Katerina Stefanidi is set to return to SPIRE to replicate her heroics at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

The reigning Olympic women's pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi is returning to the SPIRE Institute and Academy as part of her training for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games.

After the delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Games are now scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8 next year, allowing the Greek athlete more time to prepare for the defence of her title.

Her return to SPIRE's complex in the United States comes four years after she trained there prior to her Olympic win at Rio 2016.

The facility is located in Ohio, close to Lake Erie, and she will continue to train there with her husband Mitch Krier.

While training at SPIRE in 2016, Stefanidi set a national record with a leap of 4.90 metres at the Milrose Games, putting her fourth on the all-time list.

She then made a clearance of 4.80m to win bronze at the World Indoor Championships in Portland.

At the Rio Games, a jump of 4.85m was enough to crown her as the new Olympic champion.

Katerina Stefanidi posing with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt after their Olympic title victories ©Getty Images
Katerina Stefanidi posing with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt after their Olympic title victories ©Getty Images

"SPIRE is extremely excited to have Katerina Stefanidi in the upcoming months to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games," said Tim Mack, one of SPIRE's coaches and a gold medallist in pole vault from Athens 2004.

"Katerina and her husband/coach will be utilising the indoor track and field facilities as well as SPIRE Performance.

"This is such a great testament to the outstanding facilities that SPIRE has to offer every athlete."

Other accolades that the Greek has claimed include being named European Athlete of the Year for 2017.

In 2018 she won another bronze at the World Indoor Championships, became European champion in Berlin and won the Diamond League series.

She defended her Diamond League title in 2019 and then took bronze at the World Championships in Doha with a clearance of 4.85m.

During the pandemic, Stefanidi has continued to show her talent.

The 30-year-old won the Ultimate Garden Clash, a virtual event organised by World Athletics.

The women's pole vault is one of the premier events in athletics at the moment, with many athletes in contention for the gold medal in Tokyo.

These include reigning world champion Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia, American Sandi Morris, Canada's Alysha Newman and Britain's Holly Bradshaw.