Kaleo Kanahele Maclay insists the United States’ women’s sitting volleyball team are happy to have targets on their backs as they aim to defend their Paralympic title at Tokyo 2020.
The US defeated three-time winners and defending champions China 3-0 to clinch gold for the first time at Rio 2016.
It was sweet revenge for the US who had lost to China in the women’s final at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Maclay expects her team to go into the event as the favourites but is confident they can finish at the top of the podium for the second successive Paralympics.
"Our goal for Tokyo 2020 is gold," she said.
"There is of course a road map to get there, but that is goal insight, and I can’t wait.
"The rivalry [with China] has shifted for us since the Rio Games.
"We’ve gained the perspective that our biggest rivalry is with ourselves - meaning we have worn the title of number one in the world with honour.
"We want to be the team to beat, and the only way we stay that way is if we are the bar to beat."
Maclay revealed "Be the bar" had become the team's motto which she felt was helping to push them to greater heights.
"[After Rio, our coach] went on to share about 'becoming the giant' and the idea that now we are the team to beat and how we can go forward while other teams may be chasing to beat us — how we can be the best team that we can," she said.
"It has really stuck with me and moulded how our team has operated post-Rio and into Tokyo 2020."
Since the last Paralympics, Maclay launched her own cookie decorating business and became a mum for the first time.
"I am a mom to the coolest three-year-old on the planet," she said.
"I get asked this question a lot on how I juggle them all.
"The best way for me to explain it is for me to be wherever I am while I’m there.
"If I’m in the parenting role with Duke, I do my best to be present and be with him, when I’m at the shop baking or running the business, I do my best to be present there.
"Same if I am at practice, I choose to focus only on being at practice.
"I think as people we tend to spend a lot of time invested in thinking about what’s next and not enough time of being where we are.
"[It] has always made me thankful for the time I’m with my family and time I’m on the court.
"Since time is the sacrifice it encourages me to make that sacrifice worth it. If I’m going to be away from my family I go into each practice or each match more intentional when I remember what I have sacrificed to be in that moment."