In a massive sports summer, few things can match the Olympics.
Even with the Covid-19 pandemic ensuring it gets more subdued in two weeks than usual, 31 athletes from Northern Ireland will head to Japan for their sporting pilgrimage.
It is an opportunity for some athletes to meet their goals, others to deliver potential and others to be the unlikely heroes.
From all corners of Northern Ireland, here are the 31 athletes surpassing 2016’s figures of 30 who will represent their county on sport’s biggest stage.
Northern Ireland will be represented in hockey more than any other sport at the Tokyo Games, which is perhaps not surprising given the number of key players involved in Ireland’s 2018 Adventurous World Cup.
Katie Mullan captains Ireland for their maiden play and Ayeisha McFerran will be number 1 goalkeeper between the posts.
Shirley McCay and Lizzie Holden was also named in the panel of 16 players, while Zara malseed will travel to Japan as a travel reserve.
There is also representation for the UK as a Northern Irish duo David Ames and Ian Sloan participate in the men’s tournament.
Talk about leaving it late, Russell White secured the final place at the Olympics after five triathlons in as many weeks spanning three continents.
The Banbridge athlete had to wait for his place to be confirmed after he originally finished outside the qualifying places after his five-race hail, but the pension of Denmark’s Andreas Schilling offered him a postponement and he gets his Olympic dream fulfilled in Japan this summer.
Kirsty Hegarty secured Britain’s trap shooting range at the Games as far back as April 2019 and was the first Northern Irish athlete to book a ticket to Tokyo when she was selected in January.
She hopes to repeat her medal-winning display from the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Australia, where she won a bronze medal for Northern Ireland.
Dromore cyclist Mark Downey will feel he has an outside shot at the medal as he heads to the pitch for Ireland this summer.
Downey rides in men’s madison with teammate Felix English. There is also a chance that he could compete in the omnium, but no decision has yet been made on whether the 25-year-old or the Englishman will nod.
Sets his standard high, archer Patrick huston has he said “want a little bling“as he aims for a double gold medal for Great Britain.
The 25-year-old, an Olympian from the Rio Games in 2016, is aiming for the top prize in individual and team events.
Northern Ireland’s two golfers at the Olympics need a little introduction. Four times bigger winner Rory McIlroy (you may have heard of him) line up with reigning Open champion Shane Lowry for Ireland in the men’s event.
Ireland’s pairing for the women’s event is also strong with Jordanstowns Stephanie Meadow competes with in-form Leona Maguire.
Irish boxers have a strong pedigree with the Olympics and the start of the 2020 edition is no different with a chance of four medals returning to Northern Ireland.
Siblings Aidan and Michaela Walsh hoping to challenge for medals in Tokyo, where Michaela competes in the flyweight class and the younger sibling Aidan entered the welterweight division.
Lisburn’s Kurt Walker will aim for a medal in the featherweight class and Brendan Irvine can not be discounted in the discussion on flight weight.
Is it Rhys McClenaghanis it time to shine? Newtownard’s gymnast is set to resume his rivalry with GB’s Max Whitlock on horseback, and it’s an event not to be missed this summer.
McClenaghan already has Commonwealth and European gold (both won in 2018) plus a 2019 World Cup bronze medal in his back pocket. It’s an impressive catalog of medals, and the 21-year-old hopes to add the big one to his collection.
It was the last chance salon for Larne the swimmer Danielle Hill but she delivered in style to book her place in the women’s 100m backstroke at the Tokyo Games with an Irish record.
Armagh’s Daniel Wiffen will compete in the 800m men’s freestyle event while Bangors Jack McMillan will compete for Ireland in the 4x200m men’s men’s team.
Ciara Mageean has been selected for the 1,500m and knows that a great achievement in Japan could see her end up with a shot at a medal.
The background around Leon ReidElections to Ireland are well documented. The 26-year-old sprinter was named in the team despite being bailed after pleading guilty to drugs and firearms in Bristol on 2 June.
The Commonwealth Games bronze medals in 2018 run in the 200 meters.
European Cross Country team silver medal, Eilish Flanagan has been selected for 3,000 m ascent while Stephen Scullion, Paul Pollock and Kevin Seaward will compete in marathons around the streets of Tokyo.
Northern Ireland has four rowers at the Tokyo Games, representing both the UK and Ireland.
Rebecca shortens and Rebecca Edwards will compete for Team GB in the women’s four and women’s eight, respectively Hannah Scott will be part of GBs Women’s foursome sculls crew.
Philip Doyle, who has worked as a doctor throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, will compete with Ronan Byrne in the men’s doubles and hopes to bring an Olympic medal back to Ireland.