The leaves are falling and the nights are drawing in which is the cue for a training block like no other for elite athletes with their eyes on the ultimate prize – a place on the plane to represent Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
The countdown is on to Friday 24 July – the Opening Ceremony at the 2020 Games marking the start of of the greatest sporting show on earth – and London is a key staging post en route to the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. From athletics to boxing to canoe slalom to skateboarding via swimming dreams will be made and hopes dashed in the capital which hosts a range of Olympic qualifying events. Yes for many the Road to Tokyo begins in 2020 on the streets of London paved with (potential Olympic) gold …
The Copper Box Arena in Queen Elizabeth Park hosted handball and goalball at London 2012 but from 14-24 March boxing will take centre stage following the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hold the European continental qualifying event in London.
The ‘Box that Rocks’ will provide an opportunity for 77 boxers – 50 men and 27 women – from across Europe to secure a place at Tokyo 2020 courtesy of the Olympic boxing qualifier. And with GB Boxing boasting a squad oozing talent looking to follow in the footsteps of 2012 Olympic gold medallists Nicola Adams, Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell there will be plenty for home fans to shout about. Tickets now on sale from just £5.
APRIL & JUNE
A month on from the boxing on the Road to Tokyo it’s the turn of swimming to take centre stage in the Queen Elizabeth Park with the 2020 British Championships taking place 14-19 April at Aquatics Centre. Expect a stellar cast of GB swimmers – led by superstar Adam Peaty – to be in the pool at the championships which in 2020 act as a selection event for the Tokyo Olympics not to mention European Senior and Junior Championship teams. Each of the six days will feature three sessions, comprising of faster heats in the morning, slower heats early afternoon and a three-final format in the evening. Tickets are on general sale.
From the pool to the track and road, at the end of April attention will turn to athletics and the first of a double-header of events with Team GB qualification on the line. First up on 26 April it’s the London Marathon with places at stake for Tokyo across a number of nations not least on Team GB. Then on 6 June it’s the turn of the Night of the 10,000m PBs at Parliament Hill Athletics Track on Hampstead Heath where the men’s and women’s A races will act as the official qualification events to represent Team GB in the 10k at Tokyo. Spectating is free.
Canoe slalom. Lee Valley White Water Centre will host some of the world’s best paddlers as the 2020 ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships comes to London. Taking place from 15-17 May on the iconic Olympic course built for London 2012, the event is a key part of preparations for Tokyo 2020 and expect to see Great Britain’s athletes out in force on home soil in pursuit of medals. The event is the final chance for European teams to qualify for the Games and the programme includes includes four individual classes and four team events in kayak (K) and canoe (C) – K1 men, K1 women, C1 men, and C1 women. Tickets are on sale.
Also in May (now confirmed as 22-24 May tickets on sale) the Street League Skateboarding World Tour Series returns to the Copper Box Arena after causing a stir in 2019. Skateboarding makes its debut in the Olympics at Tokyo and this SLS event doubles up as the Skateboarding World Championships and the last qualification event for the 2020 Games with the top 3 getting an automatic place. A stellar cast of the world’s best skateboarders are expected to take part including USA’s Nyjah Huston in the men’s event and GB’s very own skateboarding sensation Sky Brown who in September last year – aged just eleven years old – won a bronze medal at the World Championship.