Ed Clancy is motivated by the chance to become of the most decorated British Olympians ever in Tokyo this coming week.
The 36-year-old cyclist, who was born in Barnsley and grew up in Ingbirchworth, is due to compete for Team GB in the team pursuit as the games go into their second and final week.
He will be looking to add to the golds he won in that event in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. A gold would move him into the top ten for all-time British Olympians with the likes of Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, Mo Farah and Laura Kenny.
It would also potentially make him the first person from this country to win four golds in the same event at successive games – with team-mate Jason Kenny going for the same accolade in the team sprint.
Only a small number of athletes have won gold at four successive Olympics in the same specific discipline.
The only people to do it in individual events are swimmer Michael Phelps, in the 200m individual medley, long jumper Carl Lewis and shot putter Al Oerter.
The others to have done it in team events, including relays, are Phelps and his team-mate Ryan Lochte, Chinese diver Wu Minxia, five US basketball players and two Hungarian fencers.
“It’s hard to get to the top and it’s even harder to stay there,” said Clancy, who attended Springvale Primary School in Penistone.
“The level of competition is getting higher every year that passes and I’m not going to be around forever.
“But that’s why the likes of (Steve) Redgrave and (Matthew) Pinsent are held in such high esteem.
“Of course, being mentioned even in the same breath as those guys is what excites and motivates me.”
Clancy considered retiring when Tokyo was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus crisis. But now he is not ruling out a fifth Olympics at Paris in 2024.
“I questioned it a lot, to be honest.
“I thought long and hard about continuing for another 12 months.
“About 21 years ago, I saved up my paper round money to try out at the British Cycling velodrome. I may not have many more days in that building and it’s almost like family.
“It would have been a shame to have gone four years into a five-year cycle and not seen it out.
“In some ways, the renewed motivation was a good thing. For a long time, I’d gone from race to race, from road to track.
“I’ve never felt like I’ve had more ability to concentrate on eating, sleeping and riding a bike fast.
“I’ve not been pulled from pillar to post for the first time in a long time, and hopefully that will come through in our performance in Tokyo.”
Clancy admits GB will not start as favourites.
At last year’s World Championships in Berlin, the British team went out in the first round then Denmark broke their world record.
“On a single day, I can still perform just as well as I did in 2012,” said Clancy.
“What’s difficult is backing up those performances week in, week out.
“It’s harder to string together six-hour days back-to-back, just because you recover slower.
“With the level of competition in Tokyo, there will be no room for pacing ourselves in any round. Back in Beijing, we might have been able to ride at 95 per cent and save a bit for the second round. But the way it is now and how tight the competition’s going to be, I think everything is going to need to be at full gas.”
The heats take place on Monday, the semi-finals on Tuesday and the finals on Wednesday.
The other cyclists in the GB team pursuit squad are Ethan Hayter, Ethan Vernon, Matt Walls, Ollie Wood and Charlie Tanfield.