The Road to Tokyo: A week in quotes 

Sarina Koga #2 of Japan spikes during the women's international volleyball game between Japan and China at the Ariake Arena on May 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
Sarina Koga #2 of Japan spikes during the women's international volleyball game between Japan and China at the Ariake Arena on May 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

Athletes around the world have been busily preparing themselves with less than 80 days until the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021.

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

Japan, China bring volleyball in the house at Ariake Arena after year-long wait

Sarina Koga #2 of Japan spikes during the women's international volleyball game between Japan and China at the Ariake Arena on May 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
Sarina Koga #2 of Japan spikes during the women's international volleyball game between Japan and China at the Ariake Arena on May 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

But amid all the uncertainty, the good thing about facing the world’s No. 1 team is that you find out right away where you are in the pecking order.

So from tomorrow, we go back to work and start drilling the lessons we learned today

It was an exciting Sunday at Ariake Arena as hosts Japan came up against reigning Olympic champions the People's Republic of China with the latter coming away victorious. With a little bit more than three months before the start of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 the venue, which will host Olympic Volleyball and Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball, was finally "baptised" during a male-female double-header between Japan and China. In the men's match, Japan came from behind to outlast their Chinese counterparts 3-2.

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Steph Davis: From first marathon to Olympic marathon in three short years

Women's marathon winner Stephanie Davis celebrates after winning British Athletics Marathon Trials at Kew Gardens on March 26, 2021. (Photo by Tom Dulat - British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images)
Women's marathon winner Stephanie Davis celebrates after winning British Athletics Marathon Trials at Kew Gardens on March 26, 2021. (Photo by Tom Dulat - British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images)
2021 British Athletics

As much as I love running, I don't want to be all-consumed by it all of the time.

A little over three years ago, Team GB's Steph Davis was a seasonal runner, training twice a week when the "weather was nice". Fast forward to 2021 and the Scottish athlete is less than three months away from her first Olympics. Tokyo 2020 caught up with the marathon specialist to talk about her rapid rise to the pinnacle of athletics. 

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FUNAMIZU Shiori: Breaking stereotypes through para sports

FUNAMIZU Shiori who reached the top of the junior world ranking is now going to make her Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020
FUNAMIZU Shiori who reached the top of the junior world ranking is now going to make her Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020
Provided by Funamizu Shiori

The only difference between wheelchair tennis and tennis is that the former allows two bounces of the ball.

That’s all.

After suffering a spinal cord injury while in junior high school, FUNAMIZU Shiori struggled to accept her new life with a wheelchair. But it was a trip to the All Japan Wheelchair Tennis Masters that changed her thinking and put her on the path to following in her idols footsteps as she looks towards a home Paralympic Games in 2021.

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Israel's pursuit for Olympic judo gold

Israeli judoka Timna Nelson-Levy celebrating
Israeli judoka Timna Nelson-Levy celebrating
photo by Sabau Gabriela, IJF

We have something in our spirit, we have this Israeli...attitude - this fighting spirit.

We love representing Israel, we have pride in representing the flag - for me, it’s special, I'm not only fighting for myself. I’m fighting for my family, I’m fighting for my country.

Did you know that nine out of Israel's 15 Olympic medals have come from judo? And since 2009, the nation has seen their athletes win nine medals at the Judo World Championships and 12 medals at Continental Championships. in country were football and basketball reign supreme, it may seem odd that judo is Israel's most successful Olympic sport but now the mission is to win Israel just their second ever Olympic gold.

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Richard Torrez Jr.: USA’s golden hope among the giants

Olympic hopeful boxer Richard Torrez Jr. works out in his father's gym during a training session on 6 June 2020 (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Olympic hopeful boxer Richard Torrez Jr. works out in his father's gym during a training session on 6 June 2020 (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
2020 Getty Images

I’m not the biggest. I’m not the strongest.

But going in the ring with one of those huge guys and getting my hand raised at the end of it – that’s a great feeling.

Richard Torrez Jr. has his roots sunk deep in the farmland of central California and a boxing-family three generations in the making. Hoping to become the first Team USA Super heavyweight to win gold since the discipline debuted in 1984, Torrez Jr. talked to Tokyo 2020 about having his dad as a coach (and boxing hero), the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic and how he - on the "smaller" side of a division full of giants - likes the feeling of punching up.

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World Athletics president Sebastian Coe hails Tokyo 2020 marathon test event

Long-distance runners in Sapporo, Hokkaido, on Wednesday 5 May 2021
Long-distance runners in Sapporo, Hokkaido, on Wednesday 5 May 2021
(Photo by Shugo Takemi)

The people of Sapporo will be proud historically to be able to claim that they live in a city that has been the host to a winter Games, and also the host to an event in a summer Games.

This week Sapporo, which will host the marathon and race walking events for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, saw a dozen runners take to its streets for a thrilling 20km test event as preparations ramped-up with just under 80 days until the Opening Ceremony.

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Israel look to Tokyo Paralympic Games led by a couple who are breaking barriers

Israel women's goalball captain Ilham Mahamid Rozin spending some quality time with her husband and goalball men's captain Michael and son Amir
Israel women's goalball captain Ilham Mahamid Rozin spending some quality time with her husband and goalball men's captain Michael and son Amir
Ⓒ Keren Isaacson

Goalball is the game that gave me ― without seeing anything because our eyes are closed ― the ability to see I could do anything.

The name Ilham Mahamid Rozin isn't one you've probably come across but she is one of the pioneers of women's sport in Israel. In her youth, despite her love for sport she was not allowed to participate in physical education classes because of her poor eyesight but even after hearing about goalball, their was still one issue: there were no women's teams. Ilham, who is Israel's team captain, is hoping to be on the podium at Tokyo 2020 and to celebrate with her teammates as a proud Arab Muslim woman.

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The tale of two Matildas

A very difficult time in my career to understand but moving past that was just as important for me so that's what I focussed on.

After missing out on selection for the Rio 2016 Games, Emily Gielnik and Aivi Luik are once again within reach of becoming Olympians but the journey to this stage wasn't without it's challenges. Despite their different paths to this point, both players share a common characteristic: never giving up.

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