The closer it gets the greater the certainty in the mind of Adam Peaty.
In five days the Olympic flame will be lit and more than a year of doubt finally extinguished.
For 11,000 competitors drawn to Tokyo from across the world at the height of a global pandemic the nerves are kicking in.
But Peaty sees only opportunity.
“As defending champion and world record holder there’s a lot of expectation on me to perform,” he said. “And rightly so.
“That’s part and parcel and it’s how you deal with it. I know I’ve got the whole country on my back and behind me.
“People may see that as pressure but if you want to be the best in the world you’ve got to take that, welcome it and find a way to perform under the scrutiny. “
Peaty is unbeaten in 100m breaststroke for seven years, boasts the 20 fastest times in history and is more than a second quicker than his nearest rival.
He talks about wanting to give a performance that not only the country but the world “deserves” after so long in the grip of a deadly virus.
“Sport is one of the things that can inspire and cheer people up,” he said. “Pressure? Honestly you can overthink it. It’s two laps of the baths.
“Swimming up and down every day I’m training to win. But when I race I’m out to dominate. If I perform I don’t think many will get close.”
Peaty seems not to have a care in the world but dig a little deeper and a fire burns within.
Mention doping in swimming and the clouds quickly gather and chase away his sunny mood.
A few months back Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all, was asked how clean he thought the Tokyo swim meet would be on a scale from one to 10.
“Four or five” came his reply. “I can honestly say that throughout my whole entire career I don’t know if I ever competed in a clean field.”
That makes Peaty’s blood boil and what frustrates him most is the failure to root out repeat offenders.
He himself has little need to worry about dopers. So far out in front is he that it will take a torpedo to stop him becoming the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title in the early hours of next Monday morning.
But Peaty sees the bigger picture and wants fellow athletes to call out the cheats and help purge sport of their toxic presence.
He is full of admiration for team mate Duncan Scott snubbing the handshake of Chinese cheat Sun Yang at the 2019 World Championships.
Likewise for American Lily King treating Russia’s Yulia Efimova with disdain at the Rio Olympics.
“That’s the way we should treat people who have doped,” he said. “I’m not afraid to say it. We need more athletes to step up and do the same.
“Hopefully technology and the scientists are ahead of the game and can root out the cheats, because they do not belong in sport.
“But going into Olympics we always hear that these are going to be the cleanest Games ever, only to learn later they were the dirtiest.”