How ready are the biggest stars for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games, which are finally to begin in July, a year later than planned after the COVID-19 pandemic forced their postponement?
AFP Sport looked at the state of readiness of established medal winners and potential medalists:
Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura has been forced to downsize his ambitions for this summer’s Games, but he is still looking to add more gold to his sizeable collection.
The 32-year-old — dubbed “King Kohei” and considered by many as the greatest gymnast of all time — has said he would not defend the all-around titles that he won in London in 2012 and again in Rio four years later, due to persistent shoulder pain.
Instead, he would focus on the horizontal bar and in Tokyo, he would aim to add to his career haul of three gold and four silver Olympic medals.
Uchimura’s preparations were interrupted when a positive COVID-19 test threatened to rule him out of an exhibition event in November last year, only to be given the all-clear after testing negative just days later.
He went on to win the horizontal bar title at the Japanese nationals the following month, describing it as an “important” step in his Olympic preparations.
Ruth Chepngetich powered through the heat and humidity to win gold in the women’s marathon at the 2019 world championships in Doha.
When asked in the Qatari capital about the Tokyo Olympics, she said: “I will try my best.”
The 26-year-old Kenyan is certainly to head to Japan among the firm favorites for Olympic gold, with COVID-19 restrictions seemingly having had little impact on her performances.
Earlier this month, she backed up her winning Doha form by taking 29 seconds off the world record as she won the Istanbul Half Marathon, clocking a stunning 1 hour, 4 minutes, 2 seconds.
“I am really happy with this amazing result,” Chepngetich said. “The world record is something I have been dreaming about.”
Chepngetich is likely to be part of a strong Kenyan women’s middle and long-distance running team, with teammate and world record-holder Brigid Kosgei key to shaping the marathon podium.
Olympic champion and 100m breaststroke world record-holder Adam Peaty had a training pool installed in his backyard after facilities were closed during Britain’s first COVID-19 lockdown last year.
The 26-year-old is one of four British swimmers already selected for Tokyo, based on his performances at the 2019 world championships, with the full team yet to be announced.
“It’s very exciting,” Peaty told the BBC. “I think I’m in a very good position. For me, it’s just about building confidence now.”
“I kind of get my confidence from racing fast into the Olympics,” Peaty said. “I’ve got to get my confidence from somewhere else, which is probably going to be training.”
Peaty won gold in the 100m breaststroke in Rio and silver in the 4x100m medley relay. He is an eight-time world champion.
The all-English Champions League final might be played in England after Turkey was added to its “red list” of countries where all but essential travel is banned due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet on May 29 in Istanbul and UEFA was hoping to allow about 10,000 fans into the biggest club game of the European soccer season. However, the British government on Friday warned supporters not to travel to Turkey after imposing the new travel restrictions and said that the English Football Association was in talks with Champions League organizer UEFA about staging the game in
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday said that he has never “put the Olympics first,” the same day an opinion poll showed that nearly 60 percent of people in Japan want the Olympics canceled less than three months before they begin. Japan has extended a state of emergency in Tokyo until the end of the month and is struggling to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases, raising further questions about whether the Games should go on. Its vaccination rate is the lowest among wealthy nations. International Olympic officials, Tokyo planners and Suga have insisted that the Games would go on in “a
Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) secretary-general Fang Ching-jen yesterday touted the success of the Taiwan Business Bank Taiwan Futsal League after Chiayi Tienching on Sunday displayed their all-conquering form and collected the championship trophy with a 5-2 win over YTFC at the Pingtung County Stadium. Since January, when the season began, Chiayi Tienching scored a perfect 10 wins off 10 games to collect 30 points. Taichung Traveler were second, finishing on 22 points with seven wins, two losses and one draw, while CTFA U20 were third on 17 points with five wins, three losses and two draws. In the season’s final round on
‘GUT PUNCH’: Trainer Bob Baffert denied that the horse, set to race at Preakness this week, had been given a steroid, adding that he feels like he has been ‘wronged’ Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby on May 1 is in serious jeopardy because of a failed postrace drug test, one that led Churchill Downs on Sunday to suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert in the latest scandal to plague the sport. Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. Baffert’s barn received word on Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses. Medina Spirit’s win over Mandaloun in the Derby stands