Watch out world because the postponed Tokyo Summer Olympics is here! To gear up for one of the most-anticipated sports competitions in the world, we’re highlighting some of the youngest athletes who’ll be competing at the games. Twelve-year-olds Kokona Hiraki and Hend Zaza, thirteen-year-old Sky Brown, and many other young athletes are ready to wow the world with their talent and athletic ability. Check out some quick facts about these promising young athletes.
Sport: Table Tennis
Hend Zaza will be the youngest table tennis player to compete in the Olympics this year and the youngest ever to represent the country of Syria. Although she missed one of the international games because of the war in Syria, she was still able to attend two international tournaments and qualify for the Olympics at the West Asia Olympic qualification tournament in 2020.
Kokona Hiraki is only twelve years old, but don’t let her age fool you. She’s ranked in the world’s top ten professional female skateboarders in the skateboard park category and will be representing Japan in the Olympics this summer. She’s already broken the record for the youngest Olympian to represent Japan. If she medals, Hiraki will also hold the record for the youngest Olympian from Japan to win a medal.
Country: United Kingdom
While Sky Brown may be young compared to fifty-three-year-old professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, she might be just as fierce. Brown is currently ranked third in the world in the park discipline and will be representing Great Britain in the Tokyo Summer Olympics this year. If she medals, she’ll be the youngest Olympian to medal from Great Britain.
Interesting Fact: Brown lives part-time in the United States and part-time in Japan, so why is she representing the United Kingdom in the Olympics, you might be wondering? Her father is British, so she’s actually a British and Japanese citizen. She’s represented Japan before but started representing the UK recently because of more relaxed rules for competition.
Sport: BMX Freestyle
Country: United States
Hannah Roberts began riding bicycle motocross, otherwise known as BMX, when she was nine years old and entered her first competition when she was just twelve years old. Five years later, she became the first world BMX freestyle champion at the inaugural UCI World Championships in Chengdu, China. Since then, she’s won two more world champion titles and has her sights set on winning a medal at the Tokyo Summer Olympics where BMX freestyle will be making its debut. If Hannah wins a medal, she’ll be the youngest person to win an Olympic medal in cycling for the United States and the first teenage woman at that!
Interesting Fact: If you’re wondering how Hannah got into riding BMX, she has her cousin to thank. Hannah’s cousin, Brett Banasiewicz, a top US rider himself, inspired her to try out BMX at a young age.
Sonam Malik and Anshu Malik
Sonam Malik began wrestling when she was twelve years old. Who inspired her? Her father, who was a wrestler but had to give up the sport. Her hope is to pick up where he left off! While she comes from a small village of the Sonipat district of Haryana, India, she’s a powerhouse when it comes to the wrestling arena. When she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, she became the youngest female grappler to ever represent India at the Olympic Games.
Anshu Malik hails from a long line of wrestlers (both her father and her uncle were professional wrestlers who competed in international games) but she admits that as a part of her training, she actually studies Japanese wrestlers. Why? Eleven out of the eighteen female wrestlers to win Olympic gold medals have been from Japan! Malik studies the technique that Japanese wrestlers use and adapts it to her own training.
Gaurika Singh qualified for the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 when she was just thirteen years old. She was the youngest athlete at the games that year! While she didn’t medal in Rio, she’s looking for another opportunity to stand on the podium in Tokyo.