The Olympics are an opportunity for athletes to become household names, and a dazzling, medal-winning performance can completely change your career.
Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Max Whitlock and Laura Kenny have all become sporting success stories because their Olympic achievements captivated the entire nation.
The postponed Tokyo 2020 Games are finally on the horizon and will give others the last chance to follow in their footsteps.
Everyone is hopeful that Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty can deliver the gold medals they are capable of. But who are some of the unknown athletes hoping to catapult themselves to stardom in Japan?
Here, Sports post has picked a number of largely unknown Team GB athletes who are all in with a shot at a medal in Tokyo this summer.
Tokyo 2020 kicks off on July 23 with many British athletes hoping to take gold
Jessica Ennis-Hill became an overnight star when she won heptathlon gold in London 2012
Kimberley Woods – Canoe slalom
The 25-year-old from Rugby, Warwickshire has won numerous World and European titles during her career, but she will make her Olympic debut this summer.
Woods chose to canoe after viewing footage of her aunt, Diane Woods, winning silver at the 1994 World Junior Championships.
Her training for Tokyo 2020 has not been greatly disrupted by Covid but she only competed at the European Championships in Ivrea for the first time since October 2019.
She will compete in the K1 canoe slalom class in Tokyo and took home team gold in that discipline in Ivrea. She also finished sixth in the C1 solo event and second in the C1 team race.
Kimberley Woods comes to Tokyo 2020 on the back of a strong European Championship
Callum Hawkins – Athletics
The Scot will compete in the men’s marathon in Tokyo and will look to improve on his ninth place finish on his Olympic debut in Rio 2016.
He finished just over three minutes behind gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge and just under two minutes behind bronze medalist, so that must be the goal.
However, Hawkins continued to make improvements and was narrowly beaten to fourth place at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
He was then just six seconds away from a medal in Qatar and that must have filled him with hopes of reaching the top three in Japan.
Callum Hawkins will look to improve on his ninth place finish on his Olympic debut in Rio 2016
Matt Coward-Holley – Shooting
Coward-Holley may be another Olympic rookie for Team GB, but he has already proven his ability on the big stage.
He became Great Britain’s first-ever world champion in shooting on the Olympic staircase in Lonato del Garda, Italy in 2019.
The 26-year-old is currently third in the world in the Olympic fall, according to the International Shooting Sport Federation’s ranking.
Matt Coward-Holley became Britain’s first world champion in Olympic traps in 2019
Elliot Hanson – Sailing
After a knee injury and ankle surgery threatened to derail his promising career, Hanson appears to be approaching his best form to enter Tokyo 2020.
The 27-year-old will compete in the men’s laser class and took fifth place at the 2020 World Championships in Australia, missing out on the top three by the tightest margins.
He also won gold at the 2018 World Cup Series in Enoshima – the same venue that will be used in Tokyo – and won European gold in Gdansk in October 2020.
Hanson is one of six debutants in the Team GB sailing team that shows great promise.
Elliot Hanson won at the 2018 World Cup Series in Enoshima – the venue to be used in Tokyo
Luke Greenbank – Swimming
The backstroke specialist won two World Championship medals in Gwangju in 2019, gold in the 4x100m medley relay and bronze in the 200m backstroke.
He also won silver at the Commonwealth Games and gold at the European Games and there is a lot of excitement about his Olympic debut.
Just two months ago, Greenbank broke a 10-year record by setting a British best time of 1:55.34 in the men’s 200m backstroke at the British Swimming Invitation Meet.
It was the fastest 200m backstroke in the world at the time this year and has sparked hopes that he can deliver a similar feat for a gold medal in Tokyo.
Luke Greenbank broke a 10-year record for the best British time in the men’s 200m backstroke
Marcus Mepstead – Fencing
Mepstead is Britain’s only competitor in fencing at Tokyo 2020 and will be competing in the men’s individual foil.
Mepstead, a two-time Olympian, also competed in Rio 2016, helping Team GB to sixth in the team event.
Since then, Mepstead has risen in the world rankings and is currently 14th in the world rankings.
He has proven himself on the biggest podium and took the silver medal at the 2019 World Championships in Budapest.
Marcus Mepstead is Britain’s only competitor in fencing at Tokyo 2020 but is 14th in the world
Molly Renshaw – Swimming
Staying in the pool now and Renshaw is another clear medal hope for Team GB in Tokyo.
The English breaststroke swimmer won gold in the World Championship 200m in 2016 and made it to the final in Rio 2016, but finished sixth, less than 0.5 seconds behind bronze.
As she enters her second Olympics, Renshaw will have hopes that she can improve one more time and break into the top three.
At the recent British Swimming Invitation Meet, she reached the wall just seven-tenths off a new national record, proving she’s in good shape.
Molly Renshaw won gold at the World 200m Championship in 2016 and made it to the final in Rio 2016
Vicky Holland – Triathlon
While much of Britain’s attention in triathlon has been on the Brownlee brothers in recent years, the Netherlands has had a lot of success of its own.
She became Britain’s first female Olympic medalist in triathlon when she took the bronze medal in Rio 2016.
The 2018 world champion also took part in London 2012, but finished in 26th place.
The Netherlands has achieved numerous World Triathlon Series victories in her career, including victories at the Gold Coast, Montreal, Edmonton and Leeds in 2018.
Vicky Holland became Britain’s first female Olympic medalist in triathlon with bronze in Rio
Chris Thompson – Athletics
Thompson’s euphoric celebrations after winning the British marathon trials in March showed how much it meant to him to return to the international stage.
Remarkably, Thompson will be lining up in Tokyo this summer 23 years after first fighting for Great Britain – he ran the 3000m steeplechase at the World Junior Championships in 1998.
His career has been plagued by injuries and he admits that he has come close to retirement ‘countless times’. Thompson raced in the 10,000m in London 2012, but placed 25th.
The 40-year-old, who recently also became a father for the first time, won his only international medal in the 10,000 m behind Mo Farah at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, winning silver.
Chris Thompson, 40, will compete in Tokyo 2020 after winning UK marathon trials
Seonaid McIntosh – Shooting
Another shooter Brits want to keep an eye on is former world champion McIntosh.
The Scot won gold in the World 50m Rifle Sensitivity Championship at the 2018 World Championships in Changwon.
McIntosh, 25, is also a three-time European champion and two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medalist.
She is considered by many to be Britain’s most successful female rifle shooter of all time and will desperately add Olympic gold to her achievements this summer.
Seonaid McIntosh is considered Britain’s most successful female rifle shooter of all time tijden