YOG stars to watch in 2021

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 03:  Kaylee McKeown competes in the heats of the Women's 400m Individual Medley event during the 2018 Australia Swimming National Trials at the Optus Aquatic Centre on March 3, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 03: Kaylee McKeown competes in the heats of the Women's 400m Individual Medley event during the 2018 Australia Swimming National Trials at the Optus Aquatic Centre on March 3, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

With a host of major sporting events on the calendar for 2021, Tokyo 2020 highlights some former Youth Olympic Games (YOG) stars who could shine at the next Games

Kaylee McKeown

Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown was in outstanding form at the end of 2020, breaking the world short-course record for the 200m backstroke and clocking the second-fastest time in history for the 100m backstroke, and she now looks set to enjoy a big year in 2021. The 19-year-old, who won four medals at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, had already made a big splash at elite level by winning silver in the 200m backstroke at the 2019 World Championships, and she is now proving to be one of the most exciting prospects in swimming.

Kaylee McKeown celebrates victory after winning the Women's 200m Backstroke event during the 2019 Australian World Championship Swimming Trials. She won four medals at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, including one gold.
Kaylee McKeown celebrates victory after winning the Women's 200m Backstroke event during the 2019 Australian World Championship Swimming Trials. She won four medals at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, including one gold.
2019 Getty Images

Anthony Ginting

Rising badminton star Anthony Ginting began 2020 by winning the Indonesia Masters in January to give him his third BWF World Tour title, and was then part of the Indonesian team that triumphed at the Asia Team Championships in February. Having climbed to a career high of third in the world rankings, he saw his season brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the YOG Nanjing 2014 bronze medallist will be aiming to pick up where he left off in 2021, as he eyes an Olympic debut in Tokyo.

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Mehdy Mettela

The French swimmer has already enjoyed an excellent career that includes a silver medal in the Rio 2016 4x100m relay, but in 2010 he was competing in the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. Mehdy Metella won three medals during those Games, including a gold in the 100m freestyle, silver in the 4x100m medley relay and bronze in the 4x100m freestyle mixed event. After injuring his shoulder in late 2019, it looked as if his Olympic dreams were over, but the postponement of the Games has given him a second chance. He returned to the pool for the French Championships last December, where he won the 100m butterfly title in a time of 52.86s.

HANGZHOU, CHINA - DECEMBER 12:  Mehdy Metella of France competes in the Men's 100m butterfly Preliminaries of the 14th FINA World Swimming Championships at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo on December 12, 2018 in Hangzhou, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
HANGZHOU, CHINA - DECEMBER 12: Mehdy Metella of France competes in the Men's 100m butterfly Preliminaries of the 14th FINA World Swimming Championships at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo on December 12, 2018 in Hangzhou, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
2018 Getty Images

Duda

YOG Nanjing 2014 beach volleyball champion Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa has gone from strength to strength since partnering with Olympic silver medallist and former world champion Ágatha Bednarczuk in 2017, and the pair will be among the favourites for gold at this year’s Olympic Games. Together, they won the prestigious FIVB World Tour Finals in Hamburg (Germany) in 2018, and also clinched victory in the Olympic test event in Tokyo in 2019. While the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted their 2020 season, they still managed to claim gold at the 2020 King of the Court tournament in Utrecht (Netherlands) in September, and came out on top on the Brazilian circuit, winning three of the five events, meaning they will start 2021 on a high.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MAY 21:Duda (L) and Agatha of Brazil celebrate after winning the gold medal match against Canada at Parque Olimpico during day four of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Rio, on May 21, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images for FIVB)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MAY 21:Duda (L) and Agatha of Brazil celebrate after winning the gold medal match against Canada at Parque Olimpico during day four of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Rio, on May 21, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images for FIVB)
2017 Getty Images

Viktor Hovland

Having won two PGA Tour events and risen to 14th in the world rankings during the course of 2020, Norwegian golfer Viktor Hovland looks well placed to challenge for even greater honours in 2021. The 23-year-old will be aiming for a maiden major title when he tees it up at the Masters in April – having been crowned low amateur at the 2019 tournament – while he will also be expected to challenge at the PGA Championship in May, the US Open in June and the Open Championship in July before arriving in Tokyo for the Olympic Games. Hovland, who is also set to make a Ryder Cup debut in September as part of the European team, came close to winning a medal at the YOG Nanjing 2014 – losing in a bronze-medal playoff – but has come a long way since then and is likely to continue his impressive progression in 2021.

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 31: Viktor Hovland of Norway chips from the bunker onto the fifth green during the second round of the Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale on January 31, 2020 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 31: Viktor Hovland of Norway chips from the bunker onto the fifth green during the second round of the Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale on January 31, 2020 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
2020 Getty Images

Frédérique Matla

Dutch hockey star Frédérique Matla finished 2020 in goalscoring form in the FIH Pro League, finding the net in victories over Great Britain in October and Belgium in November. With the Netherlands sitting atop the standings with seven wins from eight games, the 24-year-old, who won silver with the Dutch team at the YOG Nanjing 2014, could enjoy Pro League and Olympic success in 2021.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 22:  Frederique Malta of Netherlands runs at the Korea defence during the Pool A game between Netherlands and South Korea of the FIH Womens Hockey World Cup at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on July 22, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Frederique Malta of Netherlands runs at the Korea defence during the Pool A game between Netherlands and South Korea of the FIH Womens Hockey World Cup at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on July 22, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
2018 Getty Images

Jordan Díaz

With his 2020 season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, triple jumper Jordan Díaz will be looking to recapture his 2019 form when he returns to competition this year. The Cuban’s gold medal-winning leap of 17.14m at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 would have been enough to clinch fourth place in the Rio 2016 Olympic final, and in 2019 he extended his personal best to 17.49m – just 1cm shy of Volker Mai's world junior record, which was set way back in 1985. If he can regain that form in 2021, he is likely to challenge for the Olympic podium in Tokyo.

Jordan Alejandro Díaz Fortun of Cuba competes in the Men's Triple Jump final during the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha. He won gold with a 17,14m jump at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Jordan Alejandro Díaz Fortun of Cuba competes in the Men's Triple Jump final during the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha. He won gold with a 17,14m jump at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
2019 Getty Images/Michael Steele

Iga Świątek

Polish tennis star Iga Świątek will be looking to follow up a history-making 2020 when she returns to the court this year. The 19-year-old’s triumph at October’s French Open made her the first Polish tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title, while her victory over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the final also made her the youngest singles champion at the tournament since Rafael Nadal in 2005, and the youngest women's singles champion at Roland Garros since Monica Seles in 1992. Świątek, who won doubles gold alongside Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, climbed to a career high of 17th in the women’s world rankings as a result of her French Open triumph, and will now look to continue her rapid rise at next month’s Australian Open, while she will also hope to follow in the footsteps of her Olympian father Tomasz by competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 04: Iga Swiatek of Poland celebrates after winning match point during her Women's Singles fourth round match against Simona Halep of Romania on day eight of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros on October 04, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 04: Iga Swiatek of Poland celebrates after winning match point during her Women's Singles fourth round match against Simona Halep of Romania on day eight of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros on October 04, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
2020 Getty Images