Australia and USA teams with their biggest names in swimming have arrived in Rio as the competition for swimming events kicks off on Thursday, ahead of the official opening on Friday.
The two big teams have been sizing each other up before the serious action kicks off, starting with men’s 400m individual medley heats.
"I briefly saw them this morning, they were warming up as I was swimming and by the time I was hopping out they were hopping in," said Australia’s double gold medalist Emily Seebohm.
Team-mate Cameron McEvoy, Australia’s big hope of a first 100 freestyle men’s gold since 1968, said both sides are familiar with each other. "A lot of us are really, really good friends with the Americans," he said. "It was exciting to see them coming. They are a powerhouse team and you can definitely feel their presence in the pool.”
But for Japan’s Yuka Sato, a triathlete, this is her first Olympic games and owes much to some inspiration from her mother. “My mother heard about the sport of triathlon and that’s what got me interested in it, from the age of nine” she says. “Luckily enough, I won the gold medal in my first appearance at the junior national championships. I had good friends in my triathlon club who were a little older than me, and enjoyed training hard in an effort to catch those more senior kids up. My strength naturally improved and I built from there.”
Sato finished third in April’s Asian Triathlon Championships but has been less satisfied with other recent results; now, it is all about peaking at the right time in August. Here, she has a fair idea of who her biggest rival will be in Rio. Flora Duffy, the Bermudan triathlete who has won two World Championships.
“She is a strong swimmer; her style is to come out of the swim along and with a big lead, keeping the advantage throughout the remainder of the race until the finish,” Sato says. “Therefore, how close I can be to Duffy after finishing the swim will be key for me in Rio.”
At 24 years of age, Sato says, “I’m hoping to reach my peak in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympic Games."
[ TAGS RIO 2016 , IOC NEWS , YOGA , TRIATHLON, sato, swimming events, USA< australia, thursday events]