Over the course of the preceding few months, Americans have become enchanted by the athletes Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Sha’Carri Richardson. With countless TikToks, tweets and other social media posts made about the three icons, even the U.S.’s youth population has become captivated by the country’s strongest contenders.
Biles, the 4’8 powerhouse, will arrive in Tokyo as the most acclaimed gymnast in the world. The American swimmer Ledecky will follow suit as the most decorated female swimmer in history. Together these two incredible athletes will lead Team USA to victory.
Unfortunately, not all of our Olympic idols will make it to Japan this year for the 2021 games. Despite charming U.S. patriots across the country, Sha’Carri Richardson will not be allowed to compete at the 2021 Olympics as a result of testing positive for marijuana in a recent drug test.
The name Simone Biles is not new to international praise. The Ohio-born, Texas-raised competitor performed on the Olympic stage in 2016 and triumphed. As a member of the female American gymnastics team called the Final Five, Biles medaled four times (three of which were gold) at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.
As the “first women gymnast to win three consecutive World all-around titles,” the “most decorated World Championship American gymnast with 14 total medals” and the “first female African American all-around World champion,” Biles has pushed boundaries and broken countless records within the gymnastics world.
In the months leading up to the 2021 Summer Olympics, Biles competed at the U.S. Classic and the U.S. National Championships winning the all-around title at both events. The gymnast continues to wow judges and spectators alike as she performs new and ever more challenging skills in competition.
Both American media outlets and the American public love Simone Biles. The Atlantic has called Biles “the greatest athlete in the world today.” On TikTok, creators awe over Biles’ routines as she “forget[s] the laws of physics exist.” With such a remarkable career behind her, all eyes are on the decorated gymnast to destroy her competitors in Tokyo.
Like Biles, Ledecky has long been in the public eye. The now 24-year-old swimmer has already been to two Olympics (the 2012 London games and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games), winning a total of six medals (five of which were gold).
Ledecky has also won 18 World Championship medals, holds the title of “most individual-event world titles among female swimmers,” and is said to be “the overwhelming favorite to be the inaugural gold medalist.” Breaking her own world records time and time again, Ledecky is at the peak of her game and shows no signs of weakness.
In videos recordings of her wins, Ledecky dominates the pool, torpedoing through the water and wrecking her competition. Outside of the pool, she is friendly and lighthearted despite the enormous pressure that follows her to outperform her previous times.
It’s no wonder why America is enamored with the swimmer. She’s enormously skilled and ambitious, yet she remains her smiley and outgoing self that rose to fame back in 2012 with her unlikely 800-meter freestyle Olympic win.
Unlike Biles and Ledecky, Richardson has only recently risen to widespread public acclaim. After the video of her 10.64 second Olympic trial sprint went viral in June of 2021, sports lovers quickly added the dynamic runner to their list of Olympic favorites.
Soon after, numerous clips of Richardson’s speedy performances began to circulate around the internet along with little bits and pieces of the athlete’s personal life. America shortly learned that Richardson not only outran the fastest American sprinters at the Olympic qualifiers, but that she did so only days after the death of her biological mother.
News of Richardson’s heroic win rose her to icon status on social media platforms. The runner was soon likened to athletes such a Biles, becoming an emblem of Black female excellence.
Unfortunately for Richardson and her many supporters, the young athlete fell from her podium just as quickly as she rose to it. In early July of 2021, the news broke that she tested positive for marijuana and would not be allowed to run at the Tokyo Olympics.
The sprinter’s removal from Team USA has sparked debate over the validity of disqualifying athletes for non-performance-enhancing drugs. Although some are disappointed with Richardson’s decision to use marijuana, a large portion of Americans sympathize with the athlete, choosing to place blame on the system that disqualified her rather than the sprinter herself.
Biles, Ledecky and Richardson are, without a doubt, some of the best athletes in the world. They show up and show out in competition, encapsulating a vision of a victorious United States. Like the rest of Team USA, Biles, Ledecky and Richardson are seen as American heroes.
However, unlike the rest of Team USA, these three athletes have taken social media by storm, appearing in countless Instagram posts, tweets and TikToks. The three female competitors are so outstanding and accomplished that even America’s youth — who is typically more hesitant to express copious amounts of patriotism — can’t help but beam with national pride while watching the athletes perform.
Although Richardson will not be competing at the upcoming Olympics, she is still an icon to the public and Americans look forward to seeing her dominate in future competitions.
As for the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Biles and Ledecky will surely make the United States proud and carry Team USA to victory.