8 Edmonton-area Olympians to watch compete at Tokyo 2020

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Edmonton's Marco Arop is looking to build on his recent success in 800m, as the sprinter makes his Olympic debut. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images - image credit)
Edmonton's Marco Arop is looking to build on his recent success in 800m, as the sprinter makes his Olympic debut. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images - image credit)

Many Albertans will be rooting for Canadian athletes over the next couple weeks as they compete at Tokyo 2020, including eight who are from the Edmonton area.

The Tokyo Olympics officially started after an opening ceremony Friday morning. The sporting event runs until Aug. 8.

Here's a look at some local athletes who competing overseas — some of whom are somewhat new to their sport, but have high hopes of coming home with a medal nonetheless.

Marco Arop - 800m

Arop, 22, is from Edmonton, but his family immigrated to Canada as refugees from Sudan nearly 20 years ago.

He is relatively new to track and field, only getting involved when he was 17. But Arop continues to improve with each race and has beaten higher-ranked runners since turning pro in 2019.

The middle-distance runner comes into Tokyo 2020 on a bit of a hot streak, finishing 3rd and running a personal best time in the 800-metre Diamond League race in Monaco two weeks ago.

The men's 800-metre race is on July 30 at 6:50 p.m.

File/Getty Images
File/Getty Images

Kelsey Mitchell - Cycle Track - Women's Sprint and Keirin

Mitchell has been called an overnight sensation.

The 27-year-old of Sherwood Park started track cycling three years ago, but won three medals at the Pan American Games in 2019 and broke a world record last year.

Mitchell is looking to add an Olympic medal to her collection after a year-and-a-half of vigorous training.

The first round of the women's Keirin begins Aug. 4.

Blair Bann, Jay Blankenau, and Lucas Van Berkel - Indoor Men's Volleyball

Canada's indoor volleyball team has one of the largest contingents of Edmonton-area athletes. Jay Blankenau is from Sherwood Park, while Blair Bann and Lucas Von Berkel are both from Edmonton.

The team made history when it qualified in January 2020, as it marked the first time Canada would compete in back-to-back Olympic volleyball tournaments.

Canada's first match was Friday against Italy.

Kindred Paul - Women's Water polo

Tokyo 2020 will be Paul's first Olympics, as well as the women's team's first Olympics appearance in 13 years.

Paul, a 25-year-old who resides in Edmonton but calls Spruce Grove her hometown, was a part of Canada's silver medal at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, which qualified the water polo team for Tokyo 2020.

The squad faced Australia in their first game early Saturday morning.

Carlos Osorio for CBC Sports
Carlos Osorio for CBC Sports

Stephanie Labbe - Women's Soccer

Labbe is playing her second Olympic Games, but her health status is questionable for Canada's next game. She suffered a rib injury in Canada's previous match against Japan, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Labbe started in goal in five of Canada's six games at Rio 2016.

Canada played Chile at 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Josephine Wu - Mixed Doubles Badminton

Wu has been playing badminton since she was seven years old, but is now making her Olympics debut.

The 26-year-old Edmontonian is joined by her teammate Joshua Hurlburt-Yu after the duo defended their Pan Am Championship earlier this year.

The team's first match against Thailand started shortly after 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

Rebecca Smith - 4x200m women's freestyle relay

Smith, a 21-year-old from Red Deer, Alta., is a part of Canada's 4x200 women's freestyle relay team.

She finished third in Olympic trials in the 200-metre race and she's had plenty of success at previous FINA World Championships.

Smith will be running in the relay on July 28 at 5:11 a.m.

Alison Jackson, Cycling - Road

Vermilion, Alta., a town just over 176 kilometres east of Edmonton, is home for Jackson.

In March, the 32-year-old finished 5th at the Tour De Flandres. Tokyo 2020 is her Olympics debut, after initially being selected as an alternate.

The women's road race starts at 10 p.m. Saturday.

A full event schedule can be found here.

Live coverage can be viewed on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and the CBC Sports Tokyo 2020 website.

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