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18 U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials To Follow In 2020

By Chrös McDougall | Jan. 07, 2020, 12:01 a.m. (ET)


The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 run July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, with the Paralympic Games following Aug. 25-Sept. 6, and while they may be months away there’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Each Tuesday leading up to the Games, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about – from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks – as part of “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday.” Follow along on social media with the hashtag #Tokyo2020Tuesday.


Entering the 2020 Olympic year, 33 Americans had already qualified for the Tokyo Games by name. Now that we’re in the Olympic year, those numbers are about to explode.

Eventually, more than 800 Olympians and 200 Paralympians will represent Team USA in Tokyo.

Many of those athletes will earn their berths through U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials events. Here’s a look at the 18 trials that you’ll want to keep an eye on as the Olympics and Paralympics get closer and closer.

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Matt Centrowitz competes at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on July 10, 2016 in Eugene, Ore.


Race Walking
Jan. 25
Santee, California
Athletes will seek Olympic berths in the 50-kilometer event, where up to three U.S. men could qualify should they also hit the requisite qualifying standard. Among the expected contender are Nick Christie, Andreas Gustafsson and Matthew Forgues. The only American to win an Olympic medal in the 50K event was Larry Young, who won back-to-back bronzes in 1968 and 1972.

Shooting (Air Rifle Part II)
Feb. 7-9
Colorado Springs Colorado
Across the shooting disciplines, U.S. athletes are competing in two-part trials to determine which athletes will represent Team USA in Tokyo. Four years ago in Rio, the U.S. won three shooting medals, led by Ginny Thrasher’s gold in the women’s 10-meter air rifle. The U.S. has earned the maximum two men’s and two women’s quotas in the air rifle events for Tokyo. Olympian Lucas Kozeniesky and Mary Tucker led those standings after one round.

Shooting (Air and Smallbore Pistol Part II)
Feb. 24-March 2
Fort Benning, Georgia
The U.S. has two quotas in men’s air pistol, plus two in women’s rapid fire pistol and one in men’s rapid fire pistol. Olympian Nick Mowrer leads the chase for the men’s air pistol spot. Henry Leverett is tops in men’s rapid fire pistol after the first round. Alexis Lagan and 2012 Olympian Sandra Uptagrafft were in position to fill the U.S.’s two quotas for women’s sport pistol. Although the U.S. didn’t earn any quotas in women’s air pistol, if someone qualifies in sport pistol and she meets the minimum qualification score in air pistol, she could compete in both.

Shooting (Shotgun Part II)
Feb. 25-March 8
Tucson, Arizona
Three-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist Vincent Hancock leads the U.S. men’s skeet shooters while Austen Smith was tops among the women after round one. Also in the mix is Kim Rhode, who is going for her seventh Olympics and seventh medal in Tokyo. She won a bronze in Rio in women’s skeet. The U.S. will have a full contingent of shotgun shooters in Tokyo, including two men’s trap shooters after having not sent any to London or Rio. After one round of trials, Derrick Mein and 2012 Olympic alternate Kayle Browning lead the way, though world champion Ashley Carroll was among those nipping on Browning’s heels. 

Shooting (Smallbore Rifle Part II)
March 29-31
Fort Benning, Georgia
Tim Sherry leads the way in men’s three-position rifle while Ginny Thrasher is in the driver’s seat to qualify in the women’s event. The U.S. has two quotas in each. If Thrasher qualifies in three-position rifle she could also enter the Olympic air rifle competition and try to defend her Olympic gold medal should she meet the minimum qualification score.

Table Tennis
Feb. 27-March 1
Santa Monica, California
The U.S. table tennis teams already qualified for the Olympic Games, ensuring three men and three women will compete in Tokyo. This marks just the second time both teams qualified, with the first being in 2016. Now individuals have to secure their spots on that team. Two-time Olympian Lily Zhang and 2016 Olympian Kanak Jha lead the way. Both are Youth Olympic Games medalists.

Feb. 29
Returning to the host city of the 1996 Olympic Games, the country’s top marathoners will compete for three men’s and three women’s berths on leap day. With more than 600 runners expected, organizers already had to adjust the planned course to accommodate everyone. Two-time Olympian Des Linden leads a deep women’s field, while 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Galen Rupp is expected to return from injury and compete for a fourth Olympic berth.

April 4-5
State College, Pennsylvania
Potentially massive showdowns await at trials as world champions are likely to clash on the Penn State campus, the result of the Olympic program featuring fewer weight classes than the world championships. Olympic medalist J’den Cox is among those who won a 2019 world title in a non-Olympic class. Kyle Dake, Jacarra Winchester, Tamyra Mensah and Adeline Gray also come to Happy Valley as defending world champs.

April 12-19
Sarasota, Florida
The country’s top rowers arrive at Nathan Benderson Park on Florida’s gulf side with Olympic and Paralympic berths on the line for the second time in a row. The U.S. won a gold and silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games, plus an additional silver medal at the Paralympic Games. The stars will no doubt be the women’s eight team, which has won the past three Olympic gold medals but had its Olympic/world championships winning streak snapped at 11 in 2017. 

Canoe/Kayak (Sprint)
April 16-19
Lake Lanier, Georgia
The addition of two women’s sprint canoe events to the Olympic program came at the right time for teenager Nevin Harrison. The 17-year-old became the first American to win a canoe sprint world title last year, and followed it up with a silver medal in the test event a few weeks later. Lake Lanier was home to the rowing events at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Canoe/Kayak (Slalom)
May 2-3 and May 8-9
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Teenager Evy Leibfarth has given Team USA fans reason to be excited for the canoe/kayak slalom events in Tokyo. At just 15 years old, Leibfarth became the first American to reach the podium in a world cup canoe slalom event when she finished third in a C-1 race last year.

April 8-11 and May 23, 25-26
Chula Vista, California; Newberry, Florida
After nearly 200 people began the qualifying process last summer, the fields were narrowed down to 16 in September, and ultimately one man and one woman will earn Olympic berths following the fourth and final stage of trials. Three-time Olympian and newly crowned world champion Brady Ellison led the men at the midway point, while teenage phenom Casey Kaufhold led the women. An additional two men and two women could also qualify if the U.S. earns team berths at a June world cup event.

Para Archery
April 4; May 23; June 10-11
Phoenix; Newberry, Florida; Chula Vista, California
The three-stage trials come to a head this June in Chula Vista. Countries can qualify as many as six recurve archers (three men, three women) and five compound archers (three men, two women). Andre Shelby, a 2016 Paralympic gold medalist in men’s compound, finished ninth at the 2019 world championships.

June 14-21
David Boudia, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist on platform, is back to go for his fourth Olympics—this time on the 3-meter springboard. Delaney Schnell, the reigning world bronze medalist on the platform, is another name to watch, as is Katrina Young, a two-time world bronze medalist in synchro events last year. Up to two athletes per individual event can qualify in Indianapolis, which is hosting the diving trials for the seventh time.

Track and Field
June 19-28
Eugene, Oregon
Track and field trials return to the University of Oregon for the seventh time, and fourth time in a row, though this year’s event marks the first major event to take place in the totally rebuilt Hayward Field. As many as three Americans can qualify in each event, with stars such as Christian Coleman, Dalilah Muhammad and Allyson Felix set to take center stage.

June 21-28
Omaha, Nebraska
The first Olympic swimming trials without Michael Phelps in 24 years will be held in a familiar location with Omaha hosting for the fourth time in a row. Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel are among the big names who will be competing in a meet that often proves to be as competitive as the Olympic Games themselves. Up to two can qualify in each individual event.

June 25-28
St. Louis
A new twist has been added to Olympic gymnastics, as teams will now have just four gymnasts instead of five. Expect all-world superstar Simone Biles to lead a dominant women’s team that has won event world or Olympic team title since 2011. On the men’s side, two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak is the veteran presence for a program in transition this quad. The road to the Olympic Games goes through St. Louis for the third time in a row for U.S. gymnasts, following nationals or trials events there in 2012 and ’16.

Para Swimming, Track and Field and Cycling
June 25-27
For the second time in a row, three major Para sports are coming together for a joint trials, with more than 400 athletes expected to descend on the City of Lakes for an action-packed summer weekend. Keep an eye out for Paralympic champions such as Tatyana McFadden on the track and Minnesota native Mallory Weggemann in the pool, while cyclists will race along the scenic West River Parkway in downtown Minneapolis.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.