Vegan athletes around the world are gearing up for Tokyo 2021 (keeping our fingers crossed!). Some have medals to their names while others are making their Olympic debut, but all are training hard to ensure they have what it takes to climb that prestigious podium. From footwork to core work and yoga to weight training, these plant-based champions are showing off their training in preparation for the global competition.
1. Vivian Kong
After making history as the first Hong Kong fencer to win a World Cup title, Kong is looking for redemption in 2021. She competed but did not earn a spot on the Olympic podium in 2016, but the now 26-year-old has sharpened her skills (pun intended). When not practicing her foil techniques, Kong hits the gym for intense bodyweight exercises (just watch this girl do pull-ups!) and relies on yoga and meditation to keep her physically and mentally agile.
2. David Verburg
Verburg already has an Olympic gold medal to his name after his performance in the men’s 4×400 meter in Rio, but he’s still chasing that Olympic dream. Hoping to win a spot in the individual 400-meter heat, Verburg’s training has kicked into high gear with sprint drills, long runs, and evidently some weight training. While he’s serious about making the team, he still knows how to have some fun.
3. Tia Blanco
This decorated vegan surfer is eyeing a spot on the Team USA surf team. If selected, she would be part of a historical debut in 2021, as it will be the first year surfing will be showcased as an Olympic sport. We’re cheering her on as she hits the waves and balances challenging surf days with truly impressive yoga flows.
4. Serena Williams
When she’s not chasing her young daughter Olympia around, Williams is acing practice serves and hitting the gym to gear up for 2021. How she has time to run her own vegan-friendly apparel line, pose for magazines, and stay in competition-level shape is beyond us. She’s a plant-based superwoman.
5. Petra Martic
Croatian tennis player Petra Martic is vying for a spot in Tokyo come 2021. Currently ranked 18th in the world for women’s singles, she’s hard at work both on and off the court. She’s drilling down on her backhand, cranking out pull-ups, and even finding the time for a few nature hikes.
6. Rachael Adams
This vegan bronze medalist has her sights set on representing Team USA in women’s volleyball come the new year. When she’s not practicing her footwork or spikes, you can find Adams doing core work and hitting the weights … or in this case, the gallon-sized water bottles.
7. Micky Papa
This vegan boarder has an opportunity to make it to the Olympic stage thanks to the debut of skateboarding in 2021. He’s putting in the work, practicing his tricks, and incorporating daily yoga and meditation to keep his body and brain in balance.
8. Alex Morgan
The delay in Olympic scheduling worked in this vegan soccer star’s favor. A relatively new mom, Morgan is capitalizing on the extra time to train. She’s balancing a baby, recreational cycling, and putting in substantial time on the field working drills. We can’t wait to see her back in the game!
9. Meagan Duhamel
After achieving Olympic glory in 2018, this vegan pairs figure skating champion (and young mom) is taking to a new stage. Audiences can watch her perform on Battle of the Blades—a Canadian reality show that pairs professional hockey players and ice skaters in a competition akin to Dancing with the Stars on ice. While not filming or in the rehearsal room, Duhamel is dedicating time to core work, yoga, and bodyweight exercises she can do from home while her daughter runs around.
10. Chris Smalling
Formerly a Manchester United star defender, Smalling recently scored a permanent spot on the Italian team Roma after a successful season “on loan” with them. While playing in Italy, he still has a shot at the UK national football (soccer) team. You’ll see him practicing his A-game on the field and cranking out weighted reps to increase his strength in the gym. His young son Leo keeps him plenty active as well!
11. Naomi Mitchell
Few had heard of this twenty-six-year-old marathoner prior to the elite London Marathon this past October. She was allowed to compete in the exclusive race, though her previous personal best ranked her dead last. She shocked the running world, crossing the finish line at 2:33:23—the second British female to complete the race. To attain the UK Olympic qualifying pace, she’s cranking out steady long runs in the British countryside and sprinkling in grueling speed workouts. Mitchell is definitely one to watch in the months leading up to the UK Olympic trials.
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Photo credit: David Verburg
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