Every decade in sports has its iconic athletes. The 2010s was defined by sporting heroes such as LeBron James, Usain Bolt, Serena Williams and Stephen Curry. Who will be the biggest names of the next decade?
There’s no way for certain of knowing who will rise to the top, but 2019 may have given us a few hints. Here are just a few budding athletes who seem set to bloom as the sports stars of the 2020s.
Patrick Mahomes isn’t exactly unknown – in fact, you could argue that he’s already earnt his label as a sports star in NFL. He was first drafted in 2017 and by 2018 he’d already landed himself an MVP. Meanwhile, last year and this year saw him become one of the most memorable players of the Super Bowl.
Aged 24, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of Mahome’s career slowing down, which could mean that we get to enjoy another decade of his success. It helps that he also has a great personality.
Other players who may go on to define the 2020s include Lamar Jackson and Michael Thomas.
Slovenian professional basketball player Luca Doncic has already been making a name for himself and seems on the right path to earn an MVP in 2020. At 20 years old, this would make him the youngest player to win the award.
He’s already the youngest player in NBA history to record three triple-doubles. On top of this, he’s the only player to play 20 straight games with at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, beating Michael Jordan’s previous record of 18 consecutive games. There’s everything to suggest that he could be the next LeBron.
Connor McDavid’s career in NHL got off to a rocky start – an injury during his 2015 debut season saw him miss 37 games. Despite this, he ended up third in voting for NHL’s rookie of the year, before becoming captain of the Edmonton Oilers the very next year. Since then, he’s gradually proved himself to be one of the most formidable players in NHL. Aged 23, he’s still potentially got a decade left to continue onwards and upwards.
Of course, there could still be even younger hockey players to watch in years to come. The 2020 NHL draft is already shaping up to be interesting with the likes Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield being top predictions. They’re not the fastest players we’ve seen, but they’re accuracy is astounding.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Dominican-Canadian professional baseball player Vladimir Guerrero Jr is likely to dominate baseball in the next decade. He is the son of Vladimir Guerrero Sr (which definitely adds to his star appeal) and he has proved himself as a mighty hitter despite a rookie year of mixed results. The baseball player is expected to make his mark in 2020. Aged only 20 himself, he’s likely to be a fixture for many years.
Other younger players could well rise to fame after the 2020 MLB draft. One particular favourite is Emerson Hancock, who’s widely considered top arm in the class.
There has been much talk as to who will dominate the track in upcoming Olympic games. American sprinter and hurdler Sydney McLaughlin is definitely a contender – in 2016, she qualified for the summer Olympics aged 16. She’s set to return in 2020 at the Tokyo Olympics, having already scored silvers and golds at 2019’s world championships.
Noah Lyles has meanwhile been touted as the next men’s sprinter to make it big. In fact, his sprint record isn’t far off Usain Bolt’s.
Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff
15-year-old Atlanta tennis player Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff made headlines in 2019 when she became the youngest player to ever qualify for the Wimbledon draw. In the very first round, she went up against her sporting hero Venus Williams – and stunned everyone by winning. She went on to reach the fourth round, while also reaching the third round in the US open.
If Gauff continues on the same trajectory, she could be the decade’s next tennis superstar. The most shocking part of it all is that she’ll only be 25 in 2030 – which is still relatively young compared to many tennis champions.
When it comes to international soccer, Ronaldo and Messi were some of the most notable players of the 2010s. But both stars are now in their 30s and likely to retire soon – who will replace them?
20 year old Joao Felix is one of the most likely contenders. Portugal seem to already grooming him as the natural successor to Ronaldo, while clubs seem to be fighting over him with Atletico Madrid paying a record £113 million to have him (although it seems the player already has plans to return to Benfica). He won Golden Boy in 2019 and seems on the path to win many more awards.
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