Editor's note: While some of the featured athletes are currently training or temporarily living out of state, all of them have submitted Colorado towns and cities as their recognized hometown, or are currently training in Colorado long-term, but live elsewhere.
More than 40 athletes across Colorado are bringing their A-game to the world stage at the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.
The Olympians come from across the state and will gather in Tokyo to compete in the Games, which begin July 21 and continue until Aug. 8. Thirteen Coloradans will compete in the Paralympics, which begin Aug. 24.
The athletes' specialties include track and field, taekwondo, climbing, rowing, wrestling and more.
In total, 613 people will represent Team USA at the Olympics this summer, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. More than 230 people will compete in the Paralympics.
Athletes had to rework their training and goals amid constant uncertainty if the Olympics would actually happen in 2021.
The pandemic may have thrown them for a loop, but it didn't knock them off their feet. They are some of the world's best athletes, after all.
These Olympians and Paralympians have stories behind each of their passions, from beating cancer to seeking a comeback after 2016 to turning basements and garages into makeshift gyms under stay-at-home orders.
Meet the Coloradans representing Team USA in the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics below.
Valarie Allman | Longmont | Track and field, discus throw
Twenty-six-year-old Valarie Allman won the women's discus by 7.38 meters (24 feet, 3 inches) at the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field in June with a throw of 69.92 meters (229 feet and 4.76 inches). All five of her allotted throws would have won the event.
She is a favorite for the gold medal. Only two American women have won a title in this event in the past — Lillian Copeland in 1932 and Stephanie Brown Trafton in 2008, according to Team USA.
In 2020, she set a U.S. record of 70.15 meters (230 feet and 1.81 inches).
She attended Stanford University.
UPDATE: Allman won the gold medal in the discus throw. It was the first gold medal for Team USA's track and field team.
Stetson Bardfield | Colorado Springs | Paralympic rifle shooting
Stetson Bardfield, 20, was born with arthrogryposis, which affected his limb control, and when he was just 4 years old, underwent bilateral knee-disarticulation.
A former marine introduced rifle shooting to him and he was hooked. At the time, he didn't know it was a Paralympic sport. After shooting a perfect 10.9 score on his first day practicing rifle, he pursued it even more.
In 2019, he won a gold medal in the R5- Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2 at the Parapan American Games.
He'll make his Paralympic debut in Tokyo.
He works as a tour guide at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
UPDATE: Bardfield placed 6th in mixed 10-meter air rifle prone.
Christopher Blevins | Durango | Cross-country cycling
Christopher Blevins, 23, has earned two silver medals in the Mountain Bike World Championships and has now turned his attention to the Olympics.
He started racing when he was 12 years old and decided to focus on mountain biking in 2019, according to Team USA.
A few hours before big races, he eats pancakes and drinks coffee and then meditates, he said.
When he was 10 years old, he fractured his skull in a BMX crash and while he lost his hearing in his left ear, he didn't stray long from the bike.
He's been eyeing the Olympics since he was 5 years old, he told The Denver Post.
He attended California Polytechnic State University, graduating in 2020 with a degree in business administration.
UPDATE: Blevins stayed in the top 15 places in the second half of the race, finishing in 14th place with a time of 1:28:19 on Monday. He is now the second-highest placing American in the Games, according to USA Cycling.
Hillary Bor | Colorado Springs | Track and field, 3,000-meter steeplechase
Hillary Bor, who was born in Eldoret, Kenya, now calls Colorado Springs home.
The 31-year-old and his two brothers gained American citizenship by joining the U.S. Army and Bor is currently a sergeant serving in Fort Carson. The trio teamed up to win the All Armed Forces Cross-Country Championships in February 2016 and all three were in the top 20 of the USA Cross-Country Championships, according to Team USA.
Bor attended the Olympics in 2016, where he came in seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
This past June, he won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
He received a scholarship to attend Iowa State University and graduated in 2011 with a degree in accounting.
UPDATE: Bor did not advance to the final round of the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Kendall Chase | Evergreen | Rowing
Born in San Francisco, Kendall Chase, 26, of Evergreen received the 2015 Sportswomen of Colorado award. She's propelled herself to an extremely competitive level of rowing, finishing fourth in the four rowing competition (using a boat designed for four people) at the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
When she's not competing on the water, she's enjoying it in other ways, like jet skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, and river rafting, according to Team USA.
She attended the University of California Berkeley and graduated in 2016 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies focusing on health and illness in society.
UPDATE: The women's coxless four aren't going home with a medal, but Chase thanked her teammates and expressed her pride on Instagram. She wrote, "Entitled to nothing. Grateful for everything."
Paul Chelimo | Colorado Springs | Track and field, 5,000 meters
Paul Chelimo, 30, is returning to the Olympics in 2021 after winning a silver medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Born in Kenya, the Colorado Springs resident attended the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where he graduated in 2013.
In June, he won the men's 5,000-meter race in hot conditions, breaking free from the pack toward the end.
He attained U.S. citizenship by joining the U.S. Army and the World Class Athlete Program in 2014, according to Team USA. He is now a specialist in the U.S. Army.
Chelimo said he aspires to become a water treatment specialist in Kenya and establish a water treatment plant in his native country, according to Team USA.
UPDATE: Chelimo won the bronze medal in a time of 12:59.
Emma Coburn | Crested Butte | Track and field, 3,000-meter steeplechase
Crested Butte resident Emma Coburn is about to become a three-time Olympian.
The 30-year-old went to the international stage in 2012 and 2016, and earned a bronze medal in 2016 for the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She placed eighth in London in 2012, where she was the youngest runner from the United States to compete.
Coburn has also done well at the World Championships, earning one gold (2017) and one silver (2019) medal in the steeplechase.
In June, she dominated the U.S Olympic Trials, winning for the third straight time, according to Team USA. She broke the meet record in a time of 9 minutes, 9.41 seconds.
After the race, she said it was special to have mother, who has stage 4 colon cancer, and father attend the race since they won't be able to travel to Tokyo.
“Sharing this with my mom is everything,” Coburn told the Associated Press.
UPDATE: Coburn made the finals for the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, where she fell with less than two laps to go. She finished 14th in 9:41.50, but was disqualified for stepping outside the track during the fall.
Kyle Coon | Colorado Springs | Paratriathlon
Twenty-nine-year-old Kyle Coon lost his vision when he was 7 years old due to a rare form of eye cancer.
He was determined to not let this slow him down. He went on to hike the Ankascocha Trail into Machu Picchu in 2006 and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2007 at age 15.
About 10 years later, in 2018, Coon became a member of the first team of tandem cyclists with all blind or visually impaired stokers (person on the back of a tandem bike) to complete Race Across America, according to Team USA. Later that year, he became the first totally blind person to complete an Ironman triathlon in less than 11 hours.
He won the gold medal at the World Triathlon Para Series opener in Yokohama, Japan, in May.
His guide for the Tokyo Games is Andy Potts.
UPDATE: Coon finished 5th in the men's paratriathlon.
Valerie Constien | Edwards | Track and field, 3,000-meter steeplechase
Valerie Constien, 25, followed fellow Coloradan Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, of Missouri, in the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 3,000-meter Steeplechase in June, snatching third and earning her first ticket to the Olympics.
Her time at the trials launched her as the fifth fastest American of all time in the race.
"Tears of joy!" the University of Colorado Boulder graduate wrote in an Instagram caption following the race. "This is a huge honor and I cannot wait to rep red, white, and blue in Tokyo!"
UPDATE: Constien made the finals for the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase. She placed 12th in 9:31.61.
Elise Cranny | Niwot | Track and field, 5,000 meters
Twenty-five-year-old Elise Cranny came out on top of a hotly contested race in June — the 5,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She outran a teammate (Karissa Schweizer) down the homestretch to win the race, where temperatures soared over 90 degrees. She finished with a time of 15 minutes, 27.81 seconds.
Afterward, the said the pace was more conservative due to the heat and her plan had been simply to "stay out of trouble," according to Team USA.
“When I crossed that finish line at the Trials I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the support I felt from Colorado, from Niwot and even the number of messages I got from people I went to high school with, people I was on the team with back then, that’s just so special to me,” Cranny told The Denver Post. “These are from people you maybe haven’t seen in a lot of years but you can still totally feel the genuine support.”
She also ran in the trials for the 10,000-meter race, where she placed fourth.
Cranny attended Niwot High School and went on to Stanford University, where she graduated in 2018.
UPDATE: Cranny made the finals for the women's 5,000-meter race, where she came in 13th place with a time of 14:55.98.
Hailey Danz (formerly Danisewicz)| Colorado Springs | Paratriathlon
Hailey Danz, 30, is a 2016 Paralympic silver medalist, six-time ITU Paratriathlon World Championships medalist, and 12-time ITU World Paratriathlon Event medalist, and now has her eyes on the Tokyo Paralympics.
She played every sport she could as a child. When she was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left leg. When she was 14,, and after a year of chemotherapy against the bone cancer, she decided to have her leg amputated to return to an active life, according to Team USA.
She competed in her first triathlon through Dare2Tri, a paratriathlon club based out of Chicago, and loved it. By 2015, she was named the USA Triathlon Paratriathlete of the Year.
In June 2021, she wrote a piece for Team USA about how she learned to be proud to be gay.
"I know there are a lot of people who say that sexuality has no place in sport; that the press should stop sensationalizing who we love and simply focus on the game. To those people let me say this: it was by seeing openly gay athletes that I’ve been able to work through my shame and insecurities and accept who I am," she wrote.
UPDATE: Danz won the silver medal in the paratriathlon.
Colin Duffy | Broomfield | Sports climbing
Colin Duffy will make history as one of the first Americans to compete in climbing in the 2020 Olympics. The upcoming competition marks climbing's Olympic debut.
The 17-year-old is one of four Americans on Team USA's climbing team, which also includes Brooke Raboutou of Colorado.
Duffy, who began climbing when he was 5 years old, placed in the 2017 (first), 2018 (first) and 2019 (second) IFSC Youth World Championships. In May, he placed 13th at the World Championships.
He told the Associated Press he is an avid puzzle solver and enjoys finding the best routes up a climb. He is the youngest Coloradan to compete in Tokyo.
UPDATE: Duffy qualified to move into the combined (speed, bouldering and lead) final, where he came close to medaling, but ended up finished seventh.
Amro Elgeziry | Colorado Springs | Pentathlon
Pentathlete Amro Elgeziry, 34, comes from a family of Olympians — his two brothers and sister also competed in the modern pentathlon at the Olympics. Individually, he's a familiar face on the world stage. He competed in the Olympics in 2008 (32nd), 2012 (33rd) and 2016 (25th).
He is a U.S. Pentathlon National Champion and a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he now calls Colorado Springs home.
He said he wants to become the first American to medal in the pentathlon since a woman won silver in 2000 and the first U.S. man won bronze in 1960, according to Team USA.
The pentathlon consists of fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, and a combination running-shooting event.
UPDATE: Elgeziry finished 25th. “So many emotions right now,” he told Team USA. “It was a rough day for me, but I’m happy to be here, happy to compete and represent the U.S. It wasn’t my best performance today.”
Rashida Ellis | Colorado Springs | Boxing
Even though she's currently the top-ranked lightweight boxer in the United States, Rashida Ellis, who has been training in Colorado Springs, didn't initially enjoy the sport.
As a fighter since childhood — “You know those little guys (are) always trying to bully the girls. Well, I just beat ‘em up. I was in a fight every single day," she told Olympics.com — she started using that energy in the boxing gym and after getting over the initial distaste, fell in love with the sport.
She won the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for boxing and in 2019, earned third in the 2019 Elite Women's World Championships.
Her hometown is in Massachusetts.
UPDATE: Ellis lost to Team Great Britain's Caroline DuBois in the Round of 16.
Amber English | Colorado Springs | Skeet shooting
Amber English, 31, will compete in her first Olympics this year after qualifying in March 2020. It was a major achievement for her after she fell short of qualifying in 2012 and 2016.
She is competing as part of the Women’s Skeet Team and a first lieutenant with the World Class Athlete Program attached to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, according to USA Shooting.
She comes from a family of distinguished shooters: Her father and uncle were U.S. Running Target National Team members and Olympic Training center resident athletes, and her mother and aunt were members of one of America’s top collegiate rifle programs at the University of Kentucky, according to USA Shooting.
English won her first world championship medal in 2018, according to Team USA.
She attended the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, graduating in 2012.
UPDATE: English won the gold medal in women's skeet shooting.
Mason Finley | Buena Vista | Track and field, discus throw
For the second time in a row, Mason Finley, 30, earned his ticket to Tokyo — something that he wasn't sure he'd be able to accomplish after battling back issues this season.
The 2017 world championship bronze medalist won the U.S. Olympic Trials in late June with a throw of 63.07 meters, according to Team USA. He said afterward that he thinks he, along with the other two Team USA throwers, underperformed during the trials and will bring their A game to Tokyo.
He came in 11th at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
He graduated from Buena Vista High School in 2009 and the University of Wyoming in 2014.
UPDATE: Finley did not advance to the Olympic finals for the men's discus.
Rudolph Garcia-Tolson | Colorado Springs | Paralympic swimming
Rudy Garcia-Tolson is no stranger to the Paralympics. He competed in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, earning two gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal along the way.
He stepped on the Paralympic stage for the first time when he was just 16 — where he won a gold medal — and since then has become a Paralympic ambassador.
Garcia-Tolson was born with multiple birth defects, including Pterygium Syndrome, a club foot, webbed fingers and a cleft lip and palate, according to Team USA. He had 15 surgeries by the time he was 5 years old, according to Team USA. By the time he turned 8 years old, he decided he wanted to compete at the Paralympic level.
He took off in the sport, competing at the highest levels several times.
In 2009, he also became the world's first double above-knee amputee to complete an Ironman triathlon.
UPDATE: Garcia-Tolson placed 7th in the 200-meter individual medley and 6th in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Maddie Godby | Louisville | Cycling, keirin and sprint
Maddie Godby, a 28-year-old Colorado native, will compete in her first Olympics after securing a place on Team USA's cycling team. She will compete in the keirin and individual sprint in Tokyo.
In an Instagram caption, she wrote, "Thank you to my village who has helped get me to this point. It has been an immense undertaking to overcome the challenges of the last year and even Olympic quad, but we did it and I’m so grateful."
She won two world up gold medals in the keirin.
She is the first American woman invited to race the prestigious Japanese Keirin School.
She graduated from Monarch High School in 2011 and studied nutrition at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
UPDATE: In the keirin, she advanced to the quarterfinals, but did not make it past that point. In the sprint, she was bumped out of competition in the 1/16 finals.
Adeline Gray | Denver | Wrestling, freestyle 76 kg
Adeline Gray is returning to the Olympics after finishing seventh in 2016, despite a shoulder injury.
She was considered a medal contender that year and is ready to return to finish what she started.
Training for Tokyo meant she had to defer another dream. She told The Denver Post she wants to be a mother, but decided to train for Tokyo instead.
“I was planning on being pregnant right now,” she told the Post in April, describing how she mapped out a detailed plan to become a mother in 2021. “And to have that mental switch to train for another entire year is very hard.”
She's a five-time senior world champion and two-time senior world bronze medalist. She's competed in the world championship since 2011 and is the only U.S. wrestler to win five career senior world titles, according to Team USA.
UPDATE: Gray won the silver medal.
Ildar Hafizov | Colorado Springs | Wrestling, Greco-Roman 60 kg
Thirty-three-year-old Ildar Hafizov was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and was a 2008 Olympian for the country. Now, he will return to the Olympics to compete as an American.
He is a sergeant in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and told the Army News Service that returning to the Olympics for the United States has a great significance for him.
“It's a moment of joy -- pride and joy,” Hafizov said. “So now I can give back to the U.S. They have given me opportunities to wrestle and represent the Army and represent the United States. I am happy to give back.”
He is a two-time U.S. World Team member — in 2017 and 2019.
Hafizov has been training for the Games in Colorado Springs.
UPDATE: Hafizov finished in 12th place overall.
Tracy G'Angelo Hancock | Fountain | Wrestling, Greco-Roman 97 kg
G'angelo Hancock, 23, missed qualifying for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics after finishing third in the U.S. trials, but earned a ticket to Tokyo in April 2021 at the wrestling trials.
After the trials, he took to his Instagram — an account called @theolympickidd — and wrote "You thought it was just an IG handle?"
He is a three-time member of the U.S. world team and earned a title at the 2020 Pan American Championships.
He calls Fountain home and graduated from Fountain Fort-Carson High School.
UPDATE: Hancock was stopped short of advancing to the semifinals by a Polish wrestler.
Beatriz Hatz | Lakewood | Paralympic track and field, 100m, 200m
Sprinter Beatrice Hatz, 20, is ready to make her Olympic debut.
She was born without a fibula in her right leg, which resulted in an amputation. But with loads of grit and determination, she worked up to some of the top spots in the world championship, placing fifth in the 2019 200-meter race.
In June, she won the women's 200-meter dash T44/64 ambulatory final during the U.S. Paralympic Trials. She will also compete in the 100-meter dash in Tokyo.
She was named the 2018 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field High School Female Athlete of the Year. She has two junior world titles to her name, according to Team USA.
As a child and teenager, she grew up playing softball, basketball, soccer, karate and skiing.
UPDATE: Hatz placed 5th in the long jump and 6th in the 100-meter and 200-meter.
Sophia Herzog | Fairplay | Paralympic swimming
Sophia Herzog, 24, first learned to swim thanks to her mother, who was with the Dwarf Athletic Association of America. In Herzog's first swim meet for the U.S. Paralympics, she was joined in the pool by paralympians Miranda Uhl and Erin Popovich.
She competed in the 2016 Olympics, earning the silver medal in the 100-meter breaststroke. In the 2017 world championships, she won three medals, and brought home another two in 2019.
When she's not training at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, she is a tour guide for guests.
She told Team USA she loves to see how far she can push her body and hopes to inspire the next generation of athletes, specifically the next generation of female Paralympic athletes and those in the Little People of America community.
UPDATE: Herzog won a bronze medal in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke SB6 with a final time of 1:36.06.
Lindsey Horan | Golden | Soccer
Midfielder Lindsey Horan, who was born in Wheat Ridge and lives in Golden, is headed back to the Olympic stage after competing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and helping bring the team to fifth place.
She first made headlines when she became the first American woman to skip college and head straight to the pros after high school, according to Team USA. She played with Paris Saint Germain in France for four years before returning to the United States.
“One of the main reasons I made the choice I did was to be uncomfortable — I thought I’d get to my goal quicker (with) that alternate route. I wanted to risk everything to make the National Team,” Horan told Team USA.
The 27-year-old graduated from Golden High School in 2012.
UPDATE: The U.S. Women's National Team fell to Canada, knocking them out of the running for a gold medal. They ended up winning bronze.
Erin Huck | Boulder | Cross-country cycling
Boulder-born Erin Huck, 39, of Estes Park, grew up exploring the beauty and ruggedness of Colorado. When she picked up mountain biking, she decided she wanted to pursue elite competition.
She was selected on the USA Cycling Mountain Bike World Championship team in 2012, which spurred her even more to become one of the best mountain bike racers in the world, according to USA Cycling.
She said if she could go back in time and offer advice to her younger self, she'd say: "Don't limit yourself. Let yourself dream and set big goals. Just because no one else is doing something, doesn't mean it can't be done."
UPDATE: Huck placed 31st in the mountain bike race.
Benard Keter | Colorado Springs | Track and field, 3,000-meter steeplechase
Benard Keter, 29, proved he's ready to race at the top level after setting a personal record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Diamond League competition in July, one of the final tune-ups for many track and field athletes ahead of the Olympics.
He placed second in the race in 8:22.05.
Keter is an U.S. Army unit supply specialist and soldier-athlete with the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.
Keter was born in Molo, Kenya and now resides in Colorado Springs. He trains alongside fellow Coloradans and Olympians Paul Chelimo and Hilary Bor.
He graduated from Tengecha Boys High School in Kenya in 2010 and went on to study at Texas Tech University.
UPDATE: Keter qualified for the final round of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, where he finished 11th.
William "Woody" Kincaid | Littleton | Track and field, 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters
Woody Kincaid, 28, kicked into high gear at the end of the 10,000-meter race in the U.S. Olympic Trials, winning the June race on a hot night in Eugene, Oregon.
He finished in 27 minutes and 53.62 seconds, squeezing into first with less than a second to spare after 25 laps around the track.
"With four laps to go, (I thought), 'This is what I practiced in my mind over and over,'" he told Team USA. "Mentally I was prepared for that kind of race."
He also came in third in the 5,000-meter race, securing a spot on the Olympic team for that as well.
Kincaid ran for the University of Portland and now runs with the Bowerman Track Club.
UPDATE: In the 10,000-meter, Kincaid secured 15th place with a time of 28:11.01. In the 5,000-meter final, he finiished 14th in a time of 13:17.20.
Joe Klecker | Boulder | Track and field, 10,000 meters
CU Boulder graduate Joe Klecker grew up in Minnesota and during his time in college, he ran to become a PAC-12 champion, seven-time All-American and a two-time NCAA runner-up. He runs with On Athletics Club in Boulder.
According to his athlete page with On Athletics Club, both of his parents were elite runners — his mother was a 1992 Olympian, and his father was a former world recorder holder in the 50-mile ultramarathon — so he grew up with running as an important part of his family’s life, according to an interview he did with CU Boulder.
In June, he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the 10,000-meter run with a time of 27:54:90.
When asked what advice he has for future Olympic hopefuls, he said, “Every day doesn’t have to be perfect, but every day should have purpose.”
UPDATE: Klecker came in 16th in the men's 10,000-meter with a time of 28:14.18.
Lucas Kozeniesky | Colorado Springs | Shooting, 10-meter air rifle
Lucas Kozeniesky, 26, started shooting in 2009, and by 2016 he had earned a ticket to Tokyo with USA Shooting. He placed 21st then and is now primed to return to the world stage in Tokyo.
In March, he won a gold and bronze medal in the 2021 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in New Delhi.
According to USA Shooting, he said he has made major improvements to his training and mental game since 2016.
He was born in Metairie, Louisiana and now lives in Colorado Springs. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2017 and became the first All-American since 1975 from the school.
He has opened a shooting consultation business, called Team Winning Solutions, focused on supporting youth athletes and rifle coaching.
UPDATE: Kozeniesky earned a silver medal in the mixed team 10-meter air rifle, along with Mary Tucker.
Annie Kunz | Denver | Track and field, heptathlon
Annie Kunz is the only Coloradan competing in the heptathlon, which combines seven different events on the track over the course of two days. Day one includes the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and the 200-meter dash. The second day includes the long jump, javelin, and 800-meter run.
The Denver native won the U.S. Olympic Trials for the heptathlon in late June with a personal best of 6,703 points for the multi-part event.
"Going to the Olympics in soccer or track has been a dream of mine pretty much from the moment I could walk and that dream became a reality last night," she wrote on Instagram the following day. "I’m forever grateful and will cherish this moment for the rest of my life. I’m an OLYMPIAN!!!! What!?!?"
She went to high school at Wheat Ridge High and graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016.
UPDATE: Kunz finished in sixth place.
Zachary Lokken | Durango | Canoe slalom
If you didn't know canoe slalom was an Olympic sport, keep an eye out for Zachary Lokken and watch what it's really made of.
The 27-year-old, nicknamed "Bug," earned his spot to compete in Tokyo earlier this year. He's been with the USA Canoe/Kayak Team since 2012.
In 2019, he won a gold medal in the men's slalom C-1 at the Pan American Games. His first international debut came in 2009 at the world championships, when he was just 15 years old, according to the USA Canoe/Kayak Team.
He trains in Charlotte after attending Central Piedmont Community College.
UPDATE: Lokken qualified for the final competition on July 26 where he placed seventh, just 2.38 seconds away from third place.
Elizabeth Marks | Colorado Springs | Paralympic swimming
Elizabeth Marks, 30, is returning to the Olympics after medaling twice — one gold, one bronze — in 2016.
That year, she won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke and bronze in the 100-meter medley relay.
Marks joined the U.S. Army in 2008 shortly after her 17th birthday. While in Iraq as a combat medic, she injured her hip. In 2012, while still recovering from the injury, she discovered her love for competitive swimming. She was then accepted into the US ARMY World Class Athlete Program, according to Team USA.
In July 2017, after years of chronic regional pain syndrome, she had her leg amputated below the knee.
UPDATE: Marks broke a world record and won gold in the 100-meter backstroke. She also won silver in the 50-meter freestyle and bronze in the 50-meter butterfly.
Kevin Mather | Lakewood | Paralympic Archery
Five world records are currently under Kevin Mather’s name for archery.
The 38-year-old has many other accolades to his name: He’s a former Ironman triathlete, member of the U.S. Paralympic alpine skiing team, won the wheelchair division of the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon, and finished second in the 2012 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, according to Team USA.
And now, he’s headed to Tokyo.
Mather was on a training bicycle ride with friends in July 2009 when he was struck by a truck.
He is from the Lakewood area.
UPDATE: Mather won gold in men’s individual recurve W2 — the only medal for the U.S. archery team in Tokyo.
Kevin McDowell | Colorado Springs | Triathlon (individual and mixed relay)
University of Colorado graduate Kevin McDowell, 28, is a seven-time World Triathlon Cup medalist and is now ready to put his strength to the test in Tokyo.
He grew up in USA Triathlon’s youth and junior elite triathlon circuit and represented Team USA at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where he earned silver in the individual event and bronze in the relay.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and took six months away from the sport to undergo chemotherapy, according to Team USA. Ten years later, he is cancer-free.
On May 15, he placed 11th at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama.
He grew up in Illinois and now lives in Colorado Springs.
UPDATE: McDowell placed sixth in the men's individual triathlon. He was the first American to finish, coming in with a time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. He was also a part of a mixed relay, which won the silver medal.
Cory McGee | Boulder | Track and field, 1,500 meters
Cory McGee, who is currently training in Boulder, has multiple USATF and NCAA championships under her belt and is now headed to her first Olympics.
The 29-year-old began running when she was 9 years old. She told Team USA she was inspired to begin racing in 2004 while living in Greece and watching the 2004 Games there.
In June, she placed second in the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 1,500-meter race, finishing in a time of 4:00.67, according to Team USA.
She went to high school in Mississippi and then studied political science at the University of Florida.
UPDATE: McGee placed 12th in the finals with a time of 4:05.50.
Yul Moldauer | Arvada | Gymnastics (artistic)
Yul Moldauer, 24, and his roommates made the best of quarantining in 2020 by installing gymnastics equipment in the garage of their home.
In the past few years, the 2017 national champion quietly grew to become one of the country's most accomplished gymnasts, according to Team USA.
While Tokyo marks his first experience competing in the Olympics, it's a far cry from his first time on a big stage. Moldauer is the 2021 U.S. parallel bars champion, 2021 Winter Cup parallel bars champion, 2020 Winter Cup vault champion and 2019 U.S. all-around, floor exercise and parallel bars silver medalist. He's won competitions going back to 2016.
So, it's no surprise that he's expected to make waves across the board in Tokyo.
He was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up on a farm in Colorado after he was adopted. He now lives in Arvada. He attended Golden High School and graduated in 2015. He started practicing gymnastics in 2004.
UPDATE: Moldauer finished sixth in the men's floor exercise event final. The team earned fifth in the artistic team all-around.
Alicia Monson | Boulder | Track and field, 10,000 meters
Alicia Monson, 23, runs for On Athletics Club in Boulder.
She grew up in Wisconsin and while competing for the University of Wisconsin, she earned Big Ten titles, All-American titles and an NCAA title, according to On Athletics Club.
She told Team USA her pre-race ritual includes a peanut butter banana sandwich, coffee and music.
After the 10,000-meter U.S. Olympic Trials, where she placed third, she said on Instagram she was hospitalized for heat stroke and hypothermia.
“Phew! Got the job done. Felt like pure relief to accomplish what I’ve been focusing on for a long long time— I’m going to Tokyo!” she posted.
Tokyo marks her first time competing in the Olympics.
UPDATE: Monson finished 13th in the women's 10,000-meter race.
Eric Newby | Bailey | Wheelchair rugby
Thirty-three-year-old Eric Newby is headed back to the Paralympics after winning silver in 2016.
He found wheelchair rugby in 2006 and tried out for the national team three years later, according to Team USA. He was cut, but improved his game and by 2013, he made the team and was named U.S. Quad Rugby Association Player of the Year.
He also won bronze in the world championships in 2014.
He was born in Illinois and attended Nashville Community High School and Maryville University of St. Louis.
UPDATE: The U.S. Wheelchair Rugby team won the silver medal.
Morgan Pearson | Boulder | Triathlon (individual and relay)
Morgan Pearson, 27, grew up as a competitive swimmer and ocean lifeguard, and was a promising young runner at his high school in New Jersey.
He went on to run for the University of Colorado at Boulder and began working through USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program. He debuted as an elite triathlete in 2018 after winning the overall title at the USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships in 2017, according to Team USA.
So far this year, he won bronze at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan and silver in the AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds in the United Kingdom. This made him the first American man to earn multiple World Triathlon Championship Series medals, according to Team USA.
Pearson said his older brother's death in March 2021 gave him the boost he needed to qualify for Tokyo.
"Hopefully when I’m at the Olympics, he’ll be there with me," he said.
He is currently living and training in Boulder.
UPDATE: Pearson placed 42nd in the men's individual triathlon, with a time of 1 hour and 52 minutes. He posted on Instagram that it was a rough day for him and felt awful for the full race, but was focusing now on the relay. The relay team placed second, securing a silver medal.
Jordyn Poulter | Aurora | Volleyball
Twenty-three-year-old Jordyn Poulter is all set for her Olympic debut (see what we did there?).
The Eaglecrest High School 2014 graduate is a setter for USA Volleyball, where she has been a member since 2018.
She won gold in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Poulter is an aspiring filmmaker and graduated from the University of Illinois in 2018 with a degree in media and cinema studies. She plays the piano and guitar.
She was born in Illinois and grew up in Colorado.
UPDATE: The U.S. women’s volleyball team won the gold medal, a first for the team.
Brooke Raboutou | Boulder | Sports climbing
Brooke Raboutou is the first U.S. climber ever to officially qualify for an Olympic Games.
The 20-year-old graduated from Fairview High School in Boulder and attends the University of San Diego. She started climbing as a young child and became the youngest person in the world to climb 5.14b — a very difficult grade to achieve and reserved only for elite athletes — when she was 11 years old, according to her bio on Team USA's website.
She comes from a family of climbers — her parents are former climbing world cup champions Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou.
She's one of four American climbers headed to the Olympics for the sport's debut in the games.
UPDATE: Raboutou qualified for the finals of women's sports climbing, where she placed fifth.
Summer Rappaport | Thornton | Triathlon
Summer Rappaport, 29, who was born in Denver, was the first athlete to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team, according to Team USA.
She earned the silver medal at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan, on May 15. About a week later, she came in ninth at the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon, which she called an "ouch day" on Instagram.
She owns 13 world cup medals and five world series medals, including one gold, according to Team USA.
Her passion for triathlons grew at Villanova University, where she competed on the swimming and cross country teams.
She lived in Colorado until a recent move to Durham, North Carolina.
UPDATE: Rappaport placed 14th in the individual women's triathlon with a time of 2 hours.
Jacob Riley | Boulder | Track and field, marathon
Jacob Riley, 32, moved to Boulder seeking a challenging academic career and running career. And he got it — while training for the Olympics, he also worked in grad school part-time and got a job as a SAT tutor, according to CU Boulder.
Riley scooped up second place in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the marathon with a flying finish time of 2:10:02. He told Team USA his plan was “don’t trip, get your bottles, stay conservative and stay tucked in because of the wind.”
Tokyo will be his Olympic debut.
He said his favorite local running loop starts at the Marshall Mesa Trailhead, goes under Highway 93 and then continues into a loop in Eldorado Canyon State Park, he told CU Boulder.
UPDATE: Riley finished 29th in the men's marathon.
Adam Scaturro | Lakewood | Wheelchair rugby
Adam Scaturro, a father and quadriplegic, will compete in wheelchair rugby at the 2020 Paralympics.
According to The Denver Post, he broke his neck doing a flip while training with the wrestling team at Lakewood High School. He said finding wheelchair rugby helped him turn a corner in his recovery.
He went on to become the first quadriplegic to reach the base camp of Mount Everest.
“I aspired to make the world accessible, and I’m not just talking about ramps,” Scaturro told The Post.
He also competed in the Paralympic Games in 2012 and 2016.
UPDATE: The U.S. Wheelchair Rugby team won the silver medal.
Samantha Schultz | Littleton | Pentathlon
Samantha Schultz, 29, will represent Team USA from the Army World Class Athlete Program in the modern pentathlon, which consists of five events in one day: fencing, swimming, equestrian jumping, and a combined shooting and running event. The sport was initially created for military officers to show their skills needed in combat but became part of the Olympics in 1912.
Schultz is a sergeant in the military and said she hopes to be a positive ambassador for the U.S. Army.
In an article penned by Schultz for Team USA, she said she is driven by her passion for the sport as well as holding herself as an inspiration for others. She was open about her setbacks, failures, and injuries, and how she navigated those challenges.
"The journey and the people I have met along the way have all been a part of my purpose to either be a person they can impact or vice versa," she wrote. "Every journey in life takes twists and turns. I want to shine a light on that crazy path, remain a positive person, to keep my head held high, no matter what happens."
She was born in Denver and now calls Colorado Springs home. She graduated from Chatfield Senior High School in 2010.
She is also a certified Pilates instructor.
UPDATE: Schultz finished 21st in the pentathlon.
William Shaner | Colorado Springs | Shooting, 10-meter air rifle
Colorado Springs native Will Shaner, 20, was named the 2018-19 NCAA Rookie of the Year, but he's grown beyond rookie status to earn a spot in the 2020 Olympics.
He was a gold medalist in the 2021 ISSF World Cup Croatia for both the individual air rifle and the team air rifle competition (alongside fellow Coloradan Lucas Kozeniesky).
Shaner was just 15 years old during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, but was already spending hours practicing each day at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, according to Team USA. He won his first Junior Olympic Gold Medal when he was 11 years old.
UPDATE: Shaner, the youngest man to compete for Team USA in a rifle event, won gold in the 10-meter air rifle on Sunday.
Morgan Stickney | Colorado Springs | Paralympic swimming, 400-meter freestyle and 50-meter freestyle
Morgan Stickney, 24, grew up as an able-bodied swimmer and was ranked in top 20 nationally for the 1,500-meter when she was only 15 years old.
When she broke her left foot, which led to amputation below the knee, she returned to the pool just weeks after the surgery. In early 2020, she had her other foot amputated due to a rare vascular disorder.
In the 2018 Para National Championships, she won the 400-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle.
Just a year before the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials for Swimming in Minneapolis, she couldn’t walk. On June 20, she was able to post on social media, “I’m Morgan Stickney and I’m a Paralympian!! I’m going to TOKYO!!!!!”
She attended the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and is living in the city to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
UPDATE: Stickney won gold in the 400-meter freestyle and gold in the 4x100-meter medley relay.
Melissa Stockwell | Colorado Springs | Paratriathlon
Melissa Stockwell, 41, earned the bronze medal in 2016 in the paratriathlon and is back in Tokyo seeking another podium finish.
She attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and graduated in 2002 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army’s transportation corps.
One month after her deployment, in April 2004, she was the first female American soldier in history to lose a limb in combat after her vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, according to Team USA. She was honored with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
She competed in swimming in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, where she was the flag bearer at the closing ceremonies. She then turned her attention to the paratriathlon.
At the 2016 Olympics, she earned a bronze medal in the PTS2 category.
She said her pre-race ritual includes eating gummy worms the night before a race.
UPDATE: Stockwell placed fifth in the women's triathlon PTS2.
Robert Tanaka | Denver | Paralympic Judo
For the past 12 years, Robert Tanaka, 21, has been practicing judo, and he'll get the chance to show off his talent in Tokyo this summer.
He trains at the Ju Shin Kan Judo Academy in Colorado Springs with his coach and often visits other local judo clubs.
In 2019, he won the bronze medal for USA Judo in the German Open for the Blind & Visually Impaired.
Tokyo marks his first Paralympics.
"Growing up with albinism, the Paralympics has always been a huge dream of mine. Because of my Japanese heritage, I made it a life goal to qualify for Tokyo," he wrote on Instagram in June. "The past 5 years have been truly a once-in-a-life-time experience. Filled with ups and downs, the Paralympics gave me the opportunity to represent my country in the sport I love while not having my disability be an obstacle."
UPDATE: In his first round, Tanaka faced a challenging competitor and was beat. "I am disappointed with the result and believe that I could've showed the world so much more on a better day but I am still very proud and honored to represent Team USA," he wrote on Instagram.
Jessica Thoennes | Denver | Rowing
Jessica Thoennes was born in Highlands Ranch and now trains USA Rowing in Princeton.
In early June, she posted on Instagram, saying she still couldn't find the words to describe the thrill of making the Olympic team.
"I earned my place on the Tokyo Olympic team in the women's 8+," she wrote. "A pretty simple statement that encompasses a journey that is anything but simple or straightforward. Just like a mountain path, there were switchbacks, ascents, steep declines (seriously steep declines) and views that take your breath away. Two days ago, we summited one mountain, today we start a new climb."
She graduated from the University of Washington in 2018 and served as an alternate that same year for the World Rowing Championships.
UPDATE: Thoennes placed 4th in the women's eight rowing event.
Haleigh Washington | Colorado Springs | Volleyball
Haleigh Washington, a 25-year-old Colorado native, has been a member of the U.S. Women's National Team since 2018 and is now headed to her first Olympic Games.
She won silver in the FIVB World Cup in 2019 and gold in the 2019 Tokyo Qualification Tournament.
She was named the 2013 Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year and started playing professionally in Italy in 2018.
Washington attended Doherty High School in Colorado Springs, where she was named the two-time Colorado Gatorade High School Player of the Year. She also set the state high school record for 48 kills in a single match, according to USA Volleyball.
UPDATE: The U.S. women’s volleyball team won the gold medal, a first for the team.
Jennifer Valente | Colorado Springs | Track cycling
Jennifer Valente, 26, was born in San Diego and moved to Colorado Springs in 2014 to continue her training toward the Tokyo Olympics.
While training, the cyclist also enrolled in classes at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs College of Engineering and Applied Science to earn a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering.
"Right now, it is really fine-tuning a lot of the little things,” she told Denver7’s sister station KOAA in late June. “Working a lot with heat adaptation. The heat right now is actually a big benefit as we go into Tokyo."
She earned the silver medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in the team pursuit. She has won 4 UCI World Championship titles, with a total of 9 World Championship medals in her career.
UPDATE: Valente, along with three other U.S. women, is taking home the bronze medal in the track women's team pursuit. She won gold in the women’s omnium, a first for an American woman.
Jacarra Winchester | Colorado Springs | Wrestling, freestyle 53 kg
Wrestler Jacarra Winchester, 28, smiled before she dropped to her knees following her win at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling in Texas in April, according to Team USA.
She's expected to reach the podium in Tokyo, with high hopes to win.
She told Team USA she felt she had always been a fighter because she was bullied as a child due to her lisp, but she didn't "take any mess from anybody."
"I don’t do bullying," she said. "I think you should treat everyone the way you want to be treated. If someone was looking for a fight and wanted to fight me, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and always say, ‘I don’t want to fight,’ but if you keep poking the bear, the bear’s going to turn around and attack.”
While this summer will mark her Olympic debut, she's no stranger to winning competitions. She is the 2019 senior world champion, improving from fifth in the competition in 2018.
UPDATE: Winchester finished fifth.
Anastasija Zolotic | Colorado Springs | Taekwondo, 57 kg
Anastasija Zolotic, 18, is one of the youngest athletes from Colorado who qualified to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
She said that while self-quarantining in Colorado Springs with two of her teammates, they turned the basement into a makeshift gymnasium to continue their training, according to Team USA.
“We kind of cleared the couches out of there,” Zolotic told Team USA. “We set up mats all over the floor, and we took the gear and the pads and stuff from the (USA Taekwondo National Center of Excellence) and took them home, cleaned them and trained together. And then slowly we were able to train in open spaces. We would find a park and train.”
She is a junior world champion and a new, strong athlete with USA Taekwondo.
She said her favorite quote is "Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough," by American author Og Mandino.
UPDATE: Zolotic is now the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in taekwondo.
Cody Melphy, of Littleton, is an alternate athlete for the men's Olympic rugby team. He is eligible to be called onto a game day roster.