Sports

Former and current USC athletes to watch in the 2020 Olympics

USC will send 61 athletes to Tokyo this summer, more than any other university in the nation.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin Friday, and there is no shortage of Trojan athletes to root for. USC will send 61 athletes to the Games — a personal record for the university and more than any other school in the nation.

If you cannot follow all 61 athletes, here are a few present and future Trojans to keep an eye on this summer:

Allyson Felix (Track and Field, Class of 2007)

Felix is a household name and earned the honor of being Trojan fans’ favorite Olympian last summer. While this is Felix’s fifth Olympic Games, this is her first as a mother. Felix donated $200,000 with Athleta to create a fund for 10 athletes who are also mothers to help with child care costs during the Games. She holds nine Olympic medals (six golds and three silvers); if she finishes on the podium at least once this summer, she will return home as the most decorated Olympian in women’s track and field. She will compete in the 400-meter and the 400-meter relay.

Dalilah Muhammad (Track and Field, Class of 2012)

Muhammad goes to Tokyo looking to defend her 2016 gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles. She previously held the world record for the event — 52.16 seconds at the 2019 World Championships — but Sydney McLaughlin broke her record at the Olympic trials this year. Muhammad is a favorite to win gold, but the battle between her and McLaughlin will be elite.

Andre De Grasse (Track and Field, Class of 2015)

After bursting onto the scene for Team Canada Track and Field at the 2016 Olympics, De Grasse returns to the Olympics with one silver and two bronze medals. He was the first Canadian to reach the Olympic podium in the 200-meter since 1928 and holds the Canadian record for the event. Without Usain Bolt — whom he challenged in Rio — De Grasse has a greater chance to win gold and build upon the success he had in Rio de Janeiro. He will compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter events again.

Rai Benjamin (Track and Field, Class of 2018)

Benjamin enters the Tokyo Games as a first-time Olympian. He will compete in the 400-meter hurdles, an event in which he won silver at the 2019 World Championships. However, running a 46.83, Benjamin was .05 seconds away from breaking a 29-year-old world record in the U.S. Trials in June. He is a favorite to win the event and potentially break the record in Tokyo.

April Ross (Beach Volleyball, Class of 2005)

Ross, entering her third Olympics, looks for revenge after a disappointing third-place finish in 2016. She and her partner Alix Klineman currently sit at No. 2 in the world rankings after a second-place finish at the 2019 World Championships. Still, Ross and Klineman enter Tokyo as favorites to win the tournament.

Kelly Claes (Beach Volleyball, Class of 2017)

Opposite Ross, Claes is a rookie to the Olympic Games. In fact, she and her partner, Sarah Sponcil, are the youngest beach volleyball team in U.S. history — aged 25 and 24, respectively. The duo travels to Tokyo with strong momentum after winning World Tour events in each of the last two weeks. They currently sit at sixth in the world rankings.

Katinka Hosszú (Swimming, Class of 2012)

Nicknamed the “Iron Lady,” Hosszú travels to Tokyo to compete in her fifth Olympics. Forbes called Hosszú the “most valuable Hungarian athlete” after her stellar performance in Rio de Janeiro. There, Hosszú won four medals: golds in the 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter individual medley (IM) and 400-meter IM and a silver in the 200-meter backstroke. This set the record for the most medals won by a Trojan in individual events in one Olympics. She will swim in the 200-meter backstroke, 200-meter fly, 200m IM and 400m IM.

Kaleigh Gilchrist, Paige Hauschild, Stephania Haralabidis and Amanda Longan (Water Polo, Class of 2014, 2021, 2017 and 2019)

The quartet of Trojans will be competing for what could be the greatest women’s water polo team of all time. After a strong tournament in 2016 where they outscored their opponents 73-27, the U.S. women’s water polo team looks to win their third straight gold medal. Gilchrist is the only one of the four returning from the 2016 team, but Hauschild, Haralabidis and Longan offer new, reliable options for Team USA.

Isaiah Jewett (Track and Field, Class of 2020)

Jewett gained popularity on the internet after qualifying for the 800-meter race but having to finish a 10-page paper later that night. He qualified on a personal best of 1:43.85 and stands at fifth on the 2021 world list.

Marlene Kahler and Noelani Day (Swimming, incoming freshmen)

Kahler and Day have yet to swim for the Trojans, but both will head to the Olympics. Kahler, the Australian record holder for the 800-meter, will swim the 800- and 1500-meter freestyle. Day, of Tonga, will race in the 50-meter freestyle.

Expect these Trojans to dominate in Tokyo. Since 1912, a USC athlete has won a gold medal in every Summer Olympics, and someone from this group will likely extend this streak. Fans can visit olympics.trojans.com to follow USC’s Tokyo Olympians and watch their events here.