The heat in Tokyo may be causing some concerns ahead of next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, but that’s not all that’s warming up. As the countdown ticks down to under a year to go, Dai Sport checks the temperature of the Welsh contingent hoping to get selected for team GB.
The Olympic Games in Tokyo are now less than year away and for the many Welsh hopefuls the next 12 months will be make or break in their attempts to make the Great Britain squad.
Some – like Taekwondo star Jade Jones – know what it takes not just to make the trip, but also to conquer the world. Twice.
Others, though, realise they will require the year of their lives, plus blood, sweat and tears and a slice of luck if they are to book a seat on the plane.
Four years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Jones was one of three Welsh women who struck gold and they could all be back chasing more in Tokyo.
Cyclist Elinor Barker, like Jones, became a world champion this year on the track and will be hoping to emulate her Team Pursuit medal with the GB cycling squad, while Hannah Mills is aiming for a third medal in the 470 Class in sailing and back-to-back titles.
“No-one in my sport has ever won three Olympic gold medals and I want to become a legend,” says Jones.
Now comes the big push for Welsh athletes in every Olympic sport. There was a 23 (15 women / 8 men) strong Welsh contingent in Team GB in Rio and all the signs are there could be a similar number heading to Tokyo.
There were four gold and seven silver medals to celebrate from the Welsh gang four years ago, but Jones is at the apex of a broad Welsh base of varying levels of optimism about making the trip this time around.
Some will expect to be in Japan. Others will be saying a prayer.
There are no Welsh archers in the current British squad preparing for Tokyo.
Bethan Davies won a Commonwealth Games bronze in the race walk in 2018 and she could be joined by fellow Welsh walker Heather Lewis in Tokyo.
Sam Gordon, the fastest Welshman alive, could be an outside shot at the British sprint relay team. Jake Heyward is going to have to go some to qualify in the 1500 metres, but Dewi Griffiths has a good shot at the marathon.
Jordan Hart is the undisputed Welsh No.1 women’s player, but is ranked 95 in the world. Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour is the top ranked Brit (25) with England’s Chloe Birch next (45). Gilmour and Birch were both in the British team at the European Games earlier this year.
Baseball & Softball
Unknown if there will be British representation in these events.
The British women’s team, which includes Cardiff Met lecturer Stef Collins, are through to the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Tokyo 2020 in February next year.
England have qualified to represent GB in Tokyo in the men’s competition. No home nation women’s team qualified to represent GB.
Lauren Price is Wales’ big hope having added more medals to the Commonwealth Games gold she won in 2018.
Rosie Eccles, silver medalist at the Gold Cost, is also in the British squad, while Sammy Lee and Mickey McDonagh are in the men’s squad. Lee won gold at the Commonwealth Games and McDonagh picked up a bronze.
Canoe / Kayak
Tom Abbott has already been to the C1 world championships and the Welsh international who lives in Nannerch, Flintshire, is in the British squad.
Cwmbran-based Etienne Chappell competes in the Kayak single event and has been to junior world and Euro championships as well as their European counterparts. He is a member of the British squad.
Megan Hamer-Evans, from Pontypridd, is in her third year on the Podium Potential scheme at British canoeing and won a silver medal in the K1 tam event at the U23 European Championships.
Emily Phillips, from Cardiff, is in the British climbing team and hoping to mark the debut of the sport at the Olympics by going to Tokyo.
Cycling (track, road, mountain, BMX)
Elinor Barker and Owain Doull both struck gold in Rio and Barker is set to chase more medals in Tokyo. She is a reigning world champion in the Scratch Race and won the Commonwealth gold in the Points Race.
She was also world champion in the Points Race in 2017. She could find her own sister, Megan, battling against her for a place in the British Team Pursuit squad. It was in that event she won her Olympic title four years ago.
Tour de France 2018 winner Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe could come into the reckoning for the Team GB road race squad, along with Doull, who is now at Team Ineos, while Thomas could also have a go at the Time Trial.
There are no Welsh divers currently in the British senior squad.
Equestrian (dressage, jumping and eventing)
Harry Meade is hoping to follow in the illustrious footsteps of his famous Welsh father, three-time Olympic gold medalist Richard, by reaching the Olympics in the three-day event next year.
With his mount, Away Cruising, he has been long-listed for the European Championships this year.
There were no Welsh fencers involved in the British team at the recent World Championships in Budapest.
A contentious issue, but if there is a Team GB representative squad for women, then there could be some Welsh squad members, including the likes of Jess Fishlock and Sophie Ingle. No agreement was reached to enter a men’s team.
Wales No.1 golfer Jamie Donaldson, of Ryder Cup fame, is back to full fitness, but faces an uphill battle to get near the British squad for Tokyo.
Wrexham-born Amelie Morgan went to the European Championships in Poland earlier this year as part of the British team. She also picked up medals at the British Championships last week.
Not a strongpoint for Team GB. Unlikely to qualify for Tokyo.
Sarah Jones is now in the British Women’s hockey set-up and Rose Thomas (goalkeeper) is on the fringes. Dan Kyriakides broke into the British men’s squad but isn’t currently a part of it.
Natalie Powell will be hoping to go to her second successive Olympics. She has reached the heights of No.1 in her weight group since Rio and is, of course, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist from 2014.
No Welsh karate kids in the running for Tokyo at the moment.
No Welsh performers in the British squad.
Welsh rowers have always brought home major medals from the Olympics and these Welsh oarsmen and women are currently in British boats – Alice Baatz, Tom Barras, Harry Brightmore, Rebecca Chin, Beccy Girling, Gemma Hall, Zak Lee-Green, Ellie Lewis, Rachel Morris, Graeme Thomas, Vicky Thornley, Oliver Wynne-Griffith, Ben Pritchard and Josh Bugajski.
Thornley won silver in Rio, but is now in a single boat. Thomas was selected in 2016, but was then sent home before the racing started after picking up a virus.
Rugby Union Sevens
Wales wing Jaz Joyce went in 2016 and will walk into the British team again if she declares herself available.
The England men’s and women’s teams qualified Team GB recently by winning the European qualifying event in France.
Hannah Mills will be looking to add to the silver and gold medals she has already won at the Olympics in the 470 class. She is partnered with Eiliadh McIntyre.
Chris Grube was an Olympian in Rio and has enjoyed notable success in partnership with Luke Patience in the 470 class by winning the Enoshima Olympic Week, the 470 North American Championships and the Miami round of the 2018 World Cup Series.
Elena Allen was Wales’ sole shooter in Rio and she will be hoping to return.
The best bet, though, is Ben Llewellin in the Olympic Skeet. He has twice won silver in shooting’s World Cup Finals. He won the Commonwealth Championships in 2017 and struck silver at the Commonwealth Games a year later.
Alys Thomas was fifth in the world in the 200m butterfly a year after topping the world rankings with her gold medal swim at the Commonwealth Games. She should make her first Olympics.
Georgia Davies is hoping to go to her third Games and was a finalist in the backstroke at the recent world championships, where she won a bronze medal in the British mixed relay team.
Callum Jarvis and Dan Jervis also went to the World Championships and Chloe Tutton was at the last Olympics.
Another of the new sports to the Olympics. Jay Quinn won the U18 world title for New Zealand, but this month in Santa Cruz, Portugal, he became the first person to win the European Championships twice – for Wales.
He is one of three men in the British squad hoping to get the chance to ride the waves at Shidashita beach next year. Gwen Spurlock, of Wales, is a selector and coach to the British team.
No Welsh candidates here.
Charlotte Carey made the British team for the European Games this year in Minsk and is currently ranked at No.146 in the world rankings in the women’s singles.
Incredibly, Wales can boast two world champions hoping to chase gold in Tokyo.
Jade Jones will be seeking to make history by winning a third successive title, while Lauren Williams will also be hoping to make her bow.
Bit of a stretch for Wales No.1 Evan Hoyt to climb the rankings to high enough a position to qualify for Tokyo – despite his recent Wimbledon breakthrough.
Non Stanford is hoping to make up for the agony of finishing fourth in Rio by getting in the medal mix in Tokyo.
The former world champion won a world series event this summer to prove she is getting back to peak form just at the right time.
The British teams folded after the 2012 Games in London and to reach Tokyo they would have to come through stiff European qualification in January.
No Welsh swimmers in the water polo squads at present.
Gareth Evans qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games and won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He is still lifting as well as ever.
Kane Charig is the only Welsh athlete in the British wrestling squad. He won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Qualification for Tokyo will be determined at the European championships next year, but there will only be two per weight category.