There has never been an Olympic Games quite like this summer’s competition—which still carries the words “Tokyo 2020” in its official name, despite taking place a full year behind schedule. Postponed by and eventually held during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these Olympics have presented an unprecedented set of challenges to athletes from Beijing to Berlin to Dallas, all of whom have been forced to adapt to never-before-seen obstacles and conditions to qualify for the events they’ve trained their whole lives to reach. Not all of them make it, but more than fifty sportsmen and women with ties to Texas will be representing the United States this year, and Texas Monthly has teamed up with June Third Films to tell the stories of four Olympic hopefuls from our state on their journeys from Texas to Tokyo.
Throughout the first half of 2021, three-time Olympian Michelle Carter had been training to defend the gold medal she’d won in shot put at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. But as the spring wore on, the 35-year-old UT grad from the Dallas suburb of Red Oak noticed a twinge of pain in her right ankle—the foot she uses to push off and generate power for her throws. An MRI revealed a benign tumor that had to be surgically removed at the beginning of June and prevented Carter from competing in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. Despite the setback, Carter, the daughter of 1984 shot put silver medalist and three-time NFL Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Michael Carter, plans to return to competition in time for the 2022 World Athletics Championships, to be held in Eugene, Oregon, with designs on making one more Olympic run at the 2024 Paris Games.