Olympics 2021: Australia's gold medal chances at Tokyo Games

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Seen here, Aussie gold medal hopes Ash Barty, Patty Mills from the Boomers and Kaylee McKeown.
Tennis, basketball and swimming are some of the sports Australia could walk away from the Olympics with a gold medal in. Pic: Getty

With just days until the Olympic Games get underway in Tokyo, we take a look at the athletes and teams that carry Australia's gold medal hopes on their shoulders.

The Tokyo showpiece - taking place under an unprecedented backdrop of uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic - will be like no other Games before it.

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Organisers have spent an estimated $26 billion on the Olympics and will be hoping - as well as the athletes - that the Games can be an uplifting and inspirational tour de force around the world, during a period of unquestionable suffering.

With many experts tipping the Aussies to re-emerge on the medal table after a dip in London and Rio (eight gold medals in each after winning 16 and 17 at Sydney and Athens respectively), here are some of Australia's best gold medal hopes for Tokyo.

Ash Barty - Tennis

The current World No.1 in women's tennis, Ash Barty's confidence will be sky high after claiming her maiden Wimbledon title in her final tournament before the Games.

Barty emulated her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley with a victory in the grass-court major 50 years after her Aussie mentor's first triumph at the All England Club.

With titles in Miami and Stuttgart, plus a runner-up finish in Madrid during an impressive 2021, Barty shapes up as the player to beat, although Japan's Naomi Osaka - playing at her home Olympic Games - looms as the Aussie's biggest threat.

Kaylee McKeown - Swimming

Teen sensation Kaylee McKeown lay down as a marker as the swimmer to beat in Tokyo after breaking the world record in the 100m backstroke at the Australian swim trials in June. 

The 19-year-old touched down in a blistering time of 57.45 seconds to smash the previous world-best of 57.57, set by American Regan Smith in 2019. 

Canada's former world record-holder Kylie Masse - who claimed bronze in Rio - and USA's Smith are set to challenge the Aussie in what will be one of the highlight events in the pool.

Kookaburras - Field Hockey

The Kookaburras head to Tokyo as the number-one ranked side in the world, leapfrogging Belgium after a recent 4-0 series sweep over Trans-Tasman rivals, New Zealand.

Australia's men open their Olympic Games account with a mouthwatering showdown against hosts Japan and will be desperate to deliver the Kookaburras' second Olympic gold medal, following their success at the 2004 Athens games.

The Kookaburras have also won three silver and five bronze medals at the Olympics, as well as the past four Commonwealth Games titles.

Ariarne Titmus - Swimming

Queensland swimming phenomenon Ariarne Titmus is another huge chance to claim gold in the pool after setting the second-fastest women's 200m freestyle time in history at the Australian swimming trials.

Titmus touched the wall in 1min 53.09sec - just 0.11 seconds outside Federica Pellegrini's world record of 1:52.98, set in 2009 during the 'super-suit' era and widely thought to be unbreakable.

The 20-year-old Aussie's time was more than one second faster than American superstar Katie Ledecky's best effort this season, with Titmus' head-to-head battle against the Rio gold medallist one of the most eagerly anticipated showdowns in Tokyo.

Ariarne Titmus goes into Tokyo with the second-fastest time in history in the women's 200m freestyle. Pic: Getty
Ariarne Titmus goes into Tokyo with the second-fastest time in history in the women's 200m freestyle. Pic: Getty

Logan Martin - Cycling (BMX)

The 2021 BMX freestyle world championship winner is unsurprisingly one of the heavy favourites for the gold medal in Tokyo.

Logan Martin already has two gold medals to his name in the X Games BMX Park competition, and will be gunning for another one at the Olympics.

The Freestyle BMX star - who describes the trick-based event as "gymnastics on a bike" - is confident he can once again deliver on the biggest stage of all.

The Opals and Boomers - Basketball

Both Australia's women and men's basketball teams can consider themselves gold medal hopes in Tokyo after both beating heavyweights, the USA in recent Olympic warm-up matches.

The Opals did it without Liz Cambage, who pulled out of Games due to mental health reasons, and will hoping to clinch that elusive gold after three silver medals and two bronzes across the last six Olympic Games.

The Boomers - led by flagbearer and NBA star Patty Mills - will be buoyed by their impressive recent win over Team USA and with a host of young and experienced talent at their disposal are capable of beating anybody on their day. The Aussies will also have to do it without their best player, Ben Simmons.

Elijah Winnington - Swimming

With no Mack Horton and no Sun Yang in the men's 400m freestyle in Tokyo, Elijah Winnington is primed to take the mantle.

The 21-year-old consigned Horton to third place at the Australian swim trials after clocking an impressive 3:42.65 to finish first ahead of Jack McLoughlin (3:43.27).

Crucially, Winnington goes into the Games as the only man in the field to have swum under the 3.43 barrier and if he matches or even sets a new personal best, the gold may well be his for the taking.

Jess Fox - Canoe slalom

An Olympic silver medallist in London and a bronze medallist in Rio, Jess Fox has the chance to complete the set in Tokyo.

A multiple world champion in both C1 and K1, the 27-year-old goes into the Games on the back of some scintillating form in 2021.

Fox has claimed two World Cup gold medals and one World Cup bronze this year and there's no reason to think that she won't leave Tokyo as an Olympic champion.

Jess Fox is seen here reacting with joy after a canoe slalom event.
Jess Fox has a chance to complete her set of Olympic medals if she can snatch a gold in the canoe slalom in Tokyo. Pic: Getty

Kyle Chalmers - Swimming

A winner of the 100m freestyle at the 2016 Rio Games, history beckons for Kyle Chalmers in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old has a chance to become the first Aussie man to defend his title in the blue-riband event in Tokyo after winning the Australian swim trials in 47:59 seconds - just 0.01 seconds slower than his gold-medal time in Rio.

Chalmers will have his work cut out against America's 'new Michael Phelps', with the showdown against Caeleb Dressel one of the most mouthwatering prospects in the pool.

Rohan Dennis - Road Cycling (Time Trial)

A time trial world championship winner in 2018 and 2019, Rohan Dennis will have Olympic gold firmly in his sights in Tokyo.

The 31-year-old's medal hopes in Rio were cruelled by a bike malfunction and Dennis will be desperate to make amends in Japan.

A silver medallist in the team pursuit at the London Games, Dennis will need to be at his best if he's to come out on top against a star-studded field.

Emma McKeon - Swimming

With one of the busiest schedules of any swimmer at the Games (200m and 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, and four relays), Emma McKeon could emerge as Australia's new 'golden girl' of the pool.

Seen here, swimmer Emma McKeon in a lead-up event for the Olympics.
Swimmer Emma McKeon has a particularly busy schedule in her quest for gold in Tokyo. Pic: Getty

Arguably, McKeon's best bet will be in the 100m butterfly after breaking the Australian record at the national swim trials in June.

McKeon's time of 55.93 seconds is one of the fastest times in the history of the event, however, rivals Torri Huske (55.66) from the USA and China's Zhang Yufei (55.73) have also broken 56 seconds this year. 

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