Superstars and stars-in-waiting are newcomers among 10,500 athletes at Paris Olympics

The 10,500 athletes who will compete at the Paris Games include first-time Olympians who already have global recognition and others whose stardom is just waiting to be discovered by a wider audience.

Here's a look at a few of the expected newcomers when the action starts July 24:


The 7-foot-4 (2.24 meters) prodigal son of French basketball returns as the NBA Rookie of the Year.

Wembanyama left the Olympics host city last June as the 19-year-old phenom picked No. 1 in the draft by the San Antonio Spurs.

His sky-high potential was on display during a standout season for the 22-60 Spurs, averaging 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and a league-leading 3.6 blocks per game.

Wembanyama’s last competitive game in France was a loss for his club, Metropolitans 92, that completed a sweep in the national playoffs.

The next should be on July 27 when France opens its three-game Olympic pool phase in the northeast city of Lille, about 140 miles (230 kilometers) outside of Paris. Wembanyama and company will take on an opponent that will be decided at an upcoming qualifying tournament. France also faces Japan and world champion Germany.

Paris expects nothing less than Wemby’s return to the capital on Aug. 6 for the quarterfinals.


At age 35, Choi and her 50-year-old sport of breakdancing both will make Olympic debuts this summer.

It was an unusual path to Paris for this first-time Olympian, who will face competitors less than half her age in the Place de la Concorde on Aug. 9, the last Friday of the Games.

The Ivy League graduate left an executive position in New York at global cosmetics firm Estée Lauder to focus full-time on her dancing as the Paris Games approached.

As B-Girl Sunny — Grace is her given name, and Sun is her middle name — the Tennessee-born and Kentucky-raised Choi qualified by winning at the Pan-American Games last year.

The 16-dancer women’s lineup in Paris will include Dominika Banevič of Lithuania, who was 16 when she became world champion last year.

It could be Choi’s only shot at the Olympics. Organizers of the 2028 Los Angeles Games let the sport slip off the program.


Richardson's “I’m Not Back, I’m Better” tour is making a stop in Paris, and the reigning 100-meter world champion has big plans for her first trip to the Olympics.

It looked as if Richardson was going to be one of the big stars of the Tokyo Games, but her victory in the 100 at the 2021 U.S. track trials was erased because she tested positive for a chemical found in marijuana. She went on TV and said she smoked marijuana as a way of coping with her mother’s recent death.

The 24-year-old Richardson won the 100 meters at the trials again this year, clocking 10.71 seconds despite a less-than-stellar start. She joins what is sure to be a loaded field for one of the biggest events in Paris.


The men’s world junior record in the 100 meters is held by another young track star from the 2023 worlds, Letsile Tebogo of Bostwana.

Tebogo, who will be 21 in Paris, was too young for the Tokyo Olympics after he won his first world junior title that same month.

He set a junior record of 9.94 seconds when he first ran at senior worlds, in Eugene, Oregon, in July 2022. Then he lowered his time to 9.91 while retaining his junior title.

At the 2023 worlds, Tebogo set his sights on individual sprint double champion Noah Lyles, running 9.88 for silver in the 100 and taking bronze in the 200.

Just as impressive, weeks earlier in London, Tebogo ran a 19.50 in the 200 at age 20 plus a few weeks. Lyles was almost 22 when he first ran 19.50 in 2019.

A Lyles-Tebogo rivalry could be a Paris highlight that shined beyond the Stade de France track.


Donya Abu Taleb is representing Saudi Arabia at the Paris Olympics.

Abu Taleb earned her place in the taekwondo competition in Paris by winning her semifinals bout at an Asian qualifying event in March.

Saudi Arabia had never sent female athletes to the Olympics before Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar went to the 2012 London Games. Shahrkhani competed in judo, and Attar ran the 800 meters for track and field.

The 27-year-old Abu Taleb, who took bronze at the 2022 world championship, is a genuine medal prospect in the 49-kilogram class. She was ranked No. 12 in June.

A native of the coastal city of Jeddah, she grew up training with boys and competes in a head scarf.

Her event, with 16 athletes in the lineup, is on Aug. 7 at the elegant glass-roofed Grand Palais.


AP Summer Olympics: