Published: 06:00, 24 January 2020
| Updated: 22:01, 24 January 2020
The countdown is well and truly on for Kent athletes hoping to book their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer.
It’s now six months until the Opening Ceremony in the newly-built National Olympic Stadium on the evening of Friday, July 24.
Although the games officially get under way on July 24, preliminary softball and football matches are due to start two days earlier.
This will be the second time Tokyo has hosted the Olympics, the first time was in 1964 when Great Britain won four gold medals, 12 silvers and two bronzes.
There are 339 gold medals up for grabs with more than 11,000 athletes and 206 nations expected to take part. Russia will need to get its IOC suspension lifted to take part in the games.
There are four new sports in the games this year with skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate all among the 33 disciplines on display. Baseball and softball return for the first time since 2008.
Tokyo also hosts the Paralympics, which will run from August 25 until September 6.
Who are the Kent athletes hoping to reach Tokyo?
Dartford’s Adam Gemili missed out on bronze four years ago in Rio in the 200m by three thousandths of a second following a photo-finish. Now 26, Gemili ran 20.12 in the final but was pipped to a medal by Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre. Gemili was also fourth in the World Championships in Doha last October.
Golden girl Dina Asher-Smith had a year to remember in 2019. She broke her own British records to win gold in the 200m and silver in the 100m at the World Championships. Orpington’s Asher-Smith was fifth in the 2016 Olympics 200m final but already has an Olympic medal to her name, having helped the 4x100m team win bronze in Rio. She was also voted into third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Now 30, Sevenoaks-born Tom Bosworth finished sixth in the 20km walk four years ago at the Rio Olympics. It was also a memorable time away from competition as British record-holder Bosworth proposed to his boyfriend Harry Dineley on Copacabana Beach in Rio.
Who can forget Great Britain winning gold in the hockey final at Rio four years ago? Former Sutton Valence School pupil and Canterbury player Susannah Townsend was a key member of that squad.
Canterbury-born Grace Balsdon has also represented her hometown club and has broken into the Great Britain squad in the last few years, as well as winning a bronze with England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Holcombe’s Welsh international Leah Wilkinson broke into the Great Britain squad at the end of last year.
Holcombe’s David Ames was part of the men’s squad in Rio four years ago, along with Ashley Jackson. Now 32, Chatham-born Jackson also attended Sutton Valence School and previously played at Holcombe.
Canterbury’s Bayley Sargeant is currently only one of three GB women to have shot a 300/300 at The Vegas Shoot.
She was second in both individual and mixed team at the Veronica’s Cup World Ranking event last year and third at the British Outdoor Target Championship.
Seven athletes have already reached the GB selection criteria for Tokyo so Sargeant has until the end of the selection score window in March to achieve the criteria.
Last August, Sara Parfett helped the women’s four - a new event for 2020 - book Great Britain a spot at the Tokyo Olympics by winning the B final at the World Rowing Championships.
It’s a remarkable rise for Rochester’s Parfett who switched from swimming to rowing while at university in Bath. The 28-year-old made her senior debut with the GB rowing squad in 2017.
Gravesend heavyweight Cheavon Clarke doesn’t lack confidence when it comes to his Olympic chances.
European qualifying takes place at the Copperbox, in London, in March and the 29-year-old is determined to earn a spot in the GB squad.
He also has the fall-back option of world qualifying in Paris should things not go to plan.
He fancies his chances after reaching the World Championship quarter-finals in Russia last year, saying: “I’m feeling really good - I feel like I’m the best in the world. I’m determined to get the job done in London.”
Chatham 19-year-old Karol Itauma already has Youth Olympic gold to his name, beating Russian Ruslan Kolesnikov in the light-heavyweight final in Argentina in 2018
Will 2020 finally be the year Maidstone gymnasts James Hall and Courtney Tulloch make the Olympics?
The Pegasus duo, now 24, were too young for London, despite hitting qualifying scores, and were overlooked for Rio four years ago.
Hall, the country’s premier all-around gymnast and reigning British champion, looks a good bet to be on the plane.
Tulloch has proved he is more than a rings specialist but has a complex route to Japan, accumulating points in various World Cup events.
Like Hall, Dartford’s Giarnni Regini-Moran was part of the GB squad who finished fifth in the team final at the World Championships last year.
With Britain guaranteed a spot at the Olympics, the 21-year-old is vying for a place in the four-man squad after a hugely successful junior career that saw him win five European golds and three Youth Olympic golds.
Gravesend girl Georgia-Mae Fenton was just 17 when she won Commonwealth gold on the uneven bars two years ago.
Now 19, she helped Great Britain qualify a women’s team for Toyko via the World Championships.
Her challenge over the coming months is to ensure she’s one of the names on that team.
Trampoline star Kat Driscoll is hoping to reach her third Olympics.
The former Rochester Grammar School pupil turns 34 in March but is still a formidable athlete.
She proved that by winning her fourth British title in Birmingham last October.
Driscoll competed at the London Olympics in 2012, missing out on the final by one place.
There was no denying her four years later in Rio, where Driscoll qualified for the final and finished sixth.
Meopham’s Kate French has been a consistent performer in modern pentathlon for many years. She was fifth in the Rio Olympics four years ago.
French won Great Britain a place at the Tokyo Olympics last year by claiming silver for the second year running at the European Championships.
However, that does not automatically mean 28-year-old French is heading to Tokyo, she still has to win her spot on the team.
Once they are there, where will Great Britain's athletes stay?
Once in Tokyo, the Great Britain team will be staying in Aoyama Treehouse - a short walk from the National Stadium.
The brand-new private venue will have viewing facilities for invited guests plus communal areas for athletes to spend time with friends and family to celebrate their achievements.
The Team GB House will also feature a Team GB shop open to guests and housed in the adjoining House of Aston Martin Aoyama.
More by this authorMatthew Panting
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)