By Ashlee Buhler 

It’s been a long time coming—five years to be exact—but the Tokyo Olympics are finally here! The world’s best gymnasts have come together (socially distanced of course) to compete on the sport’s biggest stage and make their dreams come true. 

It’s been a long journey to get to this point. Plans have been cancelled, daily routines disrupted, and lives turned upside down. As the Olympics kick off, the world is eager for reasons to cheer and feel good once again. So, let the Games begin! 

Here, we take a look at 10 athletes on the women’s side we are excited to cheer on in Tokyo! 

Simone Biles 

With a combined total of 30 Olympic and World medals and seven U.S. National titles, Simone Biles’ nickname “The GOAT” has been well earned. However, in Tokyo, Biles has the opportunity to further cement her legacy and make history. If she wins three medals here, she will become the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast of all time, surpassing Shannon Miller who has seven medals from 1992 and 1996. If she wins All-Around gold, Biles will become the first gymnast since Vera Caslavska (1964 & 1968) to win back-to-back titles. Oh, and one last thing—Biles will also look to get the Yurchenko double pike on vault named after her— a vault never performed before by a female gymnast. If Biles lands it in Tokyo, it will be her fifth eponymous skill (the most for a U.S. gymnast). When Biles is in the picture, it’s impossible not to be stoked for the Games!

Larisa Iordache 

It’s been quite the journey for Larisa Iordache just to make it to Tokyo. With sixteen European Championship medals, four World Championship medals, and an Olympic team bronze from 2012, Iordache is one of the greatest Romanian gymnasts of all time. However, injuries held her back for most of the quad. Luckily, Iordache overcame the odds and qualified to Tokyo during her final opportunity at the 2021 European Championships. She is anticipated to only compete beam at these Games, but it just may be her strongest shot at a medal!

Sunisa Lee 

Sunisa Lee is just downright exciting to watch! She’s got a thrilling uneven bar routine that can challenge for gold with a 6.8 start value, and is a beauty to watch on beam and floor. In her very first Olympics, Suni could come home with medals on multiple events, including bars and in the All-Around. The biggest challenge will be besting her teammates to qualify to the finals. Regardless of what happens, we are excited to see Suni shine!

Melanie de Jesus dos Santos 

Melanie de Jesus dos Santos has been a fan favorite ever since she emerged on the scene at the 2017 American Cup where she won the bronze medal. Since then, she has won three French All-Around titles and seven European medals, including the All-Around gold in 2019. Tokyo will be Melanie’s first Olympics and if she hits her routines how she is capable, she could come home with multiple medals and make history for France.

Flavia Saraiva 

Flavia Saraiva is a shining star on beam and floor for Brazil and has racked up a ton of accolades on those events through the years such as a gold on beam at the 2018 South American Games and bronze on floor at the Pan Am Games in 2019. However, a medal on the World or Olympic stage has alluded her. Saraiva was close at the 2016 Rio Olympics, placing fifth in the beam final, but will be striving for more in Tokyo. Will her pristine toe point and textbook execution finally propel her to the medal podium? We certainly hope!

Viktoria Listunova

If it wasn’t for the Olympic postponement, Viktoria Listunova (ROC) wouldn’t even be in Tokyo, but she’s coming in ready to seize the opportunity. Listunova made her senior debut at the Russian National Championships earlier this year where she won the All-Around title. She followed that up with wins at the European Championships and Russian Cup. (There’s a meme that would sum it up best: tell me you’re ready for Tokyo without telling me you’re ready for Tokyo!) If all goes as planned, Listunova has serious potential to win several medals in Tokyo, including in the All-Around.

Oksana Chusovitina 

Eight Olympic Games. 46 years-old. Need we say more? Oksana Chusovitina  (UZB) has been competing at the Olympics longer than most of her competitors have been alive, but Tokyo, she told us in April, will be her final games. Chuso’s presence in Tokyo is historic enough—when she salutes the judge on qualification day, she will officially become the oldest female gymnast to ever compete in an Olympic Games. However, Chuso is a legitimate contender for the vault event final and will push for one more medal to finish her collection which includes team gold from 1992 and silver on vault from 2008. She’s coming off a bronze medal performance at the recent Doha World Cup—so it’s certainly not out of the question!

Lu Yufei 

Lu Yufei has had a meteoric rise to the top for the Chinese women. After years of struggling with injuries, Yufei won her first Chinese National All-Around title in May, in addition to winning the floor title and a silver on beam. Yufei doesn’t have a lot of international experience, but if this year has been any indication, she is ready to go and may be peaking at just the right time. We’re excited to see how Yufei’s success will translate to the biggest stage there is in the sport!

Mai Murakami

With three World Championship medals, including gold on floor in 2017, Mai Murakami is arguably one of the greatest female gymnasts Japan has ever had. She’s their greatest hope for a medal in Tokyo, which she could do either in the All-Around or on floor. No Japanese female gymnast has ever won an Olympic medal, so Murakami could be the first. To do it at her home games would simply be icing on the cake.

Ellie Black 

Ellie Black has done a lot of incredible things in her gymnastics career. For starters, she became the first Canadian gymnast to win a World All-Around medal when she took home silver in 2017. She’s also a two-time Pan American Games All-Around Champion and a six-time Canadian National Champion. Now in Tokyo, she’s a three-time Olympian. There’s one last thing Black needs to do: win an Olympic medal. Will she make history for the Canadian women in Tokyo? We can’t wait to find out!

Photo by Ricardo Bufolin for Inside Gymnastics

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