With the 2016 Rio Olympics coming to a close, the details of the 2020 Tokyo summer games are beginning to emerge.
So what does the future have in store for some of our favorite Olympians when it comes to Tokyo? Many of our favorite Olympians have weighed in on where they stand. While some athletes have hinted at their returns, others have announced plans to retire.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking goodbye is to 23-time gold medal winner, Michael Phelps. The swimming legend has said the 2016 games will be his last. After finishing up at Rio, he shared the start of his retirement with a photo with his baby boy, Boomer, on social media.
Prior to the Rio robbery scandal, Ryan Lochte was enthusiastic about 2020, joking that he wasn’t buying Phelps’ retirement plans. “Michael, I’ll see you in Tokyo,” Lochte said on Today. However, in an interview with Matt Lauer about the controversy, the swimmer revealed his future with the sport is uncertain. When Lauer brought up calls for Lochte to be banned from swimming, the 32-year-old responded, “I mean, that’s not my call. It’s, you know, USA Swimming, the USOC. It’s the board. It’s what they decide. All I know is I learned my lesson from this. I definitely did. And I know this will never—these kind of shenanigans or whatever you want to call it—will never happen again. And I love this sport. I mean, I dedicated my whole entire life to it. And it’s not who I am. And I’m not done with this sport if they let me be.”
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Simone Manuel, made headlines in Rio for taking home the gold and being the first African American woman to win an individual swimming medal during her 100-meter freestyle. And we’re in luck, because Manuel wants to return and do it all over again. “Yeah, I definitely think I’m definitely going to go for 2020,” she told iHeartRadio. “I think I have a good amount of years in me, so we’ll see what happens in 2020.”
Missy Franklin, didn’t have a doubt in her mind she’d return to the race for the U.S. in an interview with Good Morning America. “I feel like I have so much left to learn from this sport, so much left to give to it. I’d love to be in 2020,” she shared.
As for Katie Ledecky? When asked about Tokyo, the world-record holder replied, “It’s hard to look ahead that far right now just having finishing the meet, but I know I’ll set some new goals and work toward those just as I did these past four years and hopefully I can achieve those again.” Sounds pretty promising to us.
Rio’s power gymnasts and friendship goals duo, Aly Raisman and Simone Biles, have also weighed in on whether or not they’ll be taking on the uneven bars in Tokyo. Aly seemed optimistic, stating, “I’m going to take a vacation, take some time off, and then you know, I never say never. I’m definitely thinking about it,” the gymnast team captain told Today’s Matt Lauer.
Biles, who has taken over the gymnastics scene this year with her five medals, was more unsurem telling Matt Lauer, “I don’t know. That’s a really long ways away. We’ll see.” It’s safe to say all of America (including Zac Efron) will rooting for a return by the breakout 19-year-old star. Until then, we can look forward to seeing Biles carrying the U.S. flag during tonight’s Closing Ceremony.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez hasn’t ruled out competing in Tokyo. “I am excited about what it means to compete at the highest level of this sport and really want to focus on elite gymnastics for the next four years,” the gymnast said in a release explaining her decision to turn professional ahead of Rio. Here’s hoping we’ll see the Human Emoji represent the U.S. in 2020!
Danell Leyva, represented the U.S. men’s team and earned his silver medal on the high bars. The gymnast was unsure whether he’d return to try and do one better for the gold, telling NBC Miami, “I don’t know yet, I gotta take some time off but maybe, we’ll see.”
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Jamaica’s Usain Bolt insisted he would retire from athletics in 2017, marking Rio as his last appearance at the Olympic games. But according to reports from Rio, Usain’s coach is pushing for the runner to perform in Tokyo. Bolt explained, “My coach always says ‘Usain you can always go on to the 2020 Olympics if you want. So this is why he tells me to stop talking about retirement and just take it a year at a time,” the 29-year-old said.
Representing team Great Britain, gold medalist gymnast Max Whitlock and silver medalist Louis Smith have both confirmed their return. “I’d like to go to Tokyo,” Smith said to Sky Sports News HQ, “I definitely have some unfinished business.” Whitlock added, “I hope so. I’m not done yet.”
Tennis player, Andy Murray, and Great Britain’s track star, Jessica Ennis-Hill, feel as though Rio may be the end of the finish line. Ennis-Hill, who won a silver medal in Rio and is mom to 2-year-old son, Reggie, spoke about her future in a BBC interview, “It’s a huge decision and I want to make sure it’s the right one. I’m going to go home, have some time to relax with my family, see Reggie, go on holiday and just really think about everything.” Andy Murray pointed to his age as a potential reason to bow out in Rio, telling Express, “Who knows about Tokyo in four years. At 33, I’m not sure I’ll be at the same level.”
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Though Murray feels like age may adversely affect him, Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina has defied just that, and is planning on continuing to do so. At 41, Chusovitina is the oldest Olympic gymnast in history. She explained in an interview, “On the podium, everyone is the same whether you are 40 or 16.” Age is definitely just a number for this gymnast, as she has announced she is ready to take on her eighth Olympic games in Tokyo. “I’ve already taken this decision…I just woke up in the morning and decided,” Oksana said to Reuters. “I’d like [to] carry out an experiment to see how long it will take before I’ve had enough.”
Three-time-gold medal winning Hungarian swimmer, Katinka Hosszú, is also not ruling out the possibility to compete again in four years. After her success in Rio, Hosszu told NBC Sports that if she competes, she’d likely take on less races since she’ll be 31 at the time of the 2020 games.