japan in 2008 and would represent Great Britain in the Tokyo Games women's park event because she is British on her father side.

When she became a professional athlete at the age of 10, she turned out to be the youngest professional skateboarder in the world, but without having a skateboarding coach, as she learns tricks just from YouTube while her parents are also into this sport.

When she was 12 years old, she smashed the record of the youngest British Olympic athlete, which had been held by swimmer Margery Hilton in Amsterdam in 1928 while she was about a month older than Brown is now.

Although on 28 May 2020, she suffered a life-threatening fall from a halfpipe ramp on her training in California and was left with several skull fractures and a broken left wrist and hand, she came back to competitive skating just after a year and in July 2021, she was awarded the X Games women's skateboarding park gold medal.

As one of the youngest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, she is set to compete at the Ariake Urban Sports Park on Wednesday 4 August in Tokyo 2020, in 2021.

Kokona Hiraki

  • Age: 12

  • Country: Japan

  • Sport: Skateboarding

The 12-year-old Japanese skateboarder is considered to be among the Youngest Olympians Competing At The Tokyo Games while she would celebrate her 13th birthday just a few weeks after the Olympics closing ceremony.

She was born in 2008 and began her skateboarding career when she was 5 years old. Since then she has taken part in women's park events at several World Skateboarding Championships as she finished seventh in 2018 and 11th in 2019. Likewise, she contested at X Games and won the silver medal in 2019 in Boise, Idaho.

As she is set to compete in the women's park event at the Tokyo Games at age 12, not only she has been enlisted among The 13 Youngest Athletes At The Tokyo Olympics but also she is the youngest Japanese athlete at these games.

Hend Zaza

  • Age: 12

  • Country: Syria

  • Sport: Table tennis

The 12-year-old Syrian table tennis player was born on 1 January 2009 in Hama, Syria and started playing tennis when she was five years old.

She currently plays for the Al-Muhafaza Table Tennis Club in Damascus and has anchored national titles at all levels of hopes, cadets, junior and senior to her name.

For the sake of becoming one of The Youngest Olympians Competing at the Tokyo Olympics, in the West Asia Olympic qualifying tournament held in Amman, Jordan in 2020, she defeated the 42-year-old Lebanese player Mariana Sahakian in the finals of the competition.

In the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympics, she was honoured to carry the Syrian flag in the Parade of Nations accompanying equestrian competitor Ahmad Hamcho.

As the Youngest Olympians Competing At the Tokyo Games, on 24 July 2021 in the preliminary round of the table tennis women's singles, she was defeated by Liu Jia, a 39-year-old Chinese-born Austrian who had previously taken part in every Summer Olympics since 2000.

Although she ended her time at the games, even her participation is considered to be a great feat, not necessarily for her tender age but because she qualified for Olympic play in spite of the fact that her training schedule had been disrupted amid the Syrian civil war.

Notwithstanding her failure at this edition of the games, she is very determined to come back as a champion in the upcoming Olympics along with pursuing her academic studies to be a pharmacist or a lawyer amid all of the hardships ahead of her in her country.

After all, she earned the spot number one among The 13 Youngest Athletes at the Tokyo Olympics and is generally the youngest Olympic contender since Beatrice Huștiu, a Romanian figure-skater who competed in 1968. That is to say, she is considered to be the fifth-youngest person to compete in the modern Olympics.

 

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source: SportMob

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