A USA sports power couple, one of Britain’s most decorated divers in history, a weightlifter from New Zealand, and over 150 more LGBTQ+ athletes will compete at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Match play in soccer and softball began July 20 due to the sheer number of games being held over the 17 days of competition, but the Olympics officially begin July 23 with the opening ceremony.
Check out some of the major storylines to watch while enjoying the games from your couch. If you’re looking for a schedule, check out NBCOlympics.com/Schedule.
Megan Rapinoe (USA Women’s Soccer Team) and Sue Bird (USA Women’s Basketball Team)
Could this engaged couple come home with a pair gold medals for some added bliss on top of their upcoming nuptials? While Rapinoe has become a face in the fight for gender equity in her sport (check out the documentary LFG on HBO Max), Bird is a longtime competitor with four Olympic gold medals already polished at home. Both the USA women’s soccer and basketball teams are the odds-on favorites, but they’ll have to get through rivals Sweden on the pitch and Australia on the court first.
Rashida Ellis (USA Women’s Boxing)
One of America’s top-ranked athletes in the ring will finally get her chance to go for gold. In an interview with the Boston Herald, the Lynn, Massachusetts, native says she used to get into scuffles with boys on the playground just for the fun of it. Now, she’s sparring in the women’s 60 kg., lightweight, discipline.
Tom Daley (Great Britain Men’s Diving)
The four-time Olympian has ended up on the podium in the past two Olympics, but could this finally be the year he takes home the gold? Momentum is in his favor: Daley came in first place in the 10m platform at the 2021 FINA Diving World Cup (which also served as a test event in Tokyo) and in the synchronized 10m with diving partner Matty Lee. (The pair were recently featured in an Attitude cover story.)
Laurel Hubbard (New Zealand Women’s Weightlifting)
You might not see her giving interviews in Tokyo, but all eyes will be on shy and private Hubbard, who is the first out transgender woman to compete at the Olympics. She’ll compete in the women’s +87kg discipline. Not only is she making strides as an LGBTQ+ representative, her story is also about a comeback—the athlete broke her arm in 2018. “I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” she said in June upon being selected for TeamNZ. “When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha carried me through the darkness.”
Markus Thormeyer (Canada Men’s Swimming)
Thormeyer was already a big deal in his home country before he came out in 2020. He went to Rio in 2016 as a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay and then broke the Canadian record for the 100m backstroke in 2019. Now, he’s going to Tokyo to swim the 200m backstroke. In the meantime, the swimmer has teamed up with P&G for their Your Goodness Is Your Greatness campaign to inspire kids who are struggling to come out.
Silvana Lima (Brazil Women’s Surfing)
One of the debut sports at the Olympics this year is surfing, and Lima is poised to conquer it. She’s been riding waves professionally since at least 2006, and spent nearly 13 years trying to get sponsorship. Lima will be competing against strong contenders from Team USA and Australia. Even if she doesn’t end up on the podium, she’s got something to look forward to—the surfer is marrying her girlfriend soon.
Michelle-Lee Ahye (Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Track and Field)
Coming off several top place finishes this season, Ahye poised as a podium contender in the 100m sprints in Tokyo. She’ll also compete in the 4x100m relay. While the speedster is making her Olympic debut, Ahye has been competing at an international level since 2011.
You can see a full list of LGBTQ+ athletes competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on OutSports.com.