Going for gold

The astounding Texas athletes competing for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics

Astounding Texas athletes competing for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics

Simone Biles, Olympic trials
Simone Biles is the best gymnast in the world and the biggest name on Team USA. Getty Images
Hailey Hernandez, Olympic diver Southlake
Young Southlake diver Hailey Hernandez is one to watch. Getty Images
Ronnie Baker, TCU, Olympic runner
Ronnie Baker is a TCU Horned Frog. Getty Images
Inika McPherson, Olympics
Inika McPherson's setting the bar high. Getty Images
Connor Fields, Olympics, BMX biking
Connor Fields will be BMX biking for the second Olympics in a row. Getty Images
Simone Biles, Olympic trials
Hailey Hernandez, Olympic diver Southlake
Ronnie Baker, TCU, Olympic runner
Inika McPherson, Olympics
Connor Fields, Olympics, BMX biking

After a long, excruciating extra year of waiting, the Tokyo Olympics are finally off and running this month. The event still known as the 2020 Olympic Games starts Friday, July 23, and Team USA is set to jet over its best athletes — at least dozens of whom are Texans.

Competitors from the Lone Star State are going for gold in events ranging from gymnastics to long jump, from archery to wrestling, from shooting to swimming. 

Here's a quick look at top Team USA athletes from Texas (and how to follow them on Instagram), organized by sport. And by "from" Texas, we mean athletes born or living here, or those who have ties to Texas schools or training centers around the state.

One high-profile Olympic qualifier who'll now miss out: Dallas' Sha'Carri Richardson, whose positive drug test disqualified her from running both the 100-meter individual race and the relay.

(Note: Most bio information comes from the official Team USA site. This story will be updated as more details become available.)

Gymnastics

Simone Biles, 24
From: Spring
On the road to Tokyo: The most decorated gymnast of all time hardly needs an introduction here. She clinched her historic seventh U.S. title in Fort Worth last month.
Fun fact: So much has been written about her, there's practically nothing people don't know, but here's something fun: Her favorite food is Italian.
Follow: Instagram @simonebiles

Jordan Chiles, 20
From: Originally from Vancouver, Washington, but trains at the World Champions Centre in Houston with Simone Biles.
On the road to Tokyo: She was the 2021 Winter Cup all-around, vault, and floor exercise champion and balance beam silver medalist.
Fun fact: Her favorite thing about gymnastics is being around her friends and being able to do things that other people can't...like fly.
Follow: Instagram @jordanchiles

Diving

Hailey Hernandez, 18
Event: Springboard
From: Southlake (The recent Southlake Carroll High School grad will attend University of Texas at Austin).
On the road to Tokyo: 2018 World Cup team member (9th, 3-meter) and two-time World Junior Championships silver medalist is the youngest female diver going to Tokyo for Team USA.
Fun fact: She has superstitions about what suit she wears and always talks to her coach and divers before her turn to dive.
Follow: Instagram @_hailey.hernandez_

Alison Gibson, 21
Event: Springboard
From: Austin (and attended UT Austin)
On the road to Tokyo: 2020 World Cup team member
Fun fact: When she's not training, she enjoys art, music, comedy, dance, data analytics, life coaching, inspiring, and consulting young athletes.
Follow: Instagram @aagtexas

Jordan Windle, 22
Events: 3-meter, 10-meter
From: UT Austin (hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
On the road to Tokyo: 2020 World Cup team member
Fun fact: Jordan and his dad Jerry co-authored a children's book called An Orphan No More...the True Story of a Boy about a white rooster who adopts a brown boy. The foreword was written by Greg Louganis, Jordan's favorite diver.
Follow: Instagram @jordanpiseywindle

Swimming

Simone Manuel, 24
Event: 50m freestyle
From: Houston (Sugar Land)
On the road to Tokyo: Four-time medalist (2 golds, 2 silvers) at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Fun fact: If she wasn’t a competitive swimmer, she would be either a singer or dancer.
Follow: Instagram @swimone

Drew Kibler, 21
Events: 200-meter freestyle, 4x200m relay
From: UT Austin (hometown: Carmel, Indiana)
On the road to Tokyo: 2019 NCAA champion (800 freestyle relay)
Fun fact: Enjoys fine-art photography, slackening, drawing, painting, and hiking.
Follow: Instagram @drew_kibler

Townley Haas, 24
Events: 200m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle
From: UT Austin (hometown: Richmond, Virginia)
On the road to Tokyo: Gold medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
Fun fact: Got engaged in December 2020.
Follow: Instagram @townleyh

Natalie Hinds, 27
Event: 4x100m freestyle relay
From: Midland
On the road to Tokyo: Hinds made history at the 2015 NCAA Championships as she, Lia Neal, and Simone Manuel became the first African-American swimmers to go 1-2-3 in a single event. 
Fun fact: After the death of George Floyd, Hinds spoke out to share her support for the Black Lives Matter movement in swimming and beyond.
Follow: Instagram @_nhinds

Lydia Jacoby, 17
Event: 100m Breaststroke
From: Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, but committed to UT Austin
On the road to Tokyo: One of 11 teenagers on Team USA swim team 
Fun fact: The first Alaskan swimmer on Team USA.
Follow: Instagram @lydiaalicee_

Erica Sullivan, 20
Event: 1500m Freestyle
From: UT Austin (hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada)
On the road to Tokyo: She finished second in the 1,500-meter freestyle, behind Katie Ledecky.
Fun fact: She's a big movie fan and likes to compare the Best Picture nominees to types of everyday swimmers.
Follow: Instagram @erica.sully

Track and Field

Ronnie Baker, 27
Event: Men's 100m
From: Texas Christian University (hometown: Louisville, Kentucky)
On the road to Tokyo: He was named the Gatorade Kentucky Track and Field Athlete of the Year twice after winning the 100m and the 400m at the 3A state meet.
Fun fact: He is a kinesiology major at TCU.
Follow: Instagram @ronnie_baker14

Jasmine Moore, 20
Event: Triple Jump
From: Grand Prairie
On the road to Tokyo: A star at Mansfield Lake Ridge High School at University of Georgia
Fun fact: She is the youngest of the three women competing in triple jump for Team USA.
Follow: Instagram @jasmineemoore

Sally Kipyego, 35
Event(s): 10,000-meter, Marathon
From: Texas Tech University (born in Kenya, now lives in Eugene, Oregon)
On the road to Tokyo: Won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London (representing Kenya)
Fun fact: Became a U.S. citizen in 2017
Follow: @sallykipyego

Bryce Hoppel, 23
Event: 800-meter
From: Midland
On the road to Tokyo: First place at 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships and Outdoor Championships
Fun fact: Loves playing many different sports, with baseball and soccer being his favorites outside of track and field.
Follow: Instagram @brycehoppel

Fred Kerley, 26
Event: Men's 100m
From: Texas A&M (hometown: Morgan City, Louisiana)
On the road to Tokyo: World Championships 2019 – gold (4x400m relay); 3rd (400m)
Fun fact: Younger brother Mylik ran with him on the Texas A&M track team.
Follow: Instagram @fkerley99

Read about more Texas A&M Aggies competing in the Olympics here and Texas Longhorns competing here.

Inika McPherson, 34
Event: High jump
From: Galveston and Port Arthur
On the road to Tokyo: Competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
Fun fact: Hobbies include reading, writing poetry, drawing, playing the guitar, designing clothes, singing, and playing basketball and volleyball.
Follow: Instagram @inika_mcpherson

Cycling

Connor Fields, 28
Event: BMX
From: Plano (now lives in Las Vegas)
On the road to Tokyo: Two-time Olympian (2012; 2016 - gold medalist)
Fun fact: His go-to indulgent snacks are doughnuts and fried chicken.
Follow: @connorfields11

Lawson Craddock, 29
Event: Road cycling
From: Houston
On the road to Tokyo: Two-time winner of Stage 1 of the Tour Columbia (2019, 2020)
Fun fact: Injured from a crash, he finished all 21 stages of the 2018 Tour de France and raised over $200,000 for the velodrome in Houston after damage from Hurricane Harvey.
Follow: Instagram @lawsoncraddock

Shooting

Vincent Hancock, 32
Event: Skeet
From: Fort Worth
On the road to Tokyo: A three-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist going into the Tokyo Games.
Fun fact: A former sergeant in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, he earned the National Defense Service Medal, The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Distinguished International Shooter Badge.
Follow: Instagram @vincent_hancock

Austen Smith, 19
Event: Women's Skeet
From: Keller and Dallas
On the road to Tokyo: She was the 2019 Skeet National Champion.
Fun fact: She graduated high school shortly after making the Olympic Team and enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington to study aerospace engineering. Her 20th birthday is the day of the Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Follow: Instagram @austen.smithh

Phillip Jungman, 26
Event: Skeet
From: Bryan and Caldwell, Texas
On the road to Tokyo: 30th at the 2019 World Cup Changwon (skeet)
Fun fact: He is an active-duty specialist in the U.S. Army.
Follow: Instagram @phillipjungman

Softball

Cat Osterman, 38
From: Houston (now lives in New Braunfels)
On the road to Tokyo: The celebrated left-handed pitcher is the 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medalist.
Fun fact: Wore No. 8 for Olympics in 2004 and 2008. Will wear No. 38 for this, her third Olympics, at age 38.
Follow: Instagram @catosterman

Volleyball

Chiaka Ogbogu, 26
From: Coppell
On the road to Tokyo: She was a four-time AVCA All-American while playing at thee University of Texas. She is the Longhorns' all-time blocks leader.
Fun fact: She says she is pursuing volleyball "for as long as I can to put myself out there so that young Black volleyball players can see themselves represented more in this sport."
Follow: Instagram @chiaka11

Basketball

Ariel Atkins, 24
From: Duncanville
On the road to Tokyo: The Washington Mystics guard was named WNBA All-Defensive second team: 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Fun fact: She participated in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere (FLAME) program during the summer of 2016.
Follow: Instagram @iamarielatkins

Brittney Griner, 29
From: Houston (also a star at Baylor University)
On the road to Tokyo: Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medalist
Fun fact: Volunteers with former Houston Rocket guard Steve Francis' Holiday Bowling and Christmas Party for underprivileged children.
Follow: Instagram @brittneyyevettegriner

Skateboarding

Jordyn Barratt, 22
Event: Women's Skateboard Park
From: Dallas (lived in Hawaii and now in California)
On the road to Tokyo: She won 4th place in the 2018 World Championships.
Fun fact: She was the first female to compete as a pro in both US Open skate and surf in the same year.
Follow: Instagram @jordynbarratt

Boxing

Ginny Fuchs, 33
From: Houston
On the road to Tokyo: Placed 3rd in the 2018 Elite Women's World Championships.
Fun fact: Her favorite food is any kind of croissant.
Follow: Instagram @ginnyfuchsusa

Fencing

Courtney Hurley, 30
Event: Individual, Team Epee Fencing
From: Houston and San Antonio
On the road to Tokyo: Two-time Olympian (2012, 2016); Olympic medalist (bronze)
Fun fact: Has one older sister, Kelley, who qualified to represent Team USA at the Olympic Games in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
Follow: Instagram @thathurleygurrl

Kelley Hurley, 32
Event: Individual, Team Epee Fencing
From: Houston and San Antonio
On the road to Tokyo: Three-time Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016); Olympic medalist (bronze)
Fun fact: Has one younger sister, Courtney, who also qualified to represent Team USA at the Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016.
Follow: Instagram @thishurleygurrl

Archery

Mackenzie Brown, 26
Event: Recurve
From: Flint, Texas
On the road to Tokyo: Part of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Archery Team
Fun fact: She has a talent for photography, and also enjoys baking and knitting in her spare time.
Follow: Instagram @mackbrown14

Rowing

Gia Doonan, 27
From: UT Austin (hometown: Rochester, Massachusetts)
On the road to Tokyo: Won a bronze World Championship medal in 2019 in Women's Eight
Fun fact: She learned about rowing in high school and fell in love with the sport then, she says.
Follow: Instagram @gia_doonan

Wrestling

Tamyra Mensah-Stock, 28
From: Katy
On the road to Tokyo: 2019 World Champion
Fun fact: She has a twin, Tarkyia, whom she credits with introducing her to wrestling.
Follow: Intsagram @mensahtamyrastock

Tae Kwon Do

Paige McPherson, 29
From: Abilene
On the road to Tokyo: Won bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games, came in 11th at 2016 Olympics
Fun fact: Is a part of the nonprofit organization A Safe Haven For Newborns, which helps newborns from the dangers of abandonment and aids mothers-to-be.
Follow: Instagram @aka_mcfierce