FRAN KIRBY is determined to make the most of an Olympic chance she had given up on.

Reading-born Kirby was laid low with an inflammatory heart condition that would have ruled her out of the 2020 dates for the Games and could have ended her career.

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But postponement and a record-breaking season with Chelsea, with Kirby named Women's Super League player of the season, leaves her perfectly placed for Tokyo.

"Last year I didn't have any expectation of getting selected for the Olympics because of the situation I was in," said the 27-year-old, whose Team GB exploits will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

"I was at ease with that. People who get selected deserve to go and I knew that at the time I wouldn't have been ready.

"As the year went on, I started to get those ambitions again, but I didn't start the year with the ambition of getting selected for the Olympics.

"It wasn't really part of my thought process. I just wanted to get back playing.

"It's obviously come at a good time for me. I was disappointed the Games couldn't go ahead last year because the girls have worked so hard to get themselves ready.

"I'm really excited to go, I feel like I'm in a good place and hopefully I can take my Chelsea form into Team GB and hopefully play well."

Chelseas Fran Kirby during the FA Womens Super League match at Leigh Sports Village Stadium, Manchester.

Chelsea's Fran Kirby during the FA Women's Super League match at Leigh Sports Village Stadium, Manchester.

Kirby overcame the loss of her mother to a brain haemorrhage 11 years ago and her inspirational life story is carved in the Olympic spirit.

She was the catalyst as Chelsea became the third team in history to retain their Super League title and follow Arsenal's 2007 vintage in reaching the Champions League final.

The Reading native scored 16 goals in the league and laid on 11 assists, many of which were shared with strike partner and Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr.

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"I was able to work on things that were big weaknesses for me when I was coming back from the illness," she explained.

"For me, I'm looking ahead and trying to continue that form rather than focus on how I got here. It's not over yet, I can't rest on my laurels.

"I have to continue to raise the level. I'm starting from scratch again and trying to make more gains in what I've already done."

Hege Riise's Team GB, in which 15 of the 18 players are English, face a tough group in Japan including the hosts, Canada and Chile.

They open their campaign against Chile in Sapporo on 21 July.

"I grew up watching the Olympics, I still watch it," said Kirby.

"All of the different sports are going on and it's exciting to be part of the Team GB history.

"It's one I'm really proud of and one I know comes with a lot of responsibility.

"But I know this team can get to the levels it needs to to inspire everyone back home like I'm inspired when I watch all of the Olympians on TV.

"We all know the pressure but we're excited to get out there, have fun and be Olympians."

Watch every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+.