Can Pennsylvania grab a gold?
The 2021 Olympics begin with the Opening Ceremony next Friday and a number of Pennsylvania athletes will be representing the United States. Some of them should do very well.
But can anyone get a gold medal for Pennsylvania?
One of Pennsylvania’s top hopes for gold
One of the best contenders is track and field athlete Ajee’ Wilson from Philadelphia. Wilson is a Temple graduate and a 27-year-old runner who took third in the 800 meters at the 2019 World Championships in Qatar.
She finished 12th in the 800 meters at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, but has been on the medal stand in every major competition in the 800 meters ever since. She finished third in the event at the U.S. Olympic Trials last month in Oregon.
“It really feels like 2016 was a year or two ago. It’s crazy how fast time flies,” Wilson told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But on the flip side, I also have a lot of memories or stepping-stones that have happened along the way to where I’m able to actually say, ‘OK, this has been a good chunk of time and I’m glad that I’ve been able to prepare and just stack and build and grow since then to come to 2021 Tokyo and be a better athlete and put my best foot forward.”
It’s likely Wilson will finish as one of Pennsylvania’s top performers, but it’s hard telling exactly where everyone will end up in Tokyo. In this week’s installment of Penn Sportsbooks‘ Pick Play, we’ll highlight some of the Pennsylvania athletes heading to the 2021 Olympics, along with their futures odds at the best Pennsylvania sportsbooks.
Kovacs should be in the medal mix at Tokyo too
Another Pennsylvania athlete who should have a chance at the medal stand is shot putter Joe Kovacs. Kovacs is a Bethlehem native and a Penn State graduate who won a gold medal at the World Championships in 2019. (The COVID pandemic cancelled most competitions in 2020).
Last month, he earned his spot in the Tokyo Olympics by finishing second in the shot put at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials. Kovacs’ throw of 73, 3-1/2 inches was second behind winner Ryan Crouser, who set a new world record with a throw of 76-8¼. Crouser also finished first in the shot put at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where Kovacs took home a silver medal.
Here’s a snapshot of some other Pennsylvania and regional athletes, along with their event and their odds for a gold medal at PA online sportsbooks (if available). Olympic offerings and pricing will continue to be updated in the coming days and throughout the 2021 Olympics, which runs through August 8th.
Casey Kaufhold (Lancaster, PA)
Sam Mattis (University of Pennsylvania)
Phillip Dutton (West Grove, PA)
Tommy Paul (New Jersey native)
Morgan Hurd (Middletown, Delaware)
Kristen Thomas (Philadelphia): +900
Women’s Swimming – 200m Butterfly, 400 IM:
Hali Flickinger (Spring Grove, PA): +220
Flickinger is Pennsylvania’s best hope for a swimming medal
Flickinger, 26, will be competing in her second Olympics after winning the 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials last month in Nebraska. She finished seventh in the same event at the 2016 Olympics and second at the 2019 World Championships. FanDuel Sportsbook has her second in 200m butterfly futures, with odds of +220.
According to the York Dispatch, her Olympic trial time of 2:05.85 was a personal best in the butterfly and the second-fastest time in the world this year. She will also swim in the 400 IM event at this year’s Olympics.
After waiting an extra year for the Olympic Games, Flickinger is one of the favorites to win. And that’s pretty inspiring for all those who knew her back home.
“To see her make the team after knowing that she, like so many, couldn’t train for all those months, couldn’t do her normal activities, it’s pretty exciting,” John Nelson, a youth coach that worked with Flickinger in the York area, told WGAL. “Here’s a girl right from your hometown. She’s your classic girl, and she did it.”
Flickinger – like the rest of Pennsylvania’s Olympians – has ascended to the world’s biggest stage in sports.
Now, all that’s left is to grab a gold.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Ashley Landis