When the International Olympic Committee decided to push Tokyo 2020 back a year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it disrupted the carefully-laid plans of many established athletes who were aiming to peak at the Games.
For some British competitors who have yet to reach their full potential though, the delay has provided additional time for them to prepare.
We have identified 10 medal hopefuls who are likely to be representing Team GB next summer and look capable of shining on the biggest stage of all.
Almost a quarter of Great Britain’s total medal haul to date has come from athletics events and some of the nation’s brightest prospects for 2021 look set to continue this trend.
Dina Asher-Smith had an incredible 2019 which saw her set a new British record for the 200 metres and become the country’s first female global sprint champion. A small taste of Olympic success – via a relay bronze at Rio 2016 – seems to have spurred her on and few would be surprised if she returned with a gold medal in August.
While Katerina Johnson-Thompson is no stranger to the Olympics, having first competed at the London Games in 2012, her star is still rising.
Her first heptathlon appearance on home soil as a teenager saw her finish a respectable 14th and four years later she came sixth. Her triumph at the World Athletics Championships in 2019 suggests that she is destined to reach the podium at the third attempt.
We have covered a few double-barrelled names above, but a single barrel can be enough to earn a medal if it belongs to Seonaid McIntosh’s rifle.
The young Scot finished 2019 as the world champion at the 50-metre distance, becoming the first British woman to win a gold medal and top the ISSF world rankings.
Many of the most memorable victories for Team GB in recent years have been secured on water and the men’s coxless fours could see another next summer.
In 2019 the newly-assembled crew of Matthew Rossiter, Oliver Cook, Rory Gibbs and Sholto Carnegie registered two impressive podium finishes; first a gold at the European Rowing Championships in June and then a bronze at the World Championships just two months later.
Great Britain continues to produce talented boxers across all weight classes and the latest emerging star is targeting the Olympics as a springboard to a professional career.
Peter McGrail was a relative unknown four years ago but followed up a European title in 2017 with a Commonwealth gold a year later.
The Liverpudlian featherweight then came within a split decision of the final at the World Boxing Championships in 2019.
One of the perks of hosting the Olympics is the ability to introduce new events, and Japan has added four. One of them is skateboarding, which is set to showcase the talents of the youngest-ever competitor for Team GB.
Sky Brown – coincidentally born in Japan – will still be just 12 years old when she competes next summer and has already earned a bronze medal at the World Skateboarding Championships.
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