Japan's former men's 500 meters world record holder Joji Kato is preparing to "explode" in his quest to capture an elusive Olympic gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games.
Kato will be making his third and possibly last Olympic appearance at these, the largest ever Winter Games, and the 32-year-old from Yamagata is determined to prove he is not a spent force just yet.
"All of my preparations (in Japan) have been going according to plan and I think I am gathering momentum," Kato said.
"I have pushed myself close to my limit, and condition wise, fatigue has hit its peak. Now it is just a case of winding down, getting rid of that fatigue and making small adjustments so I can explode at the competition."
Kato set the then 500 world record of 34.30 seconds in November 2005 in Salt Lake City and won the gold at the single-distances world championships in Inzell, Germany, earlier that same year.
Although he was considered one of the gold medal favorites on his Olympic debut in Turin in 2006, he could only manage a disappointing sixth.
Kato did make the podium by taking a bronze in Vancouver in 2010 before placing fifth in Sochi four years ago.
"I've missed out on the gold medal in the past three Olympics so of course I am determined (to win it) this time and I will pull out all the stops to achieve that," said Kato.
Kato has failed to make any sort of impact on the World Cup circuit this season. He has mainly competed in the B division and his best finish against the elite of the elite was 17th.
But Kato, who has 14 career World Cup victories, said, "It's a one-off situation here, but looking at my past experience, if I can maintain my condition then there is a chance that things will go well for me."
Kato is the oldest member of Japan's team in South Korea and he hopes his knowledge and experience can benefit his teammates. Daichi Yamanaka, 27, who finished runner-up at a World Cup meet in Stavanger, Norway, in November, and Tsubasa Hasegawa, 23, are also entered in the 500.
"I'm the veteran on the team and hope I can be a source of psychological support to the other skaters," said Kato. "I feel more responsible than ever to deliver a result and pull the other members forward."