5 South Florida Athletes to Watch at the Tokyo Summer Olympics

olympics
Olympic rings on Odaiba island in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Photo by Erik Zünder on Unsplash

The 2020 Summer Olympics are set to begin with tomorrow evening’s opening ceremony in Tokyo, Japan after being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With 613 athletes representing the United States in 35 different sports across 17 days, it’s hard to know what to focus on. That’s where we come in–here are five Florida athletes to keep an eye on in this year’s competition. 

Bam Adebayo

Age: 24

Sport: Men’s Basketball 

Why you should watch: Many will recognize Adebayo as the center/power forward who has starred for the Miami Heat over the past few seasons. Although this NBA big man was born in New Jersey, Adebayo has called Miami home since 2017 and is likely to bring home the gold this summer with a USA Men’s Basketball team that is typically dominant at the games. 

Eddy Alvarez

Age: 31

Sport: Baseball

Why you should watch: Alvarez is used to setting records; he was the first Winter Olympics athlete and the first non-baseball Olympian since Jim Thorpe to play in Major League Baseball. He was also the first American male of Cuban descent to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic speed skating team in 2014. After a stint with the Miami Marlins in the pandemic-shortened 2020 MLB season, he returns to the Olympics this year having swapped out his skates for cleats and a baseball glove. He will serve as the U.S. flag bearer alongside basketball player Sue Bird.

Nick Martinez

Age: 30

Sport: Baseball

Why you should watch: This right-handed baseball pitcher was born and raised in Miami, and left Florida after high school to play for Fordham University. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2014, and spent a few years with the organization before heading overseas to play in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB). He will represent the USA in his first Olympics this summer. 

Sylvia Fowles

Age: 35

Sport: Women’s Basketball

Why you should watch: Towering at an imposing 6’6”, it’s hard to miss the Miami-born and raised Sylvia Fowles, but she is much more than just her impressive stature. This Minnesota Lynx superstar has racked up myriad superlatives in the WNBA, including two championship rings and a league MVP award, and is veteran of the U.S. Women’s Basketball team. She and the rest of the U.S. squad are seeking their fourth consecutive gold medal following top finishes at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 summer games. 

Nick Lucena

Age: 41

Sport: Men’s Beach Volleyball

Why you should watch: Nick Lucena is an American professional beach volleyball player who grew up in Fort Lauderdale and attended Florida State University. He and his teammate Phil Dalhausser participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and hope to avenge their loss to Brazil in the 2016 quarterfinal round. If he earns a medal in Japan this summer, it will be a victory for both South Florida and his alma mater.