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Black Catholics on display in run-up to Tokyo Olympics

Black Catholics aplenty have spent the last year or more preparing for the 2021 Summer Olympics, and things are beginning to heat up.

It was business as usual for Simone Biles last week, as she dominated the field at the U.S. Championships in Fort Worth, taking her 7th all-around title and qualifying for the Olympic Trials next week in St. Louis.

After having a groundbreaking (and allegedly dangerous) new vault penalized at the U.S. Classic in Indianapolis on May 22nd, Biles went for a more routine display at the championships, her more formal Olympic tune-up.

On top of her all-around win, she also placed first in the vault, balance beam, and floor events—while not breaking any written or unwritten rules.

She did, however, debut a never-before-seen move during her floor routine.

“The greatest of all time,” offered commentator (and former Olympic gold medalist) Nastia Liukin after the stuck landing, echoing both reality and Biles’ own bold uniform choice—which she also wore in Indy.

Another Black Catholic who vied for Olympic glory this Spring was Alexandria “Alex” Glaudé, who competed in the 68kg weight class at the U.S. Wrestling Trials on April 2-3, also at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth.

While she came short of her Tokyo 2020 goal, falling to Kennedy Blades in the semifinals, she bounced back with gold at the Pan-Am Championships on May 29th in Guatemala (competing in the 72kg class).

Another set of Catholic athletes to be on the lookout for are the Ogwumike sisters, who currently star in the WNBA, Euro leagues, and on the commentator’s bench. Nneka and Chiney play for the Los Angeles Sparks and are expected to be with Team USA in July, while Erica has opted for the Nigerian national team.

Nneka is currently nursing a knee injury, however, which could put Tokyo in doubt.

Her fellow Nigerian-American Catholic, the Miami Heat’s Victor Oladipo, was selected for Team USA on the men’s side, but also suffered a leg injury this year; he will miss the Olympics and possibly his next NBA season as well.

Even so, as opposition to the Games grows in some circles, it seems a safe bet that a bevy of Black Catholics will be making the trip to the Land of the Rising Sun come July.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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