Five athletes with the Summer and Winter Games in their sights
Today marks one year to go until Beijing 2022. To celebrate the occasion, Tokyo 2020 takes a look at four Olympians and one Paralympian who we could see at both the Summer and Winter editions of the Games.
Vincent De Haître, Canada, track cycling (Tokyo), speed skating (Beijing)
I think I told myself I could do it at some point
and because I told myself I can do it... well, now if I don't do it, I've just lied to myself.
A mere 180 days separate the end of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the beginning of the Winter Olympics that will take place next year in Beijing. Not satisfied with one Olympic sport, Canada's Vincent De Haître is aiming to compete in both versions of the Games – first as a track cyclist and then as a speed skater.
Speaking to Tokyo 2020 in August last year, he outlined not only the mammoth task ahead of him, but also the decision-making process that led him to choose endurance cycling over sprint cycling in order to maximise his performance at both Games.
“I had to pick between the sprint programme, which primarily is anything less than 30 seconds, or the endurance programme, which is four minutes above. I tested well for both,” explained the dual-sport Olympian.
“I could have gone in either direction, but I ended up picking the endurance programme because I thought to myself, ‘well, when I want to come back to skating, I'm going to struggle more if I come back from the sprint side'.”
But even though it may seem like there are very few similarities between cycling and skating, the two disciplines have one thing in common: speed.
“On ice, my top speed is like 60km an hour and on the bike, yes, it's higher, but you'll never hold it for much longer. In a race we average close to the same speeds.”
De Haître has already qualified for Tokyo 2020, booking his place on Canada's track cycling team last August. Now he is determined to make sure his dreams of becoming a double Olympian in less than half a year come true – no matter what it takes.
“I think I told myself I could do it at some point,” the multi-talented Canadian explained. “And because I told myself I can do it... well, now if I don't do it, I've just lied to myself.”
Pita Taufatofua, Tonga, taekwondo (Tokyo), cross country skiing (Beijing)
In Tonga we work with what we have and I believe we can achieve this.
Pita Taufatofua played a large part in raising the profile of Tongan athletes when he took on the role of flagbearer at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. While his outfit that day saw him become something of an Internet sensation, the multi-talented Tongan athlete has proved his ability to rise to excel in not one but two sporting disciplines.
In 2016, Taufatofua became the first-ever Tongan to compete in taekwondo at the Olympics, going out of the competition in the first round after a loss against Sajjad Mardani of Islamic Republic of Iran. Incredibly, Taufatofua then went on to qualify as a cross country skier for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, having first studied YouTube videos to learn the correct technique.
Now with Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, Taufatofua has once again qualified in taekwondo, but not before turning heads by announcing his plans to also compete in the K1 200m canoeing event.
"In Tonga we work with what we have and I believe we can achieve this," he told the BBC in a 2019 interview, before stating his desire to win gold for his country. "I've always trained to win a medal, but in the past it's really been about becoming an Olympian. Now I want to row my way to Olympic gold and carry the spirit of my people with me."
Is there any stopping Pita Taufatofua as he embarks upon another Olympic journey? We're sure to find out over the next year when the Olympic Games travel from Tokyo to Beijing.
Jenny Dahlgren, Argentina, hammer throw (Tokyo), bobsleigh (Beijing)
The dream lets me extend my life as an athlete a little, which is something that I love.
Argentina's Jenny Dahlgren is aiming for her fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo. But that's not where she sees her journey as an Olympian ending.
In an exclusive interview with Tokyo 2020, the shot putter outlined her dream of competing in both the Summer and Winter versions of the Olympic Games – with the bobsleigh being her winter event of choice.
"It's a challenge that I love," Dahlgren explained. "Besides that, the dream lets me extend my life as an athlete a little, which is something that I love. And it is something different, something new. I find it super motivating."
Dahlgren, who overcame years of bullying that led to low self-esteem and depression, is now a role model inside and outside the sporting world, having written numerous children's books on the subject of bullying. And for someone with such a rich Olympic history, she may have the opportunity to inspire more young athletes across the world by taking part in both Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 – all in the space of six short months.
Priscilla Frederick-Loomis, Antigua and Barbuda, high jump (Tokyo), monobob (Beijing)
Priscilla Frederick-Loomis is a Rio 2016 Olympian and Tokyo 2020 hopeful who has stated her aim to make history by becoming one of the first competitors in the inaugural monobob event at Beijing 2022.
The monobob is a one-person bobsleigh event that first appeared on the Olympic stage at the Winter YOG that took place in 2016 in Lillehammer. The monobob competition is expected to be one of the highlights of Beijing 2022, as competitors battle it out in identical equipment in an event that relies heavily on the skill and athleticism of the driver.
On the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show in summer 2020, Frederick-Loomis outlined her plans for the Winter version of the Games, saying: "I am actually thinking if it’s possible to train for a new event in the Winter Olympics which is the mono bobsleigh – a one-woman bobsleigh.
"It’s a brand new event in the Winter Olympics so right now I am working a little bit with Cliff [Cliff Williams, the Secretary General of the Antigua and Barbuda Olympic Committee] and other bobsleigh athletes to see if it’s possible."
However, before that can happen, the task of reaching Tokyo still lies ahead with the athlete's qualification at the Games not yet confirmed. It will take an Olympian effort to see Frederick-Loomis fulfil both of her Olympic dreams over the coming months.
Oksana Masters, USA, cycling road (Tokyo), cross-country skiing (Beijing)
The focus right now for me is going to be Tokyo and I am not qualified for Tokyo.
Oksana Masters is nothing short of a multi-sport marvel. Having already won a bronze medal in rowing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the Ukrainian-born American went on to win a slew of medals at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics, including a double gold in cross-country skiing.
With Toko 2020 just around the corner, the winner of the 2020 Laureus award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability has her sight set on bringing home even more medals - this time as a road cyclist.
And as she told Paralympic.org in 2020, her sights are firmly set on Japan, before she takes on the challenge of Beijing: "I’m personally relieved [Tokyo] is postponed and not cancelled. Though being a dual-sport, two-season athlete it makes it really, really challenging because now instead of having 12 months from Tokyo 2020 to Beijing 2022, it’s only going to be about 6-7 months turnaround. The focus right now for me is going to be Tokyo and I am not qualified for Tokyo."