The Top Olympic Athletes In 2018 Have Super Inspirational Stories
Now that the 2018 Olympic Games are officially underway, there are plenty of questions popping up. Mainly, who will take home all those gold medals? Well, if you want to make predictions, knowing the top Olympic athletes in 2018 is likely a helpful first step. Of course, there's no way to predict the upsets or underdog stories, but you can take a look at some of the athletes who are poised to win big. That way you'll know who to keep on your radar.
And once you learn more about their stories, you'll likely realize that the top athletes at the 2018 PyeongChang Games come from so many different backgrounds, but there's a common theme: Their dedication to their sports is inspirational. Whether overcoming injuries or breaking records, they're all making their mark in the world of sports in one way or another. Their resilience is awe-inducing.
It may seem obvious, but bears repeating: Most, if not all, of the athletes at this year's games are the best of the best from their respective countries. The individuals on this list are just some who have managed to set themselves apart. But by the time the closing ceremony rolls around, you'll likely have a whole new list of talented stars to add to the "top athlete" category.
1. Chloe Kim
This USA snowboarder qualified for Team USA four years ago, but Chloe Kim was too young to participate in the Winter Olympics, according to NBC. At the time, she was 13, two years younger than the minimum age of 15. Now, she has an optimistic view and says it was worth the wait, as Kim is widely known as the gold-medal favorite in the halfpipe event and was referred to as the "best halfpipe rider alive right now" by Tom Monterroso, the editor of Snowboarding Magazine.
2. Lindsey Vonn
Since the 2010 Olympics, this USA athlete, who competes in alpine skiing, has made a remarkable comeback after several severe injuries. As reported by NBC, Vonn missed the Sochi Olympics due to a knee injury. Since, she has endured an arm fracture from a training crash and a back injury in December as well. On top of that, Vonn starred in an inspiring Super Bowl ad and recently became the oldest winner of a World Cup downhill race at 33.
3. Bradie Tennell
This 20-year-old USA figure skater has had an incredible journey and comeback story. After falling in love with the sport at a young age, Tennell suffered years of back injuries, which she explained to CNN. In 2016, she was finally cleared to skate again, and now, Tennell is being viewed as a gold medal contender at the 2018 Olympics.
4. Maame Biney
At just 18 years old, USA speedskater Maame Biney became the first African-American woman to make the USA speedskating team. The high-schooler didn't intentionally set out to make history. "It’s a really good feeling, but it has to set in. It takes me a while before it’s like, ‘Holy cow,'" she told reporters at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Short Track Speedskating in December. Now, Biney is focused on winning the gold.
5. Mikaela Shiffrin
After starting her athletic journey around the age of 2, Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom gold medalist in history at age 18 in 2014, according to NBC. Shiffrin, who competes in alpine skiing, won the World Cup all-around title a year ago. The Team USA member has been deemed "the best skier in the world" by TIME.
6. Seun Adigun
Seun Adigun's Olympics journey started with a GoFundMe page to help finance her ultimate goal of competing on the 2018 Winter Olympic Nigerian Women's Bobsled Team. Not only did she make it to the Olympics, but Adigun will be Africa's very first bobsled team driver, CNN reported.
7. Justine Dufour-Lapointe
This Team Canada freestyle skier is only 23, but Dufour-Lapointe is the defending Olympic champion in moguls. Her dedication has been inspiring. Even after Dufour-Lapointe took the gold at the Sochi Games in 2014, she returns this year to keep her title strong.
8. Mikaël Kingsbury
Team Canada's freestyle skier Mikaël Kingsbury is a record-breaking, fierce competitor. The 25-year-old has won 48 World Cup moguls and holds the record for most career wins in moguls and dual moguls combined, according to the Canadian Olympic Team's official website. Although he took the silver in the 2014 games, he's returned to score the gold.
9. Noriaki Kasai
Talk about persistence. This year, Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai became the first athlete to compete in eight Winter Olympics, USA Today repoted. He's 45 years old and has been competing in the Olympics since 1992. Kasai is already looking to the future, and aims to also compete in the 2026 Olympics when he's 53.
10. Nathan Chen
Eighteen-year-old USA figure skater Nathan Chen knew he'd be in the Olympics when he was just 10. "I do remember saying that as a little kid. It was more centered on the fact that I'd be age-eligible for 2018," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It's crazy how fast time flies and how things progress." For nearly a decade, Chen has had his eye on the prize and competing in the Olympics is a major accomplishment in itself.
11. Elana Meyers Taylor
In the last games, this Team USA bobsledder lost the gold when she accidentally smacked a wall during competition. That year, though, she and Kaillie Humphries of Team Canada became the first women to drive four-person bobsleds in World Cup competition, BBC reported. After waiting four years, Meyers Taylor is back for another chance at the big win.
12. Shaun White
This Team USA snowboarder is a household name in American sports. But many may not know that Shaun White has had some major injuries and setbacks to overcome. In October, a training crash left White with 62 stitches, according to People. In the 2014 games, he tried to double up by competing in both halfpipe and slopestyle, yet had to drop out of slopestyle and fell twice in the halfpipe final. This year, he's back aiming for the gold.
13. Kelly Clark
What's inspiring about this Team USA snowboarder is that she's competing against an athlete she also mentors. Clark, a 34-year-old bronze winner, has worked with 17-year-old Chloe Kim, and the two close friends will be competing against each other in the Winter Games. Healthy competition is always a good thing.
This list is just some of the many athletes to keep an eye out for during this year's big games.