Tokyo 2020: Britain's leading lights in the sports returning for Tokyo

They are the rising British stars who could be household names when the Olympics heads to Tokyo in 2020.

Karate's world champion, the world's best climber, one of the most daring skateboarders on the planet and a surfing prodigy are all in line to be part of Team GB when their sports either debut or return to the Games' schedule in Japan.

They may still be waiting to find out about funding, but all of these talented Brits are ready to cash in on their opportunity.


Media playback is not supported on this device

Jordan Thomas: Meet Britain's world champion karate kid

Jordan Thomas has come to the fore this year thanks in the main to his World Championships success in October 2016.

The 24-year-old became the first Briton in 12 years to win kumite world gold when he beat Hungary's world number 2 Yves Martial Tadissi in the -67kg division.

The Luton man was also the European Champion in 2014, and also took bronze in 2016.

His father, Willie, is the English national team coach and himself also claimed the world title in 1992.

Jordan is currently fourth in the world, having risen seven places following his world gold success in Austria.

In Tokyo, karate will have two disciplines: kumite - where two opponents are in direct combat - and kata, where opponents demonstrate various moves and a winner is picked based on form, speed and precision.

Sport climbing

Shauna Coxsey
Shauna Coxsey is the world number one in climbing and was crowned the World Cup winner in 2016

Runcorn's Shauna Coxsey has literally climbed her way to the top of her sport as the world number one in bouldering.

The 23-year-old won four out of seven events on the World Cup circuit in 2016 to be crowned overall World Cup winner.

Bouldering is likened to physical chess where athletes must navigate as many tricky set routes within a certain timeframe.

In Tokyo, athletes will also compete in lead climbing (an endurance event up a 12-metre wall within a time limit) and speed climbing, with all three cumulative scores determining the final rankings.

That means Coxsey would need to reacquaint herself with lead climbing - which she was introduced to as a junior - and also speed climbing, where the top women athletes can scale a 15-metre wall in fewer than eight seconds.


Sam Beckett
Sam Beckett won gold at the 2016 Summer X Games

Currently the national associations of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are working together to create a single British governing body.

Receiving UK Sport funding would allow that new body to work on establishing performance and talent identification programmes.

Sam Beckett is perhaps Great Britain's highest-profile skateboarder, having become the first British rider to win gold at the Summer X Games in 2016.

That landmark medal followed double X Games bronze success in the vert ramp category in 2015.

Originally from Norwich, the 24 year-old moved to California in 2008 to further his career. In that year he also became the first UK rider to land a 720 on vert.

In Tokyo, there will be both park and street disciplines, reflecting differences in layout of each course.


Luke Dillon
Luke Dillon has caused a splash in his debut season

Surfing is dominated by the Australians, Americans and Brazilians but there is a new kid on the block from Great Britain who is starting to make (or ride) waves.

Luke Dillon from Newquay is in his rookie year on the international pro circuit and has risen sharply to 170 in the world.

The 21-year-old is now on the verge of promotion to the World Surfing League's top division after earning three top-10 results in his first year on the tour, including fifth on his debut in Australia last January.

That field of 144 competitors included Championship Tour level riders - the equivalent of football's Champions League.

As a prodigious junior, Dillon he won every national title available and, in 2015, he claimed both the UK Surf Tour and UK Open Championship titles.

Only just into his 20s, he has already been recognised by the UK Surfing Association with an award for services to the sport.

Baseball & softball

jake esch
Miami Marlins' Jake Esch was born in Minnesota to an English mother

Not a new sport exactly, but baseball and softball return to the Olympic roster in 2020 after being cut from the 2012 and 2016 Games.

Great Britain has little past history of Olympic baseball, but came second in the European Olympic qualifier for Beijing 2008, and now British Baseball believes the country can take the next step.

With Major League baseball players such as Michael Roth of the San Francisco Giants and the Miami Marlins' Jake Esch and Chris Reed available, the pool of British talent appears to be growing.

At the World Baseball Classic qualifying event this year, Britain finished second to Israel - who featured several former MLB performers - having beaten a strong Brazil.

Should the event at Tokyo 2020 clash with the MLB season, the medals prospects could open up for all, and GB believe they can field as good a Minor League team as anyone.

In softball, the women have consistently been one of the top European teams and in 2015 finished 13th out of 30 teams at the World Championship.

They are currently ranked 14th in the world.

The future looks bright for GB as the under-19 team won European gold in 2016 and the top pitcher for the senior side is Georgina Corrick, who at just 16 has secured a college scholarship at the University of South Florida under the guidance of the USA team coach Ken Eriksen.

He expects big things from the teenager, who at the 2016 Women's World Championship struck out every batter she faced against the defending champions Japan.


Martin Rooke
England's Martin Rooke won European gold in the men's wheelchair singles and in the mixed doubles

Para-badminton was admitted into the Paralympic Games in October 2014 among the first phase of sports announced for 2020.

The sport is growing fast around the world with 143 players taking part in the recent European Championships - a 37% increase on 2014 - with England topping the medal table with 17, including six golds.

The sport has athletes competing in five events (men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles) and six classes which cover three main impairment groups - wheelchair sport, standing sport and short stature.

A decision will be made next year by the International Paralympic Committee on the number of athletes who will be able to compete in the sport in Tokyo and after that the Badminton World Federation will decide which events will be included in the programme.

There were two titles apiece at the Europeans for Martin Rooke, who competes in the wheelchair division and short stature athletes Krysten Coombs and Rachel Choong and all three are included in a nine-strong GB squad representing four classifications who are most likely to be in contention to be in action in Tokyo.


Amy Truesdale
Truesdale has enjoyed success for GB at World and European level

The inclusion of Para-taekwondo, which was announced in January 2015, and the dropping of sailing and seven-a-side football means there will be 22 sports on the schedule for the Tokyo Paralympics.

Initially the sport focused on athletes with a limb impairments and arm amputees and the first World Championships were held in 2009. Numbers have been growing and the sport has also been expanded to include athletes with neurological impairments, intellectual disabilities and visual impairments.

However, at the Paralympics, it will be the athletes with limb and arm impairments who will compete in kyorugi (sparring) events.

The European Para-taekwondo Championships took place in Poland in September and involved a record-breaking 132 athletes from 30 countries and four continents.

Britain's medal hopes are set to be led by 27-year-old Chester-based fighter Amy Truesdale, who regained her position as world number one after winning European gold in the women's K44 over 58kg division.

However, like Para-badminton, a final decision will be made on which specific events make the programme next year.

Top Stories