Rugby Player Ilona Maher Is the Breakout TikTok Star of the Tokyo Olympics

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·4 min read
Rugby Player Ilona Maher Is the Breakout TikTok Star of the Tokyo Olympics
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The world will be watching as Ilona Maher and the U.S. women's rugby team compete in the Tokyo Olympics this week, beginning on Wednesday night.

But nearly half a million fans are already very familiar with the 24-year-old Vermont native, who has become a verified TikTok celebrity by giving a humble behind-the-scenes look at the Olympics. She's everything her generation looks for in a gold-tier influencer: a bucket-hat wearing body positivity activist who solicits eye drop advice from "best friend" and vlogger Hank Green.

Ilona, who describes her self-deprecating TikToks as "funny and unfiltered," also posts "thirst traps" of herself wearing her signature glasses and a red, white and blue tie-dye hat to rep Team USA. She says her cheeky videos are "a way I can escape and not stress about my upcoming games."

She keeps it real, sharing, "I don't love my body [all] the time but I've grown really appreciate it. I get very mad at myself when I make mistakes. I'm self conscious that my personality may be too much for some people."

2020 Tokyo Olympics Candid Photos

The Olympian has (jokingly?) admitted to spending six hours per day on the app, posting videos that show her hilariously modeling Ralph Lauren's Olympic uniforms, offering footage of teammate Nana Faavesi braiding the team's hair and trying to muster up the courage to flirt with "Romanian volleyball players."

Watch Ilona and her team face off against China tonight on NBC, when game one airs at 9 p.m. EST. In the meantime, see this TikTok champion's best clips below.

Question for Hank Green

Ilona is asking for a friend when she requests Hank's thoughts on a rather unique issue. She says this friend can "taste" her eye drops and please "let her know" if this is normal.

Resident Hairstylist

"We would be lost without Nana Faavesi," she wrote of the "only" hair braider on their team, who seems to spend all her free time working on their hair. Ilona overlaid an audio of Cardi B saying, "I don't even have time for my love life."

Crushing on Other Athletes

One fan asked, "Why don't you Olympians just go talk to each other if you're thirsty?"

Ilona relatably responded, "I hear you. Remember there's 'rona, so we do try to stay away from each other. And second, it is not easy to go up to a pack of six, seven Romanian volleyball players and shoot my shot. I mean, I'll work on it. But I don't know if that's in the cards for me."

Communication Conundrum

Ilona laughed at how difficult it is to communicate with her "kiwi coach," who is from New Zealand. "Him answering in his accent in front of a plastic divider," she captioned a clip of him speaking to her in Tokyo. Shen then lip synced to Boy2Fly's lyric, "whatever that f--king means."

Modeling Contract Needed

IMG Models, wya? Our girl modeled the official Team USA formal uniform for her followers, saying, "If you're not Ralph Lauren, just keep scrolling. Where's my modeling contract at, buddy? Look at me."

Wife Her Up

The Quinnipiac University alum was all of us when she revealed her flirting skills at the Games. "Me to all the tall foreign demigod looking athletes in the Olympic Village," she wrote, while lip syncing to an audio clip and whispering, "Are you looking for a wife?" Ilona captioned the video, "I am available," in case that wasn't clear.

Save Some Swag Pls

In another hilarious clip, Ilona deadpans a casual request to the USA skateboarding team.

"I was just wondering if you guys could, like, just save some swag for the rest of us," she says while scratching her nose. "You guys are really hoarding it all… The amount of cool that you guys emit is unmatched."

Working Two Jobs

She shared a video of herself capturing content "so the world can get an inside look" at the Games. On top of the clip, she played the song "I'm a Survivor" by Reba McEntire, effectively comparing herself to a single mom, working two jobs as a TikToker and athlete. We appreciate you, Ilona.

Anti-Sex Beds

After Olympians referred to their cardboard beds as being "anti-sex," our hero Ilona put hers to the test. She and her teammates did burpees, cheerleading moves and even "The Michael Phelps" warm up routine to show the strength of their recyclable sleeping arrangements. Ilona captioned one position as "wife dramatically crying after finding out her husband cheated on her with his secretary."

Watch 2020 Tokyo Olympics coverage every day on NBC and Peacock.