With just one year to go until next year's Games, Tokyo 2020 asked athletes around the world about their very first memories of the Olympics. In the second of three features, Tokyo 2020 speaks to XU Lijia, Nathan Hirayama, Privel Hinkati, Vivian Kong and Alberto Munárriz.
XU Lijia, People's Republic of China, Sailing
London 2012 Olympic Laser Radial gold medallist Beijing 2008 bronze medallist.
2012 Getty Images
A little seed had deeply rooted inside my heart
and I started to train hard and smart.
"I remember when I was a little girl and watching the Sydney Olympic Games. My father sort of teased me by saying, ‘Lilly, when will I see you in front of the television and you are participating in the Olympic Games?’ My reply was ‘maybe’, because I wasn’t so sure whether I can reach it and I wasn’t so confident at all."
"But at that time a little seed had deeply rooted inside my heart and I started to train hard and smart. In a year’s time I won the world championship in the optimist sailing class and went on to defend it the next year. Although for some reason I missed the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, I finally realised my dream and appeared on the stage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and I got a bronze at that time. In four years time I became an Olympic champion in London 2012."
Nathan Hirayama, Canada, Rugby 7s
2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens top scorer and Plate competition winner.
2019 Getty Images
Any time the Canadians are pushing for medals,
they definitely inspire me.
"I remember my earlier Olympics for me were Donavan Bailey, him winning in Atlanta. That is one that sticks out to me."
"Simon Whitfield, the triathlete, I think he won two medals. He's from Victoria as well. Super inspiring guy and I know a lot of us Canadians grew up watching his races."
"Those are the ones that kind of stick out to me. Any time the Canadians are pushing for medals, they definitely inspire me."
Privel Hinkati, Benin, Rowing
The first and only rower from Benin to qualify for an Olympic Games.
2016 Getty Images
Without any doubt, the Beijing Opening Ceremony is THE opening ceremony out of every one I could attend.
"My first Olympic memory was in Beijing. I was lucky enough to be there. It was the Opening Ceremony. It was grandiose."
"There were so many people, I don’t know what word could describe the crowd, the fervour of the people. So I told myself: An event like that, so many people gathered together with such fervour, it affected me so much and that gave me the will to participate."
"Then what happened next [in Beijing] was the same vibe as the Opening Ceremony. For me, without any doubt, the Beijing Opening Ceremony is THE opening ceremony out of every one I could attend."
Kong Man Wai Vivian, Hong Kong, China, Fencing
World number 7 in Women's Epee, Rio 2016 Olympian and the first fencer from Hong Kong, China to win a World Cup event.
I promised myself that I must work really hard in the next four years
so that I can go the Olympics again and hopefully do better in Tokyo 2020.
"Watching the women's epee individual finals between Szasz and Fiamingo. I love and look up to both fencers and it was incredible watching them fence at the finals. I cried after Szasz hit the last touch and I was so happy for her. I got really emotional watching Szasz celebrate with her coach and I thought I wanted to make my coach proud too."
"The next day, I bumped into Szasz at the Olympic Village and we took a picture together and she even let me hold her gold medal! [It was] so heavy!! Rio 2016 was my first Olympics and looking back I was disappointed in myself because I was more like an excited kid and a complete tourist. I promised myself that I must work really hard in the next four years so that I can go the Olympics again and hopefully do better in Tokyo 2020."
Alberto Munárriz, Spain, Water Polo
Rio 2016 Olympian and two-time European Championship silver medallist.
2017 Getty Images
I remember that I lived through those Games with hope.
“My best memory was the Beijing Olympic Games. I was 14-years-old, so those were the first Games that I followed a lot. I remember the world records achieved by Bolt and Michael Phelps, they were spectacular. I remember that I lived through those Games with hope.”