They may still seem quite a way off but the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio are the main focus of thousands of sportspeople right across the world.
And for a rising star of the swimming pool, a trip to Brazil is coming round sooner than she might have imagined.
Alice Tai, 15, from Hampshire flies out to South America in November to represent Great Britain at the ISF World Schools Games in Brasilia.
"It is really, really exciting," Tai told BBC South Today.
"The event is a chance to test the water ahead of the 2016 Paralympics.
"It is a great experience to get to know the country and the people," she added.
"It is is quite daunting because I've never been that far abroad for a competition. The furthest I've been is Berlin."
A pupil at Bournemouth Collegiate School, Tai benefits from their on-site facilities and sporting academy.
Identified for a Paralympic talent programme, Alice was a torchbearer in last year's Olympic torch relay, but when Rio comes around she is aiming to be carrying British medal hopes instead.
"My two main goals are Rio 2016 and I'd quite like to get up on the podium," she said.
"There are a lot of steps to get there first, including the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow."
Having gone through 14 operations to correct a foot condition, Tai's progress is even more remarkable.
Competitive swimming requires plenty of dedication, and she has gone to great lengths to pursue her dreams including doing 10 swim sessions a week as well as three hours of land training.
"I've had a lot of hurdles to overcome to get where I am now, but swimming has helped me stay positive," added New Milton-based Tai.
Tai is now turning in performances that would have qualified her for London 2012 and with three more years of potential progress before 2016 the possibilities are clear to see.