By Stuart Lieberman | Dec. 31, 2015, 3:55 p.m. (ET)


More than 500 athletes are expected to compete for Team USA at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games from Aug. 5-21 next year. Here’s a look at the 15 athletes (and an additional bonus athlete, who provisionally qualified) who already punched their tickets to Rio this year.

Nathan Schrimsher, Modern Pentathlon
Schrimsher became the first official member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team with a third-place finish at July’s Pan American Games in Toronto. The 23-year-old U.S. Army Specialist from New Mexico, who once said his favorite foods include sushi, cinnamon toast and raw oysters, rose from 123rd to 59th in the world rankings between the last two Pan American Games. He will now look to become the first U.S. man to win an individual modern pentathlon Olympic medal since 1960.

Yue “Jennifer” Wu, Table Tennis
The second U.S. athlete to qualify for the 2016 Games, Wu earned her place in Rio by winning the women’s singles table tennis competition at the Pan American Games. The right-handed hitter, who had not played in an international event the four months prior and was therefore unranked, conceded only six games in total throughout the entire singles tournament in Toronto. After just becoming a U.S. citizen this year — she moved from China to New York in 2008 — she will represent the United States on the Olympic stage for the first time next year.

Jordan Wilimovsky, Swimming
Wilimovsky qualified for Rio 2016’s open water swimming competition by winning the 10-kilometer event at July’s FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia. He was a surprise qualifier for worlds, touching the wall just 0.006 seconds ahead of 2012 Olympian Alex Meyer at the national championships. In Russia, he became the first U.S. swimmer to win a world title in the event since 2005. Wilimovsky is now taking a year off from his studies at Northwestern to train for his Olympic debut.

Sean Ryan, Swimming
Ryan, who started swimming when he was little because it was good for his asthma, also qualified as an open water swimmer for his first Olympic Games by finishing fourth in the same 10-kilometer event at the FINA World Championships. Ryan, like Wilimovsky, will try to become the first U.S. man to win an Olympic medal in the open water.

Haley Anderson, Swimming
A silver medalist in open water swimming at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Anderson now has the chance to go for gold at Rio 2016. The former NCAA champion finished ninth in the 10-kilometer race at the FINA World Championships, with her top-10 finish earning her a qualification to Rio by name.

Gwen Jorgensen, Triathlon
Jorgensen, who could be one of the biggest stars of the 2016 Games, claimed her Rio Olympic spot by winning the ITU World Olympic Qualification Event in the same city. She finished 29 seconds ahead of second-place Non Stanford of Great Britain. The “foodie,” who frequently tweets photos of heaping plates of pasta and ice cream drizzled in chocolate, has 15 World Triathlon Series wins to her name, more than any other woman in series history. Her current win streak of 12 began in May 2014.

Sarah True, Triathlon
True also qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team by finishing fourth at the Rio test event. Ranked third in the world, True, like Jorgensen, will be going to her second Olympic Games. She finished fourth at the London 2012 Games.

Michael McPhail, Shooting
McPhail earned a second trip to the Olympic Games after winning 50-meter rifle prone gold at September’s ISSF World Cup Final in Munich. In addition to his World Cup Final win, McPhail, currently stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, as part of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, earned two world cup wins and a silver medal at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Keith Sanderson, Shooting
Sanderson qualified for his third Olympic Games via USA Shooting’s Olympic Points System in rapid fire pistol. Sanderson, who spent eight years in the Marine Corps and eight years in the U.S. Army, is still in search of his first Olympic medal, having finished fifth at the Beijing 2008 Games and 14th at the London 2012 Games.

Matt Emmons, Shooting
Emmons will make his fourth Olympic appearance after winning the men’s 50-meter 3-position rifle competition at the ISSF World Cup Final and ending the season with 33 points to fill Team USA’s sole 3-position rifle quota spot in Rio. Emmons has won Olympic gold (2004) and silver (2008) in prone, as well as a bronze medal in 3-position in 2012 in London.

Morgan Craft, Shooting
A breakthrough 2015 season for Craft was capped off by her first skeet world title at the ISSF World Championship Shotgun in a dramatic shoot-off against teammate Caitlin Connor, which qualified her for Rio 2016. The two Americans were tied heading into the final station of four targets, but Craft hit all four to edge her rival 15-13.

Glenn Eller, Shooting
Eller became the 12th athlete to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, ending the 2015 season with 32 points in USA Shooting’s Olympic Points System, enough to earn himself a fifth Olympic Games appearance. The double trap shooting athlete, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit stationed in Fort Benning, won gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games but finished outside the top 10 in his other three Olympic appearances. Eller is the most experienced athlete on the 2016 Olympic team to date.  

Vincent Hancock, Shooting
Hancock won his third world championship this year in the shotgun discipline to end the season with 69 points and earn one of two U.S. spots for men’s skeet in Rio. Hancock hopes to keep his perfect Olympic record intact, having already won gold while setting an Olympic record at the Beijing 2008 Games and then defending his title in London.

Carlos Balderas, Boxing
Balderas became the first U.S. boxer to qualify for Rio, with his results in the World Series of Boxing  allowing him to bypass the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Balderas, who first took up boxing as a constructive outlet to stay out of trouble, is the first member of his family born in the United States. His grandfather and uncles left their poverty-stricken home in Mexico and worked in California strawberry fields, where they saved up money to bring the rest of the family to the United States.

Jackie Galloway, Taekwondo
An alternate for Mexico’s Olympic team in 2012, Galloway returned home to the United States after that and has since established herself as one of Team USA’s top taekwondo athletes. Competing in the +67 kg. category, Galloway, who is a sophomore at Southern Methodist University, qualified for Rio 2016 based on her performance in the 2015 season and her fourth-place finish in the WTF Olympic Rankings. In May, Galloway was one of two U.S. athletes to win bronze medals at the world championships, ending a six-year medal drought for Team USA. She later won gold at the Pan American Games.


Bonus:

Megan Guarnier, Cycling
Guarnier won a bronze medal in the women’s road race at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia, the first medal for a U.S. woman in that event since 1994. By finishing in the top three, Guarnier, who holds a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Middlebury College, provisionally qualified for Rio 2016, as long as she continues to perform until the nomination date of June 24, 2016.






Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.