Meet the Latter-day Saint Olympians competing in Tokyo

With the July 23 opening ceremonies officially starting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics a year after a pandemic delay, athletes are lifting, kicking, throwing, shooting, dribbling, running and swimming as they compete on the world stage.

More than a dozen athletes with connections to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be part of the Olympics. They are listed approximately in the order of when they compete. Events run through Sunday, Aug. 8. 

If you know of any other Latter-day Saints competing in the Tokyo Olympic Games or in the Paralympic Games, please email their name, country and sport to [email protected].


Soccer

United States forward Alex Morgan (13) tracks a ball in front of Brazil defender Bruna Benites (3) during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women’s soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.
United States forward Alex Morgan (13) tracks a ball in front of Brazil defender Bruna Benites (3) during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women’s soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack, Associated Press

This is the third Olympics for Brazilian soccer defender Bruna Benites. The 35-year-old professional soccer player was team captain of the 2012 team that competed in Great Britain. She helped win the CONMEBOL Copa América Femenina in 2014, and the Brazilian women were fourth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

She was born in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil, and was baptized a member of the Church with her family at age 15. She spoke at RootsTech earlier this year and shared how she relies on the Lord for strength on and off the field.

When to watch: Brazil women’s soccer team is in Group F in the preliminary pool rounds. They beat China 5-0 on Wednesday, July 21, and will play the Netherlands on Saturday, July 24, and Zambia on Tuesday, July 27. The quarterfinals are on Friday, July 30, and semifinals on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The bronze-medal match is on Thursday, Aug. 5, and the gold-medal match on Friday. Aug. 6.

Pistol shooting

A first-time Olympian, Alexis “Lexi” Lagan, 28, is competing for Team USA in women’s sport pistol, women’s air pistol and in mixed air pistol events. The Nevada native started Olympic shooting while attending the University of Utah and after graduating, moved to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She won the national championships in sport pistol in 2017 and 2019 and in air pistol in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

When to watch: The women’s 10-meter air pistol events are on Saturday, July 24, and Sunday, July 25. The mixed air pistol events are on Tuesday, July 27. The women’s 25-meter sport shooting events are Wednesday, July 28, to Friday, July 30.

Swimming

Jarod Arroyo, 20, set a Puerto Rican record in the 400-meter individual medley at the Puerto Rico International Open. Arroyo, 20, initially deferred his enrollment at Arizona State University to focus on competing in the Olympics. He is an Arizona native who has also lived in Utah. His father is from Puerto Rico.

When to watch: The 400-meter individual medley qualifying heats are on Saturday, July 24, with the finals on Sunday, July 25. The 200-meter individual medley heats are Wednesday, July 28, with the semifinals on Thursday, July 29, and the finals on Friday, July 30.

Josue Dominguez Ramos earned the second-fastest time in BYU history for the men’s 200-yard breaststroke.
Josue Dominguez Ramos earned the second-fastest time in BYU history for the men’s 200-yard breaststroke. Credit: Aislynn Edwards, BYU

Josue Dominguez Ramos, 24, a native of the Dominican Republic, qualified to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but did not go because he chose to serve as a full-time missionary, assigned to the Mexico Puebla South Mission. He’s a junior at Brigham Young University studying biochemistry. He’s competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke in Tokyo.

When to watch: The 100-meter breaststroke qualifying heats start Saturday, July 24, the semifinals are on Sunday, July 25, and the finals are on Monday, July 26. The 200-meter breaststroke heats are on Tuesday, July 27, the semifinals are on Wednesday, July 28, and the finals on Thursday, July 29.

Rhyan White participates in the women’s 200-meter backstroke during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Omaha, Nebraska.
Rhyan White participates in the women’s 200-meter backstroke during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Omaha, Nebraska. Credit: Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

The University of Alabama’s Rhyan White, of Herriman, Utah, will compete in her first Olympics as a swimmer in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events. While at Alabama, White has become a 10-time All-American but had never competed internationally. At the U.S. Olympic Trials, White surprised her competitors and the sport’s fans by finishing in second place in the 100-meter backstroke. Then, when it came time for the 200-meter backstroke qualifier, the 21-year-old White provided an even bigger shock when she won the race by beating the world-record holder in the event, Regan Smith. 

When to watch: The first qualifying heats for White’s 100-meter backstroke will take place on Sunday, July 25, with the semifinals the following day and the medal race on Tuesday, July 27. The 200-meter backstroke qualifiers will take place two days later, on Thursday, July 29. Semifinals will again follow on the next day and the medal race on Saturday, July 31.

Volleyball

United States' Taylor Sander spikes the ball past Poland's Piotr Nowakowski and Bartosz Kurek during the Men's World Championships volleyball semifinal match between the United States and Poland, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018.
United States’ Taylor Sander spikes the ball past Poland’s Piotr Nowakowski and Bartosz Kurek during the Men’s World Championships volleyball semifinal match between the United States and Poland, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. Credit: Luca Bruno, Associated Press

Following up on a bronze-medal performance in 2016, Taylor Sander will compete again representing the U.S. in men’s volleyball. Sander, 29, originally from Corona, California, played college volleyball at BYU, where he earned all-America honors in each of his four years. At 25 years old, Brenden Sander, Taylor’s younger brother, and 27-year-old Ben Patch, of Layton, Utah, will be alternates for the team. All three attended BYU at different times between 2011 and 2018. Each has played professional volleyball following their time as Cougars. 

When to watch: Pool play begins on Saturday, July 24, with medal-round matches being played on Saturday, Aug. 7.

Beach volleyball

In this Aug. 8, 2016, file photo, Jake Gibb, of the United States, waits to be introduced to the crowd for a men’s beach volleyball match against Austria at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In this Aug. 8, 2016, file photo, Jake Gibb, of the United States, waits to be introduced to the crowd for a men’s beach volleyball match against Austria at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Credit: David Goldman, Associated Press

Jake Gibb, 45, from Bountiful, Utah, will compete at the Olympics in beach volleyball for the fourth time. The two-time cancer survivor is the oldest beach volleyball player in the Olympics this year. Gibb intends on retiring from competitive play after this year, so this will be his last attempt at earning an Olympic medal. 

When to watch: Pool play for Gibb and his teammate will begin on Sunday, July 25, against one of two teams representing Italy. Their second and third pool-play games will take place on Wednesday, July 28, and Friday, July 30. Tournament games will be played from Sunday, Aug. 1, to Thursday, Aug. 5, with medal-round games happening on Saturday, Aug. 7.

Update: Gibb qualified for the Olympics with teammate Taylor Crabb. Following a positive COVID-19 test in Tokyo, Crabb withdrew from competition and was replaced by Tri Bourne.

Basketball

Washington Mystics guard Leilani Mitchell sets up a play during the first half of a WNBA basketball first-round playoff game against the Phoenix Mercury, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Bradenton, Florida.
Washington Mystics guard Leilani Mitchell sets up a play during the first half of a WNBA basketball first-round playoff game against the Phoenix Mercury, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Bradenton, Florida. Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack, Associated Press

The trip to Tokyo is Leilani Mitchell’s second to the Olympics — she was part of the Australian women’s team that competed in Rio in 2016. Born in Washington, the 36-year-old played for the University of Utah, where she was the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year in 2007-08. She has since played in the WNBA, in France and Croatia and in Australia’s women’s professional league, the WNBL. She’s currently on the Washington Mystics roster. Her mother is Australian, and she has five brothers.

When to watch: Australia’s preliminary-round games are against Belgium on Tuesday, July 27; China on Friday, July 30; and Puerto Rico on Monday, Aug. 2. The quarterfinal games are on Wednesday, Aug. 4, and the semifinals on Friday, Aug. 6. The bronze-medal game is on Saturday, Aug. 7, and the gold-medal game on Sunday, Aug. 8.

Rugby

United States’s Jordan Gray Matyas, center, runs against Russia during the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, Friday, July 20, 2018.
United States’s Jordan Gray Matyas, center, runs against Russia during the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, Friday, July 20, 2018. Credit: Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

Jordan Matyas helped BYU make it to the national championship in rugby in its first year as an official sport at the school in 2011. From there, she moved on to play professionally and was named MVP while helping the San Diego Surfers win the Women’s Premier League Championship in 2015. Matyas’ husband, Ryan, also plays professional rugby in San Diego, where the two live and train together. Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and raised in Alberta, Canada, 28-year-old Matyas will represent the U.S. in Tokyo. 

When to watch: Matyas’ first two games will take place on Thursday, July 29. Pool play will conclude the following day, with medal matches happening on Sunday, Aug. 1.

Athletics

New Zealand’s Valerie Adams competes in the final of the women’s shot put during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.
New Zealand’s Valerie Adams competes in the final of the women’s shot put during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Credit: Matt Dunham, Associated Press

Tokyo is the fifth Olympic Games for 36-year-old Valerie Adams. She took home gold medals in shot put in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012. In Rio in 2016, she won silver. The New Zealand native and mother of two has won a variety of medals in world and Diamond League competitions.

She’s one of 18 siblings and is coaching a younger sibling, Lisa Adams, in the Paralympic Games.

When to watch: The shot put qualifications are on Friday, July 30, and the finals are on Sunday, Aug. 1.

Peter Bol, of Australia, right, and, from left, Brandon McBride, of Canada, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France, and Abubaker Haydar Abdalla, of Qatar, compete in a men’s 800-meter heat at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.
Peter Bol, of Australia, right, and, from left, Brandon McBride, of Canada, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France, and Abubaker Haydar Abdalla, of Qatar, compete in a men’s 800-meter heat at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. Credit: Petr David Josek, Associated Press

Nagmeldin “Peter” Bol, 27, competed in the 800-meter race in the 2016 Olympics. His family is originally from South Sudan and his family emigrated to Australia when he was a child. He was interested in basketball as a teenager and was 16 years old when a teacher convinced him to try running. He won the Australian national championship in 2019.

When to watch: The men’s 800-meter qualifying heats are on Saturday, July 31. The semifinals are on Sunday, Aug. 1, and the medal match is on Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Gymnastics

MyKayla Skinner competes on the vault during the women’s U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials on Sunday, June 27, 2021, in St. Louis.
MyKayla Skinner competes on the vault during the women’s U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials on Sunday, June 27, 2021, in St. Louis. Credit: Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

After barely missing out on competing at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, MyKayla Skinner, 24, went from being an alternate on Team USA to being a college champion at the University of Utah — twice. This year she will compete in Tokyo as an individual gymnast. 

The native of Gilbert, Arizona, earned a silver medal on the vault at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in June of this year. She is among those considered to be a favorite to earn a medal on the vault in Tokyo.

When to watch: The women’s individual vault competition will take place on Aug. 1. 

Weightlifting

Sarah Elizabeth Robles, of the United States, celebrates after a lift during the women's 75kg weightlifting competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016.
Sarah Elizabeth Robles, of the United States, celebrates after a lift during the women’s 75kg weightlifting competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. Credit: Mike Groll, Associated Press

Sarah Robles, 32, won bronze in 2016 in Rio for Team USA in the 75-plus kilogram division and was sixth in the 2012 London Games. She was also the 2017 world champion and four-time Pan American champion. Her bronze medal is the first for the U.S. in weightlifting since 2000.

She’s competing in the 87-plus kilogram events (191-plus pounds) events for the USA in Tokyo — on the day after her birthday on Aug. 1. The California native has been training in the Houston, Texas, area. In high school she threw shot put but switched to weightlifting after trying it at a gym as part of her shot put training in college.

When to watch: The women’s 87-plus kilograms lifts are on Monday, Aug. 2.

Kuinini “Nini” Manumua, 20, is the first woman to represent Tonga in weightlifting, reports sfist.com and ktvu.com. Born in American Samoa, her family has lived in her parents’ native Tonga and moved to San Francisco, California, when she was 10. She started lifting when she was 13 as a freshman in high school.

When to watch: The women’s 87-plus kilogram lifts are on Monday, Aug. 2.