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35 Black American Athletes To Watch In Rio  was originally published on

1. Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix

Sport: Track and Field – Sprinter

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Fun Fact: At age 30, Allyson is an Olympic gold medalist, two-time Olympic silver medalist and three-time World Champion.

2. Simone Manuel

Simone Manuel

Sport: Swimming

Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

Fun Fact: Simone currently holds the American record in the 100yd freestyle.

3. Simone Biles

Simone Biles

Sport: Gymnastics

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Fun Fact: Simone is the first African American woman ever to be world all-around champion and the first woman ever to win three consecutive world all-around titles.

4. Vashti Cunningham

Vashti Cunningham

Sport: Track and Field – High Jump

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Fun Fact: Vashti (who is only 18 years old by the way) is the daughter of retired NFL player Randall Cunningham and the niece of retired NFL fullback Sam Cunningham.

5. Alysia Montaño

Alysia Montaño

Sport: Track and Field – Middle Distance Runner

Hometown: Queens, New York

Fun Fact: In 2014, Alysia competed in the 800m event at the U.S. Outdoor Championships while eight months pregnant.

6. LaShawn Merritt

LaShawn Merritt

Sport: Track and Field – Sprinter

Hometown: Portsmouth, Virginia

Fun Fact: LaShawn will be returning to the summer Olympic games to compete in the 400m event after injury prevented him from competing in 2012.

7. Serena and Venus Williams

Serena and Venus Williams

Sport: Tennis

Hometown: Lynwood, California

Fun Fact: While their list of palmares is much to long to list here, on impressive fact is that the two sisters combined have won a total of 58 Grand Slam titles during their careers.

8. Steph Curry

Steph Curry

Sport: Basketball

Hometown: Akron, Ohio

Fun Fact: Steph is the first NBA player ever to be unanimously voted MVP (2015).

9. Dawn Harper-Nelson

Dawn Harper-Nelson

Sport: Track and Field – 100m Hurdles

Hometown: East St. Louis, Illinois

Fun Fact: Dawn is the first American 100m hurdler to ever win gold at an Olympics (2008) and then another medal in the following Olympics (2012).

10. Ashleigh Johnson

Ashleigh Johnson

Sport: Water Polo – Goalkeeper

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Fun Fact: If Ashleigh couldn’t play water polo anymore she would choose beach volleyball as a sport to play.

11. Gabrielle Douglas

Gabrielle Douglas

Sport: Gymnastics

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Fun Fact: Gabby is the first African American woman in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion.

12. Donnell Whittenburg

Donnell Whittenburg

Sport: Gymnastics

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Fun Fact: Donnell is the 2014 National Champion on Vault and is the 2015 National Champion on the Rings.

13. Shamier Little

Shamier Little

Sport: Track and Field – 400m Hurdles

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

Fun Fact: Rio 2016 will be Shamier’s first Olympics.

14. Maya Moore

Maya Moore

Sport: Basketball

Hometown: Jefferson City, Missouri

Fun Fact: Maya is second woman ever to win the MVP award for the WNBA regular-season, the WNBA finals, and the All-Star game in one year.

15. Michelle Carter

Michelle Carter

Sport: Track and Field – Spot Put

Hometown: San Jose, California

Fun Fact: Michelle’s father is Michael Carter, a former Olympian and NFL player for the 49ers.

16. Carlin Isles

Carlin Isles

Sport: Rugby – Wing

Hometown: Massillon, Ohio

Fun Fact: Before Carlin took up rugby he competed in track and field as a sprinter.

17. Marquise Goodwin

Marquise Goodwin

Sport: Track and Field – Long Jump

Hometown: Lubbock, Texas

Fun Fact: Marquise is also a NFL wide receiver and kickoff returner for the Buffalo Bills.

18. Candice Parker

Candice Parker

Sport: Basketball

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Fun Fact: Candice is the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game.

19. Tori Bowie

Tori Bowie

Sport: Track and Field – Long Jump, 100m, 200m

Hometown: Sandhill, Mississippi

Fun Fact: Tori won bronze in the 100m at the World Championships in 2015

20. Trayvon Bromell

Trayvon Bromell

Sport: Track and Field – Sprinter

Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida

Fun Fact: Trayvon is the first junior to surpass the 10-second barrier in the 100m event.

21. Daryl Homer

Daryl Homer

Sport: Fencing – Sabre

Hometown: Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Fun Fact: Daryl is the first American man to win a medal in saber at the Senior World Championships (2015).

22. Christian Taylor

Christian Taylor

Sport: Track and Field – Triple Jump and Long Jump

Hometown: Fayetteville, Georgia

Fun Fact: Christian will be returning to Rio to defend his 2012 gold medal in the triple jump.

23. Lia Neal

Lia Neal

Sport: Swimming – Freestyle Events

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Fun Fact: Lia is the second African-American woman to ever join the U.S. swim team.

24. Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner

Sport: Basketball

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun Fact: Brittney stands 6ft 9in tall.

25. Brittney Reese

Brittney Reese

Sport: Track and Field – Long Jump

Hometown: Inglewood, California

Fun Fact: Brittney is the current indoor word record holder in the long jump with a distance of 7.23 meters.

26. Cullen Jones

Cullen Jones

Sport: Swimming – Freestyle Sprint Events

Hometown: Bronx, New York

Fun Fact: Cullen was prompted to learn to swim after almost downing at a water park when he was five years old.

27. Jordan Burroughs

Jordan Burroughs

Sport: Freestyle Wrestling

Hometown: Camden, New Jersey

Fun Fact: Jordan is the fourth wrestler ever to win an NCAA title and world title in the same year.

28. Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin

Sport: Track and Field – Sprinter

Hometown: Flint, Michigan

Fun Fact: Justin is a former Olympic gold medalist in the 100m dash.

29. English Gardner

English Gardner

Sport: Track and Field – Sprinter

Hometown: Voorhees Township, New Jersey

Fun Fact: English has a personal best of 10.79 seconds for the 100m dash which ranks her in the top twenty all-time.

30. Claressa Shields

Claressa Shields

Sport: Boxing

Hometown: Flint, Michigan

Fun Fact: Claressa is the first American woman to win a boxing gold medal (London 2012).

31. Ajee Wilson

Ajee Wilson

Sport: Track and Field – Middle Distance Runner

Hometown: Neptune Township, New Jersey

Fun Fact: Ajee specializes in the 800m and won a Junior World Title in the event in 2012.

32. Boris Berian

Boris Berian

Sport: Track and Field – Middle Distance Runner

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Fun Fact: Boris is the 2016 National Champion in the 800m.

33. Cam F. Awesome

Cam F. Awesome

Sport: Boxing

Hometown: Uniondale, New York

Fun Fact: Cam legally changed his name from Lenroy Thompson.

34. Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi

Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi

Sport: Long Distance Runner

Hometown: Asmara, Eritrea

Fun Fact: When Meb won the Boston Marathon in 2014, he was just shy of his 30th birthday making him the oldest winner of the Boston Marathon since at least 1930. He also was the first American male to win the race since 1983, and first American since 1985.

35. Aries Merritt

Aries Merritt

Sport: Track and Field – 110m Hurdles

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Fun Fact: Aries holds the word record in the 100m hurdles with a time of 12.80.