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Las Vegas athletes make impact at Tokyo Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics were delayed a year, but for many with Las Vegas ties, the timing was just right.

They made a major impact in the Games, from the Sandpipers of Nevada winning three swimming medals to four Aces players bringing home gold in two events.

The Sandpipers lived up to the pre-Olympics hype, with Bowe Becker claiming a gold medal and Erica Sullivan and Bella Sims each taking silver. Then there was 15-year-old Katie Grimes coming close with a fourth-place finish.

Sullivan heads to Texas, and Becker was an All-American at Minnesota. Sims, 16, and Grimes return to the Sandpipers with the 2024 Games in Paris in their sights.

“We had known they had a chance to make the (Olympic) team, but even better, they made the best of it,” Sandpipers coach Ron Aitken said in a text message. “The future is bright for both of them, and I look forward to carving out a plan for them over the next 3 years.

“2024 is only three years away, and there is a lot of momentum in the program and can’t want to see who will be next!”

Here is a look at the most notable performances:

Gold medal winners

Bowe Becker

United States men's 4x100m freestyle relay team of Bowe Becker, Blake Pieroni and Caeleb Dresse ...
United States men's 4x100m freestyle relay team of Bowe Becker, Blake Pieroni and Caeleb Dressel react after winning the gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Sport: Swimming

Country: United States

Local connection: Faith Lutheran High School, Sandpipers of Nevada

Performance: He swam the third leg of the 4×100-meter relay, extending the U.S. lead and helping the Americans repeat the gold won five years earlier in Rio de Janeiro. The time of 3 minutes, 8.97 seconds was the third fastest in history.

Chelsea Gray

United States' Chelsea Gray (8) drives around Serbia's Tina Krajisnik (33) during women's baske ...
United States' Chelsea Gray (8) drives around Serbia's Tina Krajisnik (33) during women's basketball semifinal game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Sport: Basketball

Country: United States

Local connection: Aces

Performance: She was the backup point guard to Sue Bird, averaging 7.3 points and 3.2 assists in six games. As she does with the Aces, Gray masterfully and efficiently ran the U.S. offense.

Kelsey Plum

United States' Kelsey Plum celebrates victory over Russian Olympic Committee in a women's 3-on- ...
United States' Kelsey Plum celebrates victory over Russian Olympic Committee in a women's 3-on-3 gold medal basketball game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Sport: 3-on-3 basketball

Country: United States

Local connection: Aces

Performance: Plum led the U.S. team with 55 points in nine games in an event making its Olympic debut. She scored five points in the gold medal game, an 18-15 victory over the Russian Olympic Committee.

Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele of the United States celebrates winning Gold in the Men's Golf event at the 2 ...
Xander Schauffele of the United States celebrates winning Gold in the Men's Golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics during the final round of the men's golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Kawagoe, Japan. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Sport: Golf

Country: United States

Local connection: Las Vegas resident

Performance: Two key putts helped Schauffele walk away with the gold. He shot 4-under 67 in the final round to finish at 18 under, edging Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini — who closed with a 61 — by one shot.

A’ja Wilson

United States's A'Ja Wilson (9) reacts after scoring against Australia during a women's basketb ...
United States's A'Ja Wilson (9) reacts after scoring against Australia during a women's basketball quarterfinal game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Sport: Basketball

Country: United States

Local connection: Aces

Performance: Wilson asserted herself as the leader of the undefeated team, averaging 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in six games. She led the U.S. in scoring.

Jackie Young

United States' Jackie Young (8) shoots over France's Ana Maria Filip (11) during a women's 3-on ...
United States' Jackie Young (8) shoots over France's Ana Maria Filip (11) during a women's 3-on-3 semifinal basketball game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Sport: 3-on-3 basketball

Country: United States

Local connection: Aces

Performance: Young was a late addition and made the most of her opportunity, playing outstanding defense during the Americans’ run. She scored 18 points in nine games.

Silver medal winners

Bella Sims

United States women's 4x200-meter freestyle relay team Paige Madden, left, Bella Sims and Kathy ...
United States women's 4x200-meter freestyle relay team Paige Madden, left, Bella Sims and Kathy McLaughlin, right, react during their heat at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Sport: Swimming

Country: United States

Local connection: Sandpipers of Nevada

Performance: She was part of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay team that qualified for the final. Katie Ledecky replaced Sims in the final and helped set an American record with a time of 7 minutes, 40.73 seconds, earning Sims the silver.

Erica Sullivan

Erica Sullivan of the United States poses with silver medal for the women's 1500-meters freesty ...
Erica Sullivan of the United States poses with silver medal for the women's 1500-meters freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Sport: Swimming

Country: United States

Local connection: Palo Verde High School, Sandpipers of Nevada

Performance: She rallied from fifth to finish second in the 1,500-meter freestyle in 15 minutes, 41.41 seconds, behind Katie Ledecky’s 15:37.34.

Notable performances

Vashti Cunningham

Vashti Cunningham, of United States, competes during a qualification round of the women's high ...
Vashti Cunningham, of United States, competes during a qualification round of the women's high jump at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Sport: Track and field

Country: United States

Local connection: Bishop Gorman High School

Performance: Cunningham tied for sixth in the high jump, clearing a height of 1.96 meters (6 feet, 4.3 inches).

Katie Grimes

Katie Grimes, left, of the United States, talks with teammate Katie Ledecky, following their he ...
Katie Grimes, left, of the United States, talks with teammate Katie Ledecky, following their heat of the women's 800-meter freestyle at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Sport: Swimming

Country: United States

Local connection: Sandpipers of Nevada

Performance: The 15-year-old, the surprise of the U.S. Olympic Trials, just missed out on a medal with a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter freestyle at 8 minutes, 19.38 seconds.

Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa of United States studies his putt on the 5th hole during the final round of the ...
Collin Morikawa of United States studies his putt on the 5th hole during the final round of the men's golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Kawagoe, Japan. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Sport: Golf

Country: United States

Local connection: Las Vegas resident

Performance: He closed strong with an 8-under 63 to get into a seven-way playoff for bronze. Morikawa became one of the last two standing, but lost to Chinese Taipei’s CT Pan.

Kasia Wasick

Kasia Wasick of Poland, 29, volunteer assistant coach at UNLV, poses for a photo at Buchanan Na ...
Kasia Wasick of Poland, 29, volunteer assistant coach at UNLV, poses for a photo at Buchanan Natatorium, on Monday, May 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. Wasick prepares for the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye

Sport: Swimming

Country: Poland

Local connection: UNLV volunteer assistant coach

Performance: Wasick qualified for the final and finished fifth in 24.32 seconds, missing out on a medal by .11.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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