One could easily have forgiven then 22-year-old Guyanese boxer Michael Parris if he had been left frozen by the large crowds, cold climate, and politically charged atmosphere of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.

Sixty-six countries, including the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, and Haiti had boycotted the games entirely because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.  Security at the athletes' village was robust, with armed soldiers and barbed wire unfamiliar sights for the quadrennial spectacle of global goodwill.

At the time, Parris, now looking back, admits that all of that mattered very little.  After all, he was there for one thing and that was to win gold for Guyana, a country which despite its reputation for being rich in earthly minerals, had yet to mine a spec of precious metal on the Olympics stage. 

With that singular focus in mind, Parris recalls spending the majority of his time at the Games training in his hotel room, with the air conditioning stuck at its lowest setting, to help with acclimatisation.  Even so, once the moment arrived, once he stepped out onto the global stage, the gravity of the moment did not entirely escape him.

“I was nervous.  Nobody was calling for Guyana.  I lost at least a bucket of sweat from my face and arms.  The crowd was just so big, and you see maybe one little Guyana flag.  It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, someone from Guyana will always be there.  I saw a little flag somewhere in the crowd,” Parris recalled of stepping into the middle of the ring.

“But, when I was fighting, I never focused on the crowd, not even the coach.  When I was in the ring I only focused on the other fighter, his movement, my movement, to see when I had hurt him,” he added.

Parris began the bouts with a win over Nigeria’s Nureni Gbadamosi, in the round of 32, followed by another win over Syria’s Fayez Zaghloui in the round of 16.  Another solid performance saw the referee stop the contest between himself and Mexico’s Daniel Zaragoza, in the quarterfinals, before he faced Cuba’s Juan Hernández in the semi-finals.

 Unfortunately for Parris, the competition ended there, with the Cuban going on to outpoint him before defeating Venezuela’s Bernardo Piñango in the final to claim the gold medal.

Even if the mission wasn’t fully accomplished, the job had been well done.  Parris’ performances assured him of a bronze medal.  The long journey, which began in sunny Georgetown, Guyana had culminated with a spot on the podium nearly 5,000 miles away, in the chilly Russian city.  Forty years have passed since the monumental occasion, but for Parris, looking back, winning the country’s first and only Olympic medal to date still fills him with a deep sense of pride.

“I didn’t know if I was standing or sitting, or what, when the flag went up in the air.  The excitement, I don’t even remember if I was standing.  To see the flag raised, of 100s of other countries the Guyanese flag was up there.  It was just so good.  Some of our other athletes had flags waving as well, I was checking up on them and they thought they should have won medals as well and such,” Parris recalled.

“It was really exciting everything about it.  Everything, the crowd, the first time the Guyana flag was raised at a Games.  Many athletes went to the games before me.  The first time I went, thankfully, I qualified and was able to bring back the bronze,” he added.

Parris’ achievement is yet to be equalled.  Even the late Andrew ‘Six heads’ Lewis, who went to be WBA World Welterweight Champion, did not match his achievement at the Olympic level.  Lewis failed to advance past the first round at the 1990 Olympics after losing to Germany’s Andreas Otto.

Parris is convinced that the country’s lack of outright success, since then, at the Olympic level, is not due to a lack of talent but more a case of not being enough done to fully harness the potential of young Guyanese athletes.

“We need to find a way to support our athletes.  We need to look closely at these athletes, support them and you’ll get the best out of them.  Support them and expose them, they need financial programs and stuff like that.  Any sports you can think of Guyanese are good at it, whether it be running, swimming, cricket they just need the backing.”

He admits, however, that he has recently been encouraged by the approach taken by a newly elected government, which came into power last year, and the appointment of sports minister Charles Ramson Jr.

“I have been encouraged that we have a young sport’s minister, with this new government.  He looks like he is ready to push things ahead, so we may get a few more Guyanese medalling at the Olympic Games soon,” Parris said.

If there is one regret, Parris, now 63, says is that he has not been able to work with some of the country’s youth boxers, as he was never given the opportunity.  Still, he does his part to attempt to inspire the next generation.

“It’s been a great feeling, but the only thing I wish is when I came back with the medal, I would have loved to give something back to the youth.  I never got the chance because no one called upon me to say come and help us with the coaching program or whatever.  When they have summer camps now though, sometimes I drive around with the medal to show them so they can see it and feel it.  I want to inspire them. I want them to know they can do it as well.”

The Tokyo Olympics will scale new heights, ride the crest of a wave, and hit it out of the park.

You can guarantee the Games will achieve that triple-whammy, because sport climbing, surfing and baseball are all part of Japan's big show.

The Games of the 32nd Olympiad have been hit hard by the pandemic, but the diversity of 'new' sports on offer means a feast of entertainment is beckoning, designed to attract younger audiences.

Skateboarding an Olympic sport? After snowboarding proved a raging success at the Winter Games, it was a banker that kickflips and Caballerials would be coming to the summer programme.

And soon enough we will all have a tight grip on the technicalities of lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering.

The Olympics are getting a radical facelift, and you'll want to take a close look.


Sport climbing

Given the Olympic motto is 'faster, higher, stronger', perhaps it is a wonder that climbing has not been a part of the Games before now.

Yet this version of the sport is a relatively modern phenomenon, having first become established in the 1980s.

Climbing walls are as prevalent in many parts of the world as ice rinks or bowling alleys, becoming a fashionable leisure activity but a competitive sport for some.

Complicated routes to dizzying heights, seeking the highest controlled hold possible, are the hallmark of lead climbing, while speed climbing is an attack on the senses for competitor and viewer alike, with elite men having been known to hurtle up a 15-metre wall in barely five seconds.

Bouldering is a test of problem-solving expertise as well as skill, a true examination of the climber's wit and athleticism.

At Tokyo's Aomi Urban Sports Park, the climbing competition for men and women will cover all three disciplines, with combined scores deciding the medals.

 

Surfing

Sailing, canoeing and kayaking have been mainstays of the Olympic Games, and now surfing joins as a high-octane addition to the roster of sports.

The daredevil nature of surfing means it should prove one of the outstanding spectacles, assuming Mother Nature brings the Pacific coast waves Games organisers are looking for.

Each of the 20 men and 20 women competing will be allowed to ride up to 25 waves in 30 minutes, with their two highest scopes from the five judges being counted, so choosing the right moment for a high-tariff manoeuvre is all important.

Surf stars will be assessed on their "commitment and degree of difficulty, innovative and progressive manoeuvres, combinations of major manoeuvres, variety of manoeuvres, and speed, power and flow", the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.

American John John Florence is a man to watch out for, with the 28-year-old two-time former world champion having built up his skills riding the waves of his native Hawaii. He suffered a worrying knee injury in Perth, Australia in May, but has recovered in time for the Games.

Skateboarding

Once largely portrayed as the preserve of weed-smoking punk kids, and certainly still patronised by the disaffected youth, skateboarding now comes with a highly professional element too.

Washington Square Park, Venice Beach and the undercroft of London's Southbank Centre have been epicentres of the growing subculture, but now the focus turns to Tokyo, where separate street and park disciplines will test the elite boarders.

Competitors will be assessed on the difficulty level, the originality and the execution of their displays at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.

This will be skateboarding's coming-out party as a major competitive sport, with the eyes of millions across the world setting their eyes on the stars who put themselves in more danger of injury than most Olympians.

Japan's Yuto Horigome and Aori Nishimura won gold in the men's and women's Street World Championship in Rome just a matter of weeks ago, ramping up the interest at home.

British 12-year-old Sky Brown, poised to become her country's youngest summer Olympian, will also be one to watch after recovering from a horror skateboarding accident last year that saw her suffer skull fractures. They are a tough set in this sport, with surely nobody braver than Brown.

Karate

Of course karate needed to be in any 21st century Olympics hosted by Japan, and it may be a surprise to many that this marks its debut at the Games.

The sport has Japanese roots and there seem sure to be home gold medals, while global exposure to karate is perhaps at an all-time high thanks to the popularity of Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai, the Netflix series.

Spain are a mighty force too, with Damian Quintero and Sandra Sanchez prime contenders for gold in the kata discipline, both being ranked number one in the world.

In the combat element, known as kumite, the jargon may take some getting used to for newcomers. One point, known as a Yuko, is awarded for a punch to key areas of an opponent, including the head, back or torso, while a Waza-ari is worth two points and will be given for a kick to the body.

An Ippon, for three points, is achieved by landing a high kick to the head or a punch to a grounded opponent.

Karate will take place at Tokyo's famous Nippon Budokan, which as well as being a famous martial arts venue also famously played host to The Beatles for a series of shows in 1966.

Rock acts including Bob Dylan and Cheap Trick recorded legendary live albums at the Budokan, which was built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and has also staged Muhammad Ali fights, one a standard boxing match in 1972 and the other a bizarre hybrid clash in 1976 with wrestler Antonio Inoki.

 

Baseball and softball

Baseball was an Olympic medal-awarding sport from 1992 to 2008 and softball had that status from 1996 to 2008, so you would be forgiven for not feeling any huge rush of enthusiasm about its return to the Games.

Unlike in basketball, the United States do not bring their baseball A-listers to the Games, relying on a group largely formed of minor-leaguers and free agents, and South Korea were the last Olympic champions.

This year the competition will feature the Dominican Republic, Israel, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the United States, while the women's softball event will be contested by Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the USA.

Japan's baseball stars are reportedly each in line for bonuses worth 10 million yen (£65,000) if they carry off the gold medal.

They won an exhibition event at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, beating the United States in the final, and have since claimed a silver and two bronze medals.

After an absence of 112 years, golf made a grand return to the Olympics schedule at the 2016 Rio Games.

Now, four years on, another stellar cast from the men's and women's games are descending on Tokyo aiming to stand atop the podium.

While several big names once again opted out – including former world number one Dustin Johnson – amid a demanding schedule during the traditional major season, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Nelly Korda offer plenty of star attraction.

With that in mind, Stats Perform provides an overview of those competing for golfing glory in Japan.

RAHM, BRYSON, MCILROY AND THOMAS THE HEADLINE ACTS

Justin Rose missed out on qualification, meaning there will be a new gold medal winner in the men's competition. And what an achievement it would be for Rahm to add an Olympic accolade to his name fresh off breaking his major duck with a fine U.S. Open triumph last month. McIlroy finished in a tie for seventh at Torrey Pines and, having previously been among the biggest critics of golf at the Olympics, is to make his Games debut representing Ireland aiming to add a gold medal to his four career majors. There are four male representatives from a star-studded United States cast that includes three major winners in the form of Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Colin Morikawa. DeChambeau had been well in contention to win the U.S. Open before a final-round collapse, with Morikawa finishing fourth. Xander Schauffele – the final American male in action – was tied seventh and is sure to have plenty of support given his mother, who was born in Taiwan, grew up in Japan.

KORDA OUT TO TAKE INBEE'S CROWN

Inbee Park is one of the all-time greats and the seven-time major victor is among the favourites to retain her gold medal from Rio four years ago. Ko Jin-young provides another strong South Korean hope, as do countrywomen Kim Sei-young and Kim Hyo-joo. But it is Nelly Korda who travels to Tokyo with all the momentum. The 22-year-old took the Women's US PGA Championship last month to ascend to the top of the LPGA rankings for the first time. Elder sister Jessica Korda also qualified, while their brother Sebastian is in line to represent the United States in tennis. Major winners Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson complete a strong four-woman contingent. Filipino sensation Yuka Saso, who won the U.S. Open this year, is another to watch out for in the women's competition.

MATSUYAMA, HATAOKA OUT TO MAKE MOST OF HOME ADVANTAGE

Hideki Matsuyama made history by becoming the first man from Japan to win a major tournament with his glorious triumph at the Masters back in April. Moreover, the 29-year-old has previous at the Kasumigaseki Country Club – a venue where he won the Asia-Amateur Championship in 2010. A quiet man he may be on the course, but expect fireworks from Matsuyama in Tokyo. In the women's field, Nasa Hataoka is the highest-ranked Japanese player gunning for gold. With eight professional wins to her name, Hataoka went agonisingly close to securing a maiden major when she lost out in a play-off to then-teenager Saso at the U.S. Open. Hinako Shibuno, the 2019 Women's British Open champion, missed out on selection with Mone Inami instead Japan's other female representative.

2011 World 100m gold medallist, Yohan Blake, has promised a return to ‘beast mode’ for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games, reviving an association with a moniker he had given up several years ago.

Just a few months before competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Blake publicly stated that he wished not to be called 'the beast' anymore, an on-track persona that had seen him become the second fastest man ever over 200m, after clocking a lifetime best of 19.26secs in 2011.

On the back of a few serious injuries, however, Blake has failed to hit those heights since.  At Jamaica’s National Championships, after a disappointing second-place finish in the men's 100m finals, he was motivated to take the top spot in the 200m.

Unfortunately, things did not go as he had planned.  He was second-best yet again in his second final of the meet. 

With legendary sprint sensation Usain Bolt having retired in 2017, many will be fancying their chances of winning a prized gold medal, and among the hopefuls is Blake himself.

And, for the 32nd staging of the Olympic Games, Blake says he is taking back the 'beast mode' this summer.

"It was a transition that I thought that in myself that the beast represents evil but when I look at it, it’s just a fiction and for me, it’s just acting,” Blake said of the decision.

“It is not like I am taking on the beast, but I am drawing back for the beast, so the beast is going to be back at the Olympics,” he added.

 "I am feeling my old self, I am feeling everything and with God all things are possible. I am getting in my finishing touches and going back to my coach.”

Blake said that finishing second in both sprint events will not impact his confidence going into Tokyo because he is confident in his abilities.

"I know what I can do and definitely, I should have won that 100 with ease, but for some reason, God doesn't want the spotlight to be on me as yet. I just want to sneak up because I know I am not leaving that stadium without a medal."

 

 

 

Coco Gauff enjoyed a day to remember on Thursday, as she is set to become the youngest Olympic tennis player since 2000, while the 17-year-old also starred at Wimbledon.

Gauff made her name as a 15-year-old prodigy at Wimbledon in 2019.

Two years on, Gauff returned to Centre Court for the first time since her defeat to eventual champion Simona Halep, and marked the occasion with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Elena Vesnina.

Her Wimbledon campaign is not the only thing Gauff will have on her mind, though, with the teenager having also secured a place in the United States' women's tennis team for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which start later this month.

Gauff will become the youngest tennis player in a Games since Mario Ancic and Jelena Docki, aged 16 and 17 respectively, competed at Sydney 2000, while she will also be the second-youngest American Olympian on the court, after 16-year-old Jennfier Capriati, who took gold in Barcelona 29 years ago.

She is joined by Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske in the singles – which is ranked based on the top four players from each country who have opted in  – with Sofia Kenin, Madison Keys and Serena Williams having declined the opportunity to feature, while Venus Williams, the most decorated Olympic tennis player in history, did not qualify.

Nicole Melichar and 2016 gold medalist Bethanie Mattek-Sands were the doubles-only picks.

As she proved again on Thursday, Gauff – who has two singles titles to her name on the WTA Tour – has little trouble in dealing with the big stage.

She needed just 70 minutes to defeat Vesnina and progress to round three at the All England Club, though she admitted her memories of her 2019 efforts at Wimbledon are not the best.

"It did feel a lot different. I honestly was more nervous coming into today's match," she said.

"I think the biggest thing is I don't really remember much from my Centre Court experience in 2019. I don't know, I felt like it was all a blur.

"But going in today I feel like a completely different player and person. It wasn't my best tennis today, but I think mentally I gave a good performance considering how nervous I was.

"I try not to put expectations on myself, at least only put the ones that I can control, and I know I can control how I act on the court and how I carry myself.

"What I will say is my goal I guess is more clear right now than it was in 2019. I think just my belief is a lot stronger now, the feeling that I can go far."

The delay to the Tokyo Olympics has been a source of frustration for countless athletes, but perhaps none more so than the Japanese stars so desperate to succeed in their home nation.

Uncertainty and confusion surrounding the Games has sadly reigned for the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And yet, here we are in the month the action is set to begin and the show looks certain to go on.

No international spectators will be in attendance, but limited numbers of domestic fans are due to be allowed to watch the action.

So, who are the biggest names representing Japan the locals will hope to inspire to glory? Stats Perform has taken a look…

NAOMI OSAKA

There is no other place to begin than with one of the biggest names in the whole of sport, let alone tennis right now. Naomi Osaka is a superstar with a huge global following, particularly in Japan and America. Only 23 and with four grand slams to her name, there is seemingly no limit to the level she can reach. Osaka is the defending US and Australian Open champion, but withdrew after the first round of the French Open and opted not to play at Wimbledon after revealing a long-endured battle with depression. The issue came to the fore when Osaka had announced she would not take part in media conferences in Paris to protect her mental health, starting a wider conversation over how athletes are treated. 

 

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA

So often a nearly man, 2021 has already been a breakthrough year for the gifted Hideki Matsuyama. There were seven top-10 finishes in major tournaments before finally the 29-year-old took top billing to win the Masters at Augusta back in April. In doing so he became the first Japanese man to win a major tournament (Hinako Shibuno and Chako Higuchi have both won majors in the women's game). Olympic gold is certainly not out of the question for one of the most gifted players in golf.

KIYUNA RYO

Karate is making its Olympics debut and so is one of its greatest ever competitors in the form of Kiyuna Ryo. In 2019, Ryo won every competition he entered - including a third Asian championship - while the pandemic denied him a shot at a record fourth straight WKF world championship in June 2020. It will take a huge effort to stop Ryo, who will be 31 by the time the Games begin, standing atop the podium.

UTA ABE

The younger sibling of two-time world champion Hifumi Abe – himself off to Tokyo 2020 – judoka Uta Abe represents a serious medal hope for Japan. A two-time world champion herself in the -52kg category, she will aim to become an Olympic champion on July 25 – the same day her brother will aim to wear gold in the men's -66kg category. There is no shortage of judo talent in Japan, with Shohei Ono aiming to defend the -73kg gold he won at Rio 2016.

KENTO MOMOTA 

The past 18 months have been challenging for everyone but especially for Kento Momota. In January 2020, the badminton star was involved in a road accident that claimed the life of his driver, while he required surgery on his eye socket. A combination of the injury, the global pandemic and a positive test for coronavirus kept Momota off the court for 14 months. But the two-time world champion – who won an astounding 11 titles as recently as 2019 – will be desperate to complete a fairytale ending with gold in Tokyo.

 

DAIYA SETO

One of Japan's greatest hopes in the pool, Daiya Seto already has an Olympic medal in the form of a bronze from Rio four years ago in the 400 metre individual medley. With four gold medals in long course world championships and as many at the Asian Games, there are plenty of high hopes for Seto.

Comaneci, Korbut, Biles, Scherbo. Those names are as engrained into Olympic legend as Bolt, Beamon, Griffith-Joyner and Owens.

Gymnastics might pass under many radars outside Games time, but television chiefs have it down as a ratings-winning banker.

There is no other sport that combines quite the same level of athleticism, artistry and acrobatic magnificence, and pairs those factors with a stack of glamour and more than a hint of danger.

Most viewers of the Olympics will know how it feels to casually sprint 100 metres or swim a length or two, but the parallel bars, the pommel horse and the beam were typically last experienced as dreaded apparatus hauled out of school sports equipment vaults.

Anybody who avoided making a muggins of themselves deserved immediate respect, with these implements of humiliation ripe for dishing out a torturing.

On the Olympic stage, we see the human species at its most agile, yet vulnerable too, and that is why gymnastics has been the most viewed sport in the Games on American networks for many years.

Here, Stats Perform looks at three of the great Olympic gymnasts of the last 50 years, and considers who might emerge as a star at the Ariake venue in Tokyo this year.


GAMES GREATS

Nadia Comaneci: The Perfect 10

When Romanian Comaneci scored the first 'Perfect 10' in Olympic history at the Montreal Games of 1976, famously even the scoreboards were unprepared for her fabulous feat. They showed 1.00, with the Omega technology not built to display top marks. Comaneci was 14 years old, and she had made history on the uneven bars in the team competition. It was incredibly just the start of a run of 10s from Comaneci, who produced six more during her heady time in Canada, winning gold medals in the all-around event, the uneven bars and the balance beam.

 

Olga Korbut: Flipping brilliant

The young Comaneci would have watched Korbut dazzle at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where the 17-year-old brought daring new routines to the Games stage. Her backflip to catch on the uneven bars drew gasps from the crowd and media alike. Television footage from the time shows Korbut produce her mesmerising routine, with one commentator questioning: "Has that been done before by a girl?". His colleague responds: "Never, not by any human I know of!"

The Korbut flip was born, a backward somersault on the beam followed, and millions across the globe watched in astonishment at her audacity and execution. The teenager from the Soviet Union won gold medals in the team, floor and balance beam disciplines, pushing gymnastics to new heights.

Vitaly Scherbo: Barcelona bounty

It has often been the case that women gymnasts have attracted more admiration than the men, but in 1992 it was Scherbo who stole the show. The 20-year-old Belarusian was a colossus, winning six gold medals for the Unified Team of former Soviet states with a revelatory exhibition of physical strength, craft and control.

Scherbo became champion at the parallel bars, vault, rings, pommel horse, team event and the all-around event. His haul of golds has only ever been surpassed in a single Olympics by swimmers: Michael Phelps (eight gold medals at Beijing 2008) and Mark Spitz (seven golds at Munich).


TOKYO CALLING

Simone Biles: Great already, and now back for more

What does Biles have in store for a Tokyo encore to her spectacular Rio performance? It was well known before the 2016 Olympics was that Biles was rather special, and the American delivered on the biggest stage, with four gold medals and a solitary bronze, becoming the first quadruple Olympic gymnastic champion since 1984 when the great Romanian Ecaterina Szabo also achieved success on that scale. Biles, a formidable character and sensational competitor, is stretching the limits of athletic achievement every time she competes, taking her beloved sport to new audiences and inspiring generations of youngsters to try the sport.

Now 24 years old, Biles appears to be in great shape for more success in Japan, but watch out for her team-mate Suni Lee too. The 18-year-old outscored Biles on day two of the US Olympic trials

Tang Xijing: China's great hope

Could Chinese teenager Tang be in the picture to deny Biles the all-around title in Tokyo? The 18-year-old took a surprise silver behind Biles at the 2019 World Championship, and it remains to be seen whether that was a one-off or if she can limit the errors that have at times impeded her success and strike again for a medal.

She seems sure to be somewhere in the frame, but the Olympics demands perfection or at least somewhere close to it. Tang has abundant talent, and how she competes against the world's best again, after being limited lately to domestic competition, will be one of many matters of intrigue under the spotlight in the Ariake gymnastics hall.

Pedri and Unai Simon were among a group of six Spain stars at Euro 2020 who received an Olympic Games call-up on Tuesday.

Spain Under-21 head coach Luis de la Fuente, who will take charge of the Olympic team in Tokyo, announced a 22-man list that must be trimmed to 18 for the tournament.

Teenage Barcelona midfielder Pedri has been one of the standout figures in Luis Enrique's Spain team at the European Championship, while Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Simon got away with a huge mistake in the last-16 game against Croatia, when he conceded an own goal before Spain roared back to earn a 5-3 win.

He carelessly failed to deal with Pedri's back pass and the ball rolled into the net.

They were joined on De la Fuente's squad list by senior Spain colleagues Eric Garcia, Pau Torres, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal.

As expected, there was no place for veteran Sergio Ramos, who wanted to represent Spain at both Euro 2020 and the Olympics this year but was called up for neither tournament.

Ramos, who is leaving Real Madrid after 16 years, endured an injury-plagued 2020-21 season.

 

Spain, who were gold medallists in men's football at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, also included Real Madrid duo Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio, Valencia's Carlos Soler, Sevilla's Bryan Gil and Mikel Merino of Real Sociedad in a strong line-up.

Monday's victory over Croatia at Euro 2020 has carried Spain through to a quarter-final against Switzerland, to be played in St Petersburg on Friday.

Should Spain go all the way to the final, they will contest the showpiece at Wembley on July 11. 

The Olympic football competition begins before the Games is officially declared open, with Spain due to play Egypt at the Sapporo Dome in their opening Group C game on July 22, a day ahead of the opening ceremony.

De la Fuente said he had no doubts about selecting Simon, despite his error at the Euros.

"I know Unai Simon. I know of his strength and integrity," De la Fuente said. "Yesterday he had an exceptional reaction after a difficult moment."


Provisional Spain squad for Tokyo Olympics: Alvaro Fernandez (Huesca), Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao)), Alex Domínguez (Las Palmas); Mingueza (Barcelona), Jesus Vallejo (Granada), Eric García (Barcelona), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Oscar Gil (Espanyol), Juan Miranda (Real Betis); Marc Cucurella (Getafe), Jon Moncayola (Osasuna), Martin Zubimendi (Real Sociedad), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Carlos Soler (Valencia), Pedri (Barcelona); Bryan Gil (Sevilla), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad, Rafa Mir (Wolves), Javi Puado (Espanyol).

Usain Bolt charged into history in Beijing, Bob Beamon took one giant leap for mankind in Mexico City, and Florence Griffith-Joyner stunned millions with her Seoul sprint spectacular.

World records in track and field are always special achievements, but athletes take it to the next level when they produce such performances on the Olympic stage, with hundreds of millions of eyes watching across the globe.

At the Tokyo 2020 Games, expect records to tumble, but others will be far from easy to shift from the record books.

Here, Stats Perform assesses five Olympic records that look set to survive the Tokyo test, and five that look distinctly vulnerable.

FIVE TO SURVIVE

Men's 200 metres: USAIN BOLT, 19.30 seconds (Beijing Olympics, 2008)

As well as this 200m mark, the likelihood is that Bolt's 100m Games record of 9.63 from the London Olympics will be untouchable too. That is despite his Olympic bests being narrowly outside the world records he owns for both sprints (9.58 and 19.19). The 200m Olympic record certainly looks locked in to remain intact after Tokyo, with nobody threatening to go remotely close this season, at the time of writing in late June. Just like when he set Olympic high watermarks in the Bird's Nest Stadium – running what were then world records in the 100m and 200m – Bolt remains streets ahead of the rest.

Men's long jump: BOB BEAMON, 8.90 metres (Mexico City, 1968)

The most famous of all athletics records, Beamon leapt into sporting legend in 1968 with the jump that toppled the previous world record by an astonishing 55 centimetres. Before that, in 33 years the record had only been nudged on by 22 centimetres. Beamon's world record has gone now, broken by Mike Powell who cleared 8.95m at the 1991 World Championship, but he still owns the second longest leap and the Olympic record. This is no golden age for long-jumping, and it would send tremors through the sporting world if Beamon's mark could be beaten.

Women's 200m: FLORENCE GRIFFITH-JOYNER, 21.34 seconds (Seoul, 1988)

American Griffith-Joyner brought her unique brand of glamour to the world stage and had eyes popping with her staggering summer of success 33 years ago. She wiped an incredible 0.27 seconds off the 100m world record when clocking 10.49secs at the US Olympic trials, and at the Games in Seoul she doubled up, setting a 200m global best with a run of 21.56s in the semi-finals before going even quicker still in the final.

Women's 800m: NADEZHDA OLIZARENKO, one minute 53.43 seconds (Moscow, 1980)

This came in a world-record run, as Olizarenko led a popular Soviet Union 1-2-3 in the two-lap dash. The current world record, just 0.15secs quicker than Olizarenko's time, was set three years later. Olizarenko died in 2017, but her Olympic record looks set to stay in the history books for years to come, particularly given Caster Semenya will be absent in Tokyo.

Women's heptathlon: JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE, 7,291 points (Seoul, 1988)

American all-rounder Joyner-Kersee enjoyed staggering success in the 1980s as she pushed the standards of the heptathlon to still-unprecedented levels. Her world-record total from Seoul has looked unbeatable ever since, given no other athlete has come within 250 points. Joyner-Kersee also won gold in the long jump at the same 1988 Olympics with a Games record of 7.40m that also remains to this day and is likely to continue standing the test of time for many years to come.

 

FIVE TO FALL

Men's 1,500m: NOAH NGENY, 3:32.07 (Sydney, 2000)

This mark looks ripe to be broken, given the men's world record is 3:26:00, yet it continues to stand to this day. In 2019, the last normal year for athletics before the pandemic proved so disruptive, this Olympic best was bettered 31 times over the season. But the 1,500m is not a sprint and tactical racing is a familiar slowing factor over middle distance in the Olympics, with all eyes on the prize rather than the clock. An outright race, without any early teasing and slow-going, could see this record crushed. The men's 1,500m record last fell at the 1960 Rome Olympics, to Herb Elliott (3:35.6), and it feels ripe to go again.

Men's pole vault: THIAGO BRAZ, 6.03m (Rio, 2016)

Braz was a highly popular winner in his native Brazil five years ago, setting a Games record to boot. It would be a major shock if anyone but Armand Duplantis carried off the gold this year, with the American-born Swedish athlete the clear class act in the field. He had a 6.10m clearance in Hengelo in early June, and last year he went over 6.18m indoors. Unless he buckles under the pressure of the Olympics, Duplantis looks good to walk away with gold and a Games record.

Men's javelin: ANDREAS THORKILDSEN, 90.57m (Beijing, 2008)

Possibly the likeliest of all the athletics records to be beaten, Thorkildsen's gold-winning effort from the Bird's Nest is surely about to be overtaken. Germany's Johannes Vetter had a throw of 96.29m in May, when he hurled the javelin over 90 metres five times in one six-throw competition. The odd one out in that supreme performance was a world-class 87.27, confirming Vetter as the man to beat.

Women's 100m: FLORENCE GRIFFITH-JOYNER, 10.62 seconds (Seoul, 1988)

Although 'Flo-Jo' clocked 10.54s in the 1988 Olympic final, that was a wind-assisted run and is not considered a Games record. Which means it is this 10.62 – set, stupendously, in the heats – that is the target. For years it has looked out of reach, but then Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran 10.63 in Kingston in June, and suddenly it no longer appears quite so insurmountable. Griffith-Joyner died in 1998 after an epileptic seizure, and over 20 years later her records are still being chased by the sprint elite.

Women's triple jump: FRANCOISE MBANGO ETONE, 15.39m (Beijing, 2008)

Cameroonian athlete Etone won gold in Athens and four years later in Beijing, setting the current Olympic record in the Chinese capital. That mark is the fourth furthest achieved in history by a woman; however, Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela has two of the top three triple jumps on that list, and she will be a red-hot favourite for the gold medal. The 25-year-old had a 15.43m effort in May, illustrating she is in shape for a record tilt.

Mo Farah will not be taking part in the men's 10,000 metre race at the Tokyo Olympics, after the four-time gold medalist failed to hit the qualifying time.

Farah, who won gold in the 10,000m and 5,000m races at both the 2012 and 2016 Games, needed to beat a time of 27 minutes 28 seconds to qualify.

Despite winning the 10,000m race on day one of the British Championships, Farah clocked a time of 27:47:04 – a stadium record at Manchester Regional Arena but not enough for Olympic qualification.

Farah had been struggling with an ankle injury that hindered his attempts in an Olympic trial in Birmingham earlier this month, though it had reportedly cleared up ahead of the Manchester event.

"I have had a wonderful career," he said when asked if it could mark the end of his track career.

"It is a tough one – if I can't compete with the best, I am not going there to just finish a final. It wasn't good enough tonight.

 

"It was quite windy. I tried to push and push. I knew I was on my own.

"It was amazing to have a crowd once more. That's all you can do as a human being: you give it your all.

"I've been lucky enough to have had the long career I've had. I'm very grateful but that's all I had today."

Farah has been concentrating on road racing for the past three years, though had hoped to return to the track for the Olympics.

Andy Murray has been selected as part of six-strong Great Britain tennis squad for the upcoming Olympic Games.

The Scot, a two-time winner in men's singles and the current champion, will have another opportunity to strike gold when he competes in Tokyo.

Murray is set to appear at his fourth Olympics having also been part of the squad for Beijing 2008 prior to victories at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

On his inclusion, he said: "The Olympics means a huge amount to me, it’s a massive honour to be able to compete at a fourth Games. 

"Leading Team GB out at the Opening Ceremony five years ago in Rio was one of the highlights of my career. 

"Going to a second Olympics as defending champion is exciting and I’m looking forward to the challenge."

Murray will also compete in the men's doubles alongside Joe Salisbury, an Olympic debutant and two-time Grand Slam doubles winner - most recently in the French Open mixed event.

Current GB number one Dan Evans is also part of the men's line-up, and is set to compete in both the singles and doubles events this summer.

His partner in the latter will be two-time Grand Slam doubles semi-finalist Neal Skupski who, like Evans, is set to appear at his first Games.

GB's women's representatives are Heather Watson and Johanna Konta, who are appearing at their third and second Olympic Games respectively.

Both players will compete in the women's singles event and team up for the doubles.

Team GB chef de mission Mark England said: “It’s a huge privilege to announce our tennis players for Team GB. 

"The calibre of the team gets stronger with every Games and it is great to see a mix of returning and first time Olympians. 

"Two-time Olympic Champion Andy Murray was our flag bearer in Rio and he continues to lead by example through his commitment to the Olympic Games and Team GB in what will be his fourth Olympics. 

"We are also delighted to welcome back Heather and Johanna as returning Olympians, and I am sure they will all pass on the best of their insight to Dan, Joe and Neal."

James Harden will not compete for the United States at the Olympic Games in Tokyo as he recovers from a hamstring injury, according to USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

Harden reportedly committed to playing for Team USA at next month's Tokyo Games after the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

But Colangelo told ESPN on Wednesday that Harden – who endured an injury-hit 2020-21 campaign – has withdrawn, instead focusing on his recovery over the offseason.

A hamstring injury limited Harden to 36 regular-season games for the Nets following his blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets, before he played nine times in the playoffs, scoring an underwhelming 20.2 points per game.

Harden went to London in 2012 after his final season as a bench scorer for the Oklahoma City Thunder but not to Brazil four years later having established himself in Houston.

Defending champions Team USA are yet to announce their roster for the Olympics, but Gregg Popovich's team is currently headlined by Nets superstar Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and the Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum.

Team USA are scheduled to open their gold medal bid against France on July 25 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"Life is about relationships, and we've got relationships with all these players over the years," Colangelo told ESPN. "It's been a process, and it hasn't been easy."

Colangelo added: "Versatility and athleticism are trademarks of this group.

"Our staff feels this will be a very competitive group and we'll have shooting that we've been lacking. We're going to go into camp feeling confident we're going to perform well."

After a stellar career spanning more than two decades during which won 49 international medals, Jamaica’s beloved track queen Veronica Campbell-Brown has decided to hang up her spikes for good on the eve of her country’s national championships to select a team to the Olympic Games in Rio this summer.

“As I take off my spikes never to put them on again, this girl from Clarks Town, Trelawny, walks away happy and contented with a race well run,” the two-time Olympic 200m champion and one of the most decorated female athletes in history, posted on Instagram earlier today.

As a junior, the now 39-year-old Campbell-Brown won gold medals for Jamaica in the 100m and 4x100m relay at the inaugural World U18 Championships in Bydgoszcz. The following year, she won the sprint double at the World U20 champions and with the performance, the hearts of her fellow Jamaicans.

Also, among the 27 gold medals she has won during an outstanding junior and senior career, VCB, as she was affectionately known to her millions of adoring fans, became to the first Jamaican woman to win a 100m world title when in Osaka, Japan. It was only one of three gold, seven silver and a bronze medal she would win at those championships to go along with three Olympic gold medals, three silver and two bronze medals.

She also won two gold medals at the World Indoor Championships.

“As I climbed, I passed the rung of hurt, that of injuries and rejection, not to mention tears. However, they quenched my aspiration to grasp the fruits of success and satisfaction. For that I must venture to say that I am proud and grateful,” she said in her farewell message.

“I want to thank the persons and companies who contributed to my success; my family, especially my husband Omar Brown who in the latter years served as my coach. I must mention friends, fans and supporters, sponsors, coaches and my agent @ontrackmgmt. I could not have done it without your help and support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

VCB, who gave birth to a daughter, Avianna, two years ago, did not indicate why she decided to retire at this particular point in time.

She competed in eight 100m races this season, the last at the NACAC New Life Invitational in Miramar, Florida where she ran her fastest time of the season, 11.20 to finish fifth.

 

 

 

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