With just a year to go until the Olympics gets under way in Tokyo, athletes from all over the world already have gold medals in their sights.

Many are well on course to mount a strong challenge for glory, while others may consider themselves a long way from where they need to be.

With 12 months to go until the opening ceremony, excitement is building and over 3.2 million tickets have been sold.

We take a form check on five of the stars who could prove the big draws in Japan.

 

SIMONE BILES

Superstar Biles will retire from gymnastics after attempting to add to her medal tally in Tokyo.

Fitness permitting, it would be a surprise if the 22-year-old does not increase her haul of four Olympic golds and one bronze medal.

The American declared she will quit as "I feel like my body is kind of falling apart".

Biles put on another masterclass to win the women’s all-around title at the GK U.S. Classic last Saturday and eyebrows will be raised if she does not achieve more podium-topping success in her swan-song Games.

ADAM PEATY

Exceptional British swimmer Peaty continues to hit new heights, shattering world records and winning gold medals galore.

It was mission accomplished in the 24-year-old's quest to achieve 'Project 56' at the World Championships in Gwangju this month when he became the first person to dip under the 57-second barrier for the 100 metres breaststroke.

That record swim of 56.88secs ticked off one of Peaty's biggest goals and he has by no means finished yet.

The Englishman has raised his total of World Championships titles to six and the Olympic 100m breaststroke champion will be expected to be on the top step of the podium at least once in Tokyo.

 

CASTER SEMENYA

The Olympics might not be at the forefront of all-conquering South African athlete Semenya's mind at the moment.

Semenya has endured a complicated, drawn-out saga in a case involving world governing body the IAAF which has raised worries for her career.

The double Olympic 800 metres champion is awaiting a Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland verdict over whether she can continue to run against women over two laps of the track.

Semenya has long been challenging the IAAF's decision to impose restrictions on testosterone levels in women competing at distances ranging from 400m to one mile. The Swiss court has suspended that restriction for now.

Semenya's testosterone count is high but naturally occurring. It could see her sidelined if she refuses to take medication to reduce her level, unless the courts come down on her side.

The 28-year-old has not let the ongoing case affect her performances, setting the fastest 800m time by a woman on American soil of one minute and 55.70 seconds at the Diamond League meeting in Stanford last month.

 

CHRISTIAN COLEMAN

What is certain at the Games next year is that the men's 100m athletics gold is up for grabs, in the absence of Usain Bolt.

Bolt retired after the World Championships in London two years ago with eight Olympic gold medals to his name.

It is not the Jamaican legend's old rival Justin Gatlin - Olympic champion in 2004 - who is rated as the favourite to take Bolt's crown next year.

World champion Gatlin's fellow American Christian Coleman appears to be the man to beat, leading the way in the Diamond League and establishing himself as the top-ranked male sprinter on the planet.

 

RORY MCILROY

McIlroy was criticised for stating he would not watch the return of golf to the Olympic calendar three years ago in Rio, after opting out of the competition.

The four-time major champion cited the Zika virus as his reason for not teeing off in Brazil, where Justin Rose won the first Olympic golf event for 112 years.

However, Northern Irishman McIlroy stated he could not pass up the opportunity to be an Olympian next time around.

The former world number one will be hoping it is a case of 'what a difference a year makes' in terms of his summer form, having failed to make the cut at The Open in his homeland at Royal Portrush last week.

Perennial champions Adam Peaty and Caeleb Dressel each recorded victories at the World Aquatics Championships on Monday.

Peaty, with five prior world titles, had set the men's 100-metre breaststroke record in the semi-finals, breaking the 57-second barrier.

And although he was slower the following day, frustrated in his bid to top that best time again at 57.14secs, the Briton was delighted to claim gold and promised to keep learning ahead of Tokyo 2020.

"I had to be a better version of myself," he said. "Unfortunately, I made a tiny little mistake on that first length, trying to force the speed a bit too much.

"But the most important lesson is I'm still learning. It's not like I've gone 56 [seconds] and never have to learn again.

"I'm always learning, always trying to improve and that's the most important thing we can have going into the Olympics next year."

Dressel is hoping to top his 2017 tally of seven golds and he made it two from two in 2019 as he won the 50m butterfly - a title that had proved elusive two years earlier.

"It seems to not have that same pressure on it," he said after swimming 22.35 to beat Oleg Kostin.

Teenager Maggie MacNeil earned Canada's first gold of the championships, the 19-year-old winning the women's 100m butterfly ahead of Sarah Sjostrom.

The day's other final saw Katinka Hosszu triumph in the 200m medley for the fourth consecutive championship.

Meanwhile, fallout from Sunday's men's 400m freestyle final continued, with Mack Horton handed an official written warning for his podium protest.

Horton took silver but refused to join champion Sun Yang on the steps.

The Chinese is the subject of an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with WADA questioning a decision by swimming's global governing body FINA not to punish Sun over allegations stemming from a visit by out-of-competition testers in September 2018.

Sun denies all wrongdoing and has requested a public hearing, yet Horton's refusal to congratulate his rival apparently proved popular with other swimmers, who reportedly applauded him.

A FINA statement on Monday read: "The FINA executive met in Gwangju to analyse the situation related with the men's 400m free victory ceremony and has decided to send a warning letter to Swimming Australia Ltd and to athlete Mack Horton.

"While FINA respects the principle of freedom of speech, it has to be conducted in the right context.

"As in all major sports organisations, our athletes and their entourages are aware of their responsibilities to respect FINA regulations and not use FINA events to make personal statements or gestures.

"The matter over which Mack Horton was allegedly protesting is currently under review by CAS and therefore it is not appropriate for FINA to prejudice this hearing by commenting further."

Katie Ledecky admitted defeat "stings a little" after Australian Ariarne Titmus scuppered her bid for 400 metres freestyle glory at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea.

American 22-year-old Ledecky had won three world titles in the event, and is the reigning Olympic champion, but on this occasion 18-year-old Titmus surged past her on the final length to take gold.

Titmus touched in three minutes, 58.76 seconds and played down her success, calling Ledecky "the greatest ever" and predicting "a real battle" between the pair at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

That could prove one of the highlights of the 2020 Games pool programme, with Ledecky needing to put together a more complete swim than she produced in Gwangju.

Ledecky claimed her legs felt "just dead" in the closing metres, saying on the Olympic Channel: "Obviously Ariarne took advantage of that and had a heck of a swim.

"Obviously this stings a little, it's unfamiliar and different, and I need to rebound from this and get my fight back."

American Ledecky has 14 world golds in all, and until Sunday's jarring setback had only failed to triumph at the championships in one previous final when she took 200m silver in Budapest two years ago.

Great Britain's Adam Peaty broke his own world record in the 100m breaststroke semi-finals, becoming the first man to push through the 57-second barrier as he clocked 56.88secs.

"Obviously I've been chasing that for years now," said Peaty.

Australian Mack Horton refused to join champion Sun Yang on the medal podium following the men's 400m freestyle.

Horton took silver in 3:43.17 as China's Sun touched first with 3:42.44 to land gold in the event for the fourth successive games.

Sun served a short doping ban in 2014. He is currently the subject of an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with WADA questioning a decision by swimming's global governing body FINA not to punish Sun over allegations stemming from a visit by out-of-competition testers in September 2018.

Sun denies all wrongdoing and has requested a public hearing.

Horton said of losing to Sun: "I think you know what the rivalry is like. I don't think I need to say anything, I think his actions and how it's been handled speaks louder than anything I'll ever say."

The United States won the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay in a championship record of 3:09.06, with Russia taking silver and Australia bronze.

Australia took gold in the women's 4x100m free, however, finishing ahead of the United States and Canada.

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