8 Young Athletes to Watch at the Tokyo Olympics

By Ben Morris in Olympics
| July 7, 2021 10:48 am PDT

This year’s delayed Summer Olympics have caused mass disruption to the worldwide sporting calendar. But for many of the top young athletes set to compete at Tokyo 2020, the year-long postponement has been a blessing in disguise.

12 months on from the original start date, some of the best young athletes on the planet are preparing to take part in the Tokyo Olympics. If the event had taken place last year, many of the prodigies on this list may not have made the cut.

With the Games scheduled to commence on Friday, July 23, it’s time to take a look at the top young athletes to watch at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Read on to learn about a 12-year-old British skateboarder, a 15-year-old Canadian fencer, and an 18-year-old French soccer prodigy.

Sky Brown

  • Age: 12
  • Nation: Great Britain
  • Sport: Skateboarding

What were you doing when you were 12? Well, whatever you were doing, you weren’t skateboarding at the Olympics.

Set to become a teenager just days before the Games get underway, Sky Brown is undoubtedly one of the top young athletes to watch at Tokyo 2020.

Having finished second in a recent qualifier, the schoolgirl skater will be the youngest British Summer Olympian of all time. Considering she suffered life-threatening skull fractures in a training accident less than a year ago, that is an astonishing achievement.

Believe it or not, Brown turned pro at the age of ten after learning tricks from YouTube. Since then, the skateboarding phenom has picked up a Nike sponsorship and has consistently defied the odds at major events.

Remarkably, Brown isn’t even the youngest competitor at this summer’s Games. Keep reading to discover the youngest athlete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Tomokazu Harimoto

  • Age: 17
  • Nation: Japan
  • Sport: Table Tennis

Compared with Brown, 17-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto may seem like an experienced table tennis veteran. However, the teen paddler is still just a kid.

Harimoto isn’t competing just to make up the numbers, though. Ranked number four in the ITTF Senior Men’s Singles World Rankings, the Japanese prodigy stands a genuine chance of winning a medal this summer.

The right-hander has already broken countless records during his short career. Not only is he the youngest-ever winner of an ITTF World Tour men’s singles title (14 years, 61 days), but he is also the youngest player to win the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals (15 years, 172 days).

Harimoto picked up two silver medals at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires before adding another silver to his silverware cabinet at the 2019 World Cup in Chengdu.

With the backing of the Japanese fans, the home-crowd favorite looks set to light up the Games as one of the youngest Olympic athletes in the world.

Tomokazu Harimoto

Ariarne Titmus

  • Age: 20
  • Nation: Australia
  • Sport: Swimming

Australia has always been one of the leading lights when it comes to swimming at the Olympics, and thanks to Ariarne Titmus, that won’t be changing anytime soon.

The 20-year-old Tasmanian is set to compete in the 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyles after finishing first in all three events during qualifying. On top of that, she set a new Commonwealth record in the 200m final and a new Australian record in the 800m final.

Although this summer’s Games will be her first Olympics, Titmus has been making waves for years. Having won two goals and one silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, she clinched two more golds at the 2019 World Championship.

Nicknamed “Arnie” or the “Terminator” for obvious reasons, Titmus is by no means the youngest athlete competing at Tokyo 2020. Still, she is certainly young enough to make this list.

Hend Zaza

  • Age: 12
  • Nation: Syria
  • Sport: Table Tennis
Hend Zaza

Officially the youngest athlete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, table tennis prodigy Hend Zaza only recently turned 12, making her younger than Brown.

As crazy as it sounds, the Syrian whizz-kid was just 11 when she booked her spot at the Games. Back in February, she won four out of five matches on her way to finishing first at the Western Asia Olympic Qualification Tournament in Jordan.

Naturally, being a 12-year-old Syrian table tennis player has its challenges. Having grown up in a war-torn country, Zaza hasn’t had the same opportunities as her counterparts. But she has managed to overcome all the obstacles in her way.

Along with being one of the youngest Olympians of all time, Zaza is the first Syrian paddler – male or female – to qualify for the prestigious competition.

Eduardo Camavinga

  • Age: 18
  • Nation: France
  • Sport: Soccer

Soccer may be the most popular sport on the planet. But when it comes to the Olympics, the “beautiful game” often takes a back seat.

With so many talented teenagers already signed up to multi-million-dollar contracts with some of the world’s biggest clubs, the best young soccer players rarely get the chance to become an Olympians.

That said, Eduardo Camavinga is an exception.

France’s soccer squad for the Tokyo Olympics is stacked with gifted youngsters, with big names like Malang Sarr (Chelsea), Pierre Kalulu (AC Milan), and William Saliba (Arsenal) included on the 18-man roster. But Camavinga is arguably the pick of the bunch.

The 18-year-old Rennes midfielder already has a handful of senior international caps under his belt and is reportedly being courted by several elite European sides.

Consequently, that makes him one of the top young athletes to watch at the Tokyo Olympics.

Takeru Kitazono

  • Age: 18
  • Nation: Japan
  • Sport: Artistic Gymnastics
Takeru Kitazono

If Takeru Kitazono’s youth and junior exploits are anything to go by, the 18-year-old gymnast is destined to shine at his home Olympics this summer.

The Japanese teenager scooped an unrivalled five gold medals at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018, dominating the horizontal bar, parallel bars, rings, floor, and all-round disciplines.

A year later, Kitazono claimed a further three golds at the 2019 Junior World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. He triumphed on both the pommel horse and parallel bars in Hungary, helping Japan to win the men’s team event in the process.

Kitazona has already proved that he has got what it takes to win medals. Now, the Japanese wunderkind is expected to deliver on home soil.

Caroline Dubois

  • Age: 20
  • Nation: Great Britain
  • Sport: Boxing

There is a sense in the boxing world that Caroline Dubois has the potential to become one of the sport’s all-time greats.

The Londoner won gold at both the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and 2019 EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships before being named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.

Oh, and she was still a teenager back then.

CAROLINE DUBOIS’ BOXING CAREER SO FAR
Fights Wins Wins by KO Losses
37 35 2 2

Now 20, Dubois is likely to challenge for gold in Japan. With another year of experience in the bank, the young fighter will now be stronger than when she secured qualification for the Games in 2020.

Part of an 11-strong GB boxing squad for the Olympics, Caroline – who is the sister of professional boxer Daniel Dubois – will be eager to step out of her brother’s shadow and create her own legacy this summer.

Jessica Guo

  • Age: 15
  • Nation: Canada
  • Sport: Fencing

It is crazy to think that Jessica Guo only turns 16 on the first day of the Tokyo Olympics. After all, the Canadian fencing whizz has already achieved so much.

The Toronto native competed in her first senior World Cup back in 2018, reaching the Round of 32 at the age of just 13. The following year, at just 14, she became a double silver medalist at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima.

When the Olympic qualification window closed in April 2021, Guo found herself atop the Canadian rankings and fifteenth in the world for the women’s individual foil.

Having already defeated her fencing idol – American Olympian Lee Kiefer – at the FIE World Cup in France, Guo will surely fancy her chances of securing a spot on the podium in Japan.

Final Words

At just 12, Brown and Zaza will be the youngest athletes at this summer’s Olympics. Yet, believe it or not, they will not become the youngest Olympians of all time.

Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras holds that record, having competed at the 1896 Athens Olympics when he was a mere 10 years and 218 days old.

I can’t wait to see the top young athletes at the Tokyo Olympics do their thing. In fact, many of the young Olympians on my list stand a genuine chance of winning medals this year.

Who knows? We could even see the likes of Brown and Zaza cause one of the most memorable upsets in Olympic Games history.

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