The Road to Tokyo: A week in quotes 

Katie Zaferes of the United States leaves the water during the Women's Triathlon at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Katie Zaferes of the United States leaves the water during the Women's Triathlon at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Athletes around the world have been busily preparing themselves with less than six 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.

Katie Zaferes: No looking back in triathlon chase

Katie Zaferes #6 of USA runs to the finish line in the female elite race at the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Hamburg (Photo by Petko Beier/Getty Images)
Katie Zaferes #6 of USA runs to the finish line in the female elite race at the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Hamburg (Photo by Petko Beier/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

It [the Games of Rio 2016] was one of the most impactful moments of my career and it wasn’t necessarily in a feel-good way.

I was left with the feeling that if I get the chance to do this again, I have to take it in more. I have to enjoy it more.

Team USA’s Katie Zaferes is the world’s number-one ranked female Triathlete, but she still hasn’t qualified for the upcoming Olympic Games. A serious crash on the bike in the summer of 2019 saw her official inclusion delayed, and the COVID-19 pandemic saw it delayed even longer. With another chance to book her place at this summer’s Games coming up in May, she opened up about her change in attitude and approach since a disappointing performance at Rio 2016, her high-intensity marriage to a fellow triathlete, and the difficulties of a complicated and unexpected 2020.

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Hollie Arnold: The power of acceptance

Hollie Arnold of Great Britain celebrates winning gold in the Women's Javelin F46 Final during the 2017 IPC World Para Athletics Championships in London, England (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images for Ottobock)
Hollie Arnold of Great Britain celebrates winning gold in the Women's Javelin F46 Final during the 2017 IPC World Para Athletics Championships in London, England (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images for Ottobock)
2017 Getty Images

I want to keep winning Paralympic medals, keep winning world titles, keep winning European titles.

From accepting her impairment, participating in her Paralympic debut in Beijing to winning the top podium in Rio plus a television stint in British TV, Hollie Arnold can do it all. But this year, the British Paralympian has only one focus: to defend her title in Tokyo 2020.

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Raheleh Asemani: A bigger conviction

Raheleh Asemani of Belgium competes against Naima Bakkal of Morocco during the Women's -57kg Repechage Taekwondo contest at the Rio 2016  Olympic Games.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Raheleh Asemani of Belgium competes against Naima Bakkal of Morocco during the Women's -57kg Repechage Taekwondo contest at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

I have been in Rio 2016 but I couldn’t bring my dream on reality now I will do it.

Raheleh Asemani took the spotlight in Rio 2016 as a former refugee who competed under the Belgian flag. Now she has fully adapted in her life in Belgium and is now training full-time to get another shot at Olympic glory at Tokyo 2020.

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Fanni Illes using Para swimming to inspire

Hungary's London 2019 world champion Fanni Illes will be looking for her first Paralympic Games medal in August at Tokyo 2020
Hungary's London 2019 world champion Fanni Illes will be looking for her first Paralympic Games medal in August at Tokyo 2020
©Fannie Illes

Swimming means everything to me.

It helped me to accept myself and I believe it can help other people to accept themselves too.

Fanni Illes father made a light-hearted prediction that his daughter, who was 12 at the time, would qualify for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Four years later she did, and the Hungarian swimmer is now starring down the barrel of her fourth Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020. More than anything though, Illes knows the impact Para sports can have, and wants to share that with others.

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Dylan Alcott: I want to get to the Paralympic Games

Dylan Alcott of Australia poses with the championship trophy after winning his Quad Wheelchair Singles Final match against Sam Schroder of the Netherlands during the 2021 Australian Open (Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)
Dylan Alcott of Australia poses with the championship trophy after winning his Quad Wheelchair Singles Final match against Sam Schroder of the Netherlands during the 2021 Australian Open (Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

I just want to get to the Paralympic Games but I might hit that last ball at the Paralympics Games and be like, I'm done.

Dylan Alcott lifted the Australian Open men's quad singles for the seventh consecutive time but now his eyes turn to the postponed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Originally "guttered" with the news when it came out in March last year, the Rio 2016 dual gold medallist can't wait to back on the Paralympic stage.

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Lindsey Horan: Rio revenge, Covid woes and Messi lessons

Lindsey Horan #9 of the United States in action during an international friendly against Australia on April 4, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Lindsey Horan #9 of the United States in action during an international friendly against Australia on April 4, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

That feeling [losing in the quarterfinals in Rio] never goes away.

We just really want revenge. But not a revenge on someone else, a revenge for ourselves.

With the memory of an uncharacteristically early quarter-final loss to Sweden in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at Rio 2016 still fresh, USA women’s star Lindsey Horan is eager to set the record straight in Tokyo this summer. She sat down for a chat about her ever-shifting position in the American squad, the 2019 World Cup glories in France, a scary brush with COVID-19 and why Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola’s vintage FC Barcelona opened up “a whole new world” for her.

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Kevin Mayer: Injury-free and ready to work

Kevin Mayer of France reacts in the Men's Decathlon Shot Put during day six of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Kevin Mayer of France reacts in the Men's Decathlon Shot Put during day six of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

I will be 100 per cent ready for Tokyo 2020. That is what I'm preparing for.

Prior to December 2020, it had been a tough two years for Rio 2016 silver medallist Kevin Mayer. The decathlete, who was unable to properly compete for a two-year prior due to an injury, spoke exclusively to Tokyo 2020 about his plans in the lead up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

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The ‘King of vault’ Marian Drăgulescu never says no

Marian Dragulescu of Romania competes in Men's Vault Final during the 2019 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Marian Dragulescu of Romania competes in Men's Vault Final during the 2019 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

I see myself today still doing what I love the most [and that’s] gymnastics, and I'm glad I am able to do that.

At 40-years-old Marian Dragulescu is set to become the oldest male gymnast since Rome 1960 but there is more to the story than just his age. The Romanian athlete is one of the most prolific artistic gymnast to have graced the mat - even having a vault element named after him - but there is one thing he has longed for: an Olympic gold medal.

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