World No.1 Ash Barty is set to make her dream come true this year when she makes her Olympic debut for Australia and she has delivered a special tribute to one of her idols.
Despite numerous high profile tennis stars including Rafa Nadal, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, expressing doubt over their participation in the Tokyo Olympic Games, Barty has signalled her intention to represent Australia for the first time.
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And Barty has revealed the moment she realised it was one of her dreams to wear the green and gold at the Olympics.
Watching the TV 1,000km, Barty tuned in with the nation on 25th September, 2000, as Australian icon Cathy Freeman lined up in her famous tracksuit at the Sydney Olympics.
As a young girl, Barty remembered Freeman sprinting around the bend to claim gold in her famous outfit.
And the memory has resonated with the World No.1.
"I remember her outfit... and, not really knowing a lot [else] of what was happening being such a youngster," Barty told Olympics.com.
But Barty has developed a relationship with one of her childhood idols.
She also called Freeman after the Australian Open in 2020 for advice.
"Cathy has been a very special person to me over a long time,” Barty added.
“And I think even speaking to her, particularly after the Australian Open in 2020, it was a big moment for me being able to call her and tell her about some of the experiences and the feelings that I was going through. It was incredible."
Barty excited for Olympics debut
This is the reason Barty has such a desire to make her debut in the green and gold.
Despite having already one a Grand Slam and taking part at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the lead up to the Games, the Australian has set her sights on Tokyo.
"I think the Olympics is the pinnacle of every sport. It's a remarkable place to be able to test yourself against the best in the world," she said.
"All of the best athletes in the world come together in one place, which is which is quite special."
Despite excitement, and concern among athletes, discontent in Japan around this year's Tokyo Olympic Games has ramped up after one of the official partners called on the Prime Minister to cancel the global showpiece.
Japan's Asahi Shimbun, an official partner of the Tokyo Games, has called for it to be cancelled, citing risks to public safety and strains on the medical system from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much of Japan, including Games host city, Tokyo, remains under a third state of emergency that is widely expected to be extended beyond this month.
Poll after poll has shown the majority of the public is opposed to holding the Olympics this summer, concerned about tens of thousands of athletes and officials descending on a country that has mostly remained closed to foreigners since last year.
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