Road to Tokyo: Eight European stars show medal potential
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Road to Tokyo: Eight European stars show medal potential

16 August 2018 / 08:18

Every major championship is important, but the European Championships took on extra prominence in many athletes’ eyes this year with Tokyo 2020 less than two years away.

Some sports have already begun their respective qualification processes as the anticipation ahead of the next Olympic Games hots up.

Here, we’ve picked out eight stars from the recent combined European Championships in Glasgow and Berlin who could make a big impact in Japan.

1. Dina Asher-Smith (athletics)

Hailed as the new Queen of British athletics, Dina Asher-Smith is number one on many people’s watchlist for Tokyo 2020.

Not only did she become the first female Briton ever to win a treble at a major championship, picking up gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, but she did so in record-breaking fashion.

Asher-Smith smashed the British record in both the 100m and 200m at the European Championships, running the sprints in 10.85 seconds and 21.89 seconds respectively.

The King’s College London graduate’s breath-taking sprint performances in Berlin have put her as one of the favourites for the 2020 Olympics.

Given that she has achieved so much already at the young age of 22, her future appears extremely bright indeed.

2. Lois Toulson and Eden Chang (diving)

The young pair only teamed up in May but went on to produce an excellent final dive to win the gold medal in the synchronised 10m platform competition at the Europeans.

Victory for Toulson, 18, and 15-year-old Cheng may have surprised some as it was only their second performance together at an event and Cheng’s senior Great Britain debut.

The pair’s ability and level of maturity was proven by their excellent last dive which got them the 68 points needed to overtake Russia and Germany.

They have already shown their great potential at such a young age and could be an exciting pair to watch come at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

3. Duncan Scott (swimming)

Glasgow-born Duncan Scott gave Britons another reason to cheer at the European Championships after winning gold in the 200m freestyle in front of a home crowd.

He also won gold as part of the 200m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay teams so it is no surprise that, with an impressive medal collection to his name, the 21-year-old has been backed as one of the hottest prospects for Tokyo 2020.

The Glaswegian has already proved his resilience by defying the odds to win gold in the 200m freestyle after qualifying only eighth fastest and given the difficult task of swimming in the outside lane.

A similar display of resilience could spell success for the young swimmer in two years’ time.

4. Jess Learmonth (triathlon)

She may not have picked up gold in Glasgow, but Jess Learmonth showed signs of promise as she finished second in the women’s triathlon.

The 30-year-old emerged from the water in the lead and managed to stay out in front until Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig upped the pressure to overtake her on the 10k run and win the race.

However, Learmonth’s swimming ability will make her a force to be reckoned with in Tokyo.

Considered triathlon’s best female swimmer, she will be determined to use that to her advantage at the 2020 games.

5. Freya Anderson (swimming)

In the last two years, Liverpool’s Freya Anderson has proved herself to be somewhat of a swimming sensation.

Anderson won her debut British title in 2017 and, as a result, she secured a first senior call-up to the British swimming team for the FINA World Championships in Hungary.

Since then, the youngster has taken the international swimming scene by storm, winning two bronze medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, followed by two bronzes and two golds at the European Championships.

Her senior career has only just begun, yet Anderson has already racked up an impressive medal collection.

She will be looking to build on that momentum and prove she is the one to beat to the podium at Tokyo 2020.

6. Ethan Hayter (cycling)

It has been quite the breakthrough year for Ethan Hayter.

The British teenager was part of the side which won the men’s team pursuit at the 2018 Track Cycling World Championships, while he picked up bronze and silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

To back it all up, Hayter produced a superb display of determination to win the men’s omnium at the European Championships.

His climb from fifth to first in the event-concluding race is telling of Hayter’s potential, while his tactical knowledge showed maturity beyond his years.

7. Dominick Cunningham (gymnastics)

Dominick Cunningham’s all-around quality shone in Glasgow as he scored a huge 14.666 on the floor to win gold.

The 23-year-old became the first-ever British gymnast to win a European men’s floor title, despite insisting he is better suited to the vault.
With silver in the men’s team event and two further medals for Team England at the Commonwealth Games, it has been an unforgettable year for the 23-year-old – and now Tokyo 2020 is in his sights.

Sportsbeat 2018