The Road to Tokyo: A week in quotes 

Ryosuke Irie of Japan competes during the Men's 200m Backstroke Heats at the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Ryosuke Irie of Japan competes during the Men's 200m Backstroke Heats at the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Athletes around the world have been busily preparing themselves with less than five months until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tokyo 2020 has been speaking to several athletes whose journey to the Olympic and Paralympic Games is gathering pace.

Daniel Rowden: In the footsteps of the greats

Daniel Rowden of Great Britain competes in the Men's 800m Qualifying Heat 4 during the 24th European Athletics Championships on 9 August 2018. This event formed part of the first multi-sport European Championships (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for European Athletics)
Daniel Rowden of Great Britain competes in the Men's 800m Qualifying Heat 4 during the 24th European Athletics Championships on 9 August 2018. This event formed part of the first multi-sport European Championships (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for European Athletics)
2018 Getty Images

The dream's a gold medal.

I think if you're not gunning for that then I don't know what you're doing.

If he represents Team GB in the 800m at this year's Olympics, Daniel Rowden will be joining some of the most beloved athletes in the history of British athletics. Tokyo 2020 spoke to the British champion about everything from injury comebacks to academic goals, Olympic dreams and using maths to resolve training disputes.

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Croatia, Greece and Montenegro secure final Olympic Water Polo spots

Montenegro's Head Team Coach Vladimir Gojkovic (L) leads celebrations as his team win the shootout to qualify for the Olympics during the FINA Men's Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament semi final against Croatia (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Montenegro's Head Team Coach Vladimir Gojkovic (L) leads celebrations as his team win the shootout to qualify for the Olympics during the FINA Men's Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament semi final against Croatia (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

What can I say in this moment... I’m full of with emotions, we are really happy to achieve our goal here.

Angelos Vlachopoulos, Greece

The final spots in the Tokyo 2020 Men's Water Polo Tournament were confirmed on Sunday (21 February) with Montenegro, Greece and Croatia booking their ticket to the worlds biggest multi-sport event.

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IRIE Ryosuke: Rising above adversity

Irie Ryosuke of Japan reacts after the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay final race during the 2019 FINA Swimming World Cup Berlin (Photo) by Ronny Hartmann / Getty Images)
Irie Ryosuke of Japan reacts after the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay final race during the 2019 FINA Swimming World Cup Berlin (Photo) by Ronny Hartmann / Getty Images)

To be honest, I felt a strong urge to quit immediately after Rio 2016 because I wasn’t able to produce any satisfactory outcomes after all the effort.

Yet, I also had mixed feelings, which prevented me from making a decision to quit right away.

After winning three medals at London 2012, IRIE Ryosuke had a period of eight years where he struggled to make it onto the podium at the international level. After almost giving up the sport, training in the United States presented the opportunity for a new training environment. Armed with his ninth 100m and 13th 200m Japan National Swimming title, he is now raring to go for the Games.

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 FURUKAWA Kanami: Challenging the world with her signature crouching serves

FURUKAWA Kanami imagines the moment she wins the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games
FURUKAWA Kanami imagines the moment she wins the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games
Photo by: Japan Table Tennis Federation for Players with Intellectual Disability

You have to use your whole body, and the timing is crucial and difficult.

My racket didn’t even touch the ball at first. I dedicated two hours every day just to practise the serve.

As a promising candidate for Team Japan's Para table tennis squad, FURUKAWA Kanami can't wait to be on the world stage and have the chance at winning a gold medal.

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Sam Mewis: The Olympics is the ‘chip on my shoulder’

Samantha Mewis #3 of the United States shoots and scores from the penalty spot during the second half against Colombia on 18 January 2021 (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Samantha Mewis #3 of the United States shoots and scores from the penalty spot during the second half against Colombia on 18 January 2021 (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

I was very close to making the squad for Rio, totally understood why I didn’t, but it has definitely given me some added motivation to play my part in Tokyo.

The Olympics is something I’ve dreamed about my whole life.

Sam Mewis was an alternate and travelled with the United States women's football team to Rio 2016. The experience ignited something within the midfielder and has led her to becoming a continuous presence within the world no.1 team which has seen her win a FIFA Women's World Cup. With Tokyo 2020 in her sights, Mewis is hoping that she will be able to play alongside her sister at the Olympic Games.

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Jaco van Gass: The next adventure is Tokyo

Jaco Van Gass of Great Britain wins Gold in the Men C3 Scratch Race Final UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Milton, Canada
Jaco Van Gass of Great Britain wins Gold in the Men C3 Scratch Race Final UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Milton, Canada
© Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

At the moment [the Paralympic Games is] the only thing I am really preparing for.

I just see the power of the Games as a pinnacle of the sport, not even just cycling [but] most sports.

He has trekked the North Pole and has attempted to climb Mt Everest, but the South-African British para cyclist Jaco van Gass is making a pause this year from his epic adventures as he eyes
to make his debut at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

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Laura Gallagher: Bouncing back

Laura Gallagher at the 34th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships, Tokyo, 2019
Laura Gallagher at the 34th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships, Tokyo, 2019
Courtesy of British Gymnastics.

Don't be afraid to dream and don't be afraid to chase after that dream.

There are going to be hurdles, but the hurdles are made to jump over.

In late 2019, Team GB's trampoline gymnast booked a spot for her country at Tokyo 2020. It represented a full turnaround for an athlete who just three years earlier had walked away from a sport she thought she had lost her love for.

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Nevin Harrison: Full steam ahead for the new canoe sensation

Nevin Harrison won gold at the 2020 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships at the C1 200 event.
Nevin Harrison won gold at the 2020 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships at the C1 200 event.
canoephotography.com/Bence Vekassy(ICF)

Winning Olympic gold has always been my dream, and it is crazy that it is within reach.

Two-time world champion Nevin Harrison has a shot at Olympic glory and may become the youngest Olympian to win gold in women's canoe - an event that will premiere in the Olympic programme in Tokyo 2020.

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