The 34-year-old, who won individual and team gold at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, was back in competition just a month after giving birth last year, as thoughts of qualification for the Tokyo Games dominated her mind.

Although the coronavirus pandemic brought the new equestrian season to a halt in March, Canter – who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport's World Class Programme, funded by the National Lottery – has been busy at work both in and out of her sport since then.

Horse Racing
Horse Racing-Nine-time Irish champion Smullen dies aged 43
15/09/2020 AT 22:17

"Apart from going to the competitions, life has been quite normal for us," she said. "With my family and my horses all on the same site, we've been very fortunate to have not been hugely affected by the coronavirus.

"Perhaps one of the positives of the situation is that I've had more time with my daughter, Ziggy, than I anticipated. It's been lovely to spend time with her and see her grow.

"At the same time, I've been able to do my job as an athlete and get back to exactly how I felt before, so it's probably made me realise that I can do both things at the same time.

"But I've also recognised that not everyone has been that lucky and I've probably felt more privileged than ever. Towards the start of the lockdown I was involved in Equestrian Relief, where a lot of riders came together to raise money for the NHS, which was a good opportunity for us to give something back.

"As disappointing as it might be that the competitions haven't being going ahead and that the Olympics has had to be postponed, there really are more pressing things for the world to deal with. Now, it's about making sure we're firmly on target next year."

Having enjoyed a taste of the Games as part of the Ambition Programme four years ago, Canter is desperate for a seat on the plane to Japan, where she hopes to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won since National Lottery funding started in 1997.

As equestrian gradually returns to the sporting calendar, the former eventing world No.1 expects the coming together of the world's nations to be particularly significant next summer, while she acknowledges that her journey to Japan wouldn't be possible without the contribution of crucial funding.

She said: "Going to the Olympics would be a dream come true. I always watched it on TV growing up and until a couple of years ago I never thought it was realistically possible. Now, if I go, I want to win gold.

"I feel back to 100 per cent now, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the saddle. There was a bit of concern over my horse – Allstar B – because he isn't getting any younger, but he's on great form at the moment so hopefully he continues performing strongly into next year.

"It will be very special next year and I think it will become more than a sporting event because it will symbolise the world moving on together. To be a part of that would be truly amazing.

"But it wouldn't be possible without the world class funding, thanks largely to everyone who plays the National Lottery. Being on the programme has opened my eyes to what's necessary to get to the pinnacle of our sport and I'm so fortunate and grateful to have access to everything I need.

"Hopefully I can make the most of it next summer."

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £30 million each week for good causes. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at #TracktoTokyo #NationalLotteryAthletes

Sportsbeat 2020

Horse Racing
Horse racing-No spectators allowed at St Leger Festival from Thursday
09/09/2020 AT 14:08
Horse Racing
Horse racing-Authentic holds off Tiz the Law to win Kentucky Derby
05/09/2020 AT 23:08