After a year-long postponement enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is now just one week away.
Although the Games will be held under strict coronavirus protocol – including a ban on spectators – anticipation is building as the athletes arrive in Tokyo.
Those of us watching on TV will be treated to a whole range of sports – 28 to be exact. Skateboarding, surfing, climbing and karate have all been added to the Olympic programme, while softball and baseball are set to return to the Games for the first time since 2008.
Among the 11,200 competitors are a number of incredible British female athletes ready to make their mark on the Games. If you’re not sure what to watch at the Olympics this summer, let them try and convince you to choose their sport:
Shauna Coxsey – Climbing
“I think there’s a lot of reasons why climbing is fascinating to watch. Climbing is something that’s so natural to us – as kids we want to climb all over the sofa, all over climbing frames. We just want to climb, it’s so ingrained within us and that doesn’t change as adults, it just becomes more unacceptable to climb all over the place, unless you are at a climbing wall. I think it’s something that we can connect to. It’s something that’s very natural within us.
“Climbing at the Olympics will also meet the Olympic motto of higher, faster, stronger. With lead climbing, it’s about how high you get. With speed climbing, it’s about how fast you are, and with bouldering, it’s so much about strength and technical ability. So we have everything within the Olympic motto under one sport, so I think it’s going to be incredibly fascinating to watch and be part of that as well.”
Shauna Coxsey will compete in the women’s combined on August 4th and 6th. Sessions will run from 9:00am to 1:10pm BST.
Sky Brown – Skateboarding
“It’s a fun sport. You’ll see lots of unexpected things and it’s super fun to watch.”
Sky Brown will compete in the women’s park on August 4th. Competition will run from 1:00am to 4:30am BST.
Maddie Hinch – Hockey
“You’d be pretty silly not to, given what happened last time. I think what that final showed is how exciting the game can be.
“It will be really challenging in the conditions, and I think people will be really impressed with how the athletes step up to those challenges, the skill on display, the fitness. It’s a game where you have to stay strong and tough, and it has its moments.
“That’s what Rio showed, it gives you a bit of everything. That drama and excitement is what people look for when they’re watching sports, so yeah, if it’s anything like Rio, it’s definitely worth people’s time.”
Team GB will begin their hockey title defence against Germany on July 25th at 1:30am BST. They play South Africa on July 26th at 10:30am, India on July 28th at 2:00am, and the Netherlands on July 29th at 11:00am. Their final group game is against Ireland on July 31st at 12:45am.
Jade Jones – Taekwondo
“It’s a pretty cool sport, you can get a knock out so it’s quite fun to watch. There’s lots of flashy kicks. Sometimes when you click on and there’s a bit of moving or a bit of clashing, it can come across quite boring, but you literally switch off for a second and there’s a big spinning kick or a knockout shot.
“I love the sport so definitely watch.”
Jade Jones will compete in the women’s under-57kg on July 25th. Competition will start at 2:00am BST, with the gold-medal match at 1:30pm.
Kim Little – Football
“To be part of an Olympics, a global sporting event, is great and we obviously look forward to having those fans and spectators behind us to help drive us to be successful there. I think, alluding back to London 2012, that was such a catalyst for the change in the women’s game across Britain, and in England in particular, and the growth of the game since then.
“This summer can be similar to that in terms of gaining more exposure to the women’s game, and driving it forward even more than it has done in the last nine years, so that’s a good reason to watch.”
Team GB play Chile on July 21st at 8:30am BST, before facing hosts Japan on July 24th at 11:30am and Canada on July 27th at 12:00pm.
Charley Davison – Boxing
“It’s a brilliant team, so much talent among the team – you’d be disappointed to miss it. Because like Rob McCracken [GB Boxing’s performance director] said, this is one of, if not the best team going into the Olympics for boxing.”
Charley Davison will be contesting the flyweight division, with matches scheduled for July 25th and 29th, and August 1st and 4th. The gold-medal clash will take place on August 7th at 6:00am BST.
Kat Torrance – Diving
“If you want to watch people do something really crazy in the air and then land in water with a very small splash then you should watch the diving, because that’s all it really is. It’s not a very well known sport, so I would say if you want to watch something new that can be really exciting, then get on the diving, and then you can go and tell your friends about it.”
Kat Torrance will be competing alongside Grace Reid in the women’s synchronised 3m springboard on July 25th at 7:00am BST.
Anna Hopkin – Swimming
“I think we’ve just got such a promising team going and I think we’ve got people in almost every event. There are relays, which are really exciting, and I think there’s just always something to be watching.
“I don’t think swimming gets as much exposure as it should and so the Olympics is a really good opportunity for people who maybe don’t know too much about the sport to give it a real watch. Hopefully they’ll root for us out there and maybe keep watching it in the years to come as well.”
Swimming will run at Tokyo 2020 from July 24th to August 1st.