2020 Tokyo Olympics: The Music That Motivates Team USA

by Emily Morgan

There’s no doubt that athletes in this year’s Olympics are under an immense amount of pressure to perform. The stress is unprecedented considering the athletes are without their family or friends to lean on— however, they do have music.

Below, we look at some of the songs Team USA athletes are using to pump themselves up before competing in the world’s biggest event in sports. 

For Caeleb Dressel, the gold medalist swimmer says he’s listening to “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys as a way to help him rally before the Olympics.

“I’m into pop-punk, so my top hits are anything by Blink-182, the Menzingers, and Driveways,” he told Rolling Stone. “I have an enormous playlist that I just leave on shuffle, so you might also get modern-day pop and some Taylor Swift in there, too.”

As for Cat Osterman, the silver medalist in softball, she opts for classic rock. “AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi. I also have an obsession with Cher that most people don’t know about.”

The American world champion in wrestling, Tamyra Mensah-Stock, says his pre-match playlist is “33 hours and 46 minutes long.” According to the wrestler, you mostly find “Christian and gospel music” on his playlist for the Olympics.

According to Mensah-Stock, it gets him “pumped up and reminds me who I’m fighting for. My number-one artist is definitely [Christian hip-hop artist] Andy Mineo. I love him. My favorite songs by him are ‘You Can’t Stop Me’ and ‘Superhuman.'”

The Music Behind the Medals in The Olympics

Dubstep and EDM are what’s included on Team USA volleyball star April Ross. “Kygo and Avicii are my ultimate favorites. Even though their songs are a little more mellow, I include them because they make me happy,” she said about her music choice for the Olympics.

“I stumbled on Kill the Noise opening for Seven Lions at a small concert in L.A. a few years ago and never looked back. She added, “I also have a lot of Skrillex, Flux Pavilion, Kotori, Excision, and NGHTMRE on there. I also sprinkle in some classic Korn, NIN, and Rage Against the Machine.”

Before she steps on the track, runner Sydney McLaughlin’s go-to song is ‘War’ by Aha Gazelle [& Starringo].” She also says her newest addition to her playlist is ‘Miracle'” by Aaron Cole. “I love listening to Christian artists who can mix dope beats with words that relate to everyday life,” she said. “His vibe is dope.”

When it comes to surfing champion Carissa Moore, she says she “prefers a little bit of everything” to get her in the right mindset before she hits the water. “Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton, Enya, Norah Jones, Black Sabbath, she said about he favorite artists. “I have so many moods. I’ve gotta be ready for everything.” 

A’ja Williams, women’s basketball titan, says the vibe of her playlist is a “mixture.” “I love Nineties and 2000s R&B and hip-hop,” said Williams. “I love old-school. I’ve got some up-to-date stuff but I’m a pretty old soul.”