The Road to Tokyo: A week in quotes

Athletes around the world have been busily preparing themselves with less than 130 days 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.

Ona Carbonell: "If we achieve gender equality in sports, it will help society as a whole"

Carbonell Ballestero of Spain competes in the Synchronised Swimming Free Combination preliminary round at the 15th FINA World Championships in 2013 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Carbonell Ballestero of Spain competes in the Synchronised Swimming Free Combination preliminary round at the 15th FINA World Championships in 2013 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
2013 Getty Images

I think sport reflects society. It’s something that everybody experiences and feels in the same way, no matter if you are a spectator, an athlete or a coach.

It is something beautiful and the values intrinsic to sport are essential in life.

To celebrate International Women's Day (8 March), Tokyo 2020 spoke exclusively to Ona Carbonell. The Spanish artistic swimmer was originally planning to miss the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with the birth of her son in August 2020 but with a year delay she is now preparing for the Olympic qualifiers in May.

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NITTA Yudai: Giving back to Fukushima

It’s easy to demarcate ten years as a turning point, but for those who’ve lived through it, nothing changes.

The memories don’t fade.

Last Thursday (11 March) marked the 10 year commemoration of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Track cyclist NITTA Yudai, who returns to the Olympic stage in his home nation, is from Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima, which was affected by the events of 2011. He was in Tokyo preparing for the World Championships when the nations capital felt the earthquake which struck off Miyagi Prefecture.

Niita shares his recollection of that day, competing at London 2012 and the recovery effort.

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TOYOSHIMA Akira: I want to deliver hope and courage through our performances 

Seeing my colleague play showed me a different way to live as an athlete: To play hard and give back what you received from your community, your hometown.

It was a great revelation for me.

TOYOSHIMA Akira was working in the main office building of the Fukushima Plant as a member of the accounting team when the earthquake struck on 11 March 2011. Now as captain of Japan's men's wheelchair basketball team, who himself was directly impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake, the importance of the slogan the 'Recovery Games' is something close to his heart.

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MUROFUSHI Koji: In order to motivate the kids, I instinctively promised to bring home a medal

Murofushi Koji of Japan celebrates winning gold with his coach after the men's hammer throw final during the 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Murofushi Koji of Japan celebrates winning gold with his coach after the men's hammer throw final during the 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
2011 Getty Images

I wanted to keep my promise no matter what.

After returning to Japan, I visited Ishinomaki again – this time with the flag and a gold medal.

Japan Sports Agency Commissioner MUROFUSHI Koji has continued to support rebuilding efforts in the areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and has been instrumental in the preparation of the ‘Recovery’ Olympic and Paralympic Games. The former hammer throw world championship hopes the Games will have a positive impact on communities affected by the disaster, as well as the future of sports.

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Ellie Robinson: Living in the moment

Gold medallist Ellie Robinson of Great Britain celebrates on the podium at the model ceremony at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
Gold medallist Ellie Robinson of Great Britain celebrates on the podium at the model ceremony at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
onEdition

For me the adversity that I've overcome isn't necessarily my disability. It's actually the life of being an athlete.

Ellie Robinson can be counted as one of para swimming's top stars. She has broken a world record at 13, became a Paralympic champion at 15 and is now going for her second Games at Tokyo at only 19-years of age. But whilst, she is looking at defending her title in the upcoming Games, Robinson is also playing it all by ear.

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Habiba Marzouk: Gymnasts are unstoppable

Habiba Marzouk of Egypt competes in ball during the 37th Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Baku
Habiba Marzouk of Egypt competes in ball during the 37th Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Baku
© FIG

...above all, I became a better person because of this sport.

It has always made me feel different and unique and for that I owe it everything.

After becoming the first Egyptian since London 2012 to qualify for the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around competition, Habiba Marzouk can't wait to be an Olympian. For the teenager, it is the biggest achievement in her career to date and she is looking to put on a stellar performance at Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

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