The dawning of a new year, much less a new decade, brings about many new resolutions for a healthier lifestyle, more time spent with friends and family, or maybe even becoming an Olympic athlete. While this last resolution may seem far-fetched, this is not the case for many athletes competing in 2020 here in Knoxville, Tennessee. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin in just under 7 months, and the excitement is in the air both here and around the world.
In mid-January, Olympic medalists, world record holders, and Olympic team hopefuls descend upon Knoxville’s Allan Jones Aquatic Center located at the University of Tennessee for the TYR Pro Swim Series to put their elite training to the test. Many of these swimmers taking the water right here in Knoxville will be the same faces you see dominating NBC’s broadcast of the swimming events during the 2020 Summer Olympics. Want to see swimmers take on the Tennessee River? We’ve hosted the Bridges to Bluffs Open Water Swim for the past three years and will have it again in September of this year. If you have no fear of heights, maybe diving’s more your thing. Knoxville will be hosting the 2020 NAIA Swimming & Diving National Championships in March.
As many of you know, however, water sports are just the tip of the diving board when it comes to the events covered during the Summer Olympics. A recently announced event we’re excited about is the USA Softball Stand Beside Her Tour, of which Knoxville is proudly a stop! The “Stand Beside Her” tour is a series of competitions and training opportunities for the 2020 USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) as they prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The “Stand Beside Her” message encourages fans everywhere to stand united in their support of the WNT and the United States in their journey to the Olympic Games. You’ll have a chance to see these athletes compete right here in Knoxville on April 8 when they play the Lady Vols with Monica Abbott taking the mound.
While there will be current Olympians competing in Knoxville in 2020, there may be future Olympians participating in sporting events in Knoxville throughout the year. Golf, rugby, volleyball, basketball, and gymnastics all have representation from events happening in 2020. From the thousands of young ladies that will flock to Knoxville for the AAU Girls’ Basketball National Championships, to the gymnasts competing in this year’s Ozone Invitational, the spirit of Olympic competition is formidable.
Speaking of basketball, did you know that Knoxville is home to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame? It’s the only facility in the world dedicated to the sport of women’s basketball (the Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame is in Springfield, Massachusetts). The Induction Ceremony happens every June, an event open to the public. Finalists for the Class of 2020 will be announced on January 9, 2020 during the Baylor at Connecticut game on ESPN at 7 PM EST. The Class of 2020 will be selected from the finalists and announced on ESPN 2 during the February 10, 2020 Connecticut at South Carolina game at 7 PM EST.
2020 will also see the return of the USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships. The Individual Time Trials takes place along Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, while the Criterium and Pro Road Race weave through downtown Knoxville. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s a positively incredible experience to watch these cyclists ride within inches of each other and compete for a chance to wear the coveted stars and stripes jersey. Knoxville is known for having a difficult course (we’re looking at you, Sherrod in SoKno!) and it looks like Tokyo will have a challenging route as well.
2020 is shaping up to be huge year for Knoxville and for the many athletes planning to compete in their respective events throughout the year. Learn more about the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission and buy tickets for sporting events open to the public. You just might be watching a future Olympian in action!