The double Olympic gold medallist, men's singles champion at London 2012 and Rio 2016, writes for Tokyo 2020.
The Olympics mean a huge amount to me and it’s a massive honour to be able to compete at a fourth Games in Tokyo. Leading Team GB at the opening ceremony in Rio was one of the highlights of my career and winning in 2012 on home ground was an incredible moment.
Going to a second Olympics as defending champion is exciting and I am looking forward to the challenge. The Games are the biggest competition in the world and as athletes we train hard for moments like this. Tokyo 2020 in 2021 is unique, falling during the pandemic and we have seen incredible resilience from athletes, fans and all those involved in making this happen.
Overcoming barriers and difficulties is what defines competing at this level, the ups and the downs. In so many ways, right now it’s more important than ever that people around the world get to reconnect to the raw emotion of sport, watch incredible performances and celebrate the achievement of athletes coming from around the world.
As we saw here in London in 2012, the spirit of Olympism has a huge impact on athletes, fans and people around the world. For those that are still experiencing the worst of the pandemic and others that have lost so much over the last year, this Games can be a beacon of hope.
On a personal level, the Tokyo Games are significant. My goal is to try and win a medal. Ideally a gold one for my country. I know first-hand the impact that playing sport for a career has on your body. I know how difficult and frustrating that journey can be. I know the heartbreak of missing a major tournament and the journey of recovery. There are many athletes for whom 2020 should have been a crowning achievement, who will now not even make the rescheduled Games this summer. I truly feel for them. It’s no secret how much the fans' support means to me and I have great sympathy for the crowds who won’t be able to be there in person.
Exposure to sport at the highest level brings benefits we can’t begin to quantify. It supports mental health. It encourages increased physical activity. It exposes us to other cultures and peoples. It brings us together. Sport isn’t just a fundamental human right – it is one of the most impactful tools to heal and strengthen our society.
In times of difficulty, sport isn’t just necessary, it is vital. Excellence, respect and friendship and valuing the small wins in everyday life as well as the big ones became more important than ever over the last 18 months. During the darkest days of lockdown, the workouts at home, the games of tennis played on rooftops and even the walks around the garden, gave us all a sense of hope and for many a new perspective.
An incredible amount of work has gone into ensuring the safety of everyone involved with the Games. It’s going to be amazing to be playing in Tokyo and my own experiences are why I think the Games have never been more relevant.