The Road to Tokyo: A week in quotes

Shady El Nahas against Russian Federation's Adamian Arnand during the 2020 Judo Grand Slam in Budapest, Hungary.
Shady El Nahas against Russian Federation's Adamian Arnand during the 2020 Judo Grand Slam in Budapest, Hungary.

Athletes around the world have been busily preparing themselves with just eight 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 slowly gathering pace.

Shady El Nahas: On quest to become an Olympic champion

Canada's Shady El Nahas is currently no 7 in Olympic ranking
Canada's Shady El Nahas is currently no 7 in Olympic ranking
©Thomas Taylor

I think there's no better way to win the Olympics than to win it in Japan and the Nippon venue in the Olympics. It's probably like a fairy tale, you know.

Canada's Shady El Nahas continues his rise as one of the world's best judokas. He has been proving himself on the big stage and is now on his way to make his debut at the Olympic Games where he sees himself taking on the toughest competitors in Tokyo, the land of judo.

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Yanina Martínez on a learning pathway

Yanina Andrea Martinez competes the Women's 100m - T36 -  Final during the Paralympics Athletics Grand Prix - Aquece Rio Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympics (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
Yanina Andrea Martinez competes the Women's 100m - T36 - Final during the Paralympics Athletics Grand Prix - Aquece Rio Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympics (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

Yani knew that once she finished the race she would receive a reward.

But she needed to learn from the other side of the story.

Sports has given Paralympic champion Yanina Martínez many new experience but most recently, the Argentinian had to adapt to the new circumstances following the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown.

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Emma Coburn out to break records in 2021

Silver medallist Emma Coburn of the United States celebrates after competing in the Women's 3,000m Steeplechase final at 2019 World Athletics Championships Doha (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Silver medallist Emma Coburn of the United States celebrates after competing in the Women's 3,000m Steeplechase final at 2019 World Athletics Championships Doha (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

I've been focussing on trying to become a better, stronger athlete with very little stress actually.

Emma Coburn, a Rio 2016 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase bronze medallist, is eyeing up a big 2021. In her sights are securing a place on Team USA for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and re-claiming the American record.

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Paralympic legend Daniel Dias announces retirement after Tokyo 2020

Daniel Dias of Brazil celebrates winning the gold medal in the Men's 50m Backstroke - S5 Final at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Daniel Dias of Brazil celebrates winning the gold medal in the Men's 50m Backstroke - S5 Final at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

To be able to say goodbye in the biggest event of the Paralympic Movement is spectacular.

It will be a moment of great joy.

This week Para swimmer Daniel Dias announced his retirement after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The 32-year-old has so far competed in three Paralympic Games from Beijing 2008 to Rio 2016, taking 24 medals – more than any other male Para swimmer in history. As Brazil’s and South America’s most decorated Paralympian, Dias has no doubt that Tokyo 2020 will be an unforgettable Games.

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BABA Mika: How Japan plans to end China's Olympic table tennis dominance

Japan's women's table tennis head coach BABA Mika aspires to win medals in all events at Tokyo 2020
Japan's women's table tennis head coach BABA Mika aspires to win medals in all events at Tokyo 2020
(c) ITTF

I truly hope that we can defeat as many Chinese players as we can to fulfill the long-standing dream of Japan’s table tennis community, and win medals.

Since the introduction of table tennis to the Olympic Games at Seoul 1988, People's Republic of China has dominated the medal standings but in 2021, host nation Japan is looking to capture some of that gold. With head coach BABA Mika at the helm, Japan's women's national team is out to achieve what they've never done before - win an Olympic medal in women's table tennis singles event.

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Eliza Ault-Connell is returning to the Paralympic stage stronger than ever

Eliza Ault-Connell of Australia competes during the Men's and Women's T54 marathon at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Eliza Ault-Connell of Australia competes during the Men's and Women's T54 marathon at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
2018 Getty Images

I actually feel that I'm a far superior athlete this time around and that is partly because of life experiences, having children and taking time away from sport.

At Athens 2004, a then 22-year-old Eliza Ault-Connell (nee Stankovic) lined up for Australia in her first Paralympic Games but come August this year, now a mum of three, the Para athlete is making her return to the worlds biggest sporting stage. After making her comeback in 2018, Ault-Connell believes that her decade away from the elite sporting scene has made her a far more superior athlete.

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Yusra Mardini: “Sport was our way out"

Yusra Mardini of Syria during a training session at the Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 training pool Olympiapark Berlin in 2016 (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IOC)
Yusra Mardini of Syria during a training session at the Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 training pool Olympiapark Berlin in 2016 (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IOC)
2016 Getty Images For IOC

I tell my story because I want people to understand that sport saved my life.

As the year flipped from 2020 to 2021 and the Games draw near, Rio 2016 Refugee Olympic Team member Yusra Mardini has been keeping a positive mindset for the months ahead. The swimmer has shared her story – both in the form of a best-selling book titled ‘Butterfly’ and an upcoming biopic – to raise awareness, not just about the power of sport but that refugees are more than just stories in the news.

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